Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Best Christmas Movies of all Time

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 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 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.


  1. This is really a good Monday Movie Meme on Thursday! The only obvious one you have missed is Die Hard!

  2. hmmm..I know some people put it on their list but it does not quite meet my criteria. ;-)

  3. This seems like a pretty good list although I would have put Christmas story at the top of the list. That leg lamp cracks me up every time! If you want something, sweet, sappy and sentimental I'd suggest Call Me Mrs. Miracle. I'm not usually a big fan of Ms. Macomber but that was a very good one. Who could NOT love the muppets? I mean, seriously .... Who??? I even have Kermit cookie cutters!

  4. I think my favorite Christmas movies are Elf and A Christmas Story. I used to watch Christmas movies over and over, but haven't the last few years.

  5. A wonderful list. I have noticed the Hallmark channel is really heavy with the Christmas movies this season. A great opportunity to eat into one's kleenex supplies!

  6. Kaye, I saw that one advertised on the Hallmark Channel, but missed it. I am sure it is repeated...and repeated though..

    Kathy, yes, I am a fan of Christmas Story too...but many people actually dislike it!

    I will admit it. Sappy movie...even sappy Christmas commercials, make me cry.

  7. Polar Express is kind of creepy (especially the hobo) but the actions scenes are "awesome." (Wouldn't want to meet those elves though.)

    And I love love love Elf. It is the perfect blend of silly, fun and sincere I think.

    And my husband is IN LOVE with "A Christmas Story" but our son didn't "get it." It is more of an adult movie I think.

    Enjoy the season!

  8. Home Alone? Christmas with the Kranks?
    And while not strictly a Christmas movie, I watch Little Women every year at Christmas and love it. And Holiday Inn!!!!

  9. Jenners, they has a ride at Sea World [not that you, a Disney hater will see it. ;-)]that uses Polar Express to 'take' you to the North Pole. Made me a bit sick..
    And yes, Christmas Story is ALL about maybe you have to be old enough to want/have that.

    ok Amy, I am not familiar with the Kranks...but Home Alone I have never really liked. Yes, it happens at Christmastime but it didn't speak to the spirit of the season for me.

  10. How did I miss that there's a film adaptation of The Dead?
    That's my absolute FAVORITE Joyce ever!
    I'll have to look for that one. Thanks for bringing it to my attention!

  11. The Dead is certainly not a traditional choice for a Christmas movie, but is a beautiful and evocative story and I was very pleased to see it on your list. Not only is it set on the night of the Epiphany, but the narrator has his own personal "epiphany" in which he realizes the shallowness of his own emotional life. as compared to the young man who had many years earlier so loved the woman who is now the narrator's wife that he was willing to die for that love. His meditation at the end as he watches the snow fall outside "upon the living and the dead" is one of my favorite passages in literature.

  12. Most of these would make my top 10 list as well --- although I would The Preacher's Wife, a take off on It's a Wonderful Life but includes some wonderful gospel singing by Whitney Houston.

    I hope to find some time to watch several of these while wrapping presents this week.


please speak up, I LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU!!