Our 9 Favorite Christmas Movie Characters

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With Christmas upon us, we thought it'd be fitting to list our nine favorite characters from holiday flicks sure to put you and your family in a merry mood. Let's face it, there’s nothing better than sitting together with the gang and getting the heartstrings tugged, and the funny bones tickled, with a glass of eggnog by your side.

On a side note: We know our list is lacking in female characters — and those of color, for that matter. But don't blame us. Blame Hollywood!

9. Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin), 'Home Alone,' 1990

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Macaulay Culkin came into "Home Alone" as an unknown and emerged as the most in-demand child actor since Shirley Temple. Whom does Culkin have to thank? None other than John Hughes, the '80s comedy legend who wrote the script for this holiday classic, and who created the lovable and wisecracking Kevin, a kid who gets even with some burglars when they try to rob his home.

8. Jack Skellington (Danny Elfman), 'The Nightmare Before Christmas,' 1993

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You'd think the king of Halloweentown (the name says it all) would be a ghoulish, mean-spirited demon, but the rail-thin Jack Skellington (aka The Pumpkin King) is anything but. Sweet, confident, well-meaning and altogether charming, Jack is a leader in need of inspiration. He gets it when he discovers Christmas Town and tries to bring back some of that holiday cheer back home.

7. Willie (Billy Bob Thornton), 'Bad Santa,' 2003

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If you thought Ebenezer Scrooge was a party pooper, meet Willie, as embodied by a caustic and never-better Billy Bob Thornton. Every holiday season, Willie works as a mall Santa -- not to bring joy to children, but to rob the mall on Christmas Eve. Note to children: Stay off this guy’s lap.

6. Ralphie (Peter Billingsley), 'A Christmas Story,' 1983

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What's a good Christmas film without an adorable kid in it? Before Macaulay Culkin slayed moviegoers in "Home Alone," cutie pie Peter Billingsley worked his way into the hearts of millions as Ralphie, a young boy out to convince his parents, teachers and Santa that a Red Ryder BB gun really is the best gift for him. Good luck with that one, kid.

5. Susan Walker (Natalie Wood), 'Miracle on 34th St.,' 1947

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Before the gorgeous and talented Natalie Wood appeared in "Rebel Without a Cause" and "West Side Story," she was best known as the adorable kid at the center of this instant Christmas classic. Wood, as six-year-old Susan Walker, befriends a Macy's store Santa who's put on trial for claiming to be the real Kris Kringle. In return, he gets her a house. Hmm, Santa's never been that generous with us ...

4. Frank Cross (Bill Murray), 'Scrooged,' 1988

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Talk about a good bit of casting. In "Scrooged," an updated riff on Charles Dickens' 1843 holiday classic "A Christmas Carol," dry funnyman Bill Murray plays our generation's version of Ebenezer Scrooge, Frank Cross, a cynical and unrepentantly selfish TV executive who gets a visit from three sprits out to teach him a lesson or two.

3. Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase), 'Christmas Vacation,' 1989

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You might have forgotten, but back in the '80s, Chase was best known for playing family man Clark Griswold in the hysterical "National Lampoon Vacation" movies. The best of bunch, "Christmas Vacation," finds Griswold on a mission to plan a perfect, good old-fashioned family Christmas. Things don't go quite according to plan for the poor guy.

2. George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart), 'It's a Wonderful Life,' 1946

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There's a reason watching "It’s a Wonderful Life" with your family is a Christmas tradition, like eating turkey on Thanksgiving. There's nothing quite like watching a well-meaning sad sack get the sweet redemption he so deserves thanks to the help of a guardian angel. It helps that the man in question, George Bailey, is played by James Stewart. Who doesn’t love some Stewart over the holidays?

1. Buddy the Elf (Will Ferrell), 'Elf,' 2003

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You knew we'd save the best for last. In what is arguably Will Ferrell's most endearingly hilarious flick, Ferrell plays Buddy, a grown man raised in the North Pole convinced he's one of Santa's little elves. Problem is, he's not. Buddy was adopted by Santa as an infant and brought back to the North Pole to be raised among the elves. When he sets off on a journey to New York City to find his real father, he has a bit of trouble fitting in.

(Originally published on Dec. 19, 2011.)

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