1. 'It's a Wonderful Life' (1946)
Poor George Bailey (played unforgettably by James Stewart). It's Christmas Eve, and he's at the end of his rope, about to lose the family business to which he's devoted his life. But after an angelic intervention shows George how his absence would have profoundly affected all the people in his life, George chooses to stay alive and face the music. As Stewart runs through his beloved Bedford Falls ("Merry Christmas, movie house!"), returns to his beloved wife and children, and sees the extent of the devotion of his friends ... well, I'm getting misty-eyed just writing this, so go figure. The final sequence of "It's a Wonderful Life" still ranks among the most powerful movie moments – let alone Christmas movie moments – ever, even after more than 60 years.
Alonso Duralde is the author of 'Have Yourself a Movie Little Christmas' (Limelight Editions).