As families sit down to watch Christmas movies with their cookies and egg nog, IllinoisBet.com decided to look into which holiday classics were most popular in the state. No surprise here, the Illinois-based “Home Alone,” filmed in Winnetka, is the runaway favorite.
Utilizing Google Trends, IllinoisBet.com took a break from covering Illinois sports betting and analyzed the most popular Christmas movies of Illinois residents. We did so by looking at the search results of each movie over the past three Christmases. The movies included the 40 most popular Christmas movies over the past year based on global traffic from AhRefs.com.
Favorite Christmas Movies of Illinois Residents
You won’t like what you see of the Bears’ playoff chances, so this list might provide a distraction.
Movie Filmed in Illinois Wins
“Home Alone,” released in 1990, was directed by Chris Columbus and written by the prolific John Hughes, whose coming-of-age comedies dominated the 1980s (“Sixteen Candles,” “The Breakfast Club,” “Pretty in Pink,” more) and whose “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” tied for fifth on this list. “Home Alone” is the story of Kevin (Macaulay Culkin) left home, uh, alone, when his rushing family forgets him at Christmas time. When two idiot crooks (Daniel Stern, Joe Pesci) try to break into Kevin’s house, he uses his wits and virtually everything in the house to keep them out.
Tied for second place is the feature-length, Jim Carrey version of Dr. Seuss’s “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” The book was first published in 1957 and adapted into a terrific cartoon in 1966 (Boris Karloff voiced the Grinch), before becoming this live-action fantasy film in 2000, directed by Ron Howard.
Also in second is “The Polar Express,” a 2004 animated film featuring the voice of Tom Hanks as a train conductor leading a Christmas Eve excursion to the North Pole, and the boy passenger who learns about the true meaning of Christmas on the trip. Directed by Robert Zemeckis (“Back to the Future”). There’s a lot of learning about the true meaning of Christmas in Christmas movies. And Hallmark movies.
The last film tied for second is “A Christmas Story,” which celebrates its 40th anniversary this year. A flop when it was first released, perhaps because director Bob Clark was mostly known for the horror film “Black Christmas” and the teen sex comedy “Porky’s,” VHS, DVD and now streaming has made the film a holiday perennial. Based on the story by radio personality Jean Shepherd, it’s the 1940s tale of a boy who wants a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas. But, you guessed it, the true meaning of Christmas gifts him with a more important present.
In a fifth-place tie is “Elf,” the 2003 comedy directed by Jon Favreau (“Iron Man,” “The Mandalorian”) and starring Will Ferrell as a human-sized elf in search of his real-life New York-based father (James Caan), who also needs a Christmas lesson. A true fish out of water story, the comedy comes from an innocent 6-foot-man, raised by elves, navigating modern-day Manhattan. Also tied for fifth is “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” (1989), in which the Griswold family’s Christmas plans turn into a comedic disaster. This was the third entry in the Griswold saga, with Chevy Chase as star. It’s not quite “A Christmas Carol” or “It’s a Wonderful Life,” but every generation has its favorites.