The ’80s saw a return to the holiday staple: the Christmas movie, and we’re counting down our 10 favorites from the decade in the gallery below.
By the end of the ’70s, the Christmas movie had largely fallen out of favor with studios, although classics like It’s a Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street and White Christmas were still shown on television throughout the season. But then Christmas movies started to come back to theaters, albeit with a modern twist.
Irony and cynicism began to dominate popular culture and many of the Christmas movies of the ’80s tapped into the zeitgeist of the ’80s with a fresh new look at the holidays. Sincerity made way to irreverence and delivered a much more diverse crop of Christmas movies than we had ever seen in the past.
In place of Jimmy Stewart and Bing Crosby, there were now Saturday Night Live stars and A-list action heroes as the new Christmas kings. Terrorists, cocaine busts, dangerous monsters and NSFW monologues were all staples of the new holiday classics. Heck, one of these movies even parodies that very notion and opens with a satirical Christmas movie called The Night the Reindeer Died that pairs Lee Majors with a machine-gun-toting Santa. But despite their many differences, they all had the same effect: they brought people together during the holidays to laugh or cry or scream. Or, sometimes all of the above.
For this list, we look back at the best of the ’80s Christmas movies and just what about that decade and these movies made them so special, unique, innovative and just a joy to watch year after year. The list is restricted to films that were released in theaters, rather than made-for-TV movies and specials. Check it all out below.