With Christmas just 5 days away, I have been asked to put together my list of the Top 10 Christmas films of all time. Believe me, it didn't take any arm twisting to get me to do this. I love Christmas and watching Christmas films with my family is one of my favorite parts of the holiday. When I was asked to put this together, I had to think for a bit about just what makes a Christmas film. To me, a majority of the film has to take place duing the Christmas season, and it being Christmas must be a substantial plot point for the movie. Taking those into account, I cannot put "Its A Wonderful Life" on my list. It is an amazing movie, but its about George Bailey's life, with Christmas just being the last part of the movie. That aside, here is my list of the Top 10 Christmas Films of All Time!
One word... CLASSIC! How can you go wrong with a Christmas film starring the man whose voice is synonymous with many Christmas classics, Bing Crosby.
This was actually a tough choice for me as I actually enjoy 'The Santa Clause 2' just a little more than this one. But the more I thought about it, I enjoy PARTS of the second one more, whereas this movie is overall a good film (I can't stand the fake toy Santa in the second movie). It says something about Tim Allen's ability and draw as an actor that Disney made an exception to their "No Felons" rule so he could play Santa. And its a sweet story to see someone really being forced to be Santa, but later deciding that its what he really wants to do. And the best joke in the film is that Santa's head elf is Jewish.
With all of the direct adaptations of "A Christmas Carol", this one makes the list for a few reasons. One, it has Gary Oldman. Two, it is the most visually impressive adaptation. Three, and most importantly, it is the most faithful adaptation of the original Dickens classic. After not being impressed with 'The Polar Express', I wasn't convinced that another CGI Christmas film would be good. I am glad I was wrong. After seeing it on Blu Ray, which made the initial beauty of the film stand out, my wife and I had to watch it all over again right away. Jim Carrey's subtle to over-the-top performance style was perfectly suited to giving the necessary difference between various characters he played.
In a world where there have been so many retellings of "A Christmas Carol", 'Scrooged' is a great take on the classic story, what some would refer to today as "Meta". While trying to put on a live telecast of "A Christmas Carol" on Christmas Eve, Frank Cross finds himself in the same position as Scrooge and is visited by three ghosts to show him the error of his ways. This movie could not have been done with anyone other than Bill Murray. His erratic humor made this movie. When you watch it, try playing "Spot the Murray Brother", with all three of Bill's brothers having roles in the film.
Yes, I do consider this a Christmas film. It takes place at Christmas and the fact that it is Christmas is a substantial plot point throughout the film. And what is better for Christmas than an adrenaline rush? This movie was the first film to show an everyman as an action hero instead of a buffed up star like Arnold or Stallone. Watching this movie, it is easy to understand how more than 20 years later the movies are still thriving, with the 5th film in the works now. Merry Christmas and Yippie-Ki-Yay!
The only thing I can fault this movie for is being the precursor to the terrible holiday big star ensemble films like 'Valentine's Day' and 'New Year's Eve'. Beyond that, this is a beautiful film spanning the 5 weeks leading up to Christmas Day. Unique for a movie at the time, it focused on the lives of 8 couples that were all directly and indirectly connected. The cast is terrific with Liam Neeson, Emma Thompson, Alan Rickman, Colin Firth, Bill Nighy, Keira Knightly, Hugh Grant and Laura Linney, just to name a few. And the best part of this, though sad, is that the movie doesn't end with everyone having a happy ending.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the movie that knocked 'Elf' off my Top 10 list. This is something we need every year, a Christmas movie the parents can watch after the kids have gone to bed. 'A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas' makes my list because I laughed my butt off start to finish in this movie, it was the perfect blend of Christmas time with raunchy, offensive humor, and its the best use of 3D I have ever seen. I cannot wait until this movie is on Blu Ray so it can officially be part of my collection of Christmas films I have to watch every year.
There is a reason this movie is shown on a 24 hour loop every Christmas. It is a classic Christmas movie in every way. If you're a kid when you see it, you relate with Ralphie in a personal level. The older you get, you start to look at Ralphie's situation as a fond memory of past Christmases, and with excitement of future Christmases with your own children.
'Home Alone' was a surprise hit when it came out. It was expected to do good business, but ended up being #1 at the box office for 12 weeks, and a top 10 film through the Christmas season all the way through to Easter. By the end of its theatrical run, 'Home Alone' was the top grossing film of the year, 3rd highest grossing of all time, and the highest grossing live-action comedy of all time. 21 years later, the film still holds up as a movie so many people watch every year for Christmas.
Where 'A Christmas Story' lets your think back to Christmas when you were a kid, this is the Christmas for the kids that never outgrew Christmas. No matter how much people try to make the perfect Christmas, it never really turns out like we hope, with this movie being the worst-case scenario that is the Griswold family.