Christmas Movie List


Ross Barlow

Recommended Posts

Two weeks until Christmas, so it is time to share recommendations of Christmas Movies. Here in Thailand it is hard to find old classic movies or rentals, so I cannot just browse the movie aisles for long forgotten classics to jog my memory. I will list a few Christmas movies that I remember at the moment off the top of my head.

The Holidays (2006). This romantic comedy was popular here last year around this time. Kate Winslet, an Englishwoman, and Cameron Diaz, an American woman, both have romantic breakups and each want to get away from it all. So they meet online and agree to trade homes for a while. (Not likely, but it works very well as the story unfolds.) Also starring Jude Law and Jack Black, with Eli Wallach, Edward Burns and Rufus Sewell. It was a much better movie than I had expected.

Love Actually (2003). Romantic comedy. Well written, from a British point of view. Very good cast, with numerous storylines entwined. Starring Liam Neeson, Emma Thompson, Keira Knightley, Hugh Grant, Laura Linney, Alan Rickman, Billy Bob Thornton, Bill Nighy, Colin Firth, Rowen Atkinson, Elisha Cuthbert, and many more. My favorite scene has Hugh Grant caroling.

A Christmas Story (1983). A corny comedy but an annual must-see for my Stateside family. Darren McGaven is great. I especially love the cynical Santa and even more cynical elves in the department store. (I guess it matches my grouchy personality.)

Which Christmas movies do you have to add to the list?

.

-Ross Barlow. (Bah! Humbug!)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A brief comment about A Christmas Story: I can remember my brother and I being told we would lose an eye with a b-b gun.

I like Love Actually although I have not seen all of it.

TCM will be running older Christmas movies on Sunday evening so if you are interested you might look at their schedule.

I will look for the first movie.

Edited by Chris Grieb
Link to comment
Share on other sites

At the top of the list, I'm recommending not a Christmas movie, but one that's released on DVD next Tuesday (in North America) in time for Christmas — "Stardust."

I still hope to get some personal notes on line this week, as promised, about that wholly entertaining and luminous romance-adventure-comedy-fantasy (in descending order of prominence) over in the thread Ross started.

I'll second all of Ross's choices, especially the first, "The Holiday" (minor fix there, no "s", if you're pulling up reviews). It has the rare pleasure of a plot that helps drive the central characters: They meet, combine, and recombine in ways that may seem unlikely given their personalities, but are wholly plausible in how they come to meet at all.

To note my own favorite pairing from the movie: Would a Kate Winslet ever be likely, in the course of work and friends, to even encounter a Jack Black? Probably not, but they end up doing so, and finding deep pleasure and feeling in one another. Eli Wallach ends up stealing the show, by the way.

Some movies set at Christmas that I'd recommend, all on video (the first two may be elusive, but are likely to be somewhere on cable):

~ "The Lemon Drop Kid," with Bob Hope. One of the best of his solo comedies (without Crosby) has the race-track tout trying to avoid a mobster to whom he owes beaucoup bucks, by pulling off a Broadway scam to collect money for an "old dolls' home." With the most motley crew of bell-ringing "Santy Clauses" you ever saw. Based on a Damon Runyon story and his vivid characters. "Silver Bells" was written for this film.

~ "The Homecoming," with Patricia Neal. This was the two-hour story set in 1933 that served as a pilot for the "Waltons" TV series, but is far more astringent and bracing, and restrained in sentiment. John Walton hasn't come home for Christmas yet from working in another town, and John-Boy (Richard Thomas) sets out on an unexpected Odyssey to find him. (I admit to a soft spot for this, as my father went to college with Earl Hamner, who wrote the film and series.)

~ "Die Hard," with Bruce Willis. Don't laugh! I'm surprised more O-types haven't talked this one up, which has a genuinely heroic protagonist (and heroic, unappreciated helpers). The off-duty cop stumbles into having to mop up murderous types who crash his estranged wife's office Christmas party. The chessboard within a high-rise building has moves and countermoves that are just as satisfying to revisit as they are the first time. And it even has the "Ode to Joy."

One I can't recommend any more, certainly not without waiting a few years to exorcise how it's been turned into cultural memes, is "It's a Wonderful Life." Capra triumphed in casting, framing, and directing this movie, but so much analysis — serious and half-assed — has grown up around it that the minor plot flaws, and the altruism, are much more noticeable than they once were.

Edited by Greybird
Link to comment
Share on other sites

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (1989). By far my favorite Christmas title.

A Christmas Story (1983)

How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)

Elf (2003) - Because Will Farell makes me laugh.

And to finish, the claymation series. *see Christmas Classics

Oh, and Merry Christmas!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I like the Alistair Sim Christmas Carol. Sim is a wonderful Scrooge. He makes Scrooge's transformation believable.

On the question of It's a Wonderful Life it has the most anti-Objectivist sense of life of any movie I can think of but it is so well done that it has to be including in any list of great movies.

I must add the original Miracle on Thirty-fourth Street has some anti-objectivist premises including John Payne's telling the court that you can't prove Edmund Gwenn isn't Santa Claus. It also has a great attack on psychiatry with the leading villain being a psychiatrist.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

~ Call me biased for Tim Allen, but, each of his 3 (with the legal pun on 'clause') THE SANTA CLAUSE ones, definitely. If watched, like THE MATRIX trilogy, should be seen in sequence.

~ Reviews nwst, Jim Carrey's HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS (aka 'The Grinch') has it's worthwhile place in Christmasy-stories-dom.

LLAP

J:D

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Oh, I believe you guys are mistaken about How the Grinch Stole Christmas. <--- The 1966 version is where it's at...as much as I love Jim Carrey. I feel like renting this one again. I just might.

Another one I watch every year is The Nightmare Before Christmas. One of my favorites ever.

I'm not big on Christmas movies, so those really are about the only ones I've seen. Unless Home Alone counts? I love that movie too. I need to go to Blockbuster.

Oh, and don't forget Arnold's Christmas classic...JINGLE ALL ZE VAY!!!!!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This is a wonderful thread. You've all mentioned movies I haven't seen, but that sound like ones I'd very much enjoy. Liam Neeson and Emma Thompson in a romantic comedy! The pilot for "The Waltons!" -- I confess to having a very soft spot for that series. "A luminous romance-adventure-comedy-fantasy" -- what could be more appealing? Even "Die Hard" sounds fascinating. Netflex will be hearing from me, and I expect to have a very good time.Thank you, all.

Barbara

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A Christmas Story (1983). A corny comedy but an annual must-see for my Stateside family. Darren McGaven is great. I especially love the cynical Santa and even more cynical elves in the department store. (I guess it matches my grouchy personality.)

Which Christmas movies do you have to add to the list?

.

-Ross Barlow. (Bah! Humbug!)

-Its a Wonderful Life-. One of my favorite alternate time line stories. The basic premise is that individuals can make a difference. Another movie of that sort is -Sliding Doors- with Gwynith Paltrow. The world turns on simple choices.

Every year we watch -A Christmas Story-. At my age, I have to wear my incontinence diapers because that is a pee-in-your-pants funny movie.

The movie is the creation of Jean Shepherd who was one of the best story tellers ever. He used to have (when he was alive) a weekly radio program that was a delight to listen to.

Ba'al Chatzaf

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As a kid, I grew up watching the various christmas specials on tv. Over the years, I've seen many other christmas themed movies. Some of my favorites.

Several of the early Rankin-Bass specials are pretty good. R-B made many of these, many tied to other holidays which frankly aren't as good, and which many I don't recall seeing and only now are seeing on tv. The ones I remember are "Santa Claus is coming to Town", "Rudolph the Red-nosed Raindeer", "Frosty the Snowman", and "It was a Year without a Santa Claus".

Charlie Brown Christmas, despite its gentile religous overtones, has always been a favorite.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas. The original one. Accept no substitutes!

As to movies.

I like "Miracle on 42nd St". Sorry, just do.

I like "Its a Wonderful Life". Like a recent poster, I think some of the meaning of this story are topics such as an individual CAN make a difference (such as when Clarence shows George what the world would be like without him). I think it also touches on the idea of what makes a man a success. George thinks he's a failure because he wasn't able to do certain things, but Clarence makes him realize he is a success. Too often I think people latch on to a wrong idea of what makes someone a success (lots of money, big house, trophy wife, etc).

Christmas Carol. LOTS of versions over the years. While the Alister Sims version is pretty good, too many scenes have him standing with a blank look on his face. My favorite is the George C Scott version. I also like the music version called "Scrooge", but don't like that they didn't show the full story.

A Christmas Story is a favorite in my family and has been for years. We stumbled upon this movie years ago when TNT started to do their marathon showing of it.

Nightmare Before Christmas is great. Tim Burton (along with Aardman) seems to be the only ones following in the steps of Rankin-Bass to do great stop-motion animation.

Home Alone. Kinda of a Christmas story. Hilarious as h*ll.

Christmas Vacation. Also funny. Another slated looked at christmas.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This is a wonderful thread. You've all mentioned movies I haven't seen, but that sound like ones I'd very much enjoy. Liam Neeson and Emma Thompson in a romantic comedy! The pilot for "The Waltons!" -- I confess to having a very soft spot for that series. "A luminous romance-adventure-comedy-fantasy" -- what could be more appealing? Even "Die Hard" sounds fascinating. Netflex will be hearing from me, and I expect to have a very good time.Thank you, all.

Barbara

Side note: If you like action movies with strong protaganists (heroes) and clever plot twists, you should enjoy Die Hard.

As for the Waltons - reading your post brought me to a total stop in surprise. I wonder - how much was suppressed in the 1950s and 1960s? I would not have come close to imagining that you would have enjoyed the Waltons (yes, I think I watched every episode...). Did we suppress so much?

Good night, John Boy.

Good night, Mary Ellen.

Alfonso

Link to comment
Share on other sites

~ I love the DIE HARD series, but, the time frame of one of them nwst, I wouldn't call them 'Christmas-y'. Same for Burton's A NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS. Worthwhile on their own, but...'Christmas-y'? I don't see them that way. I mean, just because of the time frame, one might's well add BAD SANTA (funny, but, NOT 'Christmas-y'.)

~ Yes, there was a 'Waltons' story, very beautiful, no arg. Sorry I didn't mention it. Same for the series (especially the 1st) HOME ALONE and the original MIRACLE ON 47TH STREET.

~ Re the 'traditional' classics like A CHRISTMAS CAROL (aka 'Scrooge') and IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE...quite mixed feelings about recommending such for inspiring a 'Christmas-y' attitude.

LLAP

J:D

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Michael Brown wrote: "Charlie Brown Christmas...has always been a favorite."

That's because you're a civilized human being, who appreciates the spiritual grandeur of Snoopy. (I named two of my poodles "Snoopy."). He is my hero.

And you wrote: "My favorite ['A Christmas Carol'] is the George C. Scott version." Mine, too. But then, my favorite anything is the George C. Scott version.

Barbara

Link to comment
Share on other sites

> But then, my favorite anything is the George C. Scott version.

I agree, but I don't think "Patton" is a Christmas movie. :-)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Let's not forget Meet John Doe, any Gary cooper movie works for me.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'll add another strong recommendation: The latest, and by far the best, film made from Little Women. (And, in this case, from a few other elements taken from Alcott books.)

The masterful effort from 1994 by director Gillian Armstrong removes some of the overweening sentiment of Alcott's famed novel, but more than makes up for it with vivid performances of genuinely earned emotion. (From Claire Danes, one that's almost haunting in its beauty. From Winona Ryder, a great deal of the spunk and drive of a Dagny.)

You're made to really feel the Christmas elements, as the four March girls endure the hardships of wartime, and yet remain spirited and unbowed.

The "collector's edition" DVD is one of the best I've ever seen as to insights into the production, especially with Armstrong's compelling commentary track. You can read my review at Amazon.com here.

Oh, and I'll second "Meet John Doe," or at least the first seven-eighths of it — the ending never worked, as Capra admitted himself, and he filmed four variations before he got the one he could barely live with. Yet it's a potent Christmas story, more pointedly so than "It's a Wonderful Life."

Edited by Greybird
Link to comment
Share on other sites

George Scoitt's A Christmas Carol was on television this evening, and I watched it. What a superb performance! I've seen a number of versions with a number of Scrooges over the years, and Scott does something no other actor seems able to do. He makes the entire story fully believable, so that the viewer doesn't have the feeling of watching a fantasy but of seeing real events and real people -- including the various ghosts. Scott surely is one of the great actors of our time.. If any of you haven't seen his Christmas Carol -- or even if you have -- I recommend that you watch it during this Christmas season. You'll have a very good (and sometimes weepy) time.

Barbara

Link to comment
Share on other sites

George Scoitt's A Christmas Carol was on television this evening, and I watched it. What a superb performance! I've seen a number of versions with a number of Scrooges over the years, and Scott does something no other actor seems able to do. He makes the entire story fully believable, so that the viewer doesn't have the feeling of watching a fantasy but of seeing real events and real people -- including the various ghosts. Scott surely is one of the great actors of our time.. If any of you haven't seen his Christmas Carol -- or even if you have -- I recommend that you watch it during this Christmas season. You'll have a very good (and sometimes weepy) time.

Barbara

Yes, a very good one. Get the DVD . . . don't spoil the effect by having commercial interruptions jar you out of that immersion in the story.

Alfonso

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The Patrick Stewart Christmas Carol was shown last night on TNT and will be shown again on Christmas day. I watched it last night and I thought it was a very well done presentation. Patrick Stewart did an excellent job.

The George C Scott version will be on AMC in the next couple of days. Comcast has moved AMC from the channels I receive so I will sadly be unable to see it.

Edited by Chris Grieb
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now