Saturday, December 21, 2013

Who's the Best... Christmas Movie?


Karen: Which movie (we'll leave cartoons out of the discussion since we debated it last year) is your favorite at holiday time? Many people go for the classics, like It's a Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street, or any of the many versions of A Christmas Carol (the 1951 Alastair Sim one is my own favorite). Others like  more modern films, like A Christmas Story, Christmas Vacation, or Scrooged. What do you like to watch during the season, and why?



22 comments:

david_b said...

Best vs. personal favorites..? Hmm.

To me the holidays bring out the best and worst of relationships, both family and romance, coupled with memories of past innocence and perceptions of how Christmas 'should be'..

The best usually include Bing Crosby, with his at-times wistful demeanor and incredible family charm. So my favs include 'Bells of St Mary', 'Going My Way', 'Holiday Inn' and especially the always fresh 'White Christmas'.

Of more modern films, the best is 'Love Actually' on so many levels. Not only well-paced and featuring one of my all-time favorite songs 'God Only Knows', it really speaks to the heartache of unrequited love, missed opportunities, lost love, rekindling of relationships, you name it. It's kinda like 'the Christmas movie' for the rest of us. 'The Vacation' is another good, frothy film for couples.

Perhaps at some point we can delve into favorite TV show Christmas moments.

Matt Celis said...

A Christmas Story because it's sweet and hilarious at the same time and doesn't try to beat the audience over the head with a sanctimonious message.

William said...

I've seen "It's A Wonderful Life" a couple of times, but it's hard for me to watch it year in and out because it can get pretty slow in parts. The same "Miracle on 34th Street", and others of that style.

Personally, I tend to favor the funny Christmas movies like "A Christmas Story", and "Christmas Vacation". One of my all-time favorites is "Jingle All The Way" with Arnold Schwarzenegger. He plays a workaholic dad in a desperate (and futile) last minute search for an impossible to find Turboman action figure (the "hot toy" of the year) for his son. I love this movie because it captures the "real" feeling of Christmas that most of us experience. Not the "real meaning" of Christmas, but more what Christmas is really like. (Much like a Christmas Story). For most people in the real world, the main purpose of the holiday is to get their kids what they want for X-Mas, so they aren't disappointed. And this movie does a great job of portraying that. It's also great to see Arnold totally out of his element, and his sort of bad acting and thick accent just adds to the whacky charm of the movie. It's just a really upbeat Christmas movie that doesn't take itself too seriously and doesn't get too sappy and try to make you "feel" something. Not to say that it doesn't have a moral (which is your kids just want you to pay attention to them). However, It's mostly just fun for fun's sake.

Other favorite Christmas movies of mine are films like "Die Hard", "Lethal Weapon", and "Reindeer Games", etc.. These movies remind me a lot of old-school Holiday comic-book specials. Whereas, the story (and action) take place at Christmastime, but they aren't necessarily about Christmas itself.

Edo Bosnar said...

A Christmas Story definitely. And the dad played by Kolchak himself, Darren McGavin, is my favorite character.
Two others I really like, just because I like Bill Murray, are Scrooged and Groundhog Day - I know the latter doesn't take place on Christmas, but I've watched it several times on or around Christmas and it fits perfectly with the season.

Anonymous said...

The original versions of "We're No Angels" and "Christmas in Connecticut." Both were sentimental but they were not preachy or maudlin. I used to like "A Christmas Story" until I read an essay about it in either Time or Newsweek. It pointed out that the movie is about the kid wanting a material object for himself, not about some character like Scrooge learning compassion for others, or George Bailey finding that life is worth living after all, or veterans trying to help their former C.O. (That is probably why it's the most popular holiday movie among yuppies. They are too young to remember Red Ryder and Orphan Annie, but they remember wanting Transformers or Power Rangers action figures, so they can identify with Ralphie in a way that they never could with Bing and Danny in "White Christmas.") Yeesh. I'm turning into a sanctimonious curmudgeon in my old age.

david_b said...

My wife's fav film was 'Christmas Story', so much so that we HAD to watch it every year, so it got to be a chore to watch, quite frankly.

William, GREAT mention of 'Jingle All The Way', LOVE that movie for it's silliness, but great morale of the story of just what a Dad will go through to be a hero to his son. The only thing I didn't like (or thought was sad..), was Robert Conrad. Loved him in Wild Wild West, but by this point he was pretty well reduced to being cheap comic relief. Sort of painful to watch.

Back on 'Christmas Story', I sort of disagree about that article, Anonymous. I see the rifle as more a subplot/string to the entire movie, but it's more about growing up during that era than anything else.

Another great movie I failed to mention is 'Planes Trains and Automobiles', just a beautiful poignant moment at the end with John Candy meeting Steve Martin's family, after all the angst and pitfalls they shared throughout the movie. Granted it's about Thanksgiving, but it can be just as much about Christmas. One of my favs around this time of year, solely for the message of 'pulling someone in to someone's family during the holidays'.

'Scrooged' I earnestly didn't like of all the '80s Murray films. Some call it stretching your craft, but I felt the role just wasn't right for his persona. I liked 'Groundhog Day' much better.

MattComix said...

My Top 3:

3. A Christmas Story. I could and still do relate to Ralphie. The scene that hits the most home to me the most as an adult viewer is his sad discovery that Annie's secret message is just an ad for Ovaltine. It's sort of like how Marvel and DC don't actually care about those characters, they'll whore them out to whatever will sell a few extra books. Quesada might as well be saying "Just drink your Ovaltine True Believers."

2. Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer. I still enjoy the claymation in this special but I also have always enjoyed it as a story about misfits who save the day and change peoples perceptions of them. Besides, ya gotta love Yukon Cornelius!

1. A Christmas Carol. I can't point to any one particular version of the story that I like above all others because whether we're talking Alastair Sim, George C. Scott, Patrick Stewart, or even Scrooge McDuck they all have good moments which I guess is really just a testament to the overall power of Dickens tale to begin with.

Matt Celis said...

"Bad Santa."

Garett said...

My girlfriend and I have watched 3 so far this Christmas: A Christmas Story, Love Actually, and Die Hard. All good! I'd never seen A Christmas Story before, and was surprised that it's considered something of a classic without my ever hearing about it. Filmed in Canada also. I've seen the others several times, always good. I'm impressed with the effortless movement from one story to another in Love Actually.

The original Grinch cartoon is great, and It's a Wonderful Life.

Matt Celis said...

Charlie Brown Christmas...does that count as a "movie"? Great soundtrack anyway.

Tried watching Love Actually. I'm surprised it's so popular here. I couldn't get past 40 minutes before I turned it off.

themiddlespaces said...

Good call on 'Jingle All the Way' - definitely underrated.

There is a station that plays 'A Christmas Story' for 24 hours straight on X-mas day and it is always on at my mom's house. She loves it. I love it.

But my favorite Christmas movie is Gremlins.

Kenneth Kovats said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
kkovats said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
kkovats said...

For some strange reason, the 1970 musical “Scrooge” with Albert Finney is my “must watch” Christmas movie of the year. Although not all of the musical numbers are show-stoppers, I always find myself singing “I Like Life” and “Thank you very much…” (which was a pretty cool VISA commercial several years ago). Mr. Finney’s Scrooge seems real and vulnerable during key parts of the movie, even more so than Patrick Stewart’s Shakespearian Scrooge in the TNT “Christmas Carol”.
Though, every time I watch Patrick Stewart’s version, I can’t help but think they could have used the cast of Star Trek TNG in other parts of the production:
… Data as Tom Cratchit
-Q as Jacob Marley
-Beverly Crusher at Mrs. Cratchit
-Troi as the ghost of Christmas Past
-Riker as Scrooge’s nephew
-Alexander (Worf’s son) as Tiny Tim (…If Wesley was Tiny Tim, I don’t think even a reformed Scrooge would want to cure him…!)

Greg said...

I'd go with White Christmas for me personally. I never seem to get tired of that movie.

david_b said...

Just got done watching the 1947 version of "Miracle On 34th Street".

Whaaaat an amusing, timeless movie.

Young Natalie Wood played the doubting daughter, only to be taught to have an imagination by none other than Kris Kringle, hired as the Macy's Santa. I love how this Santa Claus is able to melt away all the cynicism and materialism of the day by his incredible charm and aplomb.

My favs are still 'Love Actually' and 'White Christmas' tied for 1st place, but '34th Street' slides in as a close 2nd.

J.A. Morris said...

I'll go with Miracle On 34th Street, I could watch it every year. For more recent films, Elf is a modern classic.

Redartz said...

Most of the films mentioned above are on our viewing list too. My wife loves Christmas Vacation; my personal favorite is Jingle All the Way. It's tops for all the reasons mentioned above, and for Phil Hartman's great, smarmy Ted ("I've got just the tool for the job!"). Then you also have Jim Belushi, you have Martin Mull...you have a fun, light holiday flick.

Edo Bosnar said...

Re: Love Actually. My wife bought the DVD some time ago - it was one of those cheapie 2-movies on a single DVD deals being sold next to the grocery store cash register - and I recall thinking something like "ah, chick film." However, I agree with the others here that it's a rather enjoyable movie. We've watched it quite a few times since.

themiddlespaces said...

A great read regarding Love, Actually - my wife had me watch it last year and I had many of the same criticisms. ..

I Rewatched Love Actually and Am Here to Ruin It for All of You

Vintage Bob said...

During the Christmas season, I always watch:

Die Hard 2 (it just feels so like Christmas to me)
Its A Wonderful Life
How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Frosty the Snowman
Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer (may be the best of the Christmas movies for me)
Scrouge/A Christmas Carol (1951 - one of my fondest and favorite Christmas movies)
Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (love the theme song!)

Lately, due to my fondness of horror movies, I've also thrown in stuff like Black Christmas.

But let's not forget the greatest Christmas cartoons of all time...

Frosty the Snowman/Suzy Snowflake/The Three Little Elves (Hardrock, Coco, and Joe)

Nothing, I mean NOTHING, brings back the magic of Christmas as a child as strongly as those classics from the 60s!

Edo Bosnar said...

I just remembered another one, mainly because I caught the last part of it on TV late last night: Trading Places. Like Vintage Bob said about Die Hard, it just feels like Christmas; besides, the story takes place around Christmas and New Year's, so there you go.

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