Top 10 Christmas Films Of The 1990s

There was a golden period for the Christmas film in the early 1990s. Amongst other festive delights, one stand out performance came from an eight-year-old defending his house from burglars.

The 1980s gave us some great Christmas films so the 1990s had a lot to live up to. And, still with thoughts of that era with the big hair clear on the mind, the early 1990s was a boom period for the festive film.

Between 1990 and 1994 we got the first two Home Alone films, the Miracle on 34th Street remake, The Santa Clause, The Nightmare Before Christmas and Muppet Christmas Carol. The second half of the decade wasn’t as good but there were a few moments of inspiration such as Angela Lansbury’s delightful performance as Father Christmas’ wife in Mrs Santa Claus and the somewhat entertaining Arnold Schwarzenegger vehicle Jingle All The Way.

10. Jack Frost (Miller, 1998)

jack frost, michael keaton,
Not to be mistaken with the Christmas horror film of the same name, Jack Frost stars Michael Keaton and Kelly Preston. Keaton plays Jack Frost, the lead singer in The Jack Frost Band, who has a car accident, dies and returns as a snowman. The film is the sort of emotional blackmail that Christmas films seem to exude by default. And, like other films of its ilk, we find ourselves forgiving it at this time of year.

9. Mixed Nuts (Ephron, 1994)

mixed nuts, steve martin,
Almost universally panned, Nora Ephron’s film was, effectively, a complete failure. But as an antidote to sentimental, sweet-natured and emotionally demeaning Christmas films, Mixed Nuts will certainly suffice. This twisted, dark-edged comedy isn’t as bad as some make out.

8. Jingle All The Way (Levant, 1996)

arnold schwarzenegger, jingle all the way,
Criticism for Jingle All The Way went straight for the throat – Arnold Schwarzenegger’s mission to get the toy his child wants for Christmas was met with disdain, as critics claimed the film glorified the commercialisation of the festive period. In a sentence: No shit, Sherlock! Appealing to kids whose only care at Christmas is what Santa breaks into the house and leaves behind after munching on a mince pie, Jingle All The Way is perfectly acceptable Crimbo fare.

7. Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (Columbus, 1992)

home alone 2, best christmas films of the 1990s,
Hollywood has known since Steven Spielberg released Jaws that audience familiarity, convention and high-concept formulas are a winning cocktail when trying to dominate the box office. As such, how does one repeat the financial success of Home Alone? By remaking it two years later in a different location. Yes, Home Alone 2 is almost a scene by scene retread of Home Alone, but there are enough little moments of inspiration to entice lovers of the first film back for another ride. Heck, we go on roller-coasters time and time again and they are exactly the same ride. Home Alone 2 is the film version of re-riding the roller-coaster.

6. Mrs Santa Claus (Hughes, 1996)

jingle all the way, angela lansbury,
Starring the delightful Angela Lansbury, this Christmas musical had the benefit of Jerry Herman, composer of hit Broadway musicals Hello, Dolly! and La Cage aux Folles, behind its music. This fun film has plenty of Christmas cheer and a charming performance from Lansbury.

5. The Muppet Christmas Carol (Henson, 1992)

michael caine, muppet christmas carol,

The Muppet Christmas Carol sees Jim Henson’s puppet creations play the roles of the various ghosts and other characters while Michael Caine rejuvenates his career as Ebenezer Scrooge.

4. The Nightmare Before Christmas (Selick, 1993)

nightmare on elm street, tim burton, dark xmas movies,
Produced by Tim Burton and directed by Henry Selick, The Nightmare Before Christmas is one of the most original Christmas films you’re ever likely to see. It is a terrifically dark, funny and visually stunning film that uses the stop-motion technique in realising its macabre world.

3. The Santa Clause (Pasquin, 1994)

santa clause, tim allen,
Tim Allen becomes Santa when the real Father Christmas falls off his roof and dies. Allen must learn the tricks of Santa’s trade while juggling a working life with raising his young son. This is a fun film with high production values.

2. Miracle on 34th Street (Mayfield, 1994)

Miracle on 34th Street,
John Hughes, the king of the coming-of-age teen comedy-drama, is also it seems the master of the Christmas film. Not only was he the brainchild behind the Home Alone films, he also wrote and produced this updated version of Miracle on 34th Street. This charming film features a couple of sparkling performances from Richard Attenborough and child actor Mara Wilson. This is one of those films when you tell yourself: this time I won’t cry!

1. Home Alone (Columbus, 1990)

home alone, macauley culkin, christmas films of the 1990s,
Chris Columbus directs child star Macauley Culkin in John Hughes’ fabulously entertaining tale of a child left alone at Christmas by accident who then has to defend his house from two inept burglars. Joe Pesci in family-friendly mode (as opposed to Scorsese-mode which, if you’ve seen Casino or Goodfellas, you’ll know is decidedly un-family friendly) is great as the bumbling bad guy who finds himself up against a determined eight-year-old who uses every resource available in the house (from paint cans to glue to toy cars and anything else he can turn into an inspired weapon) to repel the bad guys. This wonderful Christmas film is a joy from start to finish.

Your turn – what is your favourite Christmas film from the 1990s?

For a slightly different take on the traditional Christmas film have a look at our Top 10 Alternative Christmas Films

Written and compiled by Dan Stephens

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About the Author
Editor of Top 10 Films, Dan Stephens is usually found pondering his next list. An unhealthy love of 1980s Hollywood sees most of his top 10s involving a time-travelling DeLorean and an adventurous archaeologist going by the name Indiana.

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  1. Avatar
    Candice Frederick Reply

    HOME ALONE!!!

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    Rodney Reply

    Dan – I would have had choices #4,5 or 6 waaay above your number 1. Home Alone just annoys the hell out of me. And you even included its even worse sequel as well?

    Oh man…

  3. Avatar
    le0pard13 Reply

    For me, it’s ‘Home Alone’, with ‘The Santa Clause a close second. Great list, btw.

  4. Avatar
    Rodney Reply

    The wife and I re-watched The Santa Clause again today. What a lovely film!

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    DEZMOND Reply

    HOME ALONE is inarguably the biggest Christmas classic ever 🙂
    I loved Tim Burton’s film too, one of his last good films, because after that he lost it a bit. I also love Tim Allan and Dylan McDermot.

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    Castor Reply

    Nice list Dan! Forgot how much fun Home Alone was until I saw it again a couple weeks ago. Great family flick 🙂

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    ruth Reply

    Cool, I’ll be hosting MTOS on Twitter on the 18th and my questions will be on Christmas movies. I don’t know if it’s my fave per se but I quite enjoyed Home Alone when I first saw it.

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    TheScarletSp1der Reply

    dan, this is a great list! I still haven’t seen a couple on this list, but Holiday movies are one of my faves!

    I posted a poll today all about holiday movies! Tis the season! Have a good day man!

    The Santa Clause is one of the best of the 90’s!!

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    Claire Reply

    Ahh, the 1990s was a great year for Christmas flicks! So many of my favourites are on this list.

    I love Angela Lansbury but I’ve never seen Mrs Santa Claus – I’ll add it to my rental list.

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    Fitz Reply

    Nightmare Before Christmas is a classic as well as Muppet Christmas Carol. I’ll be rewatching them soon.

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    Dan Reply

    @Rodney: Whaaat!!! Not a fan of Home Alone. Obviously, hating the first film means you’re bound to hate the second but I’ve always loved them both.

    @leopard: Good top two! The Santa Clause is a lot of fun.

    @Dezzy: Another fan of Home Alone – great stuff. It always gets a play in my house at Christmas…usually twice! 😉

    @Castor: You watch Home Alone a couple of weeks ago…nice way to get the Christmas season off early! 😉

    @Ruth: Excellent Ruth. I’ll be there for MTOS.

    @Scarlet: All this talk of The Santa Clause makes me want to watch it again…right now. Think I’ll have a double bill – Home Alone followed by The Santa Clause!

    @Claire: There’s some nice clips on You Tube – in fact, the whole film is on there I think. But check out the clips of her singing…real Christmas cheer!

    @Fitz: So true…I’m about to kick off my holiday film viewing soon. Watching The Thing remake tonight…it has snow…does that count? 😉

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    Max Reply

    I’ve been using these lists to see what Christmas classics I’ve missed. I always have two new ones to watch this week! Thanks.

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    Dan Reply

    @Max: Best of the 2000s coming soon! 🙂

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    themovieblogger Reply

    You already named it. Home Alone.

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    ruth Reply

    I just saw Miracle on 34th Street playing on TV and I remember this list 😀 Merry Christmas to you Dan, hope you have a wonderful holiday with your family and friends. God bless!

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