18. Miracle on 34th Street
Release Year: 1994
Directed By: Les Mayfield
Starring: Richard Attenborough, Elizabeth Perkings, Mara Wilson, Dylan McDermott, J. T. Walsh, Simon Jones, James Remar, Jane Leeves, William Windom, Robert Prosky, Allison Janney
There are multiple iterations of Miracle on 34th Street, including the 1947 original and a number of television versions that released in the 1950s and 1970s. You can seek those out at your leisure, but the 1994 version will be representing the so-called franchise, since it’s the version that’s perhaps most well-known these days. (Well, by this ’90s kid, at least.) The remake retains all of the magic and miracles of the beloved classic, and it’s one of the greatest Christmas movies you could ever watch.
Miracle on 34th Street centers on six-year-old Susan Walker (Mara Wilson), who’s inherited her mother’s skepticism of Santa Claus and the Christmas holiday. She decides that she doesn’t believe in Santa, and it’s a real bummer of a Christmas. However, Susan’s mother Dorey (Elizabeth Perkins) must hire the Santa who will pose with children at a department store, and meets a man named Kris Kringle (Richard Attenborough). He claims to be the real Santa and is taken to court, where he receives defense from Dorey’s boyfriend (Dylan McDermott) and Dorey herself.
Nothing makes a child wonder about the legitimacy of Santa Claus more than a Christmas movie with a narrative that hinges on the question of his existence. But Miracle on 34th Street manages to muster up a message that’ll turn even the most skeptical into believers. Unfortunately, the film didn’t fare well at the box office and split critics right down the middle. Even so, it remains an annual classic and a worthy addition to your holiday lineup. Whether you’re watching the original or the 1994 remake, you’ll be experiencing the miracle of a great Christmas movie.