The Best Christmas Movies

Story posted December 14, 2020 in Arts & Entertainment by Jade Campos, Courtney McGinley & Colton Pleslusky.

Christmas is 10 days away, so it's time to get into the holiday spirit by watching some classic Christmas films. The arts & entertainment departments picks five of the best to watch on Christmas day.

“The Santa Clause” (1994)

Many people have their own favorite Christmas movies for personal, nostalgic reasons. Although, there are some films that can be considered some of the best holiday classics no matter who you are.

“The Santa Clause” is one of them. The story of a childhood myth that has been told time and time again is given a refreshing twist with Tim Allen’s portrayal of Santa. Viewers are given an explanation to all of the questions they asked as children — “How does Santa live so long?” “How does Santa fit down the chimneys?” “What if there aren’t any chimneys?”

The script is incredibly clever as well. Typically, Christmas films can be rather corny and aloof to fit the “family” genre. However, “The Santa Clause” is poignantly clever while still being light-hearted and family friendly. Tim Allen’s delivery of every line is fun and endearing, and there’s no one else who could take on such a role.

What makes the entire film, however, is the storyline. As a young Charlie is able to grow closer to his father through his newfound position as Santa Claus, and it’s so touching to see their relationship blossom.

Additionally, the symbolism of the film is quite remarkable for a Christmas movie. The parallels that are drawn between Scott Calvin, Allen’s original persona, and Santa Claus are so fascinating that it takes a few watches to really spot them all. —Jade Campos

“A Christmas Story” (1983)

There is nothing that screams Christmas more than “A Christmas Story,” which tells a heartfelt story that pretty much every person can relate to.

Ralphie spends the entire film in pursuit of the hot, new Red Ryder air rifle that his parents are so sorely against. It’s a nostalgic story that has the ability to instantly take one back to that one special gift they dreamed of all year.

“A Christmas Story” is not simply a great Christmas film — it’s a great film, period. The recurring theatrics throughout the film are incredibly funny and fit the mood of the film well.

Ralphie’s narration is probably one of the most distinct and charming aspects of the movie. Usually, narration can come across as somewhat corny and tacky, but it works so well for “A Christmas Story.”

The humor of the film is likely what sets it apart from the rest. The hysterical, over the top antics of Ralphie’s family — like the leg lamp, the bunny costume and the bar of soap — are enough to make anyone’s Christmas a little more lighthearted and happier. —Jade Campos

“National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” (1989)

“National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” is an outlandish family Christmas comedy starring Chevy Chase and Beverly D'Angelo.

The story follows a family man, Clark Griswold as he gets his family into the holiday spirit. From cutting down the Griswold family Christmas tree, to stringing 250 strands of lights to being surrounded by ample amounts of extended family, the Griswold’s make sure to have a memorable yet wacky Christmas.

This movie goes into depth to depict that no matter how hard someone may try, nothing truly ever goes as planned when hosting a holiday get together.

One of the most memorable scenes in the film is the infamous dinner scene that starts with old Aunt Bethany saying the “Pledge of Allegiance” instead of grace, the prayer before the meal. Events only get crazier as the evening progresses.

“National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” is critically acclaimed and a great movie for the entire family to enjoy.

Entertainment magazine “Variety” said: “Solid family fare with plenty of yucks, ‘National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation’ is Chevy Chase and brood doing what they do best.”

After watching this hilarious flick, be prepared for a “fun, old-fashioned family Christmas.” Just make sure to check every bulb before hanging luminous lights and don’t let neighbors take away the jolly holiday spirit.  —Courtney McGinley

“Office Christmas Party” (2016)

“Office Christmas Party” is a raunchy Christmas comedy starring an all-star cast consisting of Jennifer Aniston, Jason Bateman, Olivia Munn, T.J. Miller and many other hilarious Saturday Night Live alumni.

The story follows branch manager Clay Vanston and co-worker Josh Parker as they host an epic, wild office Christmas party that nobody has ever seen before. This is not your classic small office get together with cheese, wine and hors d’oeuvres.

The branch is in pursuit to impress a potential client before sister and CEO Carol Vanston closes the branch due to unproductiveness and limited sales.

Many uptight coworkers get loose, spread joy and holiday cheer, confess their love for one another and even get down on the dance floor to “Let Me Clear My Throat” by DJ Kool.

Aniston, who everyone associates as “the girl next door,” was asked to be a part of the cast by directors Josh Gordon and Will Speck. Gordon stated, “We created this character for Jennifer because she’s absolutely fearless when it comes to playing somewhat unlikable characters in comedy. For her, the more daring role, the better.”

Will Clay’s Christmas spirit help his overbearing, cold-hearted sister feel the joy that the holidays have to offer?

While this Christmas comedy has many dirty innuendos, it has an overarching theme describing that family is everything, and nobody can survive the holiday season without giving to loved ones even if that means giving up everything.  —Courtney McGinley

“Elf” (2003)

“Elf” is easily one of the best Christmas movies ever. It is filled with joy and adventure as Buddy the Elf ventures to find his real father.

Played by Will Ferrell, Buddy the Elf is a loving character that allows Ferrell’s good spirited personality to shine. The whole movie is an absolute joyride for the whole family and screams Christmas cheer.

As for the story, Buddy grew up believing himself to be an elf up until adulthood. His massive size and lack of skill making toys made him question what he truly is. Facing the truth that Santa presents him, and the unfortunate reality that Buddy’s real father is on the naughty list, Buddy sets off to locate his family.

Something that makes the movie even more fun is the knowledge that Ferrell went into public and acted out the scenes on the streets with random people. It captured the perfect and very real reactions of bystanders, including the man in the red sweats that resembled Santa, who was just there at the right time.

“Elf” provides that Christmas cheer for anyone seeking it in the form of a comedy. Between dancing in a mailroom, consuming overly sugared spaghetti and unloading snowballs at ambushers; the antics of Buddy know no bounds.  —Colton Pleslusky


Jade Campos is a junior majoring in print/digital journalism. To contact her, email

Courtney McGinley is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact her, email

Colton Pleslusky is a junior majoring in telecommunications. To contact him, email

About the Contributors

Jade Campos's photo

Jade Campos

Junior / Print/Digital Journalism

Jade Campos is a junior from Caroline, Virginia. She is a director of the arts and entertainment department of CommRadio and a co-host on the talk show The Nittany Record Club alongside Colton Pleslusky and David Fortunato. Along with CommRadio, Jade is currently the assistant lifestyle editor for the Daily Collegian. In the past, she has interned with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. To contact her, email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Colton Pleslusky's photo

Colton Pleslusky

Fourth-Year / Telecommunications

Colton S. Pleslusky is a fourth-year from Aliquippa, Pennsylvania majoring in telecommunications at Penn State. He is a director and writer for the CommRadio Arts & Entertainment Department as well as the host on Nittany Stories and a co-host on Nittany Record Club alongside Emily McGlynn. He does behind the scenes tasks, including directing, producing, programming and more for the Centre County Report. To contact him, email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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Courtney McGinley

Sophomore /

Courtney McGinley is a Sophomore from Pittsburgh, PA, and is majoring in Broadcast Journalism with a minor in Business. She serves as a News Reporter for CommRadio. In addition to CommRadio, she is a Field Reporter for PSNtv and an Entertainment Reporter for the Nittany Lion Red Carpet Network. Her twitter handle is @court_mcginley.