Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Best Christmas Movies

It’s the time of year again when television stations begin changing their format over to all Christmas movies. Unfortunately, they insist on punishing us with Nestor the Long-Eared Donkey and Rudolph Vs Baby New Year Part 2: the Revenge.

For any television executives who happen to stumble across this blog hoping to hire non-union scabs to fill the gap in programming (my e-mail can be found in the sidebar), I highly recommend the following Christmas movies:

Best Overall: It’s a Wonderful Life
There’s a reason nobody’s remade this classic: they’re terrified of screwing it up. It doesn’t even get re-imagined (like A Christmas Carol), because few have the courage to measure themselves against the original. And it’s one of the few Christmas movies to be explicitly anti-suicide, which is important because the holidays are the prime choice for people to kill themselves.

Best Pre-1900 Story: A Christmas Carol
The great-grandaddy of Christmas stories, Dickens’ classic is still going strong after almost 150 years. I prefer the Patrick Stewart version myself, but this is far from doctrinal. Whether you like the George C. Scott version, the Bill Murray version, or the Hallmark Television version (with a female Scrooge!) you know this story, you love this story, and you’ll watch this story every year.

Best Black and White Entry: Miracle on 34th Street
So, is he Santa or just some crazy mental patient? You know what amazes me about this film from the 40’s? How modern it is. It’s got a subtle assault on would-be “experts” who play god with the psyche of young adults (the store psychiatrist), a divorced working woman as one of the main characters, and the eternal questions of whether Santa Claus sleeps with his whiskers in or out. A funny, engaging film. Skip the many dreadful remakes and go straight to the classic original.

Best New Entry: A Very Barry Christmas
You might have missed this newcomer to the Christmas oeuvre, but I heartily recommend it. It’s the hilarious tale of an unsuccessful Australian entrepreneur who ends up having to replace Santa after a mixup down under during a training flight. I particularly love the press conferences at the North Pole, including the question “How do you respond to allegations that your list wrongly labels mischievous children as naughty?”

Bloodiest: Die Hard
You might quibble that this isn’t a Christmas movie, but he is in fact going to the office Christmas party when terrorists take his wife hostage and he has to kill them all in bare feet. This is a rare action movie that has style, violence, and some never-before-seen plot twists. I love this movie. Yippee-ki-yay indeed, Mr. McClain.

Claymation Award of Excellence: Nightmare Before Christmas
Funny, sweet, and now 3D thanks to the bloodsucking Disney money machine that squeezes every last penny out of every single property they own. I know some people would suggest that Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is better, but they’re wrong. Rudolph had about ten minutes of plot, padded with that whole dentist/snowman/misfit toy BS to fill it out, and is a paean to racism and sexism to boot. It’s a miracle that the PC crowd hasn’t driven Rudolph off the airwaves yet.

Funniest Christmas Film: A Christmas Story
If you have a friend or family member who thinks this isn’t a hilarious film, it’s time to seriously consider severing the relationship. This is the funniest Christmas film ever. I watch it every year, and when it comes on a “24 Hours of Christmas Story” the TV is always tuned to it. Did you ever wonder how the dad knew Ralphie wanted a gun for Christmas? He was never actually in the presence of Ralphie when the subject came up. Yet Dad came through. I want to be like that.

Best Animated: How the Grinch Stole Christmas
I will never forgive Jim Carrey for making a live-action version of this movie, which was cinematic perfection in its animated incarnation. This is far and away the best 25-minute Christmas film you will ever see. The pairing of Chuck Jones to the Seuss story was sheer genius, like Laurel and Hardy or bacon and eggs.

Breastiest: Trading Places
Again, not a classic Christmas film, but one I like nonetheless. Including Eddie Murphy at the top of his game, Dan Ackroyd dressed as Santa, and a young Jamie Lee Curtis going topless, I think you’ll admit that this has to be one of the greatest Christmas-related frontal-nudity-bearing films of all time. And the $1 ending is sheer genius. I highly encourage you to see the non-cable original version, which has a lot more swearing and nudity than you remember.


The Decembrist said...

Dude, they so remade "It's a Wonderful Life". They did some version with Marlo Thomas in the Jimmy Stewart role (not in drag, they just had the main character be a woman).

Yeah, it sucked.

Real Debate said...


I can not honestly argue with any of your selections.

I had never previously considered the breastiest Christmas film before.

Plebian said...

Hello decembrist,

I did not, until just now, know of this horrid remake of which you speak.

Accordig to IMDB it had Orson Welles as old man Potter!

I would be badly shaken, but I see that it's from the 70's, so I suppose we can file it under "suck" right and be done with it.