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  • Writer's pictureRua Fay

Rankin and Bass: Top 5 Christmas Films

Christmas is right around the corner, and for my family, nothing exemplifies this special time of year like the animated films of Arthur Rankin Jr. and Jules Bass. This legendary duo has released a plethora of Christmas classics in addition to their non-seasonal work and today, we are here to rank those animated classics just in time for the holidays!

#5: Rudolph's Shiny New Year (1976)

Yes, this is not techinically a Christmas film, but it includes Christmas characters and can be enjoyed during the same time of year. It may not be the strongest of Rankin and Bass, but it takes a lot of ambition to make the first ever New-Year themed film in a market saturated with Christmas movies. Like the rest of the duo's projects, Rudolph's Shiny New Year is a welcome source of nostalgia for myself and millions of others around the world. Focusing on the New Year allows the spirit of Christmas to continue for one more week before January officially begins.

#4: Frosty the Snowman (1969)

Frosty the Snowman stands out because it's a Rankin and Bass movie where the duo doesn't utilize their iconic style of stop motion, but instead go the 2D route, aiming to make the movie look like a Christmas card. I have vivid memories of watching this during Christmas parties growing up and absolutely loving it. To a lot of people, this movie not only exemplifies the spirit of Christmas but the spirit of childhood. It's a perfect movie to watch with family once the weather gets cold.

#3: Santa Claus is Comin' to Town (1970)

Santa Claus is Comin' to Town tells the origin story of Santa Claus and how he came to be with plenty of conflict and laughs for audiences to enjoy. It might just be one of the coziest films ever made. Not to mention an absolutely star-studded voice cast including: Fred Astair, Mickey Rooney, and Keenan Wynn, it probably has the most iconic cast of any Rankin and Bass film. You can tell just how much intricate detail went into every environment and character design. Complete with an amazing soundtrack, it's no wonder why this remains a holiday staple to this day.

#2: A Year Without a Santa Claus (1974)

A Year Without a Santa Claus is an iconic Christmas film for many reasons, but what stands out the most are the original characters Heat Miser and Snow Miser. It's difficult to find a Christmas film that's truly original, but you need look no further than this movie. Just like it's predecessors, it has plenty of laughs, a compelling story, and an incredible soundtrack that is sure to make anyone feel nostalgic. A Year Without a Santa Claus will always have a special place in my heart because it's the one I remember watching most growing up, and after re-watching it recently, I'm pleased to say it still holds up.

#1: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964)

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer was Rankin and Bass' first attempt at making an animated Christmas film, and to this day it remains their most iconic project. Although it is unapologetically Christmas-y, it includes themes that can resonate all year long. At its core, Rudolph is a movie about being different, being a "misfit toy," and learning that what makes you different is ultimately what makes you special. It is the crown jewel of Christmas nostalgia with iconic characters and iconic music to go with it. For many, this time of year just isn't the same without this movie, and it's easy to see why.

Christmas is less than a week away, for some this means joy but for others it can be a very stressful time of year. I hope that whichever of those situations you are in, these films provide you some comfort during this holiday season. Happy holidays from everyone here at Cinemasters!

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