Must See Holiday Films

I thought it would be fun to interrupt my Christmas Carol reviews and give you all a quick list.  I am a huge sucker for holiday films, not just Christmas Carol.  It is tough to make a Christmas movie I don’t like (4 Christmases and The Grinch I’m talking to you).  Even more mediocre films like This Christmas and The Family Stone I found charming in their own way.  I even watch the Hallmark Christmas movies every Saturday night.  Yes they are completely cheesy and silly but I enjoy them.

So what are the films I make sure I catch every Christmas?

Here goes in no particular order.

White Chrsitmas- Classic cast, Bing Crosby singing White Christmas can’t be beat, great music and dance throughout. Completely cheesy love story but I don’t care a bit!

Christmas Story- Hilarious narration, love the imagination segments of a boy who just wants a red rider air rifle for Christmas, very funny but also has real heart, the scene with the bully is so well acted it moves me every time.

Elf- the male equivalent of Enchanted with a fairytale creature having to make it in big city NYC, Will Farrell is hilarious, great supporting cast including James Caan, and real heart with all the laughs

Muppets Christmas Carol- My personal favorite non-traditional take on the story, will have to wait for my review.

Christmas Carol 1984- A solid very faithful adaptation.  Will have to wait for my review!

Christmas Carol 1951- Read the review

Charlie Brown Christmas- Our friend Charlie Brown overthinking Christmas again, worrying about the commercialization, ends up directing the pageant and picking the lowliest tree for the school, great jazz music by Vince Guaraldi, I love the ending when Charlie realizes it is all about the Babe in Bethlehem.

Joyeux Noel- A less well known holiday film that is absolutely lovely, about a truce between the fighting lines during a WW1  Christmas.

Arthur Christmas- Probably my favorite Santa film along with Elf.  The North Pole has gone commercial! But Santa’s younger son Arthur still believes in the old ways and when he finds out a little girl is not going to get her present he is devastated. I love the elfs and the voicework and the heart.  Great film.

It’s a Wonderful Life- What do you say about this wonderful Frank Capra film that hasn’t already been said.  A moving reminder that we are all important.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas (animated short)- What is it about the 60s that could make good versions of Dr Seuss that nobody can seem to follow today?  I’ve hated, hated, hated, hated, hated every contemporary Dr Seuss retelling.  This animated classic is everything the Jim Carrey version was not.  It’s fun, bright, simple in its message with great music sung by Thurl Ravenscroft

Mickey’s Christmas Carol- Read the review

Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer (and other stop motion shorts)- These are just charming stop motion stories.

Home Alone- The first comedy I saw in the theaters and I remember laughing my head off.  Watched it again a few years ago and it still makes me laugh.  It would have been my dream to be left at home like Kevin! (I always wanted to do things on my own, in my own way).

Meet Me in St Louis- Judy Garland is my Hollywood idol.  I just love her and this is certainly one of her best performances.  It is not strictly a Christmas movie but we get “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas’ and it is perfection.

National Lampoons Christmas Vacation- Family stressing you out during the holidays?  Perfect film to watch and get a good laugh while you are at it.  The scene with the squirrel gets me every time and when they say pledge of allegiance for grace.  Ha!

Love Actually- Not every plotline works but most of them do.  I love Colin Firth in almost everything and he is great here, same with Emma Thompson, Alan Rickman, Hugh Grant, Liam Nielsen, Kiera Knightly and more. I love a good romantic comedy and this is the Queen while still having real heart.

Shop Around the Corner/You’ve Got Mail- Anyone who follows my regular blog knows how important You’ve Got Mail is to me.  I love Nora Ephron’s writing and think of her as my literary muse.  People tend to discount it as fluff but not only is she incredibly witty but there is real heart their too.  Shop Around the Corner is also lovely.  Both are about people who hate each other in real life but in their writing they fall in love.  Both are movies about work and change- 2 topics that always move me. If you think they are just another rom-com than I challenge you to watch them again and really pay attention to the writing.  In the end, all I know is that I love them.

For a New Years movie I recommend When Harry Met Sally and The Apartment.  Not that terrible Gary Marshall movie!

16 thoughts on “Must See Holiday Films

  1. German Christmas Classics are a little bit different. “It’s a wonderful world”, “The Grinch” aso is not on the usual watch list.

    German Disney Classics are “Little Lord Fauntleroy” (The version with Alec Guiness), and a lot of Fairy Tale Classics, especially the Czech version of Cinderella (named “Drei Nüsse für Aschenbrödel”…the movie is so popular, there are people marrying in the style of the movie).

    I also like a very old version of “Peterchen’s Mondfahrt”.

    My Christmas Carol versions of choice are the Mickey one and the Scott one.

    For American movies I tend to add “Home Alone” and perhaps the sequel and “Miracle on 34th Street” if it happens to be in TV…they usually show the 1993 version to my list.

    My “new” classic for the watch list is “Rise of the Guardians”, though that can be watched all the time up to eastern….I still haven’t seen Arthur Christmas yet. I really should, everyone says that the movie is good.

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      1. Oh and I hate The Grinch but the animated short How the Grinch Stole Christmas I really like. That’s where Seuss belongs at the animated short level.

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      2. Oh, I agree…I have no nostalgia concerning Seuss whatsoever, but reading his works, they are not made for full length features. Those are simple stories, but with a lot of meaning to it.

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      3. Yeah I think there’s a difference between genuinely liking something and having nostalgia. I like Cutting Edge because of nostalgia. Deep down I know it isnt that good. Same with Dirty Dancing or Girls Just Want to Have Fun (dance movies in general…). But other things from my childhood I both like and think are very good movies and have nostalgia for. You know? Seuss would be in that latter group. His messaging was subtle and that’s what the new versions get wrong and they turn his whimsy into garishness. The Lorax made me so mad because the book is a subtle beautiful message. Sigh…

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      4. Agreed. Nobody watches that movie for the dialogue even back in 1987.🙂
        In the end if a movie entertains us that’s what matters whether it is nostalgia or stupid humor or whatever the reason is. It may not be the sublime experience of a truly great movie but if it works it works.🙂

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  2. As well as the two Christmas Carol movies, I try to watch Home Alone 1 and 2 – I love them both equally. I don’t care that the sequel is pretty much the same film but in New York – it’s still funny.

    Good to hear you don’t like the live action Grinch either. What mainly put me off right from the start was how ugly and Uncanny Valley the Whos look. My dad came into the room when the film was on once, watched for about two minutes and said something like “This is a nightmare, isn’t it?”

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    1. I agree 100% on Home Alone 1 and 2. It is one of the times when repeating the original didn’t bother me. Both are great. Home Alone 3 not so much.

      I agree a nightmare on The Grinch. They look like mutilated pig people. Total nightmare. Jim Carrey tries but what was Ron Howard thinking? Every choice they made was wrong. I agree so ugly and dark and not in a pleasant ghost story kind of way. It’s also very boring because we all know the story and it’s a 20 minute short stretched to 2 hours. I wonder if someone like a Wes Anderson could do Dr Seuss right but even with him stay away. It just doesn’t seem to work as a feature film. What might be kind of cool is a story about Seuss’s life with the stories intermixed and the characters talking to him etc.

      But what they’ve done so far whether animated or live action I’ve hated. Stick to animated short.

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  3. There are a lot of Christmas movies I haven’t seen yet such as ‘Its a Wonderful Life’, ‘A Christmas Story’ and ‘Arthur Christas’, but the ones I have seen repeatedly and still love are The Muppet Christmas Carol, Home Alone 1 and 2, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Elf, Love Actually (mainly for its top notch cast even if its not the sort of film that immediately appeals to me). I’ve only seen bits and pieces of the 1984 Christmas Carol film, but based on the direction, acting and fidelity to the book it looks like the definitive modern, serious adaptation of the Dickens classic, far more enjoyable than the 3D animated one by Robert Zemeckis. I still find myself coming back to the Muppets’ version all the same, that was the one Disney definitively shone with!

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