What’s the greatest Christmas movie of all time? Update: More options added

posted at 4:01 pm on December 22, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

My wife and I ran across Christmas Vacation on the television last night, and realized that we hadn’t started our Christmas movie viewing season yet.  We’ll probably get cracking tonight, with some annual favorites like A Christmas StoryIt’s a Wonderful Life, and maybe even White Christmas – which I haven’t seen in years, but glimpsed while channel-flipping last weekend.  We will watch The Nativity Story on Christmas Eve, probably after attending Mass, and hopefully can squeeze a few more in, too.

This time of year brings a familiar debate among Christmas-movie aficionados: what is the greatest Christmas movie of all time?  Marist attempted to answer that with a poll released today, and which will almost certainly resolve nothing. However, it does show a swap at the top position that might just poke yer eye out, kid:

According to this Marist Poll, 26% of adults nationally cite A Christmas Story as their favorite holiday movie.  It’s a Wonderful Life is preferred by 24%.  Miracle on 34th Street warms the hearts of 16% while 13% enjoy watching Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney croon in White Christmas.  An additional 13% say A Christmas Carol is their favorite holiday flick, and 9% are unsure.

When Marist last asked this question in 2010, 24% of U.S. residents said It’s a Wonderful Life was their choice for classic holiday movie compared with 23% for A Christmas StoryMiracle on 34th Street received 22% while 13% said A Christmas Carol was their holiday staple.  12% most enjoyed White Christmas, and 5% were unsure.

There is an age gap.  Nearly four in ten adults under 45 years old — 39% — currently prefer A Christmas Story while 31% of Americans 45 and older say It’s a Wonderful Life is their favorite holiday film.

How about the traditional animated features? “Traditional” is the right word.  A Charlie Brown Christmas and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer tie for top honors with 24% each. How the Grinch Stole Christmas — the Boris Karloff version, not the ersatz Jim Carrey monstrosity — comes in third.  Polar Express comes in fourth for its first showing ever, followed by the oddly psychedelic Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town.  Frosty the Snowman, alas, comes in last.

That just seems wrong.  Let’s take a look at the sample, where the D/R/I is … aw, I’m just kidding.  But let’s take a poll ourselves here at Hot Air for both categories.  What are the best Christmas movies/specials of all time?  I’ll post a clip of the winners on Christmas Day, so be sure to check back to see how your favorites are doing.

Two notes: I’ve moved Polar Express to the movie list, rather than the TV list as Marist did. Also, if you have any other suggestions in either category, feel free to e-mail them to the tips line, and I’ll add them to the poll.

My selections would probably be It’s a Wonderful Life and A Charlie Brown Christmas, although the little-known Little Drummer Boy isn’t bad, either.  Of course, I have argued in the past that while It’s a Wonderful Life is set at Christmas, it’s really more of an Easter story.  Read my old review at IMDB and see if you don’t agree.

Update: By popular demand in the first 100 comments, I’ve added the following films to the first poll: Die Hard, The Ref, Elf, The Santa Clause, Prancer, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Jack Frost, Bells of St. Mary’s. Loved The Ref myself, but I’m still sticking with my choices above.

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