SURVEY SAYS: What's Your Favorite Holiday Movie?

December 23, 2010 ( - Once again our annual holiday movie poll drew a LOT of passionate interest.  

Unlike previous years, the winner emerged early – and managed to hold its lead throughout the day over its second and third place “rivals” – which is where the real “battle” of holiday movies took place this year.

But – before we go there, let’s deal with the ones who weren’t in contention.  Each year our list gets a little longer – mainly because we include movies that were suggested by readers but that, somehow, have wound up overlooked (even after nine years).  This year readers suggested the following (that weren’t on our list):

Scrooge (the 70s musical with Albert Finney)

A Diva Christmas Carol

Holiday Affair (with Wendell Corey, Robert Mitchum, and Janet Leigh)

Family Man (with Nicolas Cage and Tea Leoni)

Beyond that, there were a lot of movies that were on our list, but failed to draw the support of a single reader as their favorite.  Now, our list is long, so this list is too long to comfortably recreate here – but I will say that I was surprised that the following fell into this “no favorite” category:

Bells of St. Marys

The Bishop’s Wife

Christmas in Connecticut

Jingle All the Way

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

OK – they’re not MY “favorite”, either – but they’re all good! 

There was a group that escaped the ignomious distinction of no votes – but only barely, garnering just one vote each:

The Lemon Drop Kid (w/Bob Hope and Marilyn Maxwell)

Die Hard

Fred Claus

Holiday Inn

How the Grinch Stole Christmas (Jim Carrey version)

Polar Express, The


Toy That Saved Christmas, The

Year Without a Santa Claus, The

Bernard & the Genie

A Christmas Carol (Reginald Owen version) 

The next “tranche” drew a goodly amount of support, but…well, maybe next year…

Santa Claus Conquers the Martians

A Christmas Carol (George C. Scott version)

Love, Actually

Miracle on 34th Street (new)


Santa Clause, The

And then, there was the group that drew noticeable support, but didn’t quite make it into the top group:  

Home Alone

White Christmas

A Christmas Carol (Alistair Sim version)

How the Grinch Stole Christmas (cartoon)

Well, I have probably made you wait as long for this result as I dare – but the survey flow this year really was interesting. 

Those of you who have kept up with our poll over the years will recall that It’s a Wonderful Life has topped our annual reader favorite list for the past eight years every year except two; 2008 - and 2006. 

That's when "A Christmas Story" ruled the roost (see SURVEY SAYS: What's Your Favorite Holiday Movie?).  Christmas Vacation has been a perennial number three – but then last year managed to climb into the number two slot (see SURVEY SAYS: What is Your Favorite Holiday Movie 2009?).

As for this year, the top 5 are (drumroll, please):


#5 A Charlie Brown Christmas



#4: Miracle on 34th Street (traditional, with Natalie Wood)



#3: Christmas Vacation

Yes, back to #3 again for the Griswolds!



#2: A Christmas Story

Ralphie got his BB Gun - but this year, it's only good for 2nd place!



And the winner is....

#1: It's a Wonderful Life

Thanks to everyone who participated in our survey!  Enjoy the verbatims on the following pages – and enjoy a good movie (or two) this holiday season!


"The list has expanded my Christmas movie viewing.  I saw Holiday Inn for this first time this year.  And when I pulled out the Christmas movies to watch this year, I pulled out Die Hard and Die hard II.  My family objected to them as Christmas movies at first, then they relented."

They are generally feel-good movies and pure entertainment--I don't need to think about it or learn a lesson after they're over!  White Christmas is a great tap dance movie, and I would LOVE to have any of Rosemary Clooney's or Vera Ellen's costumes! That dress that Rosemary Clooney wears at the Carousel Club is to DIE for!

I absolutely cannot stand A Christmas Story and the fact that TBS runs it non-stop for 24 hours.  🙂  Never mind the fact that my husband and kids have now decided we are going for our second annual trip to the local China Buffet for Christmas Eve dinner.  Last year we literally ate with the "12 Days of Nascar Christmas" being played.  I guess this is what I get for saying we need to start some traditions!

Until last night I would have chosen something else, but I finally saw White Christmas, and what a fabulously entertaining movie.  Full of ridiculous songs, dances and outfits, surprisingly witty one-liners, and a heart-warming tale of love and friendship.  I laughed, and I cried, and I remembered what makes Christmas such a wonderful time of year.

Every year when we watch A Christmas Story, my husband is determined to find a way that we can incorporate the infamous "Leg Lamp" into our decor!


Just Friends is quickly becoming a Christmas classic.  Funniest movie in the last few years.

Hard choice, but seeing as I've already watched Miracle on 34th Street (Natalie Wood version, of course) twice this season (which, other than the Glee Christmas Special, is more times than I've watched any other holiday show this season), I had to vote for that.  But not checking off  "Elf", "Holiday Inn" "This Bishop's Wife" and "The Year Without a Santa Claus"  almost caused me physical pain.

There's just something about Linus telling the Christmas story that puts it all in perspective for me.

I always choose It's A Wonderful Life because it shows how everyone's life makes a difference to the people in their universe, no matter how large or small.  I think it's a good message in this day and age when we are getting so anonymous because of virtual social interactions rather than real ones.

A Christmas Carol is my all time favorite seasonal story.  My favorite comedy Christmas movie is Bad Santa.  I can't understand how Angelina Jolie could leave Billy Bob Thornton and take up with pretty boy Brad Pitt.  How boring!

Still the best classic about what Christmas is all about without having to involve a 21st century "love" story or music...and IMHO, far and away the best acting of any of the above (that said by a true Jimmy Stewart fan).

The Alistair Sim version of "A Christmas Carol" is a close second.

Are there really any Christmas/holiday movies other than "It's a Wonderful Life"? 

I can't believe we could choose only one!  I try to watch as many Christmas movies as I can.  It helps remove the Bah Humbug attitude and get me in the mood of the season.  It seems like this year, most cable networks have cut back on the number of Christmas movies they air.

"I picked the traditional version of Miracle on 34th Street, but I have to qualify it cause its only my favorite in the original black and white.  The colorized version drives me nuts! 

Glad to see there are still people who remember the Bells of St. Mary, which is never shown anymore.  But my favorite is Miracle on 34th Street, the original.

While I love watching Its a Wonderful Life, White Christmas, Holiday Inn and the like with my daughter and anyone else willing to watch, our whole family makes a point of watching the Toy that Saved Christmas.  Besides, it needed at least one vote on the survey.  While we rarely sit down and watch movies together, it has been nice and helped lower the anxiety that can go hand-in-hand with holiday preparations.  Even my 16 year old son who has been ripping the old movies almost missed a group activities with friends while watching White Christmas.  We've even tried to watch some of the many other newer Christmas movies from Lifetime and Hallmark (e.g., Comfort and Joy, Christmas Cottage) but they're not the same. 

There's no lack of Christmas-themed movies, is there?  Yeesh....what a selection!

Santa Claus Conquers the Martians is the BEST!!!!

Hands down, A Christmas Story. Whoever could top the leg lamp? Darren McGavin is SO my grandfather that it just makes it extra hilarious.

"A Christmas Story" edges out "It's a Wonderful Life" for the best holiday/Christmas movie.  Most holiday specials and movies are lame, lame, lame...

The holiday movies does wonders in getting me into the mood.  I always look forward to them and watch as many as I can fit into my time - which, because it is Christmas, isn't much!

Life imitating art - in 2010 we learned that "Cousin Eddie" - not Randy Quaid - played himself.

I love the tale of Christmas Carol and am enjoy of all versions of it.  Since you wanted only one selection I went with my favorite version, Diva Christmas Carol.  Vannessa is the best looking Scrooge of all time.

I'm a sucker for holiday movies and have watched many low budget productions on Lifetime and ABC Family. My family bears up pretty well, only asking that I hold off watching any holiday movies until after Thanksgiving. I also enjoy Radio Classics Christmas broadcasts on XM radio.

Always like the classics, even though some of the newer ones are quickly becoming classics in their own right. 

"You overlooked ""Santa Claus:  The Movie!""  It was a lesser-known 80's flick, but it had the late, great Dudley Moore playing an elf.  'Caught some of it on AMC, & my very artistic 11-year-old daughter seemed intrigued with what she say.  Just trying to help......"Prancer"" with Sam Elliott is another one.  Lesser known, but worth the watch if you have kids!"

It's not Christmas till I watch It's a Wonderful Life.  I really enjoy leading up to Christmas watching any Christmas movie on.  Last night my son decided that he would pick the "Christmas Movie" to watch.  I didn't know Road House with Patrick Swayze was a Christmas movie but I have to admit watching Swayze is better than watching the regular Santa...Ho, Ho, Ho....LOL

we watch them all!

My family visited the Christmas Story house in Cleveland, Ohio this past summer; a must-see for any die-hard fan of the movie.  Ian Petrella, who played little brother Randy ("I can't put my arms down") in the movie was staying in the house at the time, and giving tours.  Really neat!!!

Nevin - it really is hard to pick only one!

There are so many great choices on this list. But it never really feels like Christmas until I'm rolling on my side, hysterically laughing at the Griswolds - which still happens regardless of how many times I watch it!