Top Ten Portrayals of Santa Claus

One of the most famous men of all time is nonother than Santa Claus. During the holiday season, this man is in numerous amount of commercials, programs, ads, and movies. People line up to take pictures with him and children write letters of what they wish and hope for. We all have different ideas of Santa in our minds and Santa in pop culture has been very diverse as well. These are my top ten best portrayals of Santa Claus.

10. Violent Night

Violent Night was such a fun, surprising experience. Full of gore and fun moments throughout it is definitely an awesome time. David Harbour does a great job portraying jolly old St. Nick. It is nice to see a portrayal of a more tired Santa. A Santa who we can relate to and who feels more human. He doesn’t feel as appreciated due to more and more people believing in him less and less.

A personal type of Santa is great to see and it is pretty awesome to see him kick some ass. The movie is still way too new to put him anywhere higher on this list though.

9. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

James Cosmo is only in The Chronicles of Narnia for what must be five minutes. Still, his appearance as Santa, to me is one of the most important and memorable parts of the movie.

When the children feel scared and lost, Santa showing up is just what they needed. They get some time to relax and be filled with wonder. They also get some pretty awesome gifts. Peter receives a sword and shield. Susan receives a magical horn and a bow and arrows. Lucy receives a dagger and a potion to heal people. These gifts in the end help the children very much in their journey.

It is also wild to think that Santa just has all these gifts laying around and makes you wonder what kind of warrior he has been. I definitely want to see that movie.

8. Elf

Ed Asner gives a great performance in Elf as Santa. He has warmth and kindness throughout the movie that is much appreciated. He took in Buddy when no one else wanted him and gave him love and a place to stay.

With the way Buddy is constantly so excited to see his friend Santa, you just know he was treated great. It is also nice to know that Santa does not reek of beef and cheese. It is also nice to know that this Santa is not a pushover. When he suspects he is about to be mugged in Central Park, he is for sure ready to throwdown.

7. Miracle on 34th Street (1947)

The original Miracle on 34th Street movie is one that should be watched every year. The story and characters are all likable, especially Edmund Gwenn who portrays Santa. He is welcoming and warm and you really feel for him as he goes on his journey.

The dedication to the role is obvious as Gwenn gained a good amount of weight to be Santa. It is a portrayal that makes you really believe Santa exists. It is also still the only time where someone won an Oscar for playing Santa Claus.

6. The Santa Clause

Tim Allen as Santa Claus is always fun to watch. It is nice to see a man who had no intention to be Santa, have to all of a sudden takeover and do what is right.

Tim Allen’s portrayal is comedic and sarcastic and it is a breath of fresh air when it is placed alongside classic jolly portrayals of Santa. He gives a personal touch as well as he isn’t perfect. He makes mistakes and doesn’t always know what to do even if his intentions are good. I also got to give credit to Tim Allen for portraying Santa for almost 30 years and not losing his touch.

5. A Year Without A Santa Claus

I truly love this special and try my best to watch it every year. Mickey Rooney is just perfect as Santa. His voice comes off as a man who has been through so many holidays and now he is just exhausted.

When this Santa sings “I Believe in Santa Claus“, it is one of the best moments of the special. Mickey Rooney brings so much heart and love to the character that it would be a crime not to mention it. To me, his portrayal makes this the best of the claymation specials.

4. Ernest Saves Christmas

Now I know that the character of Ernest is a silly one.  A product of his time. I grew up watching and loving the Ernest films and Ernest Saves Christmas has always been one of my favorites. Even though it is silly, it still has one of the best portrayals of Santa.

Douglas Seale plays Santa with such kindness and sharp wit. He is traveling to Orlando in hopes to find a replacement. He is getting old and starting to lose his magic touch but the warmth and joy remain. When speaking to anyone in the movie, this Santa is sincere and you can tell how much Christmas means to him. Everything else in the movie is pretty silly but this portrayal of Santa lends the movie a lot of magic.

3. Bad Santa

There are those who might argue that Billy Bob Thornton is not really Santa in this movie. That may be so, but since a child thinks that he is in fact the real Santa Claus the whole movie, I feel this portrayal counts.

Thornton plays Willie. He is rude, crude, a criminal, and a drunk. Not what you think about when you think of Santa, but Christmas can still bring out the best in people. Willie is depressed and feels worthless. When he meets a young boy who relies on him, it truly opens up his heart.

Bad Santa is a great comedy but it also has a lot of heart that isn’t always recognized. Willie, finally having something to live for makes a change for the better even if it takes a while. This portrayal of Santa is hilarious but also sends a nice message that it’s never too late to be a better person.

2. The Twilight Zone (The Night of the Meek)

The Twilight Zone is one of my favorite shows. I love the writing and twists of almost every episode. One of my favorite episodes is actually unlike usual Twilight Zone episodes. A heartwarming tale called “The Night of the Meek”

Art Carney plays a department store Santa who drinks a lot. He drinks because even though he loves his job, he feels sad. Sad that he goes home to a poor neighborhood and that even though he brings joy in playing Santa, he can’t bring everyone joy. There is still poverty. There are still children who don’t get anything on Christmas.  He has only one wish. That the meek would inherit the earth.

He finds a burlap bag full of gifts and is filled with joy as he spends the night delivering gifts to the less fortunate. After realizing that he hasn’t received a gift, he wishes he could do this every year. This wish comes true as he becomes the true Santa Claus.

The story is so full of love and the portrayal is so endearing.  A man who just wants to spread peace and joy is the perfect candidate to be Santa. This episode is definitely worth checking out to put you in the Christmas spirit.

1. Miracle on 34th Street (1994)

Is this remake better than the original? I won’t go that far. Is this the best Santa in pop culture? In my opinion, very much so.

One of my favorite movies of all time is Jurassic Park. Richard Attenborough plays Dr. Hammond and I love that character and know that character inside and out. When I would watch the remake of Miracle on 34th Street growing up, I didn’t see Dr. Hammond. I saw Santa. I believed this was the real Santa and if one day someone discovers Richard Attenborough was actually the real Santa, I would not be surprised.

The man is sweet, caring, and committed to putting others above himself even when he is in court and things could possibly go very bad. He has a gentle voice and is mesmerizing to watch. You can’t take your eyes off him. The scene with the deaf girl is such a magical highlight. This is definitely the best Santa there is.

Which is your favorite version of Santa Claus? Leave a comment below and let me know. 




About Martin Maruri

Martin Maruri is an avid fan of pop culture and movie trivia. In his spare time, Martin loves to watch horror movies, watch baseball and spend time with his lovely girlfriend. P.S...He also loves spending time with his French Bulldog named Tobin.

View all posts by Martin Maruri

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