Top Best Santa Claus Movies

1. Miracle on 34th Street, 2. The Nightmare Before Christmas, 3. Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale, 4. Mall Santa – 'A Christmas Story', 5. Elf, 6. Get Santa, 7. Bad Santa, 8. The Santa Clause, 9. Violent Night, 10. The Christmas Chronicles. In this list, we have gathered a collection of the best Santa Claus movies that capture the magic, joy, and wonder of the holiday season with the iconic character of Santa Claus at the center. From heartwarming tales to action-packed adventures, these movies will transport you to a world where Santa Claus comes to life and brings hope and happiness to children and adults alike.

  1. Miracle on 34th Street
  2. The Nightmare Before Christmas
  3. Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale
  4. Mall Santa – ‘A Christmas Story’
  5. Elf
  6. Get Santa
  7. Bad Santa
  8. The Santa Clause
  9. Violent Night
  10. The Christmas Chronicles

Miracle on 34th Street

Released on June 11, 1947, “Miracle on 34th Street”, one of the best Santa Claus movies, brought forth an unexpected delight to audiences. Its under-publicized nature added to the surprise factor, leaving many attendees of the invitational preview at the time uninformed about the story. Yet, the film garnered a resounding round of applause, an unusual occurrence in a town that churns out movies more than it applauds them.

In a nutshell, “Miracle on 34th Street” follows the journey of a man named Kris Kringle, who assumes the role of Santa Claus at Macy’s Department Store. However, Kris finds himself in a legal battle to prove the existence of Santa Claus, and ultimately, his own sanity.

Edmund Gwenn’s portrayal of Kris Kringle with his straight face and bearded countenance stands out as one of his finest performances in his illustrious career. Gene Lockhart also shines as the New York Supreme Court judge presiding over the sanity hearing. The film features a cast of memorable supporting characters, including Porter Hall as a store employee pretending to be a psychiatrist, Philip Tonge as the toy department manager, William Frawley as a shrewd political steerer, Jerome Cowan as the prosecuting attorney, and Alvin Greenman as the junior Santa impersonator, Albert.

While the abundance of characters may initially seem overwhelming, George Seaton’s script weaves them together seamlessly, and knowing the plot twists beforehand might not detract from the enjoyment. Beyond the novelty of the story, the entertainment value remains so strong that the movie is still considered a legend to this day.

Release: 1947

Stars: Edmund Gwenn, Maureen O’Hara, John Payne

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 96%

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The Nightmare Before Christmas

“The Nightmare Before Christmas” – the only animation movie in our list of the best Santa Claus movies, since it was made by the famous director Tim Burton – tells the story of Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King of Halloween Town. Despite his fame and success in overseeing Halloween festivities year after year, Jack grows tired and disenchanted with the same routine. Feeling a void in his life, he stumbles upon a portal that leads him to Christmas Town. Completely captivated by the joy and wonder of Christmas, Jack becomes determined to take over Christmas and infuse it with his own spooky twist.

Movies have the power to transport us to new worlds, but it’s a rarity to come across a film like “Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas” where every landscape feels entirely unfamiliar. The visuals are strange and haunting, even Santa Claus would be unrecognizable without his iconic red-and-white attire.

Unlike traditional movies, this film utilizes stop-action animation, where the characters are constructed and moved frame by frame, creating a three-dimensional world that feels tangible. The animators of “Nightmare” have meticulously built every element from scratch, from houses to sticks and stones, providing a unique playground for their skeletal and somewhat pitiful characters.

While “The Nightmare Before Christmas” bears the stamp of Tim Burton’s creative vision, it is director Henry Selick, a seasoned stop-action master, who brings it all to life. With the collaboration of talented artists and designers, Selick has crafted a world that is as fresh and awe-inspiring as the first glimpses of “Metropolis,” “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari” and “Star Wars.” Its intricate details are scattered throughout the frames, beckoning viewers to revisit the film multiple times to truly grasp and appreciate the depth of its visual storytelling. Each corner holds hidden surprises and artistic inspirations.

Release: 1993
Director: Tim Burton
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 95%

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Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale

Throughout cinematic history, we’ve encountered some terrifying portrayals of Santa Claus, like Gene Hackman’s gritty undercover cop in The French Connection and Billy Bob Thornton’s hilariously sleazy fraud in Bad Santa. However, none of them compare to the darkly humorous and bone-chilling Santa Claus in “Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale.”

“Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale” is a darkly humorous Finnish fantasy film that takes a unique spin on the traditional Christmas story. Set in the Korvatunturi mountains of Lapland, the film follows young Pietari and his father Rauno, who make a living herding reindeer.

Strange events begin to unfold in their village when a secretive archaeological excavation disturbs an ancient burial mound on the nearby mountain. As Christmas approaches, the local reindeer herds are mysteriously slaughtered, and children in the village go missing.

Drawing inspiration from classic horror films like The Thing and The Exorcist, the excavation reveals a shocking truth: the ancient Laplanders froze and buried the real Santa Claus there a thousand years ago. This wasn’t your jolly gift-giver, though. This Santa was a monstrous, horned cannibal, accompanied by his wicked elves who used their sacks not for presents, but for abducting innocent children to serve their malevolent master.

Filled with intrigue, humor, and resourcefulness, this Finnish horror flick offers a unique and captivating experience, infusing it with darkness and unleashing a host of imaginative terrors upon the screen. Get ready for an electrifying and ingeniously woven narrative that will have you hooked from start to finish.

Release: 2010

Stars: Jorma Tommila, Onni Tommila, Peeter Jakobi

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 89%

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Mall Santa – ‘A Christmas Story’

In the classic holiday film “Mall Santa – A Christmas Story” – one of the best Santa Claus movies – we follow the journey of Ralphie Parker, a young boy with an unwavering desire for the ultimate Christmas present: a Red Ryder Carbine Action 200-shot Range Model air rifle.

Throughout the film, Ralphie faces numerous obstacles in his pursuit of the Red Ryder BB gun. He encounters skeptical adults, including his parents and his teacher, who repeatedly respond with the cautionary phrase, “You’ll shoot your eye out!” Undeterred by the cautionary words, Ralphie’s resolve only strengthens, and he goes as far as composing a heartfelt and articulate letter addressed to Santa Claus.

“Mall Santa – A Christmas Story” strikes a delicate balance, offering ample humor without becoming over-the-top. While some other Christmas movies may provide a few laughs, they quickly wear out their welcome. “A Christmas Story”, on the other hand, possesses an enduring charm that can amuse and delight time and time again. The film understands the innate humor in our humanity—the quirks and weaknesses that provide endless fodder for laughter.

And with the sardonic observations from the narrator (an adult Ralphie voiced by Jean Shepherd), the movie becomes an enjoyable experience that never fails to entertain. This format proved so successful that it was later adopted by the ABC-TV show The Wonder Years, which shares the same appeal as “A Christmas Story”: nostalgia.

Release: 1983

Stars: Peter Billingsley, Melinda Dillon, Darren McGavin

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“Elf” follows the story of Buddy, a human who accidentally ends up in the North Pole as a baby and is raised by Santa’s elves. As Buddy grows older, it becomes clear that he is different from the other elves due to his larger size and lack of aptitude for toy-making. With a burning desire to discover his true identity, Buddy embarks on a journey to New York City to find his biological father, Walter Hobbs.

Jon Favreau’s visionary direction plays a crucial role in the film’s enduring appeal. Instead of relying on CGI, Favreau utilizes forced perspective to create the illusion that Buddy is larger than the other elves in the North Pole scenes. This practical effect retains its effectiveness even as CGI technology evolves, ensuring that the film remains visually captivating.

Beyond its lead performance and creative vision, “Elf” ‘s heart lies in its poignant father-and-son journey, influenced by Berenbaum’s personal experiences with grief. The concept of a parent rejecting their child carries significant emotional weight, especially when faced with someone as innocent as Buddy. However, Buddy’s unwavering love for his father remains unshaken, even in the face of rejection.

This narrative thread is brought to life by James Caan, known for his iconic role in The Godfather, who portrays Buddy’s father with a jaded and intimidating presence. Caan’s performance serves as a counterpoint to Buddy’s optimism, resulting in both hilarious and heartrending moments. The culmination of Buddy’s father’s eventual acceptance resonates deeply, leaving a lasting impact on viewers.

Release: 2003

Stars: Will Ferrell, James Caan,Bob Newhart

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 85%

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Get Santa

In “Get Santa” (2014), the plot revolves around a young boy named Tom, who embarks on an unexpected adventure with his dad and Santa Claus himself.

When Santa crash-lands his sleigh in London, he finds himself in trouble with the law and faces the risk of being captured and unable to deliver gifts on Christmas Eve. Tom and his dad must join forces with Santa to save him, help him retrieve his reindeer, and find a way to get him back to the North Pole in time for Christmas.

It’s worth noting that “Get Santa” brings a unique touch to the genre. The film’s inventive use of the Northern Lights, a forest brimming with elves, and the delightful performance of Joshua Maguire all contribute to its charm. Despite the odds, there is a prevailing sense of adventure and excitement as Steve and Tom navigate their way through challenges.

Furthermore, the film benefits from the comedic talents of Warwick Davis as the amusing tunnel digger and Stephen Graham as the barber, who deliver standout performances. Joanna Scanlan and Ewen Bremner also provide memorable portrayals of Grinch-like authority figures determined to spoil the fun.

Release: 2014

Stars: Jim Broadbent, Rafe Spall, Warwick Davis, Stephen Graham, Joanna Scanlan

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 79%

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Bad Santa

“Bad Santa” is a dark comedy film about Willie T. Soke, a miserable and alcoholic con artist who poses as Santa Claus during the holiday season to rob shopping malls. Willie, along with his partner in crime, Marcus Skidmore, targets a different mall each year, using their Santa guise as a cover to gain access to the stores and steal valuable merchandise.

“Bad Santa” is the antidote to saccharine-sweet Christmas films that flood the market. Although it manages to squeeze in a sort of happy ending, the filmmakers deliver it with a sly wink and a nod, leaving room for interpretation. Is it genuine or just a fantasy? That’s for you to decide.

Some might label this movie as “mean-spirited,” and they wouldn’t be entirely wrong. “Bad Santa” sets out to shock its audience. From Santa relieving himself in his suit to his blatant contempt for children, it’s clear that this film doesn’t shy away from being unapologetically dark. It refuses to go the predictable route of reforming Willie – which might work for a more cheer-filled flick, but that’s simply not “Bad Santa’s” style.

And yet, amid all the darkness, or perhaps because of it, the film manages to be outrageously funny. The humor is unconventional, offbeat, and at times, it’ll have you laughing out loud. The fact that we find ourselves bending over with laughters through this movie is evident of how amazing “Bad Santa” is!

Stars: Billy Bob Thornton, Bernie Mac, Lauren Graham

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 78%

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The Santa Clause

“The Santa Clause” is a heartwarming Christmas film that tells the story of Scott Calvin, a divorced father who struggles to connect with his young son, Charlie, played by Eric Lloyd. On Christmas Eve, Scott and Charlie hear a noise on the roof, and when Scott goes to investigate, he startles Santa Claus, causing him to fall from the roof.

As Santa’s last act, he instructs Scott to put on his red suit and finish delivering the presents. Reluctantly, Scott agrees and, with Charlie in tow, embarks on a magical journey to fulfill Santa’s duties. They visit houses, slide down chimneys, and experience the joy of spreading holiday cheer.

“The Santa Clause,” poses an intriguing legal dilemma centered around the fine print on Santa’s business card. It’s simple equation: put on the suit, and you’re stuck with the whole shebang – reindeer, milk and cookies diet, North Pole suite, and the task of gift delivery. That’s the deal, that’s “The Santa Clause.”

But don’t expect this Santa story to end up in a courtroom like the others. Instead, it takes a cool and likable spin on the beloved Christmas figure, skillfully blending comedy and sentimentality. This winning combination is sure to generate some serious Christmas cash and keep the holiday spirit alive well into the New Year.

While director John Pasquin may not display remarkable flair or inventiveness, he gets the job done. And he’s aided by the ever-personable Tim Allen, who effortlessly translates his television charisma to the big screen. Eric Lloyd also shines as an endearing child actor.

“The Santa Clause” also deserves praise for striking the right balance between storytelling and the utilization of gadgets and effects. They serve the narrative without overwhelming it, complemented beautifully by Carol Spier’s impressive production design.

Release: 1994

Stars: Tim Allen, Judge Reinhold, Wendy Crewson, Eric Lloyd

Rotten Tomatoes: 73%

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Violent Night

“Violent Night,” released in 2022, is an action-packed comedy set during Christmas. Directed by Tommy Wirkola and written by Pat Casey and Josh Miller, the movie centers around Santa Claus, played by David Harbour, as he takes on a group of mercenaries who have seized a wealthy family in their own residence.

In “Violent Night,” Santa Claus not only checks his naughty list but also pulverizes bad guys with a sledgehammer on Christmas Eve. If it weren’t for the presence of David Harbour in the lead role, one might mistake this film for a low-budget production destined to be quickly forgotten after the holiday season.

However, director Tommy Wirkola utilizes the budget to its fullest potential, delivering a new holiday classic that captures the essence of Christmas cheer while not shying away from excessive gore. Despite the abundance of over-the-top violence, the movie manages to wear its big heart on its sleeve, making it more than just a forgettable B-movie.

Adding to the madness, the criminals in “Violent Night” adopt holiday-themed code names, led by the villainous Mr. Scrooge, portrayed by John Leguizamo. (And yes, Mr. Scrooge has a backstory that explains his hatred for Christmas). This sets the stage for a hilarious cat-and-mouse game that always ends in glorious brutality. The sheer absurdity of the concept is the film’s greatest strength, and Wirkola knows exactly how to embrace the ridiculousness of each death, resulting in uproarious laughter throughout the theater.

Release: 2022

Stars: David Harbour, John Leguizamo, Beverly D’Angelo

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 73%

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The Christmas Chronicles

“The Christmas Chronicles” follows the siblings Kate (Darby Camp) and Teddy Pierce (Judah Lewis). As the two grieve the loss of their father and struggle to maintain the holiday spirit, they come up with a plan to catch Santa Claus on camera. However, their plan takes an unexpected turn when they accidentally crash Santa’s sleigh, causing him to lose his magical bag of presents.

Director Clay Kaytis and screenwriter Matt Lieberman draw inspiration from Chris Columbus’ beloved films, setting much of the story in the vibrant city of Chicago. The film incorporates elements reminiscent of “Adventures in Babysitting” and “Home Alone,” evoking a sense of nostalgia while still offering a fresh and original storyline. The blues-themed musical number, “Santa Claus Is Back in Town,” performed by Kurt Russell with the backing of Little Steven & the Disciples of Soul, brings infectious energy and showcases Russell’s incredible talent and charisma.

Meanwhile, the film’s production design by Paul Denham Austerberry and art direction by Kimberley Zaharko also shine: the sleigh’s dashboard blends modern and retro elements, Santa’s workshop is beautifully crafted with a video screen wall displaying children’s requests, and a towering apothecary cabinet holds letters to the North Pole. Luis Sequeira’s costume designs give Santa’s traditional attire a contemporary twist, and the ongoing gag about Santa’s displeasure with his media portrayal adds a humorous touch to “The Christmas Chronicles”.

Release: 2018

Stars: Kurt Russell, Darby Camp, Judah Lewis

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 68%


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