Hopefully along with Christmas brings a nice long holiday. So while you’re all curled up with your cocoa, why not spend some time catching up with some of the greatest Christmas movies to come out of Hollywood! So here is my Holiday Top 10 to get you on your way!
10. Holiday Inn (1942) – This movie just has to be on any Christmas movie list – it is where the now well-known carol “White Christmas” originated! The cast is impeccable with Fred Astaire and Bing Crosby playing two friends who have a dance and song act. The twist comes when Crosby’s fiancée ends up choosing Fred instead and Bing moves to a Connecticut farm. He opens an Inn that is only open on holidays, and thus we get the title of the film. It really is a wonderful movie, light hearted and yet sappy at times, put it on, go ahead and curl up under a blanket, you won’t regret it!
9. A Christmas Story (1983) – Maybe I am partial to this film because it was made the year I was born, but it could also be the hilarity that abounds throughout the film, particularly as the main character/narrator of the film desperately seeks a way to attain his desired Christmas present: a BB Gun. This quest is also the source of the film’s now infamous line “You’ll shoot your eye out!” Even though they are slightly unhinged and looney, this family still finds a way to embody the spirit of Christmas. This movie reminds you that family, is what makes your holiday season a holiday. There is always something to drive you crazy or make you laugh.
8. The Santa Claus (1994) – This is quickly becoming a classic … okay I’ll admit it; it is doing so only with my family, from my mother to my youngest cousins. Tim Allen is comedic gold as a workaholic divorcee who by a quirk of fate becomes Santa Clause. Though it is a comedy, it is also touched with tender moments that prove that the Holidays are less about the material gifts and the notion of “Santa Clause” and more about the hope and joy that his figure embodies.
7. The Bishop’s Wife (1947) – Cary Grant. Enough said. Well maybe I will go on a little bit about the sentimental moments, but they are not cloying. Of course, the angel-falls-for-human angle is ridiculous theologically speaking, but as a plot device, it’s useful for revealing the wife’s goodness and frustration, and the Bishop’s distraction from what’s important due to his own ambition. The cast is excellent. You know where the story is going, but you really want to be along for the ride – the mark of a classic. The message: tenderness of heart wins over self-centered ambition.
6. The Family Man (2000) – Although it may appear to be just another Christmas redemption movie, The Family Man is an intelligent, witty and reflective film. Not being a big fan of Nicholas Cage, I was rather pleased with his portrayal of a workaholic who is given the chance to see what his life would have been like had he chosen love over money. At first seeming more of a curse than a gift, the life of love slowly restores his hardened heart as he comes to find how amazing a life without the high-end living accommodations, cars and clothes is actually one quite worth living. If the situation was reversed, and it was a sneak peak at the life of money versus the life based in love, would he choose his family life? His decision at the end of the movie will give you the answer. This is George Bailey in reverse.
5. How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966) – How could our green friend NOT make the list? Despite his angry and severe anti-Christmas spirit, eventually the Grinch is the source of the Christmas meaning in the story. It is this aspect that makes it a worthwhile Christmas film – that even the worst, most despicable of living creatures (remind you of anyone? Maybe Scrooge?) have the possibility to be transformed. Dr. Seuss’ story is perfect for kids because it demonstrates how even the meanest of the mean can be swayed by sweet, loveable Cindy Lou Who. As well as for adults to want to enjoy the “magic of Christmas.”
4. One Magic Christmas (1985) – In my experience this is not a movie that is on a lot of people’s list. Mary Steenburgen plays Ginny (Powder and Back to the Future III), a mother immersed in monetary woes, Harry Dean Stanton (I know him best as the father in Pretty in Pink) is Gideon and a very young Sarah Polley (GO, My Life Without Me) plays a small role. This is the Christmas film that you can watch with your kids as a reminder that the material side of Christmas is truly unimportant, not to mention in our everyday lives as well. It takes an angel named Gideon (Stanton) and Ginny’s daughter Abbie to help her find the spirit of Christmas that is unrelated to the gifts she cannot buy her children.
3. The Muppets Christmas Carol (1992) – A fun, humorous take on the classic Dickens’ story of greedy, crotchety Ebenezer Scrooge, the Muppet’s definitely make it worth watching and is best enjoyed by those who know the original tale. Of course there is singing, but the majority of the songs are actually quite fun. The wonderfully wacky Gonzo narrates as Charles Dickens, his pal Rizzo the Rat is equally funny and how could you go wrong with the remarkable Michael Cain as Scrooge? Granted it takes some liberties with the story, it IS the Muppet version, but on the whole it keeps the spirit of the story alive: the benefits of love and welcome redemption.
2. It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) – Surprised this is not at the number one spot? While I love this film, it is undeniably a classic story of lost hope regained, salvation and the true meaning of not only Christmas but also life in its entirety, it doesn’t embody “Christmas” as much as the number one movie does for me. The cast that does nothing but impress while making every line real. Every heart breaking moment hits home in this timeless story, making it a great movie for all year round. If you actually don’t know this film, wake up and slap yourself in the face for me, even people who do not like this film have seen it! As a testament to its ability to touch us all and its inspiring message, at least one local TV channel runs it on Christmas and New Year’s Eve every year, maybe hoping to spur us to make great changes (for the better) in ourselves.
1. A Miracle on 34th Street (1947 and 1994) – Both the original and new versions are worth a watch … or four. The 1947 film has the beautiful Maureen O’Hara as the emotionally distant mother of a precocious little girl who has been raised on big helping of reality and facts but is utterly deprived of imagination and dreams. All the while she yearns to believe in the magic of Santa Claus. In the 1994 movie the cast is once again incomparable, an aspect which is only underscored by its faithfulness to the 40’s style of the original film. It allows the 1994 version to be an update while remaining true to its roots.
What makes “A Miracle on 34th Street” number one on my list is that the message is about hope.
In the 1994 movie Kris Kringle gives a very important speech which I will not entirely reveal, above all what is important about Santa Claus and Christmas is this: “I’m a symbol of the human ability to be able to suppress the selfish and hateful tendencies that rule the major part of our lives.” Above all this is what Christmas is, and what a Christmas movie should display.
May you all enjoy these seasonal favourites, and any of your own that are not up here!