When you think of Christmas, you might think of presents. Or family. Or food. But some people think of the hundreds of Christmas movies that are watched all throughout December.
Wes Gehring, a professor of telecommunications, has written over 30 books about film, comedy and populism throughout his career. He has now rated the best holiday-themed movies and ranked them.
While the ranking is Gehring’s, all summaries of the films below are attributed to the Internet Movie Database:
1. "It's a Wonderful Life" (1946)
A desperate and frustrated business man (Jimmy Stewart) is sent an angel from heaven to show him what life would be like if he was never born.
2. "The Bishop's Wife" (1947)
A bishop (David Niven) is assisted by an angel (Cary Grant) in human form to help build a new cathedral and patch up his struggling marriage.
3. "Miracle on 34th Street" (1947)
A young lawyer (John Payne) defends an old man (Edmund Gwenn) who claims to be Santa Claus by arguing in court that he is the real thing.
4. "A Christmas Story" (1983)
A young boy from the 1940’s tries to convince his parents, teachers and Santa Claus that the perfect gift for him on Christmas day is a Red Ryder B.B. gun.
5. "Elf" (2003)
A man (Will Ferrell) who was raised as an elf in the North Pole decides to return to New York City in search of his true identity.
“A lot of feel-good kind of movies come out around Christmas time because even if people are real cynical, there’s a more of a likelihood they might get a little more sentimental,” Gehring said.
Gehring said that audiences want to find solace in these films, especially due to the political climate. In talking about the first film in the list, “It’s a Wonderful Life,” Gehring said that that movie has been seen recently as a more darker film.
“It’s a downer. It’s 40 notches above “Desperate Housewives,” Gehring said.
Gehring also contributes the performance of Jimmy Stewart, and said that Stewart seems to transcend all age groups in terms of reaching and affecting the audience.
In the 10th anniversary updated list of the American Film Institute’s 100 greatest American films of all time from 2007, “It’s a Wonderful Life” is currently the only film from Gehring’s picks that make it on the list at No. 20.
While not on Gehring’s list, “Home Alone” is currently the highest-grossing holiday film of all time at $285,761,243.