A (likely) controversial guide to the best (and worst) Christmas movies


Photo by Katherine Phelps ’25

“Home Alone 2” provides entertainment for viewers this holiday season with Kevin’s impeccable comedic timing and quick thinking.

I absolutely love Christmas. The music, the decorations, the gift giving, you name it. However, Christmas would not be complete without the plethora of holiday movies. Some of my earliest childhood memories are associated with Christmas movies and I immediately feel joy when I watch these movies. So, here are a few of my personal picks. 

“Home Alone 2: Lost in New York” will always have a special place in my heart. This movie highlights young Kevin McCallister who is supposed to head to Miami, Florida with his family for Christmas vacation. However, he gets separated from them at the airport. Instead of getting on a flight to Florida, he gets on a plane to New York where he stays at the prestigious Plaza, with possession of his father’s credit card. In the first “Home Alone,” Kevin is faced with two robbers who are trying to break into his home. Though he defends the house and gets them arrested, they are back for round two in this movie. 

I love the original “Home Alone,” but “Home Alone: 2” takes the cake for me because viewers are able to see some of the very famous parts of New York, including Central Park, the tree in Rockefeller center, and the toy store based on FAO Schwarz. I also enjoy the heartwarming bonds Kevin forms with the people of New York. According to Movie Web, this movie did not score as well with critics as the first one did and only has a Rotten-Tomatoes score of 35%. However, since so many Staples students have either lived in New York or visit frequently, this movie is a fun one to watch since it is a familiar place for many. 

The Polar Express” is my second controversial nominee for best Christmas movie.  It has always been one of my favorites because of the variety of songs. Whether that be singing in an upbeat tone about hot chocolate, or, how magical Christmas can be. The story’s protagonist is Hero Boy, a child who does not believe in Santa. On Christmas Eve, the Polar Express stops at his house. When he gets on, he meets Hero girl, and he expresses doubt when his peers tell him they’re going to the North Pole. They meet Billy, a boy who does not have a lot of money and they befriend him. They get to the North Pole where the kids see Santa in the flesh. Though, before that, there are problems with the train, Hero Boy meets a ghost, the kids sing a variety of songs, and train tickets get lost. 

“The Polar Express” captures viewers during the holiday season as they admire the intricate cinematography and entertaining plot. (Photo by Katherine Phelps ’25)

This movie has actually made many viewers uncomfortable because of what is called Uncanny Valley, where the characters look too human.  Yet it made a total of $286 million dollars worldwide. This could be because of the pure theme of always “believing” and the amazing cinematography. This film is different from others because viewers can see a step-by-step process of Hero Boy’s beliefs changing. Seeing him have doubts about Santa and then believing more as the movie goes on is very entertaining and intriguing to watch. It’s very different from the picture book that many people read as a child, and I highly suggest giving the movie a watch, despite the mixed feelings about it.  

Christmas would not be complete without the plethora of holiday movies. Some of my earliest childhood memories are associated with Christmas movies and I immediately feel joy when I watch these movies.

— Katherine Phelps '25

My third controversial Christmas movie is one that is receiving an endorsement from me. The 2000 version of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” is a movie many seem to enjoy, however, I can’t get behind it. Ever since I watched this movie for the first time at 7 years old, I was spooked. The way the characters looked with their bizarre facial features, the confusing plot line, and how the Grinch was just flat-out creepy, were all reasons why I have not watched this movie since. 

The 2000 version of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” gets too many views each Christmas, when in reality, it lacks the quality of a good seasonal movie.
(Graphic by Katherine Phelps ’25)

Cindy Lou Who meets the Grinch at the post office where he saves her life after getting stuck in the mail shaft. She does some research on him and discovers more about his hatred for Christmas, which dates back to his childhood. Cindy Lou Who then helps the Grinch find the true meaning of Christmas throughout the movie. The plot becomes confusing when the Grinch’s childhood crush gets involved, parties are thrown to which the Grinch is invited, and the mayor blames Cindy for introducing the Grinch to them after he steals their presents. 

The movie has a lot of moving parts and it is certainly not one that I recommend watching. Nevertheless, it was incredibly successful in theaters, earning a whopping $345.8 million dollars worldwide. An alternative to this film would be the cartoon version of the Grinch, which was released in 2018. It gets to the point much faster and viewers are able to understand that the plot is finding the true meaning of Christmas. It reminds me a lot of the 1966 version of the film while tying into modern characteristics through technology and music. 

Though not everyone will agree with these Christmas movies being the best (or the worst), I have some great memories with (most) of them and I truly believe my Christmas wouldn’t be the same without some of these films.