Best & Worst Christmas Movie Releases of the Past 10 Years

Published 4 years ago by , Updated August 7th, 2012 at 1:26 pm,

best and worst christmas movies Best & Worst Christmas Movie Releases of the Past 10 Years

There are several calendar dates throughout the year where studios rush to release all their big tentpole films in an attempt to maximize on the number of people who will see them, and each date corresponds with a major U.S. holiday – Memorial Day, 4th of July, and Christmas.

Films released during Memorial Day and 4th of July usually open on the exact dates of those holidays, while films being released for the Christmas season begin showing up in theaters anywhere from ten to fifteen days before December 25th.

Some of these films are highly anticipated and draw in millions of viewers, generating obscenely large box office numbers (think Avatar), while other films only have moderate expectations. Then there are the failures – the films so bad, so ridiculously inept, that one wonders how they ever got the green light and funding to begin with.

We’ve gone back ten years to look at every film released within the Christmas Movie Season,  and we’ve sorted those films as if they were presents under our Christmas tree: Awesome Gifts, Practical Gifts, Stocking Stuffers and Lumps of Coal.


Just so you know where we are coming from, here’s an explanation of each type of”gift” in our list:

Awesome Gifts – The movies in this category are like those gifts we’ve all wanted so bad that we lied to our friends when we didn’t get it, just so that we would still look cool. It’s the equivalent of finding a Playstation 3, Nintendo Wii or 46” plasma TV nestled gently under the decorated Douglas fir.

Practical Gifts – The movies in this category are like those gifts we get from grandparents and those strange aunts who pinch our cheeks – stuff like socks, undershirts and underwear. These aren’t necessarily bad gifts – we use and enjoy them – but just like the movies in this category, we weren’t looking forward to getting them, but ended up liking them regardless.

Stocking Stuffers – The movies in this category are like extra little surprises we weren’t expecting to find on Christmas Day. They are good enough to enjoy throughout the day and possible a short time after, but soon we forget all about them and they end up in a pile of used presents for years to come.

Lumps of Coal – The movies in this category are so bad that they make you feel like you did something wrong all year long to end up on Santa’s naughty list. Just like a lump of coal sits there adding nothing of value to your gift pile, so to do these movies – they’re utterly worthless.



Awesome Gift

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (12/22/00)

crouching tiger hidden dragon Best & Worst Christmas Movie Releases of the Past 10 Years

Practical Gift

Cast Away (12/22/00)

cast away Best & Worst Christmas Movie Releases of the Past 10 Years

Stocking Stuffer

O Brother, Where Art Thou? (12/22/00)

o brother where art thou Best & Worst Christmas Movie Releases of the Past 10 Years

Lump of Coal

Dude, Where’s My Car? (12/15/00)

dude wheres my car Best & Worst Christmas Movie Releases of the Past 10 Years



Awesome Gift

Lord of the Ring: Fellowship of the Ring (12/19/01)

fellowship of the ring Best & Worst Christmas Movie Releases of the Past 10 Years

Practical Gift

Ali (12/25/01)

ali Best & Worst Christmas Movie Releases of the Past 10 Years

Stocking Stuffer

The Royal Tenenbaums (12/14/01)

the royal tenenbaums Best & Worst Christmas Movie Releases of the Past 10 Years

Lump of Coal

Not Another Teen Movie (12/14/01)

not another teen movie Best & Worst Christmas Movie Releases of the Past 10 Years



Awesome Gift

Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (12/18/02)

the two towers Best & Worst Christmas Movie Releases of the Past 10 Years

Practical Gift

Narc (12/20/02)

narc Best & Worst Christmas Movie Releases of the Past 10 Years

Stocking Stuffers

Star Trek: Nemesis (12/13/02)

star trek nemesis Best & Worst Christmas Movie Releases of the Past 10 Years

Lump of Coal

The Hot Chick (12/13/02)

the hot chick Best & Worst Christmas Movie Releases of the Past 10 Years

Continue to 2003 – 2006…

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  1. I am Legend as a awesome gift? I’d throw that one back..

    Avatar I’d burn the moment I got it.

    Star Trek Nemesis is very underrated. I really don’t get the hate for it. It’s not first contact, but IMO still damn good.

    • Nemesis is good! Thank god I’m not the only one who likes it!!!

      • Drsam nope your not alone at all I loved Nemesis. Not the best Trek film, but the most under rated for sure.

        I also agree with you on both King Kong and Million Dollar Baby both those films were awful.

        • Oh no, it’s not the best, but it sticks fairly well to the even numbered films are best.
          The effects are very nice in Nemesis, and I liked the plot, easy to forget that it was Tom Hardy’s first big role and that Ron Pearlman is in it too!
          Plus, when Data says “Goodbye” to Picard just before the Scimitar explodes, draws a tear to my eye.

          • I can honestly say that I tear up everytime Data says goodbye as well. It’s so very touching and if you were a dedicated fan to the series and the movies you would love Data and that moment should touch you. It also brings a smile to may face every time at the end Picard talks to B4 and he starts signing that song. When Picard smiles so do I.

            I’ll say I really don’t understand the dislike for it. Honestly it’s in my top three all time Trek films actually it’s my number 2. I honestly hate the original show and films attached to it so I know no one will agree with my list. I just can’t stand Shatner as an actor and the show was always so very cheesy and I couldn’t bring my self to respect it. IMO the only good thing the original did was open the door for TNG.

            1. First Contact
            2. Nemesis
            3. The Reboot

  2. Love the format of the list, real creative. I’d probably drop I am Legend and Paycheck down to Stocking Stuffer and Lump of Coal respectively. I still need to see most of the 2010 releases, but you might be one of the few people I’ve known to put Tron Legacy under the ‘awesome’ category.

  3. I spotted a typo. It´s TenneNbaums, not Tennebaums. :D

    • Actually it’s Tenenbaums and it’s been corrected :) Thanks!

      • You´re right. Now that´s embarrassing. A typo in a comment about a typo. Maybe I was confused, because the german word for christmas tree is Tannenbaum. :D

        • Bow your head in shame Scapey LOL.

          • I will… :(

  4. Hmmm, Oh Brother should definitely be moved up, same with True Grit and The Wrestler but that is just my humble opinion :).

    I bought the Special Collectors Edition Avatar as a Christmas present for myself and it was awesome!

  5. First of all, I was dissappointed when I first read the title. Because it seemed as if you guys were going to list the Best & Worst actual Christmas movies of the past 10 years! I would’ve been really interested in seeing that list!

    Awesome Gift:
    Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, NONE, King Kong, I Am Legend

    Practical Gifts:
    Cast Away, Million Dollar Baby,

    Okay, Cast Away was way better that Crouching Tiger. I think that Million Dollar Baby should have taken the top spot if only just because you had nothing else because King Kong took the top spot and as much as I do enjoy King Kong that seems to me as more of a “Practical Gift” than Million Dollar Baby.

    And I Am Legend was horrible the first time I saw it. I saw it again when it came out of DVD and I loved it. So I would probably put that in Practical for this.

    • Cast Away and Million Dollar Baby definitely both of them should have gotten the nod for Awesome Gift:) I love both of those movies… They are original and will stand the test of time!

      • Castaway is fantastic! WILSOOOON!

      • I wouldn’t watch Million Dollar Baby again if someone paid me! What a terrible and predictable piece of utter clap trap that really was.

  6. Are you being serious???
    King Kong as an awesome gift whereas The Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe as a stocking filler for 05???? Well I agree King Kong was good but it is still only a remake and I doubt it very much if it will stand the test of time. Viewing it once is more than enough (3 hours??).
    You also had Lord of the Rings as awesome gifts on each year of release. While I agree as films they are fantastic, they are hardly a great reflection of the books . Honestly was there any need to make all the main characters whiney, weak man-girls. Whereas The Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe is an accurate telling of the story.
    The rest of the list is pretty good though.

    • King Kong is better acted, better shot and just plain more enjoyable. I’ve watched the extended edition multiple times since release, while I haven’t seen Lion, Witch, etc since it came out in theaters.

      Also, as much deviation from the books the LOTR films had, they’re all much better films than LWW. An “accurate” retelling doesn’t automatically mean a better film.

      And honestly, what is the difference between a remake and an adaptation? Especially an adaptation of a book that’s ALREADY been filmed TWICE before? You say King Kong was “still only a remake,” as if that automatically makes it a bad thing, and neglect to mention Narnia’s previous adaptations. The 1988 BBC one, in particular, is arguably even more faithful to the books than the 2005 movie.

      All of this is dependent on your love of fantasy genre, however. You clearly like fantasy like Narnia, and that’s great. I don’t much care for it, and prefer a story like King Kong. Differing opinions are all well and good, but I’m sick of the hate Kong 05 gets and I’m quite happy it won Awesome Gift.

      • I totally agree with your point about the bbc childrens show maybe being better than the films but King Kong was far too long. The fight scene withthe T-Rex’s though enjoyable was too long and contrived IMO. Good film but not much more than a stocking filler.
        Though with LOTR liberties were made with the characters.
        Aragorn was portrayed as a total pussy.
        Frodo was portrayed as a snivelling little girl.
        And Sean Bean/Boromir was a joke as well.
        As I said brilliant film, the best series of films in modern cinema for cinematography, acting etc.
        Just Peter Jackson used too much creative writing.
        Cant wait for to see how he ‘improves’ The Hobbit for the big screen.

    • I hated king Kong I fell asleep in the cinema it was that bad

      • I agree. For about an hour it’s just people riding on a boat. But I will say, once Kong showed up, it got pretty cool… then boring again… then cool for 5 more minutes…

  7. Nice to see some love for Paycheck. That is a very fun movie. It is the definition of the Stocking Stuffer category in my opinion.

  8. I disagree about Not Another Teen Movie
    That was a great movie and best for 2001 (not the whole year, like the ones you mentioned for 2001) in my opinion.

    • *spits milk out nose* haha *wipes tear from eye* no seriously…better han LotR and Ali *snort*

  9. Wow, it seems like your list is made for a very particular person. Personally, I don’t think the Lord of the Rings movies should be the awesome gift at all, and I totally disagree with you on Stuck on Me. Then there’s King Kong, who are you making this list for? I respect the idea behind the article, I just think there could have been some much better choices.

    • Patrick (and everyone),

      You have to realize we had a very narrow list of movies to choose from for this list, based on the release dates. In some cases we had to choose between two “so-so” films – we debated on a few of them, including King Kong/Narnia.

      It is what it is – everyone is welcome to disagree. :)


      • You tell ‘em Vic!!

    • I agree that Stuck on You should at least be a stocking stuffer… as well as the Squeakuel… Stuck on You was a hilarious fun loving movie… and the Squeakuel was a feel good comedy as well… I feel that Lord of the Rings is a very bad portrayal of an amazing novel… I fell asleep it was so boring, mostly walking through all the movies…

      • actually Fun with Dick and Jane is pretty hilarious too :P

  10. Stuck on You as a lump of coal is definitely my biggest issue with the list. I can see the position on the majority of the one’s here but I remember I couldn’t stop laughing the first time I ever saw Stuck on You. C’mon it’s Matt Damon and Greg Kinnear, no way you can go wrong with that duo.

  11. Wow, I was sooo ready to bash the article when I didn’t see “The Dark Knight” mentioned in 2008 movies and then realized that its just movies released in the holiday season, so I’m just posting this comment so you can laugh at me the same way I did. :P

    BTW- “Marley and Me” was kinda cool, better than “Bedtime Stories”.

  12. The Wrestler should switch places with Slumdog Millionaire .

  13. One of the worst lists, sprinkled with some great movies. Someone has an extreme hard-on for Peter Jackson though.

    • Washout,

      Really. Well instead of just throwing rocks, from the available films, why don’t you give us YOUR picks, eh?


      • No dont give him that satisfaction Vic lol.

  14. I hated the King Kong remake. It’s funny that a film made 77 years ago is more magical and has more heart.

    • true, it felt as if Michael Bay made the remake rather than Peter Jackson. The part when the worms are eating people…. what was the point?

    • I actually enjoyed the 70′s remake way more than the ’05 version. Jack Black ruined that movie for me. In order of Kongness: The Original, 70′s Version and then Peter Jackson’s Kong.

  15. Are you serious screenrant? This totally contradicts your rating system. Tron got a 3/5 and its awesome? The Fighter got 5/5 and its practical? And True Grit is just a stuffer? -_-

    • Jay,

      OK. I totally see your point. Neither of the people who reviewed the movies you mentioned ordered this list. If I’d noticed that I would have switched things around for sure.



    • I didn’t make this list by taking any of SR’s movie reviews into account – what would be the point in that? You may find this hard to believe but we make these lists for fun and discussion, not to please and appease every person who reads our site.

      @Vic – I wouldn’t switch anything around – The Fighter wasn’t on anyone’s radar for being as good as Kofi reviewed it, where TRON: Legacy was listed as one of our most anticipated films of 2010. Remember an awesome gift isn’t necessarily the best gift – you’ll use the Playstation 3 a few times each week but you’ll use underwear everyday (hopefully if you’re not a plumber :P)

  16. lord of the rings is awesomee

  17. The Royal Tennenbaums and Crouching Tiger were absolutely horrible films. I couldn’t even finish watching them. Dude Where’s My Car and Not Another Teen Movie are both better films and much more enjoyable, IMO. NATM cracked me up and DWMC had it’s funny moments as well.

  18. Vic,
    I apologize if my comments seemed rude. You and I share a very similar taste in movies, that is why I agree with the picks like Ali, Narc, o, Brother Where Art Thou, Cold Mountain, and your whole 2010. But here are some changes I think we can both agree on.

    Awesome Gifts-2000-Traffic, 2002-Gangs of New York, 2003-Mystic River, 2004-The Aviator, 2005-Munich, 2006-Babel or The Departed,2007-There Will Be Blood or No Country for Old Men, 2009-Inglorious Basterds or Distict 9.

    I just feel you are giving to much love to Pete Jackson. I know there are a lot of films to choose from with a set criteria, but these are my picks.

    • Washout,

      You missed one of the rules of this article – these are all films that were released within a couple of weeks of Christmas. NONE of the films you managed fit that criteria. :)

      Perhaps that’s where your issue with the list comes from?


  19. 2004 would have The Aviator or Kung Fu Hustle as their awesome gift. those movies were great

  20. move King Kong down to stocking stuffer, while it was a visually good film, i just couldn’t get into it and i almost fell asleep in the theatre watching it. I’d move Sherlock Holmes up to Practical and take out Avatar cause well, while visually stimulating I just didn’t find it lived up to all the hype it was/has been getting. I watched it once and really don’t care to watch it again (which I know means I’m in like the 2% of people in the world who feel this way.) Maybe my love for Holmes stems from a deeper love for Robert Downey Jr…

    • I always find it hilarious when people comment on how dumb someone’s opinion is while their comment is full of spelling errors. This is Paul’s opinion, and while we might all not agree with it, it’s no dumber than YOUR opinion. Movies are subjective, and just because one person is in love with a film doesn’t mean everyone is going to love it. I personally can’t stand any of the Godfather films. Find them totally unwatchable. Obviously I am in the minority, but who cares? It doesn’t take away from the enjoyment of the people who loved Brando talking with a mouthful of marbles.

      • @ Andy S

        Good point. I don’t mind the Godfather films, in particular the first two. You’re right though; movies are highly subjective to personal opinion.

        BTW watch out for the horse head in your bed. :-) Hey that rhymes!

    • Since I am what you said I am, I decided to act like it and evoke my right to turn your useless troll comment into a pretty set of dots.

      Thanks for stopping by.

  21. Wait! Sherlock Holmes got “stocking stuffer”???

    Oh well. I really liked Sherlock Holmes…

    • Me too, foopher. A way more enjoyable movie than Avatar.

  22. I liked “Not Another Teen Movie”. Thought it made fun of all those teen movies I watched so well.

  23. Good list Paul. There’s several DVDs I already own, a few I don’t care about, others worth considering. Thanks!

  24. True Grit a stocking stuffer…? Lame.

  25. I think O Brother and Sherlock Holmes are better movies than they were given credit , I especially don’t think Crouching Tiger would beat O Brother

  26. Kinda confused by the categories for this list.

    Are these supposed to be 4 separate/unrelated categories (most hyped, most surprisingly-good, most forgettable-but-entertaining, BAD)? That’s kind of how it seemed based on your explanation.

    But the comments seem to be more a “top 4 movies of the season, ranked in order”.

    That’s probably why everyone and their mother is getting worked up about it.. judging by the comments from contributors, I’m not even sure the people who made the list were sure what sort of format they were working with.

    • Bobby that is EXACTLY what I was doing; I put together this list after compiling a master list of all movies released within the time frame I was working with (10-15 days before Christmas).

      I was very aware of the format I came up with but what people forget is that unless a list is backed up with hard facts (such as box office numbers) then it’s always going to be put in an order based on the writers prejudice.

      • I always chuckle a little when people comment about how Avatar shouldn’t be in the awesome category when the film is the highest grossing of all time. It doesn’t matter whether a person felt the film didn’t live up to its potential; just being the highest grossing film puts it in the awesome category. The only disagreement I had was Sherlock Holmes; I thought it should have been practical and the Parnasus movie a stocking stuffer.

  27. The Hot Chick is friggin’ HILARIOUS you numpty’s.

  28. First off I am not trying to trash anyone’s favorites or likes in style. That being said I also dont give a flip about spelling so that being said…here I go!

    I would not own the piece of neomarxist pantheistic trash call Avatar! Its a lump of coal. (although it was pretty!)

    Tron legacy…the hollywood marxists had to put the utopian and environmental nonsense in it. (I chalk that up to Jeff Bridges tho!) not a lump of coal but a practical gift or stocking stuffer.

    Gullivers Travels…ya a lump of coal or something else that ryhms with “slit”. (funny how your lump of coal appears to be crushing his groin…the look on his face appropriatly awed.)

    Chronicles of Narnia…Awesome gift…

    AVPR…ya Coal…(although the look of the Pred-Alien hybrid was cool)

    King Kong…Awesome gift…(even tho I cant stand Jack Black!…wasnt his character suposed to die at the end? That would have made it better!)

    The Lord of the Rings movies…Fellowship = Nice gift(too slow for my taste…sorry)…Two Towers and Return of the King…Awesome…

    Fighter, Ali, Wrestler…not my taste in movies…I will most likely never watch them (unless I am stapled to a chair with my eyes taped open)
    Same applies to Gullivers travels…(Did I say I cant stand Jack Black!?)

    Sherlock Holmes was awsome gift for me…I cant wait for the sequel where we get to see him go against Moriarty!

    True Grit…have not seen it yet but will likely see it as I enjoy westerns. (Hopefully Bridges didnt have a say in the script)

    Slumdog…have no desire to see it so its not on my naughty or nice list!

    Day the Earth Stood Still…Hmmm…Yup coal…no doubt!

    National Treasure…Awesome, however I thought it was released in November…oh well it matters not…awsome flick!