I have just finished watching “A Christmas Story,” which I just bought on Blu Ray by the way, and it has me thinking about what are my favorite Christmas movies. The Holiday season is one in which I truly enjoy alot of the movies that are on television and I will admit that I have a mix of older movies, newer movies and movies from my childhood on my list.
I do the same thing every year ever since I have been in Junior High School. Every Christmas I find out when my favorite movies are on television and write it down somewhere so I can make sure not to miss them. As I mentioned before, I did just purchase A Christmas Story on Blu Ray and I may make my way through my favorites list and do the same if possible.
These are in no order other than the year they were released. I will also not rehash the story of the film but discuss why the are my favorites.
IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE (1946)
The idea that you need to appreciate what you have and also be able to be granted a second chance at life is a very romantic idea. The movie is really simple in it’s approach to story telling and that is a part of what makes it so amazing. The other thing that draws me to this movie is that it is about a normal guy who wants nothing but normal things in his life. Jimmy Stewart was the perfect choice to play George Bailey and Donna Reed have fantastic chemistry and I believe if anyone else played these roles, the film would not have the same impact. I have to say that no matter what I plan on doing, I always make time for this movie. HOT DOG!!!!
MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET (1947)
I know that this movie has had a remake done and even though the actors in the film do a very good job, I just find that it lacks the magic of this original film. The very strong performances of Maureen O’Hara as Doris Walker, Natakie Wood as her daughter Susan Walker and Edmund Gwenn as Kris Kringle that makes this movie special. The dynamic that is created by these three actors for their characters is exceptional. It has a true sense of “Christmas Magic” about it, especially the scene when Susan sees the house she asked Kris for as they are driving by.
SCROOGE – A CHRISTMAS CAROL (1951)
This movie has been both listed as “Scrooge” and “A Christmas Carol” so I combined it into one title. The story by Charles Dickens has had many film versions that have spanned from the early 1900’s to this day but the 1951 version with Alastair Sim is by far my favorite of the lot. Sims is so cynical in his performance of Scrooge and has such conviction in that performance, that he stands out from the rest of the men who have played the same role. This movie is notorious for being on around 3am on Christmas Eve on CTV and it is a true struggle to stay awake to watch it but I do, every year.
A CHRISTMAS STORY (1983)
This movie is one that has been of excess for me. I remember when there were years that it was never showed on television on the channels that I had and then WTBS had years where it was shown on a 24 hour marathon that ran all Christmas Day. I love this movie and it is the most well rounded story in the entire list. Ralphie’s desire for the Red Ryder Air Gun is the main focus but there are many sub plots being explored through out the film as well. The actors all play their parts exceptionally and I think the main Parker family unit is one that everyone can identify with.
I am a huge fan of Bill Murray and have been since I first saw Ghostbusters (another blog for another day) in theaters as a child. This modern and unique twist that was placed on the classic Charles Dickens story is one I miss as it has not been on television for me to watch in the last few years. Murray is at his comedic best in this movie and I do wonder how many of his lines were spontaneous as he is known to ad lib alot on the set. The highlight of the movie for me is when Frank Cross constantly quarrels with The Ghost Of Christmas Present. I laugh out loud every single time.
NATIONAL LAMPOON’S CHRISTMAS VACATION (1989)
I have seen all of the “Vacation” movies following the adventures of the Griswolds but I prefer this one the most. The movie may have the catchiest song and cartoon intro I have ever experienced in a film. The key to the entire film is the story of Clark Griswold and his never fading excitement for Christmas and all the eventual madness it entails. Throughout the movie his Christmas spirit is front and center and it is of course not until the very end that he breaks and loses it only to have it redeemed at the end. This is another one I wait for every year.
THE SANTA CLAUSE (1994)
I will freely admit that I have never been a Disney fan and I seriously questioned the idea of Tim Allen portraying Santa Claus in a movie they produced. Now I am not a fan of the sequels as much but I do have to say that the original film does bring a smile to my face every Holiday season. Allen was perfectly cast as Scott Calvin (see what they did with his initials there?) who accidently kills Santa Claus and has to take his place. I actually really loved watching the physical changes that he goes through as Christmas gets closer and the banter he has with the elves at his workshop. Disney hit it out of the park with this one.
HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS (2000)
There are many people who are vocal in their dislike of this movie and are loyal to the classic Dr Seuss cartoon but I am someone who immensely enjoys both. I am a fan of Jim Carrey’s to start and felt his ability to over act actually adds to the chaos of the film. I see no issue with there being a back story given to The Grinch, as it truly adds to his hatred of Christmas and those who embrace it in Whoville. The story hits on all the best parts of the cartoon and enhances the story to become a “fuller” tale. Ron Howard captured the essence of what makes the cartoon special.
If I do not catch a lot of flack for my love of “The Grinch,” I surely will for this one. Elf is one of those rare modern films that successfully captures the magic and mystique of all those Christmas cartoons and movies of our childhood. As much as I think Will Farrell is hot or miss with his performances, I feel he was an amazing fit in Elf. The cast was the strength of the film and each actor and actress brought something memorable to the movie. Even “Ralphie from A Christmas Story” actor Peter Billingsley has an uncredited appearance as the head Elf. The movie is a true Holiday hit.