Top 10 Christmas Films 1980 to 2010

The 1980s, 1990s and 2000s brought us some terrific Christmas films. But what is the best Christmas film of the three decades? Home Alone? Bad Santa? The Santa Clause? Elf?

The true commercialisation of Christmas is shown in all its glorious/ugly glory (depending on your disposition) in cinema dating from the 1980s onwards but there is a definite sense of fun and familial dependency that speaks of the true spirit of the festive season we should all embrace.

Having watched a number of Christmas films over the last week – all for the umpteenth time – it was, predictably, apparent that my favourite period was the 1980s. This came as no surprise. As an eighties baby I grew up watching these films on television and their festive stories remind of a more innocent time when Christmas had a magic that fails to survive the move into adulthood. Therefore, in my top 10 Christmas films 1980 to 2010, we see five films released in the 1980s and one film that, while being released in 1990, was conceived and written by eighties filmmaking icon John Hughes. So there is very much a big hairstyles and spandex pants feel about this top 10.

Check out the Christmas film coverage on Top 10 Films:
Top 10 Christmas Films of the 1980s | 1990s | 2000s
Top 10 Crazy Christmas Film Titles | Top 10 Film Versions of A Christmas Carol | Top 10 Alternative Christmas Films

What are your favourite Christmas films? What are your favourites from the three decades? And the BIG question: what is your favourite Christmas film of ALL TIME!

10. The Santa Clause (Pasquin, 1994)

santa clause, tim allen,
Top 10 Films rating: #3 in Top 10 Christmas of the 1990s

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

Miracle on 34th Street,
Top 10 Films rating: #2 in Top 10 Christmas Films of the 1990s

8. Elf (Favreau, 2003)

elf, christmas films,
Top 10 Films rating: #2 in Top 10 Christmas Films of the 2000s

7. Gremlins (Dante, 1984)

gremlins, christmas film,

Top 10 Films rating: #5 in Top 10 Christmas Films of the 1980s

6. Die Hard (McTiernan, 1988)

die hard, christmas,

Top 10 Films rating: #4 in Top 10 Christmas Films of the 1980s

5. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (Chechik, 1989)

chevy chase, christmas vacation,

Top 10 Films rating: #3 in Top 10 Christmas Films of the 1980s

4. Bad Santa (Zwigoff, 2003)

bad santa
Top 10 Films rating: #1 in Top 10 Christmas Films of the 2000s

3. Trading Places (Landis, 1983)

trading places, xmas movies,

Top 10 Films rating: #2 in Top 10 Christmas Films of the 1980s

2. Home Alone (Columbus, 1990)

home alone, macauley culkin, christmas films of the 1990s,
Top 10 Films rating: #1 in Top 10 Christmas Films of the 1990s

1. Scrooged (Donner, 1988)

scrooged, best christmas films, 1980s, scrooge, christmas carol,
Top 10 Films rating: #1 in Top 10 Christmas Films of the 1980s

Your turn – what is your favourite decade for Christmas films – the 1980s, the 1990s, or the 2000s?

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
    le0pard13 Reply

    I think the only film on your fine list I’ve not seen is the ‘Miracle on 34th Street’ modern day remake (of course, I seen the original). It goes without saying, I can re-watch any or all of this inventory, Dan. Happy Holidays.

  2. Avatar
    TheScarletSp1der Reply

    A fun list. I’d have mine a different order, but pretty much would have almost all the ones you list here on my list as well! Fun post!

    Who DOESN’T love The Santa Clause?!

    It is almost too difficult to pick a #1, but some of mine in no particular order, you can see here:

    Hope you have a Great Christmas!

  3. Avatar
    Claire Reply

    Yep, I’d agree with your list! I’d add The Nightmare Before Christmas and The Muppets Christmas Carol. Thinking about it there really has been lots of great Christmas flicks!

    Scrooged was on the TV last weekend and I missed it 🙁

  4. Avatar
    Rodney Reply

    I’ll echo Claire’s sentiments that Muppets Christmas Carol should be on this list somewhere. I’ve always disputed that Die Hard is a traditional “christmas movie” – sure, it’s set at Christmas, but it’s not exactly terribly Christmassy….

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    Sam Fragoso Reply

    Fun list here!

    Christmast Vacation is still humorous – as is Home Alone.

    Nicely done.

  6. Avatar
    Scott Reply

    See everyone loves Scrooged!!

    Although I enjoy Elf more…. but what do I know!

  7. Avatar
    Dan Reply

    @le0pard: I do like the remake. It isn’t always on my Christmas watch list but it does have that true Christmas spirit about it and Attenborough is great.

    @TheScarletSpider: …and The Santa Clause 2! 🙂

    @Claire: It’ll be on again I’m sure – keep it on the to-see list! 😉

    @Rodney: Haha – “Ho Ho Ho, now I have a machine gun!”

    @Sam: Christmas Vacation always gets viewed at my house during Christmas. In fact, at any time of the year!

    @Scott: Scrooged can’t be beaten for me. Love everything about it from the performance of Bill Murray to the set designs and special-effects, the ghosts, the concept, the script…EVERYTHING! 🙂

  8. Avatar
    Dave Reply

    Scrooged should always be top of any xmas list,it stands out as by far the best telling of the christmas carol

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    DEZMOND Reply

    2, 10 and 9 would be my pick. You know I’ve always loved Tim Allen since I basically grew up watching his HOME IMPROVEMENT every night at Disney Channel 🙂 And who doesn’t love HOME ALONE. The rest have a kind of humor I don’t like especially not in the festive season.

    Hope you are having a nice festive week, Dan!

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    Anna Reply

    For the past few years I’ve been looking to watch a Christmas film that I haven’t seen before and not relying on the old favourite. This year it’s Scrooged!

  11. Avatar
    Dan Reply

    @Dave: Yeah, it has been a favourite of mine for a long time.

    @Desmond: For me, I like both the more lighthearted humour and the more darkly comic stuff for a bit of variety.

    @Anna: Good choice Anna…I’m sure you’ll like it.

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    Alex Reply

    Great list (I always forget about TRADING PLACES- awesome choice), but I’m pretty sure KISS KISS BANG BANG should be at the top of every Christmas movie list. Although admittedly I haven’t seen SCROOGED.

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    Lip Reply

    Wooooaahhhhh!….no Christmas Story?!…an absolute classic that would top my list without a doubt

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    Courtney Reply

    Scrooged is by far my favorite Christmas movie! Great choice!

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