Christmas Comfort: 15 Essential Movies & Toons Bring Holiday Joy

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As we squat at home, it’s the movies that keep us spirited up, perhaps remind us of happier Christmases past, and assure us that things might just turn out right. Indeed, there could be joy again in the world. All are available for streaming or for rental online. Happy Holidays!

15. Santa’s Workshop (1932) / Pluto’s Christmas Tree (1952) / The Little One (1978) / Mickey’s Christmas Carol (1983)

This collection of classic Christmas-themed Disney animated shorts makes for a great night out watching the frenzy. (Together they are about 66 minutes long.) Beware of the unfortunate cultural stereotypes in the 1932 short, and be prepared to grab some handkerchiefs during “The Small One.” (Disney +)

14. The Thin Man (1934)

Not strictly a Christmas movie, but WS Van Dyke’s adaptation of Dashiell Hammett’s novel, with perfectly interpreted William Powell and Myrna Loy, is a superbly crafted comedic detective story, with a Christmas Eve party and Christmas morning. lazy and fun. . (HBO Max)

13. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)

Some of them are a bit dated, but the Griswold Family Christmas still has plenty of classic comedic misadventures, from cutting a real Christmas tree to decorating the house with an absurd number of lights, as well as warm, gooey moments like Clark (Chevy Chase) watching old home movies. (Amazon Prime, Apple TV and others)

12. Little Women (1994)

It’s hard to say which version of “Little Women” is better (note: Greta Gerwig’s 2019 version is not yet available to stream), but Gilliam Armstrong’s beautiful and smooth 1994 version starring Winona Ryder, Susan Sarandon , Claire Danes, Kirsten Dunst, Christian Bale, etc., is a very good competitor. The Christmas breakfast sequence is always heartwarming. (IMDB TV, Roku)

11. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

Tim Burton created and Henry Selick directed this yet incredible 76-minute stop-motion animated musical about what would happen if the King of Halloween Town accidentally walked around Christmas Town and decided to borrow a few ideas for his own spooky celebration. (Disney +)

10. A Christmas Story (1983)

“You’re gonna tear your eyes out, kid!” Writer Jean Shepherd’s adult storytelling is what makes this very funny and nostalgic holiday story work so well. Ralphie (Peter Billingsley) goes through a children’s Christmas season while dreaming of a Red Ryder Carbine Action 200-shot air rifle. Turn on your floor lamp and enjoy! (Online on Amazon Prime, Apple TV; also, the 24-hour marathons are broadcast on TV on Christmas Eve, from 8 p.m. on TBS and 9 p.m. on TNT)

9. The Muppets Christmas Carol (1992)

Alastair Sim’s essential 1951 movie “A Christmas Carol” wasn’t readily available this year, but this Dickensian game will certainly do the trick. Michael Caine’s Scrooge is portrayed bluntly – and he’s one of the best in cinema – while all manner of Muppet-influenced gags, antics and songs occur all around him. (Disney +)

Forest Whitaker plays a toy maker in the new release, ?? Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey. ??  (Courtesy of Netflix)

Forest Whitaker plays a toy maker in the new version, “Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey”. (Courtesy of Netflix)

8. Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey (2020)

This year’s best all-new holiday release, an invigorating musical, tells the story of a ruined inventor (Forest Whitaker), whose work was stolen. He is on the verge of giving up hope when his granddaughter (Madalen Mills) – also a budding genius – visits him. The amazing sets and costumes seem put together from various pieces, gears, and knickknacks. (Netflix)

7. Arthur Noël (2011)

An absolute delight from Aardman Animations, this dazzling and colorful film for children imagines a vast, well-oiled organization that helps Santa Claus (voiced by Jim Broadbent) deliver gifts to all the children of the world overnight. This year, a kid left with no gifts, and it’s up to the merry, goofy Arthur (voiced by James McAvoy) to fix it. (Starz, Amazon Prime, Apple TV, others)

6. Miracle on 34th Street (1947)

We included it in our Thanksgiving list, but here it is again, because how can you not have Santa Claus? The real Kris (Edmund Gwenn) helps a busy single mom (Maureen O’Hara) and her curious, adorable daughter (Natalie Wood) at Macy’s during the busy big city holiday season, but faces issues from from the store’s nervous psychologist (Porter Hall). (Disney +)

Are Ferrell and Zooey Deschanel awesome in the adorable ?? Elf. ??  (Courtesy of Warner Bros.)

Will Ferrell and Zooey Deschanel are great in the adorable “Elf”. (Courtesy of Warner Bros.)

5. Elf (2003)

“The smile is my favorite! Will Ferrell brilliantly juxtaposed his big frame with his enthusiastic little kid performance, making it consistently hilarious, yet heartily sweet. The rest of the cast is perfect, from Ed Asner to Peter Dinklage, but especially Zooey Deschanel as a charming, sad, singing elf of the department stores. (Fubo Starz, Amazon Prime, Apple TV, others)

4. It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)

Maybe people are fed up with it – he was underappreciated back then, then overplayed on television when he fell into the public domain – but director Frank Capra and star James Stewart bring this film into some really dark and desperate places before you go all out. with her heart pounding ending, winning tears every time. (Amazon Prime)

3. A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)

Truly the weirdest of all Christmas specials, without Santa Claus, and a dialogue about the marketing of Christmas and the true meaning of Christmas, plus a jazz score by Vince Guaraldi (recorded at Berkeley’s Fantasy Studios), this mini-chef – half an hour’s work culminates in a miraculous moment of kindness amid sadness. (Apple TV +)

2. Meet me in Saint-Louis (1944)

This masterful, overflowing Technicolor musical from director Vincente Minnelli takes place over a full year, with Judy Garland and the Smith family grappling with love and the threat of moving away; it culminates with Garland singing “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” to a heartbroken Margaret O’Brien among the broken snowmen. (HBO Max)

Jimmy Stewart and Margaret Sullavan are the stars of the romantic comedy for the holidays ??  The Shop Around the Corner. ??  (Courtesy photo)

Jimmy Stewart and Margaret Sullavan star in the romantic comedy “The Shop Around the Corner”. (Courtesy photo)

1. The corner shop (1940)

Ernst Lubitsch’s sophisticated and nuanced comedy-drama masterpiece with James Stewart and Margaret Sullavan as clerks in a struggling Budapest store during the holiday season and sending each other anonymous love letters without realizing this, ends his series of sweet, delicate and heartbreaking little tales on a Christmas note. (HBO Max)

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