Top Ten: Movie Santas

This entry is part 7 of 10 in the series The 12 Days of Christmas

Christmas is a time for giving and sharing, and being with family. Most Christmas movies tend to focus on this sentiment, others are more action packed and involve buildings blowing up. It doesn’t matter to me which camp they fall into I love them all, but I especially love any with the big fat, jolly fella himself starring. Santa is a welcome addition to any movie and here are my ten favourite movie Santas. Not all the ones you would probably expect to see on this list.

1. Tim Allen – The Santa Clause
Is it bad to admit that I love The Santa Clause? I know it’s corny and a bit rubbish, but at the same time it’s also quite funny and a little bit heart-warming. Scott Calvin (Allen) invokes a mystical contract when he accidentally kills Santa – he now has to take his place. Calvin’s weight gain, sudden hirsuteness despite the use of the best razors in the country and growing jolly demeanour are all great fun.

2. Ed Asner – Elf

Santa isn’t a huge character in Elf, which focuses more on Will Ferrell’s Buddy – the tall, gangly Elf making his way in the cruel city looking for his dad. Ed Asner’s Santa is kind, lovable but has a steeliness that makes you believe that he really does have a list of who’s naughty, and won’t deliver to them.

3. Richard Attenborough – Miracle on 34th Street

Richard Attenborough as Kris Kringle in the remake of Miracle on 34th Street is Santa Claus. There’s no better Santa on film, not even Edmund Gwenn who played Kringle in the original of the film. Kringle is a department store Santa who teaches adorable little Mara Wilson about the real meaning of Christmas. If you don’t cry out “I believe” and shed a little tear at the end of this film you have no soul and I don’t want to be your friend.

4. Dan Aykroyd – Trading Places

Not your usual movie Santa I grant you, but still one of my favourites. It’s been a tough few days for Dan Aykroyd’s Louis Winthorpe III; he’s lost his job, his fiancée, his home and is being charged with drug dealing. All because of a brotherly bet by his employers Randolph and Mortimer Duke. Winthorpe hits rock bottom on Christmas Eve when he infiltrates the Duke & Duke Christmas party trying to frame Eddie Murphy’s character. He’s a pathetic, desperate and sad looking Santa and makes me laugh every single time I see his hangdog expression and droopy beard.

5. James Cosmo – The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe

The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe isn’t a Christmas film but Santa does make an appearance. The terribly middle-class Pevensie children have entered the magical land of Narnia through a wardrobe and are destined to rescue the country from the cruel reign of the White Witch. Narnia is suffering from a constant spell of winter, but never Christmas. The brief arrival of Father Christmas and his presents for Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy offers the first sign of hope.

6. Tom Hanks – The Polar Express

I have some problems with The Polar Express. There’s plenty of things I can complain about with it but the biggest issue of all is that it creeps me out. A lot. It was supposed to show us how wonderful motion capture could be, but it did the exact opposite. It just showed me a world where there was no personality needed. Except for Tom Hanks in his myriad of roles, he was the film’s only saving grace and I loved his kindly Santa. In fact I’d like to see Hanks play Santa properly, I think he’d do a great job.

7. David Huddlestone – Santa Claus: The Movie

This Dudley Moore vehicle comes in for a lot of criticism, in fact I’ve seen it on a few “Worst Christmas Movies” lists. I think that’s a bit unfair, it’s not a brilliant film but it’s fairly good fun. And it’s one of my mum’s favourite films so I’ve got to say nice things about it or I’ll be in trouble. It isn’t a brilliant film but Huddlestone’s Santa is just so believable that for several years I thought that it was actually the real Santa in a cameo role.

8. Peter Jackson – Hot Fuzz

A very short appearance and completely missed by most people I’ve included this simply because it tickles me quite a lot. The two biggest stars who appear in Hot Fuzz are Peter Jackson and Cate Blanchett and both are unrecognisable. The opening montage which shows us PC Nicholas Angel’s stellar career includes the moment where a crazed Santa pushes a knife through his hand. That Santa is Lord of the Rings director Jackson. A memorable cameo in a film full of classic moments.

9. Jack Skellington – The Nightmare Before Christmas

Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King of Hallowe’en Town, has grown tired of leading the celebrations of all things scary and when he accidentally discovers Christmas Town he decides to take over the gift-giving normally carried out by “Sandy Claws”. His present choices, including shrunken heads, are disastrous but the experience does remind him how much he enjoys scaring people. I love this unique take on both Christmas and Hallowe’en.

10. Billy Bob Thornton – Bad Santa
It turns out that not every department store Santa is lovable, kind and enjoys spending time with children. Some are foul-mouthed, hard-drinking and downright mean who only want to rob the shops they work in. It’s a mystery why more films haven’t been made about these guys… This is a truly warped movie but one that helps to prevent the diabetic coma that the saccharine in most other Christmas films will bring on.

Who are your favourite movie Santas? Have I missed out the perfect St Nick? Let me know in the comments.

Previous and next posts in this series:<< White ChristmasThe Santaland Diaries >>
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