The Best vs. The Worst: Christmas Movie Edition

With the Christmas season comes Christmas movies. For this edition of The Best vs. The Worst, we pit The Polar Express and The Year Without a Santa Claus as the best and worst movies Christmas has to offer.

Thanksgiving is over and that means it’s officially Christmas. For me, the Christmas season starts the day after Thanksgiving and runs right through December. We don’t listen to Christmas music or set up a tree before Thanksgiving but every year on Black Friday, my house is decked out in red and green. One of the best ways to get in the Christmas spirit? Christmas movies.

I genuinely have enjoyed every Christmas movie I’ve seen, partly because I just love Christmas, but in watching all those movies I have found some gems and some that I prefer not to watch. I feel like this is a polarizing subject, so I’m sorry if I offend you.

The Worst: “The Year Without a Santa Claus”

Out of all the classic Christmas movies, and especially the stop motion animated ones, “The Year Without a Santa Claus” is by far the worst. 

To start, this movie is sad. It’s just depressing. The whole plot revolves around Santa Claus getting a cold sometime close to Christmas. Because of this, and because he thinks kids don’t believe in him anymore, Santa just decides to cancel Christmas and not deliver any gifts. I’m sorry man, but this is the one day you have to do your job. Sure, it’s a big job for one guy to do in one night, but it’s literally one night. Pack some tissues and go bring joy to the world.

Mrs. Claus takes it upon herself to prove that people do believe in Santa and sends two elves down south. Jingle and Jangle take Vixen, Santa’s youngest reindeer who definitely should not be able to carry the weight of two elves. When they get to Southtown, they find spoiled kids who don’t believe in the joy of Christmas anymore.

Pretty much nothing goes right for Jingle and Jangle, who are first shot down by Heat Miser and Snow Miser and then lose Vixen as she is ticketed and sent to the dog pound.

This movie is one giant miscommunication, which makes it infuriating. Jingle and Jangle call Mrs. Claus to come get them and as soon as she leaves, Santa realizes Vixen is gone and decides to fly south to go look for her. Yeah, now he feels well enough to get up. Although the movie ends with Santa deciding he feels better and there is enough Christmas spirit left for him to do his job, the process of getting to that realization is excruciating.

The only thing that saves this movie for me is the Heat Miser and Snow Miser. If this movie was all about those two, I’d be sold.

The Best: “The Polar Express”

This might be an unpopular opinion, but my favorite Christmas movie is “The Polar Express.” I find its slightly creepy atmosphere charming and its weirdly real animation endearing. This movie has the classic Christmas movie theme of “do we believe in Santa still?” but in a unique and sentimental way.

You can’t tell me the moment the kids see Santa isn’t the most magical scene in a Christmas movie. The way the elves get so excited even though they literally live with the guy is so fun and the way the music cuts out to build anticipation is magical.

The characters in “The Polar Express” are my favorite in any Christmas movie, and I just learned today that they don’t actually have real names. I’ll skip over the main character, Hero Boy, because I actually find him quite bland and annoying. His two buddies through the trek to the North Pole, however, are some of the best characters in the movie. 

Hero Girl is kind and full-heartedly believes in Santa Claus. It’s refreshing. Billy – Lonely Boy is a sad, hesitant boy who first declines the ride on the Polar Express before changing his mind and running after the train. Hero Boy pulls the emergency break for him and even despite that, Billy – Lonely Boy decides to spend the trip in a separate train car all by himself. I feel bad for Billy – Lonely boy and love him at the same time. I would d*e for Billy – Lonely Boy. 

Like Hero Boy, Know-It-All — you know, the annoying smart boy with glasses and a yellow sweater — is annoying and I wish he wasn’t in the movie at all. My favorite characters of the whole movie, however, are the goofy train workers, Smokey and Steamer. These two are a comedic relief in some of the most stressful times, like when the train is skidding on breaking ice and when the track is blocked by caribou and the only way to get them move is for Steamer to pull Smokey’s beard and cause Smokey to scream, which apparently the caribou can understand. I’d watch the whole movie just for that part.

But the best part of “The Polar Express” has got to be the music. You’ve got classics like “Hot Chocolate,” which is fun and iconic and serves absolutely no purpose, and the song that makes this movie, in my opinion, which is one of the first songs in the movie, “When Christmas Comes to Town.” This song takes place when Billy – Lonely Boy and Hero Girl are in the train cab together and they talk about how sad Christmas can be for a family like Billy that doesn’t have much to celebrate with. Of course Hero Girl comes in to remind Billy that just spending time with family is what makes Christmas special. 

“The Polar Express” is the perfect Christmas movie, in my opinion. It has just enough of weird moments like the random ghost hobo on the top of the train and the suspicious ticket hole-punching from the conductor mixed with cute moments like Santa returning the bell that fell out of Hero Boy’s robe pocket. If you can get past the slightly creepy and sometimes outright jarring moments this movie brings, you’ll find an abundance of joy and Christmas cheer.

About Rachel Muller 47 Articles
Rachel Muller is a fourth-year journalism major with an international relations minor. This is her fourth semester on The Oracle and she was previously an assistant copy editor for news. She prefers writing news articles and articles about her travels.