1. The Polar Express (2004) – Tom Hanks stars as a conductor on a train to the North Pole. Roger Ebert describes the film as a “movie in the process of becoming an enduring classic.” Director Robert Zemeckis has created a wonderful and mythical make-believe world not unlike the “Merry Old Land of Oz” in the 1939 Classic The Wizard of Oz. Hanks does everything but sell tickets at the box office, creating a total of five roles.
2. How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966) – A nasty green fellow called the Grinch lives in the hills above Whoville, hates Christmas with a passion, and plans to stop it from coming by stealing toys, food, and presents from the Whos. Dr. Seuss’ timeless tale is wonderfully animated by Chuck Jones, of Looney Toons fame, and masterfully narrated by the incomparable Boris Karloff.
3. A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965) – In this TV special, Charles Schulz’s Peanuts gang stages a Yuletide pageant while Charlie Brown attempts to discover “the true meaning of Christmas” The highpoint is Linus’ classic recital of the Nativity Story from the Gospel of Luke. Another memorable moment is the unveiling of the iconic diminutive Christmas tree that cannot support even a single ornament. The Vince Guaraldi Jazz Trio’s lively score is equally unforgettable.
4. A Claymation Christmas Celebration (1987) – Herb and Rex are dinosaurs who introduce a host of wonderful numbers, including the hilarious “Carol of the Bells.” Also featured are “We Three Kings,” “Angels We Have Heard on High” and the California Raisins’ soulful rendition of “Rudolph.”
5. A Garfield Christmas (1987) – Christmas with the dysfunctional Arbuckle family created by Jim Davis. Garfield, Jon and Odie head to their relatives to celebrate the holidays, and the orange tabby’s legendary gluttony steals the show.
6. Babes in Toyland (1997) – A lively rendition of the classic children’s Christmas fantasy by early 20th-century composer Victor Herbert. The beautiful Mary Contrary is saved from marrying the villain Barnaby instead of her true love, Jack Be Nimble. Featuring the voices of Christopher Plummer, James Belushi and Bronson Pinchot.
7. A Walt Disney Christmas (1982) – A number of classic Christmas shorts are included in this video, such as “Pluto’s Christmas Tree” starring those talented ground squirrels, Chip and Dale, as well as the 1932 Silly Symphony “Santa’s Workshop.” Unfortunately, this feature was only to be found on VHS, although some of the shorts are available on the Mickey’s Christmas Carol DVD. (More on that in a minute).
8. ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas (1974) – This film focuses on the magic of Christmas Eve, and children’s great expectations. The film tells of mice and men in a small town where, sadly, Santa will not be visiting this year because of an unfortunate letter from the pen of Albert Mouse.
9. Mickey’s Christmas Carol (1983) – Scrooge McDuck stars as, naturally, Ebenezer Scrooge, and Mickey Mouse is the cheerful and always grateful Bob Cratchit. Goofy is excellent as Scrooge’s partner Jacob Marley. With apologies to Charles Dickens.
10. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964) – One of the most beloved holiday classics ever, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is essentially a story of misfits finding their place, be they reindeer, elves or forgotten toys. Singer Burl Ives livens up a charming soundtrack that includes “A Holly Jolly Christmas” and “Silver and Gold.”
Those are Charles Wiebe’s 10 favorite animated Christmas features, but what Yuletide-themed cartoons do you make an annual part of your holiday celebrations? Sound off in the comments!
Chuck Wiebe teaches Film Studies at the Pittsburgh Campus of the University of Phoenix. He has published over 60 articles on film as the National DVD Movies Examiner on www.examiner.com . His work has also appeared in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He holds a BA in Fine Art from West Virginia University, and an MA in Art History from The Pennsylvania State University. He also studied at the University of Rome, Italy. He believes that film is the most influential art form of our time.
Looking for more articles on Christmas movies? Checkout our Christmas Movie Mashup.