The holidays are a time of year where everyone loves to gather with their friends and families to celebrate, eat some good food, and bask in all that spirit. I celebrate Christmas, and one of the traditions I always looked forward to was watching Christmas movies - mainly about the ones that involved the big man himself, Santa Claus.
While there are plenty of new Christmas movies coming out, I think for now we should take a look back at the classics and see what are the best movies about Santa Claus, or related to the jolly man himself. If you’re looking for some of the best Santa Claus movies that are streaming right now, check out these picks.
The Christmas Chronicles (2018)
In this Netflix original, The Christmas Chronicles, Kate and Teddy are a pair of siblings who are suddenly whisked away on a magical adventure when they wind up in Santa’s sleigh, causing hilarity to ensue and ridiculous moments to happen.
You know, when I first heard about this movie, I didn’t believe that Kurt Russell of all people would make a great Santa. But I gladly stand corrected. As of right now, he is one of my favorite versions of Santa Claus. He has that same jolly spirit you would expect from the holiday figure but he also adds that little bit of personality that makes him different, from his sarcasm to his skillful jazz playing. If you haven’t seen The Christmas Chronicles, be sure to check it out now.
Next up, we have another Netflix original. Klaus tells the story of a postman, who lives in an island town that is far up North, and who ends up becoming close to a toymaker - one that looks an awful lot like Santa Claus.
Klaus is everything you could want in a Santa origin story. It’s not the original story that everyone knows about, but to me, I personally think that makes it even better because it’s an original and holds so much heart, from the beginning to the end. What I also love about Klaus is its animation. In a world that is dominated by CGI movies, Klaus has a really cool style that makes it stand out amongst the rest.
Fred Claus (2007)
Next up, we have another comedy film, this one starring Vince Vaughn. Fred Claus tells the story of the titular character, Santa’s older and bitter brother, who is forced to move to the North Pole to help his family and his crew of elves get ready for Christmas in exchange for a little extra money.
First off, Paul Giamatti is fantastic as Santa, but Vince Vaughn really brings it to the table in terms of comedy. Those two have such perfect chemistry you could almost believe they were brothers in real life. It’s certainly heavy on both slapstick humor and sentimental moments, but I personally feel that every great Christmas movie needs that. This story of the Claus family certainly stands out.
Miracle On 34th Street (1947)
In this classic movie, Miracle on 34th Street takes place between Thanksgiving and Christmas Day, and focuses on a department store Santa who keeps claiming that he is the real deal and the backlash it causes.
I feel like you can’t get more classic than this. There’s just something about Miracle on 34th Street that everyone loves. From the sentimental moments to the portrayal of Santa Claus to the magical feeling in the air, it perfectly captures what the holiday season is all about. And it captures one of the key pieces of the legend of Santa - you have to have faith that he is real. Seeing is not believing. It’s definitely one of the most popular Christmas movies.
Dr. Seuss' How The Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)
Next up, we have How the Grinch Stole Christmas, an adaptation of the Dr. Seuss book of the same name. In this movie, starring Jim Carrey, we follow the legendary Grinch, a man who has been bullied by society into running away to the highest mountain near Whoville. But soon, he takes it upon himself to end Christmas for the Whovians once and for all, trying to take away everything they cherish so much.
While it doesn’t directly show Santa Claus, I think we can all agree that the Grinch is this movie's Santa, in a twisted way, and brings so much more character to the role than I would have expected. I personally love the Grinch and couldn’t have imagined a better actor to play him. Jim Carrey was the best choice and his facial expressions were everything. The makeup in this is phenomenal and so are the costumes and the set design.
The Polar Express (2003)
In this Christmas movie, The Polar Express follows the story of a young boy who hops on a strange train that appears outside of his home, heading for the North Pole. He and several other young children embark on an adventure to visit Santa Claus, who is preparing for Christmas.
You know what? I don’t care what the critics say - I adore The Polar Express. Do I think the animation could have been perfected better? Of course I do. But at the end of the day, it’s still a brilliant Christmas movie with themes of the holiday and goodwill towards men, featuring some catchy songs. I mean, I am always on my feet to dance to “Hot Chocolate” and make myself a cup of it too. Also, Tom Hanks, who voiced Santa in The Polar Express, was the perfect choice for the role. He fully captures that aura that Santa has while also making him a kind-hearted man. It’s brilliant.
Moving on, we have the Disney+ original movie, Noelle. Starring Anna Kendrick and comedy star Bill Hader, Noelle tells the story of Noelle Kringle, the daughter of Kris Kringle, and her brother Nick, who is supposed to take on the role of Santa Claus. When he suddenly disappears due to the stress, it’s up to her to try and find him to bring him back for Christmas so that the holiday isn't suddenly cancelled.
As one of Disney+ first original movies, Noelle definitely isn’t a perfect Christmas movie. But the main reason I put it here is because of the chemistry between Anna Kendrick and Bill Hader. The two of them paired together are perfect and fight exactly how siblings who are related to Santa Claus would fight, creating a surprisingly realistic family dynamic for someone who is related to one of the most-loved characters of all time.
Arthur Christmas (2011)
Here we have another fun Christmas movie about the family of Santa rather than Santa himself. Arthur Christmas is about Arthur Claus, one of the sons of Santa Claus, who discovers that his father’s ship has failed to deliver a present to a little girl, possibly ruining her Christmas. Now, he makes it his personal mission to get the gift to the girl, alongside the help of a few allies.
I will never understand why this movie didn't do better at the box office. It had everything that it could have possibly needed to be a hit. Excellent animation, heartwarming story about the legend of the Claus family, a star-studded cast with names like James McAvoy, Hugh Laurie, Bill Nighy and more - it just doesn’t make sense as to why it wasn’t successful. Arthur Christmas is a brilliant family-friendly Christmas movie that will not only make you smile but make you laugh too.
Plus, it’s always really cool to see Santa as more of a high-tech legend rather than someone just on a regular red sleigh.
Bad Santa (2003)
For an R-rated take on Santa, Bad Santa, starring Billy Bob Thornton, is a black comedy film that tells the story about a conman who poses as Santa, and with the help of his partner (Tony Cox), plans to rob department stores on Christmas Eve and make a quick buck.
Let me just say that Bad Santa is not for kids. I’m quite happy my parents kept this away from me when I was younger so I wouldn’t soil my view of Santa for several years. But for the adults reading this who just want a hilarious movie about a great unconventional Santa Claus, this is certainly the one for you. You’ll be holding your side from laughing so hard.
The Santa Clause (1994)
Lastly, we have The Santa Clause, starring Tim Allen. In this classic Christmas movie, Scott Calvin, a seemingly ordinary man, accidentally causes Santa Claus to fall from his roof on Christmas Eve, supposedly killing the holiday figure. Now, he and his son must finish the deliveries - but after that night, Scott finds himself slowly turning into the next Santa Claus.
I feel like when anyone thinks of Santa Claus movies, this is always one of the first movies that come to mind. Tim Allen’s portrayal of Scott is hilarious, from his constant denial to slow acceptance, to actually learning to love the role that he was given and using it to grow closer to his son. It’s sweet, full of Christmas cheer, and one of the best movies I think anyone should watch if they want to get into the Christmas spirit.
While 2022 movies are right around the corner, let’s take a moment to enjoy some of the best ones of the Christmas season. And hopefully, if you haven’t seen all of these, you might have found a new Christmas classic to watch every year.
Big nerd and lover of Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice and Fire. Will forever hate season eight. Superhero and horror geek. And please don't debate me on The Last of Us 2, it was amazing!
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