Well, we’re finally here folks! For the past two weeks, we’ve been focusing in on the cream of the crap as far as pop culture Santas are concerned. We started with the top 5 movie Santas that flat out RUINED Santa Claus. I picked the Santa from Rare Exports for the number 1 spot, but I think, after further discussion in the comments, the dead Santa from The Santa Clause probably ruined Santa the most. Then we moved on to the top 5 pop culture Santas that were just plain lousy at their job. For my money there is still none lousier than the Santa from the classic Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. He clearly loathes both elves and freaks of nature and he has no business being Santa.
But fear not! We’re at the final Claus Countdown and now we get to talk about the top 5 GREAT movie Santas! These are Santas that truly make you want to believe that there really is good in the world. Santas that trick you into momentarily believing that it really is better to give than to receive. These are movie Santas that not only capture the look (in most instances) of Santa, but truly embody the spirit of the jolly ol’ fat man. They’re Santas that make grown ups want to sit on their laps and tell them their wishes in the most un-ironic non-sexual ways possible. So grab the milk and cookies and let’s begin:
5) Home Alone (1990)
The obligatory completely-not-Santa Santa on this list goes to the Santa from Home Alone. I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for this guy. Yeah, he’s a slob with a shitty car and a fake beard, but he gets that whenever there’s a kid around, he’s got to be Santa…even if he sucks at it. Bonus points for not letting a kid walk without any candy. Even if it’s a Tic-Tac…
4) Arthur Christmas (2011)
You know, I was skeptical about this little movie from last year, but damned if it didn’t charm the pants off of me after I saw it on DVD this year (once again, in a non-sexual way). Arthur, while not in any way looking the part, reminds us of how important Santa can be. Arthur not only understands that every child is important, he also appreciates how important Santa is to every child. Also, Bill Nighy as Grandsanta is awesome.
3 ) Ernest Saves Christmas (1988)
I know, I know. In what dimension do we live in where the words “Ernest Saves” and “Best of List” intersect? Well, the antics of Jim Varney aside, Douglas Seale’s performance as Santa always stuck with me. His performance is simultaneously ancient and accessible. He’s wise and kind and he brings a little bit of magic while we all wait for Ernest to finally just go to jail.
2) Elf (2003)
Ed Asner’s version of Santa from Elf is EXACTLY the kind of Santa I’d like to hang out with. He’s gruff, but he’s got the necessary heart of gold. He loves his job and he’s not going to go down without a fight, no matter how low Christmas Spirit gets. This is the Santa you want to buy a beer.
1) Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
As far as I’m concerned, Edmund Gwenn was (or maybe still is! GASP!) Santa Claus. There has never been a portrayal of Santa that has become more iconic than Gwenn’s Santa Claus. He’s kind, funny, wise, and will not be talked down to by non-believers. I’m also genuinely guilty of getting a single tear (just one) every time I see this scene:
COME ON! That’s a slice of goddamn magic right there. Santa just made a little Dutch orphan’s day and he did with something as simple as understanding her. Best. Santa. Ever.
Well, what do you think? Any good movie Santas that I missed? Don’t agree with any of these? Leave your jolly thoughts below!