I was watching TV the other morning, a cable morning show on the channel that makes Nancy Pelosi scream, and there was a fellow on there who had written The Atheist's Christmas Coloring book, because he says, just because atheists don't believe in Christ..who you might remember is the one whose birthday we are celebrating..is no reason they can't enjoy Christmas.
And why I might not agree, I can't blame them. Honestly, Christmas is such a great holiday. The sharing, the giving, the celebrating. The wonderful music, the lights, the decorations, the movies. Oh, so many movies.
For reasons we will not go into, I have found myself watching hour upon hour of "holiday" movies on the Hallmark Channel this year. And let me tell you, there are a great many very bad seasonal movies out there. But there are also some great ones and I thought I might share my top picks. And please add any you may think that I missed.
OK, I like sweet, touching, sappy Christmas movies. I find The Polar Express creepy, The Midnight Before Christmas scary. How the Grinch Stole Christmas, creepy and scary. I don't want anything mean spirited or cruel. Sweet, sappy, with an underlying great message is what I am looking for this time of year.
The Muppet Christmas Carol- Some people consider this as just another version of A Christmas Carol but I think it stands on its own as a classic. I love A Christmas Carol. I love the Muppets. What can I say.
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer- The stop-motion animated TV special from 1964. I don't totally get the appeal of this one but OK, I am putting this one one the list just because my sister-in-law loves it so much. I always find the island of Misfit Toys a bit creepy, but you have to love that red nose! "It's a Holly, Jolly Christmas...."
A Charlie Brown Christmas- I am of an age, before VCRs and DVDs, when we would have to wait each year for the one night this would come on the TV. And wait I did. Love the music...love the message, love the tree.
The Dead- Ok, for a complete change of pace, I will throw in this movie, staring Anjelica Houston in an adaptation of a James Joyce story, set in Dublin, Ireland at Christmastime. The story all takes place on one night, the Feast of the Epiphany, the 12th Night, to be exact, and is a rather dark, haunting movie. And again, it is a movie with an ending you must not miss, but for a very different reason than most Christmas movies. One particular highlight, the appearance of Irish tenor Frank Patterson, in a small role that is pivotal to the story .
Elf- We watch this movie every Thanksgiving night, sort of the start of the Official Holiday Season. I will admit, I was not sold on it at first, but it has grown on me in recent times. It's funny, it's sweet, it's all about the importance of family.
It's A Wonderful Life- A great beginning and a wonderful ending...around a pretty forgettable middle part. The whole Donna Read, high school part could be cut IMHO. But the ending saves it for me, when poor George, convinced he has been a failure, is saved by all the people whose lives he has touched and he holds his little daughter by the tree, and he is crying and the bell rings...well, if you do not have a tear in your eye, you are a Scrooge!
Miracle on 34th Street- Please, the original version only. Little Natalie Wood, Maureen O'Hara, John Payne, Edmund Gwenn. I will allow the colorized version, but no remakes please. OK, very Santa heavy, obviously, but sometimes you just have to believe and give up your cynical ways Caite. Another movie with a sweet ending. Where are the tissues..?
A Christmas Story- This movie seems to divide people into those that love is..and those that don't get the attraction. Why do I like it? Well, although it is set in a time a decade or two before my own childhood, it reminds me when I was a kid. The look of the town, the cars, the way they dress, their house..that scene at the department store reminds me of going with my mom downtown at Christmas, to the big Bamberger's store. A time when a Chinese restaurant was as exotic as we got and kids were bundled in snowsuits. And it confirms my long held belief that Santa can be scary.
The Bishop's Wife- Maybe not one that is as well know as some of these movies, but a great one. First of all, two words..Cary Grant. So handsome and sweet as the angel Dudley, helping a basically good man who has gotten a bit distracted about what is really important to get his priorities back in line. David Niven and Loretta Young star as well...a charming, funny movie.
A Christmas Carol- Now in my opinion, out of the many versions out there, the choice comes down to the Patrick Stewart version, the George C. Scott version and the 1951 Alastair Sim version...and the winner is Alastair. Yes, he is a bit over the top in the Christmas morning scene but still this is the classic against which all others must be measured. Redemption, a radical change in the course and purpose of your life, a realization of what is really important..I think it touches on the very heart of the real message of Christmas, so it is my winner for the best of the best!
I was aiming for a top ten, and I had to reach a bit to come up with that many.
Is there one that I am missing, that just has to be on the list? Any that should be struck off?
I am sure we all have our favorites.
Still, I think these are some winners here that you can't go wrong with.