“Wonderful Life” or “Miracle”: Which Is THE BEST Christmas Movie?

Of the hundreds of Yuletide-themed films made over the years, two titles in particular are regarded by many as must-see holiday favorites. We’ve stated our cases, “Why It’s a Wonderful Life Is Wonderful“, “20 Reasons Miracle on 34th Street Is the Top Christmas Movie“; now it’s your turn to vote.

MovieFanfare Movie Poll of the Week

View Results


  • jimy101

    It’s A Wonderful Life says so many things about our humanity. I do not think there has ever been a motion picture that inspires as this one has to so many. James Stewart is perfect as George Bailey; no other actor could have portrayed George Bailey as well as he.

  • srickcrump

    The interesting thing about “It’s A Wonderful Life” is that Christmas is just incidental in this movie. Christmas only comes up toward the end, and it really has nothing to do with the plot. The story could have taken place at any time of year. BUT, if the Christmas tie-in wasn’t there, this movie may have been shown occasionally late night and be somewhat forgotten. Instead each year we get the joy of seeing it and be reminded how one life can make a difference. By the way, this movie helped me get my college degree, so it is a definite favorite.

  • nivlac

    These are both good movies – I don’t associate “Wonderful Life” with Christmas.
    My favourite Christmas Movies are:
    Scrooge – 1951 with Alastair Sym
    The Shop Around the Corner – 1940 with James Stewart and Margaret Sullavan.

  • sperry23

    I really wish you’d add a “Both” and “Neither/Other” choice. Both films have their good and bad points. Both fill the bill for a great holiday film.

    That being said, my favorite is still Alistair Sim’s “Scrooge” aka “A Christmas Carol”.

  • rogerzdodger

    These are both favorites and hard to choose between. Went with “Wonderful Life” because at least there’s the Angel aspect to remind us that Christmas is about God’s son.
    I also agree that Alastair Sim’s ‘Christmas Carol’ ranks at the top with these classics.

  • Overcomer

    I like White Christmas as well as the two listed for the poll. And for laughs, there’s A Christmas Story.

  • Judy

    For me the ultimate Christmas movie is the 1951 version of “A Christmas Carol” with Alastair Sim. I have watched this movie on Christmas Eve since I was a child in the 1960′s and still find it enjoyable. Sim is the ultimate Scrooge. As a child a found this movie scary and that made it even more exciting to watch on Christmas Eve.

  • lord belchmore

    Very limited choice here. Enter “Christmas Story” on that list and it will overwhelm the other two. There are still a lot of Shepherd’s loyal minions out here; myself being among them.

  • Harry Lyme

    “Wonderful Life” must be the loudest film ever made; everyone except Clarence shouts at each other. I want to say, ‘lower your voices, please!’ Given that choice, I take 34th Street….one other reason is the time capsule aspect….what must be Macy’s 1946 Parade. The scenes in the courthouse flash forward to so many Law & Order episodes (someone will tell me it was a set, but it looks just like L&O).

    My wife loves “Love Actually.” Me: Alastair Sim’s Scrooge, The Bishop’s Wife, and Bogart, Ustinove and Aldo Ray in “We’re No Angel.”

  • sam250624

    Although I prefer the TV version of Miracle. My favorite Christmas movie is A Christmas Story. A real slice of Americana. All my Christmases as a boy were in the sixties, but were the same as depicted in that film, and stayed that way until the mid seventies. By then there were few Dept. store Santa’s on Main Street, and the display windows full of toys were long gone.

  • aldanoli

    There are several reasons I prefer “Miracle” to “Wonderful Life”:

    – As some have noted, “Wonderful Life” is really all about George Bailey’s . . . wonderful life. The Christmas theme comes in only at the end (even if it does account for its popularity).
    – “Miracle” was fairly brave to challenge the mercenary trend of Christmas way back then — and at a time when America was at the height of her post-war power, and on the way to the vast expansion of wealth in the ’50s. And using two real department stores, too!
    – It was also brave to have a leading lady playing a divorced character; a more conventional 1940s movie would have made her a widow (especially so soon after the war).
    – It’s overrun with wonderful character actors, including Porter Hall, Jerome Cowan, Gene Lockhart, William Frawley, Philip Tonge, and a brief appearance by a young Jack Albertson.
    – The courtroom scenes between John Payne and Cowan have a remarkably authentic feel — much more so than in a lot of “law” movies.
    – And, of course: was that really Edmund Gwenn up there on the screen — or did the *real* Kris Kringle borrow his screen actor’s guild card for the duration? For him, it was the role of a lifetime, deservedly winning him an Oscar (though it should have been for best actor, not best supporting actor).

  • Gypsy331

    There are so many great Christmas movies, but for me “Miracle on 34th Street” and “White Christmas” are tied for first place with “A Christmas Story” running a close second.

  • Jack Jones

    Back during “Radio Days” Lionel Barrymore would broadcast “A Christmas Carol” at Christmas time. He, of course, was Scrooge. Some years ago I obtained the LP (it runs just under 30 minutes) which I transferred to tape So it, along with the Grinch, are among my Christmas staples.

    • Adelia

      That is my sister and wtchaing that I blubbered all the way thru. I felt so many emotions bursting thru me. It was so beautiful. I am so proud of Julie Jason and of my gorgeous little neice. My god it was awesome!!!! Beautiful beautiful work.

  • Ike Dey

    I think that one of the best, but not listed is It Came Upon A Midnight Clear, starring Mickey Rooney, Llyod Nolan and Barbel Tween. If you haven’t seen it, you missed a great Christmas movie.

  • Richard

    I like “It’s A Wonderful Life” over “Miracle On 34th Street”. Movies done to convince others that Santa is real have been done many times. “The Santa Clause” is the most recent. Other productions of IAWL have been done too, but none as good as Stewart and Reed and Barrymore. I 1st saw IAWL in the 1960′s and not at Christmas. It was just shown during the summer. My favorite Christmas movie is “The Bishop’s Wife” with Grant, Young, Niven, Lanchester, and Gleason. “A Christmas Story” is 2nd. The best “A Christmas Carol” is the Sims production in 1951. All subsequent actors doing Scrooge had to base their performance on Sims’, even George C Scott did. I also like “Silent Night” with Linda Hamilton. Despite how good MO34S is, it is not among my top 5 Holiday movies.

  • Blair Kramer

    “Miracle On 34th Street” remains my favorite holiday movie. I just have one small quibble with the film. Since Kris is living in an old folks home, there really isn’t much doubt about the fact that he’s nothing more than an eccentric old man. We would certainly like to believe the notion that he’s the real santa Claus, but the film makers just wouldn’t allow it. It would have made more sense if kris basically “fell out of the sky” as it were. He should have been a jolly old elf with no fixed address. Of course, his new friends would assume that he’s a poor man who was suddenly made homeless. At the same time, Kris might say that he’s been vacationing too long and he needs to get back to the North Pole before the Christmas holiday! To my mind, this scenario would have made the question of his true identity (is he, or is he not, Santa Claus?) much stronger.

  • johligo

    My favourite is the Bishop’s Wife. It, by far, surpasses both of these choices imho :-) Not to say I don’t love them both and watch every year – but I own the Bishop’s Wife :-D

  • Raven

    Wonderful Life is an all time favorite, but so are all the others mentioned here, I always wonder, however why White Christmas is mentioned, but not the earlier Holiday Inn w/ Bing and Fred Astaire, and where the song “White Christmas” is inteoduced.

    • Antone

      I agree that Holiday Inn is the better of the two. It must be the Technicolor that does it.

  • Gord

    Since I don’t personally care for either film, I have abstained from voting.

    As for favourite Christmas films, my #1 choice is “Christmas Eve” with Loretta Young (tv movie, her final film appearance) that co-starred Trevor Howard, Ron Liebman, Arthur Hill David Cassidy and Kate Reid. A close #2 is the Alistar Sim “A Christmas Carol.”

    Other holiday favourites (not necessarily ‘Christmas movies’) include “Meet Me in St. Louis”, “In the Good, Old Summer Time” and “Auntie Mame.” And for a little irreverance, altho not normally a fan of such films, I do get a kick out of “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.” A guilty pleasure to be sure!

  • Metro’s little lion

    Including “It’s a Wonderful Life” here, a movie that bombed originally at the box-office and that fell into public domain due to a lack of interest, is as wrong-headed as putting “Meet Me in St, Louis” because it is the source of Judy Garlan’s poignant and sad “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”, a song that is not cheerful but almost heart-breaking in its sense of loss.So the choice is really not a good one at all.

  • Colin

    We’re given a choice of two very entertaining movies, neither of which was released as a Christmas-time movie. “Miracle” was released in the spring and “Wonderful Life” right after Christmas. Many have commented that “It’s a Wonderful Life” isn’t a Christmas movie. But isn’t it… just because it doesn’t involve The Nativity or Santa? The story takes place on Christmas eve. We (and Clarence) are given a glimpse of George’s past through flashback. When my children were about 8 – 10 years old, I “forced” them to watch “Miracle on 34th Street”.. About half-way through the movie, I acted like I was going to turn off the DVD… Let’s just say they wouldn’t let me do that. So, choosing between the two… I find it hard to imagine the Christmas season without either of them.

  • John Small

    My favorite Christmas movie of all time will ALWAYS be the 1937 (maybe ’38, I can’t recall now) MGM version of “A Christmas carol” with reginald Owen as Scrooge and Gene Lockhart (father of June) as Bob Crachit. No other holiday film can hold a candle to this one as far as I’m concerned.

  • ETB

    Love them both, but must have The Bishop’s Wife as it deals with the real meaning of Christmas. And, A Christmas Story is my own (story) right down to the Red Ryder BB Gun which my father couldn’t afford ($3.95, I believe). Born in 1934 it’s my own, and of course others of the Depression generation including the clinker in the coal furnace and pecking order at school. Honest to God, I believe the gal who played the teacher looked like half the teachers I had in elementary school !!

  • doris

    it’s a wonderful life

  • Ron

    Neither………………………………………White Christmas is the best

  • Wes

    My Top three are Scrooge (both 1937 and 1951 versions) ,It’s a Wonderful Life and and then White Christmas. Powerful messages and “feel good” ending movies. Truly Christmas classics.

  • Jacqueline

    Miracle on 34th Street is a tradition to watch on Christmas Eve in my home and will always be my favorite.Natalie Wood was a classic actress even at that time in her young life! no One will EVER top her performance.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003285454195 Greg P Burlotos

    Since I was 4-5 with a brief break while in the service in the 70′s, Thanksgiving started the Christmas season with “March of the wooden Soldiers” (Babes in Toyland) Then, up until Christmas would be ‘A Christmas Carol” wirth Reginald Owens, Miracle on 34th Street, (Original) It’s a Wonderful Life. In the mid 90′s. I also got Mary Martins “Peter Pan. I taped them onto a 8 hour VHS and my son sat and watched them everyday until Christmas and every Christmas since then I played that tape. I had to re-record around 2003 and managed to get colored versions. Around 2008-9 I replaced the worn VHS with DVD colorized versions and play them when they kids come home from college. They play while we eat, while we open presents, when we decorate the tree

  • Jane Kelly

    I cannot vote on this because for me the one and only Christmas movie we watch over and over each Christmas is White Christmas!

  • Antone

    Neither is my favorite Christmas-related movie; but Miracle is the easy choice between the two films offered. A few of the films that I prefer [in no particular order] are: A Christmas Story, The Man Who Came to Dinner, The Thin Man, We’re No Angels, A Christmas Carol [Sims], Stalag 17, The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek, the magi story from Full House, Holiday Inn, Babes in Toyland, Christmas in Connecticut and [for explosive Christmas] Die Hard.

  • badleg60

    Christmas Vacation because it reminds me of the Christmases spent at my in-laws house when I was first married. My father-in-law WAS Clark Grizzwald