Honorable Mention: Die Hard: What? It takes place at Christmas. And it’s Die Hard. ‘Nuff said.
5. Home Alone: Look, I know this film is an unholy abomination. But taking it out of context, forgetting all that came after it, forgetting the career it spawned and all the Culkin BS and all the imitations and parodies and whatnot, I find I really enjoy watching it. It’s like a live action Looney Tunes cartoon. I love John Candy’s little cameo. And its appeal, especially as a Christmas movie, is helped along greatly by a better-than-it-really-deserved score by John Williams.
4. Love Actually: Call me a sissified nancy boy if you will, but I really like this movie. What can I say? Hugh Grant is just so charmingly befuddled. And I’m a sucker for stories where everything is interconnected and this character in this story knows this character in another who is this character’s brother who is best friends with so and so, and they all come together in the end. Tack on a great (if admittedly sappy) message about love’s omnipresence, set it against a Christmas backdrop and I’m sold. Among my favorite storylines are Hugh Grant’s turn as a, well, charmingly befuddled Prime Minister, recently widowed Liam Neeson’s attempts to help his son win the love of his life, and Bill Nighy’s hilarious turn as an aged rocker.
3. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation: I’m not a big fan of most of the Chevy Chase National Lampoon movies. “What? But, but, Wally World…” you’re probably sputtering incredulously, as though at the mere mention of the place, I should burst out laughing. I don’t hate them or anything; they’ve just never done much for me. Blasphemy, I know. So without a doubt, Christmas Vacation is my favorite of the bunch. It’s a classic example of the “I just want to have a loving family Christmas, but can’t because of circumstances out of my control. Also, because my family is crazy” film. It’s been done often but rarely as well as this. While the specific situations and characters may not be exactly the same as our own experiences, the audience certainly relates to their tone and theme (the aunt who wraps up the jello mold and the cat come to mind).
2. Muppet Christmas Carol: Hands down my favorite version of the Dicken’s classic. The inestimable Michael Caine as Scrooge, the Great Gonzo as Charles Dickens, delightful songs, and Muppets galore-what’s not to love?
1. A Christmas Story: Yup, I’m one of those people TBS airs 24 hours of this movie for. I grew up watching this movie with my dad and it remains one of our favorites (for whatever reason, we laugh the hardest at Randy’s (Ralphie’s little brother) glee at unwrapping a toy zeppelin). Jean Shepherd’s story (helped along by his narration) perfectly captures Christmas from a child’s perspective: his old man’s ability to bargain for a Christmas tree, freezing up when face to face with a (to him) grotesque Santa, the unbridled ecstasy and joy when unwrapping that coveted Christmas gift. This movie is as much a Christmas tradition for me as the presents, lights and music.