This Christmas season, I have watched a top twelve Christmas movie list on television, and read at least two other Christmas movie lists online. There are probably a hundred or more Christmas movies to choose from when making such a list, but if you look closely, most of the lists contain the same twenty to twenty-five movies. Usually, the only difference between list A, B, or C is how those 20+ movies are ranked. However, my Christmas movie list is different in two ways: (1) it only lists the top five Christmas movies of all time, and (2) it is based entirely on my preferences and opinion. If you agree with my top five movies, fantastic, and if not, it’s too cold to go jump in a lake, so instead, go watch your favorite movies and forget mine. Here are my top five movies beginning with number five:
#5 How the Grinch Stole Christmas:
The story is about a green creepy/goofy looking monster who hates everybody including himself. He sets out to steal Whoville’s Christmas, thinking by doing so, he will take their joy from them. Of course, he is wrong. His only salvation is Cindy Lou Who, who manages to thaw his cold heart and bring happiness to his dismal life. As a child, I enjoyed the thirty-minute animated television special that aired at Christmas every year, but when Jim Carrey brought the Grinch to life on the big screen, I was amazed all over again. The movie version with its occasional naughty innuendoes was made as much for adults as kids, and it succeeded on both fronts. Jim Carrey’s over-the-top performance was fun to watch, and the visuals were stunning. Simply put, the movie looked, acted, and felt like a holiday classic. It did not disappoint.
I am not a big Will Ferrell fan, but his role as Buddy in Elf was exceptional. I am not saying exceptional in an Academy Award sense, but extraordinarily fun and entertaining for kids and adults alike. As a human raised by elves at the North Pole, the role of Buddy fit Ferrell like a glove. His trademark off-the-cuff antics, which are sometimes hilarious, but often just miss the mark, were perfect for his role as a lovable human-elf in search of his identity. His innocent childlike behavior in a world of Christmas commercialization was funny, charming, and magical. Elf is a holiday classic that should be on everyone’s watch list.
#3 A Christmas Story:
One of my all-time favorite holiday movies is A Christmas Story! The story, set in the 1940’s, centers around Ralphie and his quest for a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas. Throughout the story, everyone he turns to for help to get the gun, even Santa Claus, tells him, “You’ll shoot your eye out.” Based on a story by Jean Shepherd, the movie is a trip back in time before X-box, PlayStation, Star Wars, and cell phones. It was a time when kids played outside, and watched Westerns on television where the good guys and buy guys fought for supremacy with six-guns and lever-action rifles instead of laser swords. In A Christmas Story, Ralphie faces school bullies, learns the horrible truth about secret decoder rings, has his mouth washed out with soap for saying bad words he learned from his father, and through it all, never loses sight of his perfect Christmas gift. This movie is a slice of life from a bygone era, but it contains everything that makes Christmas special – family, memories, and the spirit of being served Chinese duck for Christmas dinner. The kids may not fully appreciate the significance of playing outside or getting “double dog dared,” but this is a Christmas movie the whole family should watch together.
#2 The Polar Express:
The number two movie on my Christmas Holiday list, The Polar Express, certainly deserves the honor. The movie stars Tom Hanks and is filmed in “performance-action animation,” which results in a breathtaking movie spectacle. Hanks and the visual beauty of the film are reasons enough to see it, but I simply love the story! The story is about a young boy who is beginning to doubt there is a Santa Claus, and on Christmas Eve catches a mysterious train, The Polar Express, to the North Pole. On the train, he meets other children like him, a sometimes-cranky conductor (Tom Hanks, who also plays several other roles in the movie), and a hobo. One of the most visually impressive scenes in the movie (there are many) is the singing waiters. The first time I saw the movie at home, I stopped the video at least three times to watch that scene again and again; it is simply amazing. Although Santa Claus appears in the movie, the movie is not about Santa. The Polar Express is about bravery, friendship, and the spirit of Christmas! It is a classic that should be shared yearly as a family tradition.
#1 It’s a Wonderful Life:
The Christmas movie that tops almost everyone’s list is It’s a Wonderful Life starring Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed. It is the perfect Christmas masterpiece for the holidays. The story is about an ambitious young man who sacrifices his dreams to ensure the dreams of others. Continually hounded by miserly Mr. Potter, George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart) fights for the right of his neighbors to live a good life, and not struggle in the squalor of Potter’s tenant houses. Unfortunately, life does not always treat even the best people fairly, and after a disastrous incident, George wishes he had never been born. With the help of a guardian angel, George learns how his life has impacted the lives of people he loves, and they are not complete without him nor is he complete without them. It’s a Wonderful Life has sacrifice, redemption, salvation, friendship, angels, and triumph over evil. It is the root for the good guy, boo the bad guy, feel good movie of all time regardless of the season in which it is watched. It is the movie that shows us how to get our wings. It’s a Wonderful life is the epitome of the Christmas spirit; therefore, it is my number one Christmas movie of all time!
Whether you have a Christmas list of your own, or use one someone else has put together, the bottom line is grab someone you love or want to make friends with, and pop your favorite Christmas movie in the DVD and share the Christmas spirit. I double dog dare you!
©Jack Linton, December 22, 2017