There are as many Christmas movies as there are Christmas songs, and everybody has their favorites. Favorite Christmas movies have changed over time from black & white goodies like “Miracle on 34th Street,” “It’s a Wonderful Life,” or “The Bishop’s Wife,” to some annual guilty pleasures on the Hallmark Channel, but there are always new holiday movies that become part of the pop culture zeitgeist.
BetMaryland.com took a break from covering Maryland sports betting and researched the state’s favorite Christmas movies. Utilizing Google Trends, we analyzed the most popular Christmas movies of Maryland residents by looking at the search results of each movie over the past three Christmases. The movies included the 40 most popular Christmas movies over the past year based on global traffic from AhRefs.com. Here is our top five list:
In first place is “Home Alone,” the 1990 holiday classic directed by Chris Columbus and written by John Hughes, at the end of the Hughes decade of teen comedy dominance (“Sixteen Candles,” “The Breakfast Club,” “Pretty in Pink,” more). “Home Alone” is the simple story of Kevin (Macaulay Culkin) left home, uh, alone, when his rushing family forgets him at Christmas time. Complicating matters are two bumbling thieves (Daniel Stern, Joe Pesci) trying to break into Kevin’s house. What follows is a slapstick cross between a Rube Goldberg contraption and a Roadrunner cartoon, in which Kevin devises ever-clever, devious and painful ways to keep the crooks at bay, while his family rushes back to be with him at Christmas.
At No. 2 is the feature-length, Jim Carrey version of Dr. Seuss’s “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” The book was first published in 1957 and adapted into a terrific cartoon in 1966 (Boris Karloff voiced the Grinch), before becoming a live-action fantasy film in 2000, directed by Ron Howard. The story is about the mean old Grinch (a green Scrooge) who, dressed as Santa Claus, tries to ruin Christmas for the Whos of Whoville by stealing all their presents and food. Instead, he ends up learning the true meaning of the holiday. Ironically, Seuss wrote the book to decry the commercialization of Christmas and ended up creating a favored Christmas product.
In third place is “The Polar Express,” a 2004 animated film featuring the voice of Tom Hanks as a train conductor leading a Christmas Eve excursion to the North Pole, and the boy passenger who learns about the true meaning of Christmas on the trip. Directed by Robert Zemeckis (“Back to the Future”).
In fourth place is “Elf,” the 2003 comedy directed by Jon Favreau (“Iron Man,” “The Mandalorian”) and starring Will Ferrell as a human-sized elf in search of his very grumpy real father (James Caan) in New York. A true fish out of water story, the comedy comes from an innocent 6-foot-man, raised by elves, navigating modern-day Manhattan.
“A Christmas Story,” which celebrates its 40th anniversary this year, also tied for fourth. Pretty much a flop when it was first released, perhaps because director Bob Clark was mostly known for the horror film “Black Christmas” and the teen sex comedy “Porky’s,” VHS, DVD and now streaming has made the film a holiday perennial. Based on the story by radio personality Jean Shepherd – yes, radio used to have personalities – it’s the 1940s tale of a boy who wants a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas. But as the Rolling Stones sang, “You can’t always get what you want . . . but sometimes you get what you need.”
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