In compiling the candidates for this poll, I realized that there are way more awesome Santas in film than I thought. Therefore I had to be really picky and play favorites because, well, this is my poll. So without further ado, here are your five candidates…
Edmund Gwenn, “A Miracle On 34th Street”
From one of the most classic Christmas movies comes the most classic Santa on this list. Renowned character actor Edmund Gwenn’s performance was so well-received that he won a Best Supporting Actor for it.
Billy Bob Thornton, “Bad Santa”
The title of this film tells us everything we need to know about Thornton’s version of Kris Kringle. He lies, cheats, steals, womanizes, shows up drunk to work, what more could you ask for in the most anti-heroic of all Santa portrayals? Bonus points awarded to Santa’s little person little helper, played by the hilarious Tony Cox.
Ed Asner and Artie Lange in “Elf”
Sure, Santa plays second fiddle to the new-classic performance from Will Ferrell as Buddy the elf, but his presence(s) is a key component regardless. First we have real Santa Claus (Asner), who loves Buddy unconditionally, quirks, over-enthusiasm and all. Then there is fake Santa (Lange), who works part-time at department store Gimbel’s. The latter of the two doesn’t fair so well when he is confronted by Buddy for being a fake. He totally loses his cool in front of a bunch of kids and his boss.
Jeff Gillen, “A Christmas Story”
Poor Ralphie was holding onto one last shred of hope that the one person who would understand his wish for a Red Ryder BB Gun would be Santa Claus. Unfortunately for him, Santa shared the same sentiments as all the other adults in the film: “You’ll shoot your eye out, kid.” Gillen as Santa says to a devastated Ralphie. “Anyway, Merry Christmas. Ho, ho ho.”
Jack Skellington, “A Nightmare Before Christmas”
An unconventional choice, perhaps, but this movie is awesome, particularly the wholesome, well-intentioned character of Jack Skellington, who was tired of being the Pumpkin King and wanted to experience the joy of gift-giving, even if he had to borrow the real Santa’s hat to do it.
Honorable mentions: Dan Akroyd, “Trading Places,” James Belushi “Jingle All The Way,” Paul Giamatti, “Fred Claus”