Decorating the tree, last-minute gift shopping, arguing with your family about motion smoothing — it’s a miracle we survived the holidays! One of our favorite ways to celebrate is by watching a great holiday flick. With some old classics and some modern entries, here are our picks for the 8 best Christmas movie scenes. Let them inspire you to write a great Christmas scene in your screenplay, whether it’s a romantic declaration, action movie explosion or clever crime plot!
1. Mark’s “reindeer jumper” in Bridget Jones’ Diary
No, Bridget Jones’ Diary isn’t technically a Christmas movie – but it actually begins and ends at Christmas time, allowing us to see how the relationship between Bridget and Mark Darcy (yup – Colin Firth) has changed over the course of a year. Our pick for its best Christmas movie scene is the one at the beginning, in which the two not-quite-love-birds wear ugly Christmas sweaters (before it was cool!). He ends up saying some pretty terrible stuff about Bridget when he doesn’t think she’s in earshot, but somehow we still love him anyway.
At some point, it became cool to say that Die Hard is your favorite Christmas movie – and then came the backlash. Although it takes place around Christmas time, Die Hard isn’t exactly a Christmas movie you pick for holiday cheer, so some movie fans consider it “cheating” to pick the 1988 Bruce Willis classic as your favorite. It was even released in July! But maybe you’re not into presents and snowmen and cute holiday moments. Maybe saying “yippee ki-yay, motherf—ers” makes you feel all warm and fuzzy. You do you!
1994’s The Santa Clause doesn’t age perfectly well (why were so many 90s movies about dramatic child custody arrangements?), but we still love Tim Allen as a reluctant Santa who visits a whimsical North Pole. We’ll never forget when he shaves and then immediately grows back the white Santa Claus beard – and our favorite scene comes around the same time, when he visits the doctor, shows off his now-rotund belly and says “Does this look like a LITTLE weight to you?”
4. The cat electrocution in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
If your family doesn’t get along during the holidays, you can probably relate to the 1989 classic National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. We love the scene in which the cat chews on Christmas lights and gets electrocuted. Did you know that the scene almost didn’t make the movie? Studio executives worried that viewers might find it too offensive – but one film producer begged the studio to keep the scene. When test audiences saw the film for the first time, the cat electrocution scene ended up being their favorite one!
When you’re looking for the perfect Christmas movie, don’t forget 2003’s Elf, which stars Will Ferrell as Buddy, a human who grew up among the elves in the North Pole and comes down to New York to meet his father, who’s a real Scrooge. Nobody is more famous to Buddy than Santa Claus. When Buddy hears that Santa will be coming to the department store where he works, he freaks out in the most hilarious and memorable way.
People tend to love or hate Love Actually, the ensemble Christmas comedy that came out the same year as Elf. We understand if you still get really mad at Laura Linney’s character for skipping out on her date early. But you can’t deny that little Sam’s crush on singer Joanna is absolutely adorable. Running through the airport to say something to your beloved before they get on a plane may be a movie cliche by now. But this Love Actually finale scene never gets old. Go get her, Sam!
Is there any gift stranger than the leg lamp in 1993’s A Christmas Story? What makes it even funnier is that in the film, Darren McGavin mispronounces the word “fragile” as “frageelay.” He’s so excited to get a giant lamp that looks like a sexy woman’s leg in fishnet stockings that he displays it proudly in his home’s front window. If only we could muster up the same level of excitement when our relatives give us ugly sweaters or gift cards to places we never go!
8. Kevin’s toy traps in Home Alone
It’s almost impossible to pick a favorite scene from 1990’s Home Alone. But the ingenious toy setup Kevin uses to outsmart the “wet bandits” has probably inspired millions of kids to terrorize their parents (or robbers!). His multiple booby traps include tar and feathers, an iron, slippery stairs, a train set, Christmas ornaments, plastic wrap, a swinging paint can and more. Here’s the big question: why don’t these crazy thieves leave after their first run-in with Kevin’s traps?