- Holidays and Celebrations
It's the Season for Christmas Movies - Top Ten Christmas Movies Plus More
It's the Season to Curl Up and Watch Christmas Movies
Whether it's a movie about Christmas or a movie with a Christmas or holiday setting, it's time to start getting the Christmas spirit by curling up with your favorite holiday movies. Here are some of my favorites. Be sure and tell me yours.
My Somewhat Quirky Top Ten Christmas Movie List
Not Necessarily the All-Time Best, But My Favorites To Watch Year After Year
Some of the very best Christmas movies ever don't appear on my personal top ten list, just because I've seen them so many times that they need a rest for a few years. But they are featured further down on this site, and I'd certainly recommend them to anyone who recently dropped on the planet, like grandchildren, as they get old enough to appreciate them.
Here are my top ten favorite movies to watch sometime (or many times) during the holiday season. Some are Christmas movies and some are movies with a holiday backdrop. These are the ones I never get tired of watching at least once a year.
You've Got Mail (1998) - One of My All-time Favorites
1. "You've Got Mail" starts in the fall and takes in all of the holidays. I just love this movie, and Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan are so perfect in it. They're each other's "one you love to hate." The rich holiday backdrop draws you right into this film. Christmas in a westside New York neighborhood makes you want to live and breathe there.
Neigborhood bookstore rivals unwittingly become e-mail pen pals in this charming remake of The Shop Around the Corner.
You've Got Mail Trailer
While You Were Sleeping (1995) - One of my favorite romantic comedies.
2. The holidays are what makes "While You Were Sleeping" so meaningful and hilarious at the same time. Loneliness combined with a comedy of errors. There are so many funny yet loveable characters it's amazing how they all work together without stealing the show.
In Chicago, a subway employee is in love with a stranger she only sees from a distance. But when she rescues him from a mugging in which he is knocked into a coma, his family mistakes her for his fiancee.
While You Were Sleeping Trailer
An Affair To Remember (50th Anniversary Edition) (1957) - A Favorite Classic.
3. I still bawl every time, even though I know how it ends. The richest scenes of this movie take place with a New York Christmas backdrop, making it a holiday favorite.
In this poignant and humorous love story nominated for four Academy Awards Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr meet on an ocean liner and fall deeply in love. Though each is engaged to someone else they agree to meet six months later at the Empire State Building if they still feel the same way about each other.
An Affair to Remember Trailer
All That Heaven Allows - Criterion Collection (1955) - Here's a sleeper for ya. . .
4. Bet you haven't heard of this one. Filled with so many of life's truths and follies. I always ask myself, "What would I do?"
My favorite part is where Jane Wyman's children buy her a television for Christmas, thinking it will keep her company and end her loneliness along with what they consider her ridiculous infatuation.
Young hunk Rock is a strapping son of mother nature, a gardener who woos middle-aged, middle class widow Wyman to the snooty disapproval of her conservative social circle and embarrassment of her self-centered children. Wyman discovers a new life with his open-armed friends and back-to-nature lifestyle, but struggles with life-changing decisions in the face of social pressure and vicious gossip.
All That Heaven Allows Trailer
Masterpiece Theatre: Railway Children (2000)
5. Just a rich and wonderful family holiday movie. The best version of this story is only available in UK format. But the Masterpiece Theater version is almost as good. Catch it on TV if it ever makes the rounds.
Set at the turn of the 20th century, three Edwardian children and their mother move to a country house in Yorkshire after their father is mysteriously taken away by the police. However, their mother refuses to inform the children of the circumstances surrounding their father's disappearance.
The children become fascinated by a nearby railroad, and they faithfully wave to passengers daily. Their kindness helps them make friends with some important travelers, one old gentleman in particular. Can he help solve the mystery of their missing father?
The Railway Children Trailer
Miracle on 34th Street (Special Edition) (1947) - My favorite "Christmas Classic."
6. Okay, if you lined up "It's a Wonderful Life," "Christmas Story," and "The Miracle on 34th Street," and you could only pick one, I'd choose this one. "It's a Wonderful Life" would have to win for all-time best ever, but I've just seen it too many times now. "Christmas Story" would win hands down for best and funniest, but I'm burned out on it as well. For now, this is my pick, as I still like to watch it.
The original 1947 version of this Valentine Davies story follows the misadventures of Kris Kringle (Edmund Gwenn) as he gets a job playing Santa Claus at Macy's department store in New York City. Natalie Wood is the little girl who tells him she doesn't believe in Santa, and Maureen O'Hara and John Payne are the couple who help Kris through a trial in which he must prove he's the jolly fellow from the North Pole. A sweet movie and perennial Christmas favorite, this is one of those movies that gets under your skin and must be revisited every so often.
Miracle on 34th Street Trailer
The Merry Mishaps of Mr Bean 5 (1992) - Just plain hilarious.
7. I have to revisit Mr. Bean's Christmas segments every other year at least. And if you can find someone who's never seen it before, it's that much better.
Included in this collection is Mr. Bean's brilliant Christmas show, in which the mumbling dolt (Rowan Atkinson) discovers an unusual technique for stuffing a large turkey that causes him to temporarily (and literally) lose his head. Which means, of course, cheese sandwiches for his poor, underappreciated girlfriend, not to mention the cheap gifts.... Also on this tape is Bean's misadventures at a hotel, where he is locked out of his room and ends up on the wrong end of a glare from the fusspot manager. Fabulous stuff.
Merry Christmas Mr. Bean Segment
Home Alone (1990) - Just plain fun.
8. I don't care what anybody says, I love Home Alone. I was surprised to love Home Alone 2 just as much, even with the repeated gags.
Eight-year-old Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin) has become the man of the house, overnight! Accidentally left behind when his family rushes off on a Christmas vacation, Kevin gets busy decorating the house for the holidays. But he's not decking the halls with tinsel and holly. Two bumbling burglars are trying to break in, and Kevin's rigging a bewildering battery of booby traps to welcome them!
Home Alone Trailer
The Shop Around the Corner (1940) - Another forgotten classic.
9. Wonderful classic Jimmy Stewart. It's a charming old film with a mistaken identity theme -- one you should see at least once in your life, and more if you're like me. "You've Got Mail," was actually a modernized remake of this movie.
One of the most charming and romantic films around, this 1940 comic romance finds James Stewart (Vertigo, It's A Wonderful Life) working in a small shop in Budapest and longing for a girl to call his own. His coworker, Margaret Sullavan, feels the same, and soon they are both corresponding and falling in love with their respective pen pals. What they don't realize is that they are writing to and falling in love with each other, but the problem is that they can't stand each other in person. The beguiling nature of the mistaken identity formula that influenced countless films is done to perfection here, and the wry combativeness and delightful banter between the two leads makes this a very special film. --Robert Lane
The Shop Around the Corner Trailer
The Christmas Card (2006) - A made-for-TV movie that's worth seeing.
10. Every year dozens of holiday made-for-TV movies vie for attention, and there are lots of good ones among the mostly forgettable ones. The Christmas Card, by the Hallmark Channel, stood out for me. I've watched it three or four times now, and keep watching each year because the characters and plot are believable and heartwarming. It has some homey dialog that makes you wince at parts, but isn't that what Christmas movies are all about?
Once in a while a movie comes along that reminds us how powerful love can be. In the midst of war in Afghanistan Captain Cody Cullen (John Newton "Desperate Housewives") is touched by lovely card sent by Faith Spelman (Alice Evans "The Chris Isaak Show") from the small picturesque town of Nevada City California. As months pass the card never leaves his side giving him the strength to survive and setting him on a mission to find her. The Christmas Card has received massive critical acclaim and audiences are raving. Now for the first time on DVD Emmy-nominated (TBD) The Christmas Card is available with great bonus features and is the perfect gift for this holiday season!System Requirements:Run Time: 84 minutes Genre: CHILDREN/FAMILY UPC: 796019805988 Manufacturer No: 80598
The Christmas Card Trailer
It's a Wonderful Life (60th Anniversary Edition) (1947)
George Bailey has so many problems he is thinking about ending it all and it s Christmas! As the angels discuss George we see his life in flashback. As George is about to jump from a bridge he ends up rescuing his guardian angel Clarence. Clarence then shows George what his town would have looked like if it hadn t been for all of his good deeds over the years. Will Clarence be able to convince George to return to his family and forget suicide?Features:
Now perhaps the most beloved American film, It's a Wonderful Life was largely forgotten for years, due to a copyright quirk. Only in the late 1970s did it find its audience through repeated TV showings. Frank Capra's masterwork deserves its status as a feel-good communal event, but it is also one of the most fascinating films in the American cinema, a multilayered work of Dickensian density. George Bailey (played superbly by James Stewart) grows up in the small town of Bedford Falls, dreaming dreams of adventure and travel, but circumstances conspire to keep him enslaved to his home turf. Frustrated by his life, and haunted by an impending scandal, George prepares to commit suicide on Christmas Eve. A heavenly messenger (Henry Travers) arrives to show him a vision: what the world would have been like if George had never been born. The sequence is a vivid depiction of the American Dream gone bad, and probably the wildest thing Capra ever shot (the director's optimistic vision may have darkened during his experiences making military films in World War II). Capra's triumph is to acknowledge the difficulties and disappointments of life, while affirming--in the teary-eyed final reel--his cherished values of friendship and individual achievement. It's a Wonderful Life was not a big hit on its initial release, and it won no Oscars (Capra and Stewart were nominated); but it continues to weave a special magic. --Robert Horton
A Christmas Carol (Ultimate Collector's Edition)(B/W & Color) (1951)
Alastair Sim's tour-de-force performance as the ultimate miser Ebenezer Scrooge has almost single-handedly made this beloved version of Charles Dickens' story into one of the best-loved Christmas films of all time. Some of Britain's best filmmakers united behind Sim who was joined by a delightful cast of accomplished and acclaimed English actors; creating what many today believe to be the best and most faithful production of Dickens' immortal tale. Cranky and curmudgeonly Scrooge learns the error of his unkind ways and is taught the true meaning of the holidays when he is visited by the ghost of his late business partner and the spirits of Christmas past present and future.
White Christmas (2000)
A Christmas Story (Two-Disc Special Edition) (1983)
This delightfully funny holiday gem tells the story of Ralphie Parker (Peter Billingsly) a 1940's nine-year-old who pulls out all the stops to obtain the ultimate Christmas present.Running Time: 98 min.Format: DVD MOVIE Genre: COMEDY Rating: PG UPC: 012569576421
National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (Special Edition) (1989)
The third installment of the Griswold family saga is a significant improvement over their previous vacation (National Lampoon's European Vacation). Disaster-prone dad (Chevy Chase) discovers just how dangerous the Christmas season really is, as the Griswolds' old-fashioned holiday celebration turns out to be more "Bah! Humbug!" than Christmas cheer. Chase is right at home with the outrageous slapstick and often cheerfully tasteless humor, and John Hughes's script is stuffed full of classic Christmas movie references, but Randy Quaid practically steals the film as the unemployed relative with his malicious grin and mooching lifestyle. Not exactly a holiday classic and a bit spotty, but this gag-filled comedy is just obnoxious enough for the Scrooge lurking inside everyone. And fear not, a happy ending awaits all. Watch for future star Juliette Lewis as Chase's teenage daughter.
The Grinch (Full Screen Edition) (2000)
Under a thick carpet of green-dyed yak fur and wonderfully expressive Rick Baker makeup, Jim Carrey is up to all of his old tricks (and some nifty new ones) in this live-action movie of Dr. Seuss's holiday classic. He commands the title role with equal parts madness, mayhem, pathos, and improvisational genius, channeling Grinchness through his own screen persona so smoothly that fans of both Carrey and Dr. Seuss will be thoroughly satisfied. Adding to the fun is a perfectly pitched back-story sequence (accompanied by Anthony Hopkins's narration) that explains how the Grinch came to hate Christmas, with a heart "two sizes too small."
The Polar Express (Full Screen Edition) (2004)
Destined to become a holiday perennial, The Polar Express also heralded a brave new world of all-digital filmmaking. Critics and audiences were divided between those who hailed it as an instant classic that captures the visual splendor and evocative innocence of Chris Van Allsburg's popular children's book, and those who felt that the innovative use of "performance capture"--to accurately translate live performances into all-digital characters--was an eerie and not-quite-lifelike distraction from the story's epic-scale North Pole adventure. In any case it's a benign, kind-hearted celebration of the yuletide spirit, especially for kids who have almost grown out of their need to believe in Santa Claus. Tom Hanks is the nominal "star" who performs five different computer-generated characters, but it's the visuals that steal this show, as director Robert Zemeckis indulges his tireless pursuit of technological innovation. No matter how you respond to the many wonders on display, it's clear that The Polar Express represents a significant milestone in the digital revolution of cinema. If it also fills you with the joy of Christmas (in spite of its Nuremberg-like rally of frantic elves), so much the better. --Jeff Shannon
A Boyfriend for Christmas (2004)
As a 12 year old, Holly Grant meets Santa and as she thinks she is too old for traditional gifts, she tells Santa she wants a boyfriend for Christmas. He leaves a gift under her tree with a message: she will receive her requested gift in the 20th year "when two hearts are ready". Time then goes to almost 20 years later when Holly is in her 30's and is working for a non-profit organization.
The Christmas Box / Timepiece (1995)
Hallmark's warm, 1995 made-for-television movie The Christmas Box and its darker, 1996 prequel, Timepiece, are logically and delightfully paired in this DVD package. In the former, Richard Thomas plays Richard, a ski-shop owner consumed with work and unhappy about his family's insistence on sharing a lonely mansion with Mary, an icy, humorless widow (Maureen O'Hara). While Richard's wife and child develop loving ties with Mary, he suffers recurring dreams and grows convinced the house is haunted by a tragedy from the old woman's past. Timepiece jumps ahead 16 years from the resolution of that story, then takes us back to the 1940s, when Mary (Naomi Watts) and her late husband, David (Kevin Kilner), a wealthy arms supplier to America's war effort, marry and endure both a bogus murder trial and a crushing family loss. While it's wonderful to see O'Hara, Timepiece proves the grittier, more interesting film, helped mightily by a cast including James Earl Jones and Ellen Burstyn. --Tom Keogh