HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — What is the quintessential Christmas movie? That’s the question posed to News 19 viewers on Facebook more than one week ago.
The initial post received the largest response yet for a News 19 Facebook poll with over 1,300 comments to the simple question. Viewers chimed in with classic films like “White Christmas” and “It’s a Wonderful Life” to modern hits like “The Santa Clause” and “Elf.”
News 19 compiled a list of some of those responses.
Before the top 10 picks, here are a few honorable mentions: The Christmas Shoes (46 votes), The Santa Clause (42 votes), Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (41 votes), Scrooged (25 votes), and Frosty the Snowman (15 votes).
10. The Grinch (48 votes)
- When was it released? This is a complicated question. The original cartoon debuted on television in 1966. The live-action version starring Jim Carrey hit theaters in 2000, and an updated computer-animated version came out in 2018.
- Who starred in it? Boris Karloff narrated the original cartoon. The live-action picture starred Jim Carrey in the title. In 2018’s animated feature, Benedict Cumberbatch (using his American accent) voiced the holiday curmudgeon.
“The Grinch” in all its iterations was submitted by folks like Reba George, Ashlee Freemon, Codi Cunningham Chesnut, and Jake Brown.
9. A Christmas Carol / The Polar Express (50 votes, tied)
- When was “A Christmas Carol” released? The classic Charles Dickens novel has been adapted many times for film, TV, and stage. The earliest known adaption on film was “Scrooge, or, Marley’s Ghost” in 1901; however, the most famous adaptation is likely 1938’s “A Christmas Carol,” which starred Reginald Owen as Ebenezer Scrooge.
- Who starred in “A Christmas Carol”? Many, many men have played the lead in “A Christmas Carol,” from the aforementioned Reginald Owen to George C. Scott, Albert Finney, and in animated form, Jim Carrey. Each adaptation offers something completely different and the lead performances bring something new to the Scrooge character.
“A Christmas Carol” was deemed the favorites of viewers like Bill Bridgmon, Nancy Buckley Wilson, and Alan Frederick Koch.
- When was “The Polar Express” released? “The Polar Express” was released in the United States on November 10, 2004. While it underperformed at the box office in its initial run, later re-releases propelled the movie to global fame.
- Who starred in “The Polar Express”? Tom Hanks led the cast in the first-ever all-digital capture film. Hanks played multiple roles in the film, including voicing the main character as an adult, his father, a homeless man, the train’s conductor, Santa Claus, and an Ebenezer Scrooge puppet.
2004’s “The Polar Express” was the favorite of News 19 viewers like Skye Major, Alyssa Briggs, Babs O’Guin, Steve Cahela, and Judy Green!
8. Miracle on 34th Street (66 votes)
- When was it released? Initially released as “The Big Heart,” the classic “Miracle on 34th Street” was released on June 11, 1947 — a summer release for what became a holiday classic. It won three Oscars after its release and was added to the National Film Registry in 2005.
- Who starred in it? Maureen O’Hara and John Payne led the iconic cast that also included Edmund Gwenn, Gene Lockhart, Natalie Wood, Porter Hall, William Frawley, Jerome Cowan, and Philip Tonge.
“Miracle on 34th Street” was noted as the favorite of Teri Sonnemann Leonard, Patsy Sain, Patricia Willard, and Ann McClung Bailey.
7. Elf (69 votes)
- When was it released? Easily one of the best-known modern Christmas movies, “Elf” hit theaters on November 7, 2003. It grossed more than $200 million globally against a small budget of $33 million.
- Who starred in it? Will Ferrell took on the lead role of Buddy the Elf, with critics calling it his best performance to date. The supporting cast was rounded out by Zooey Deschanel, Mary Steenburgen, Bob Newhart, and the late James Caan.
A less-popular-than-expected choice, “Elf” was the favorite of News 19 viewers like Jennie L. Velasquez, Glenda Ragland Kelsoe, Hank Mays, Paige Coker, McKenzie Kelley, and Lori Tripp Hazelring!
6. White Christmas (86 votes)
- When was it released? The Christmas musical film “White Christmas” debuted on the big screen on October 14, 1954. Featuring the songs of Irving Berlin, the film recreates the classic “White Christmas” song by Bing Crosby from 1942’s “Holiday Inn.”
- Who starred in it? Christmas icon Bing Crosby leads a cast that includes Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney (the aunt of Oscar-winner George Clooney), Vera-Ellen, and Dean Jagger.
The classic film “White Christmas” was picked as the best Christmas movie by fans like Glenda Luna, Danita Patroski, Justin Young, Sherry Crumley, and Marnee Pleasant.
5. Die Hard (90 votes)
- When was it released? “Die Hard” was released on July 15, 1988 by 20th Century Fox. The film, considered by some to be a Christmas movie and others not, is based on the 1979 novel “Nothing Lasts Forever” by Roderick Thorp.
- Who starred in it? Bruce Willis, Alan Rickman, Alexander Godunov, and Bonnie Bedelia.
While a controversial choice in some circles, “Die Hard” was picked as the best Christmas movie ever by News 19 viewers like Billy Holt, Katy Harding, Russell Matthews, and Charmion Jeffreys.
4. Home Alone (91 votes)
- When was it released? The first “Home Alone” was released on November 16, 1990. It was followed by sequels in 1992, 1997, 2002, and a soft reboot in 2021. Only the initial sequel featured star Macauley Culkin in the lead role.
- Who starred in it? The role of Kevin McCallister earned international fame for Macauley Culkin. The supporting cast, which included Joe Pesci, Daniel Stern, John Heard, and Catherine O’Hara, also provided memorable performances.
“Home Alone,” both 1 and 2, was picked as the best Christmas film by Facebook fans like Destiny TaJe Jackson, Mauro Cedillo, Joan Thompson, and Kristen Packer.
3. A Christmas Story (139 votes)
- When was it released? “A Christmas Story” was set during the 1950s but hit theaters on November 18, 1983.
- Who starred in it? Peter Billingsley, Melinda Dillon, Ian Petrella, and Darren McGavin portrayed the central family. The supporting cast included Scott Schwartz, R.D. Robb, Zack Ward, and Tedde Moore.
The long-running, 24-hour Christmas campaign paid off. “A Christmas Story” was picked by fans like Aaron Jackson, Latasha Sharee Goodlin, and Amber Waltman as the No. 1 Christmas film of all time.
2. It’s a Wonderful Life (146 votes)
- When was it released? The holiday classic was released in theaters on December 20, 1946. It is based on the self-published novel “The Greatest Gift” by Philip Van Doren Stern.
- Who starred in it? James Stewart leads the Christmas classic with supporting performances from Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore, Thomas Mitchell, Henry Travers, Beulah Bondi, Ward Bond, Frank Faylen, and Gloria Grahame.
The second-most popular film on the News 19 survey was mentioned by fans like Debbie Dixon, Teresa Henkel, Mary Ann Lanier, April Dawn Ivey, Willie Johnson, and Bill Gulley.
1. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (153 votes)
- When was it released? “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” debuted in theaters on December 1, 1989. It was the third installment of the magazine’s “Vacation” film series.
- Who starred in it? “Saturday Night Live” veteran Chevy Chase returned to the role of Clark Griswold in “Christmas Vacation.” Supporting players in the cast included Beverly D’Angelo, Juliette Lewis, Johnny Galecki, Diane Ladd, Randy Quaid, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus.
“National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation,” the staple holiday comedy revolving around the Griswold family, got the top mention from folks like Anthony Kelley, Jamie Franklin, Danisha Johnston, Phillip Laxson, Virginia Godbee, and Eric Campbell.
Did your favorite Christmas film make the top 10? See all of the responses from News 19’s Facebook post here.