Dare I say this might actually be a more contentious topic than politics or religion?
Like most people, I have very strong feelings on the subject. And just to clarify, I am considering full-length movies as well as all of those half-hour tv shows including animated and Claymation.
The best Christmas movie, for me, is one that truly embodies the Christmas spirit and takes place during the Christmas season. If the movie has only one of these qualifications and not the other, it is a non-starter. Period. For example, Ghostbusters has a scene during the Christmas holiday, but has absolutely nothing to do with the Christmas spirit. Conversely, one might say that Mr. Holland’s Opus displays a “Christmas” spirit, but has nothing to do with the holiday. So keep that in mind for later.
I limited myself to ten which took some discipline. Here they are in chronological order:
It’s a Wonderful Life (1946): Every time a bell rings, an angel gets its wings. A great movie to watch both as a child and then again as an adult.
Miracle on 34th Street (1947): Santa and Christmas are put on trial and the Christmas spirit saves the day. Check, check.
The Bishop’s Wife (1948): A guardian angel, a saved marriage, and trees that decorate themselves. What more could you ask for?
Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964): Burl Ives is reason enough to put Rudolf on the short list. Throw in the classic children’s song and an acceptance story and I am all ears.
Frosty the Snowman (1969): Who among us as children did not root for Frosty to make it?
The Year without a Santa Claus (1974): The Heat Miser and the Snow Miser are the BEST. And my kids love it, too, so that rules out my preference being a generational thing.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000): I realize the animated version came way before the live action version, but Jim Carrey rocks the Grinch part.
The Polar Express (2004): It seems that everybody wants to make a “Christmas movie” these days – in hopes that they will score that great song that stands the test of time or dvd/download sales year after year. Polar Express nails it – it has truly classic, beautiful Christmas music and a sweet story that I never grow tired of watching.
Elf (2003): A human man raised as an elf seeking his real father’s acceptance. Heartwarming and nice to get an elf story for a change.
A Christmas Carol (2009): I know there are so many good versions of this story, so I picked the one with the most current technology. A story with a message still relevant 173 years after it was written!
Here is the controversial part: I really didn’t love Love Actually. I know there are a lot of fans out there. Yes, I guess it meets the criteria, but I just didn’t think it was anything special. Just another rom com that happens to be set at Christmas-time.
And one more while I am at it: Die Hard is not a Christmas movie, people! Terrorists in December does not a Christmas classic make!
For fun, I asked my family members what their favorites were. Both my husband and my son said Polar Express and my daughter said both Polar Express and How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Since these are movies I included as well, I think this gives my list street cred!
So there you have it, my list of Christmas favorites. What is on your short list? Are there any on my list that you haven’t seen that you now may look to see? Are you freaking out about my opinions on Love Actually or Die Hard? Let me know! Perhaps I can be persuaded…