Annalisa Palmer
December 25, 2014 7:07 am

Charles Dickens’ ubiquitous 1843 novella, A Christmas Carol, seems to be written across the inner crevasses of my mind. It’s the ultimate reminder to be a better, kinder person on Christmas and throughout the year. But with so many adaptations of the classic tale of Ebenezer Scrooge, his ghostly visitors, and Tiny Tim, I think it’s high time we sort out which are really worth the time. Fortunately, there are load of great versions, and they’re all available to stream online and watch on Christmas day. Here are the 10 finest adaptations of A Christmas Carol—and where to watch them!

1. 1983 Mickey’s Christmas Carol
Where to Watch: DailyMotion

Dickens’ classic story merged with old school, hand-sketched animations make this movie extra special in my nostalgic heart. I know I’m partial to this adaptation, especially since it was my first exposure to this tale, yet with all the favorite Disney characters (Mickey, Goofy, Minnie, and Donald) this short little movie delights anyone’s heart, and puts them in a mood for hot chocolate and a great big hug.

2. 1984 A Christmas Carol
Where to Watch: YouTube, Cable TV

This is the rendition of the Christmas Carol that usually plays multiple times on TV, so you’ll have no problem catching it after dinner. Watch it, and you’ll know why it’s so good: George C. Scott is genius as Scrooge (look at his sideburns!), and you completely feel his disdain for humanity, and all the ghosts are beautifully played to make this film worthy of being on your Christmas watch-list.

3. 1988 Blackadder’s Christmas Carol
Where to Watch: Netflix

This is not a very true adaptation of Dickens’ beloved novella, but Blackadder’s Christmas Carol ranks as one of my top must-see Christmas parody programs. It’s full of puns and twists, from Blackadder as the nicest man in England and Tiny Tim as the overweight son of Mrs. Scratchit to the brief appearance of Prof. Slughorn as Prince Albert. I also have to give a shoutout to Robbie Coltrane  for his hilarious performance as the Ghost of Christmas Past. As Baldrick, with his head as empty as a hermit’s address book, he says, “Merry Messy Christmas.” Grab your computer or Roku remote, and watch this now.

4. 1988 Scrooged
Where to Watch: Netflix

This adaptation may have gotten some negative critical reviews, but I decided to give it a chance on Netflix because, after all, Bill Murray was in it. I have to admit, at first I was like “what in the world is going on here?” But, the movie does pick up, and has some humorous moments that make it worth your while.

Murray says something at the beginning of the film that best describes this movie. In response to one of his employees who says that people “want to see” their Christmas program, Murray declares, “That’s not good enough! They have to be so scared to miss it!” The whole movie centers on Murray, playing a Scrooge-like character, and he really wants his audience to “scary” love this movie. But does he succeed? Just wait for the wonderful “Put a Little Love in Your Heart” sing-along. You’ll have your answer.

5. 1992 The Muppet’s Christmas Carol
Where to Watch: Netflix

Michael Caine, Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, and Rizzo in a Christmas movie? Where could it go wrong? Nowhere! This is probably my second favorite Christmas Carol rendition, and it’s only second because it’s a parody, but still it’s just fun and a wonderful film to put you in the Christmas spirit. Even though Scrooge is Michael Caine, who happens to be Batman’s butler, don’t think he’s going to be all nice and friendly in this movie. If you wait a minute, though, you’ll see that sweet glimmer in his eyes again, just like Albert. As in every Christmas Carol, Scrooge turns around in the end, and in Muppet fashion, they sing and dance and crack us up.

6. 1999 A Christmas Carol
Where to Watch: YouTube, Cable TV

Remember that time when Capt. Jean-Luc Picard—aka Professor X, aka Claudius—was Ebenezer Scrooge? That’s this movie, and it stars the wickedly awesome Shakespearean actor Sir Patrick Stewart.

This adaptation of the Christmas Carol ranks as the truest to Dickens’ novella, and a favorite of most since Stewart is such a stud at acting.

Watch it and be ready to freak out when you see the Ghost of Christmas Future—he’s downright creepy.

7. 2001 Christmas Carol – The Movie
Where to Watch: Amazon

Next on the list is a British animated adaptation of the British novel. Marketed as being a major motion picture rather than just a TV movie, this Christmas Carol stars Simon Callow, Nicholas Cage, Kate Winslet, and our beloved Dumbledore, Michael Gambon.

This movie is really cool, and it gets the back story of Scrooge just right, especially with his love interest, Belle. She even has a beautiful song in the movie! It’s a kid’s interpretation, but it’s really fun and well put together.

8. 2009 A Christmas Carol
Where to Watch: YouTube

Jim Carrey is on a roll in this film. Starring as all three ghosts, and as Scrooge, before and after puberty, Carrey gives an inspired performance. When I first saw the trailer for this movie, I wasn’t sure about it, but it’s very well done, animation-wise. You might have first thought Tim Burton had his hand in this Disney movie, but it’s all about Robert Zemeckis and Carrey in this dark retelling of the tale. There’s not much comedy, but Dickens wrote the novel as a social commentary, not as a slap-stick parody. However, you could definitely argue that the novel is far different from the film; particularly when you take in account the goblins and the skeletal caricature that is old-man Scrooge.

9. 2009 Nan’s Christmas Carol
Where to Watch: YouTube

Catherine Tate (Donna in Doctor Who) plays Joni “Nan” Taylor, a crabby lady who throws the Cratchit family out on the street on Christmas Eve. Her husband warns her that three ghosts will come and visit her which she scoffs at, but the ghost of Christmas past breaks down her door ten seconds after the warning. To prove he’s a ghost, he tells Nan to hit him with a frying pan, and then he shows her “where it all started,” when she was a child and Santa only gave her a tangerine. The movie time travels to the ’50s and the ’70s, as we observe Nan’s nasty nature. This edgy, updated approach to the tale is filled with biting humor and definitely worth the watch.

10. 2011 Doctor Who’s A Christmas Carol
Where to Watch: Netflix (Season 5, Episode 14)

The 11th Doctor (Matt Smith), poised as the Ghost of Christmas Past and Future, tweaks Kazran Sardick’s (Michael Gambon) life before his eyes to save 4,003, including Rory and Amy, on-board a crashing ship. This special episode may not appear to be a Christmas Carol of the Dickens ilk, but it definitely takes parts from the novel, and adapts them to fit in with the theme of Doctor Who. Amy plays along with the Doctor as a hologram while she’s trapped on the crashing ship in the clouds: she’s the Ghost of Christmas Present, and she aids in convincing Sardick to tame the clouds with his isomorphically-controlled weather machine.

All of these movies and specials maintain the essence of Charles Dickens’ immortal novella. No matter how you cut it, in the end, A Christmas Carol is all about learning the true meaning of Christmas.

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