Friday, November 23, 2012

The 12 Most Awesome Movies of Christmas


 For many, the Christmas season begins when corporate America begins to dangle premature visions of sugar plums somewhere between jack-o-lanterns and turkey feasts.  For me however, Christmas isn't official until the fat turkey croaks.  That means you better run for cover come Black Friday, because I might plow you down with bushels of garland, repetitive carols, and more holiday cheer than you can probably handle.

Yes, Christmas is by far my most favored holiday.  Can you blame me?  I mean, I get to spend almost a whole month and a half of the year filled to the brim with warm fuzzies caused by all things Christmas.  One of those contributors happens to be my over-indulgence in Christmas movies.  "Over-indulgence" being an understatement to some.  Having watched a slew of Christmas movies on repeat for the last quarter of the century, I have compiled a concise list of the top 12 most awesome Christmas movies of all freaking time.  Since I happened to list a convenient number in-line with a certain epic holiday jingle, we'll call this countdown the 12 Most Awesome Movies of Christmas.  Good news: I'm gonna share my list and its hot opinions with you.  Let's start with a couple honorable mentions, and work our way to the top, shall we?

My Husband's Honorable Mention: Jingle All the Way, 1996
"Because it's got Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sinbad in it." 






My Honorable Mention: A Charlie Brown Christmas, 1965
I'll be honest, I rarely watched this as a child.  For some reason, my family was never organized enough to sync our schedules with the TV to watch it on it's scheduled prime time slot (astounding that we survived in a world without DVR).  Regardless, I melt whenever I hear those angelic little Peanuts kids sing "Hark! The Herold Angels Sing" around their cozy little spruced-up spruce.  It gets me every time.









12.  The Santa Clause, 1994
For the record, my husband thinks I'm an idiot for liking this movie.  But if being an "idiot" means liking this admittedly almost-lame movie, then I'm guilty.  Like most idiots in the world, I can't help it.  You know those moments when you see something from your childhood that you haven't seen or heard in years (a picture, a toy, a movie, a song, etc) and suddenly your mind is absolutely flooded with memories with that specific item?  And then you subsequently feel super excited, but really old at the same time?  This movie gives me lots of those "moments".  So there.  Unfortunately for my husband, there's just something about the general existence of this movie that strikes my fancy. 




11.  It's a Wonderful Life, 1946
Truthfully, I've only seen this movie from start to finish maybe twice in my life, but that's not why I like this movie.  I cherish this movie because it's one that my Mom loves.  As a kid I thought it was incredibly dull, probably because it didn't involve caroling cartoon characters waddling around winter wonderlands donning Santa hats.  All I knew was that it was one of my Mom's favorite movies.  Now that I'm a big squirrel, I should probably watch it again as I'm sure my maturity can handle a lack of caroling cartoon characters waddling around winter wonderlands donning Santa hats.  Regardless, I still value this movie for the simple fact that it reminds me of my Mama.

10.  How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, 1966
I have to be rather blunt here: If you've never seen this movie, you may have been denied a childhood.  This movie defines so many things about Christmas it's not even funny.  We'll start with the overall message: (1) Don't be a greedy fool, (2) Christmas is about spirit, love, and kindness - not decorations or gifts, and (3) Never trust a furry green hermit...unless he has an enlarged heart...in which case, give him a Beyer aspirin and call 911 because that s**t's dangerous.  All jokes aside, it would be a crime for me not to include this movie on my list.  In addition to the obvious likable traits, like the catchy tunes, unusual visual stimulation, and heartwarming ending, I like this movie for it's overall length.  Random, I know.  But if you don't have time to sit through an entire hour or two of a Christmas movie, The Grinch is the perfect movie to get a quick dose of holiday spirit and enthusiasm...assuming you aren't a Grinch and are into that sort of thing.



9.  Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, 1964
Ah, another heart-warming Christmas tale.  For me the star of the show isn't our beloved red-nosed misfit...it's Yukon Cornelius and the Bumble.  First of all, Yukon Cornelius is the originator of the hipster beard.  So he was cool before any of those weird knitted beard-hats were cool.  Second of all, the Bumble is just freaking adorable and precious and fanciful (aside from his bratty personality early in the movie...he was just misunderstood).  I also appreciate the fact that this was a favorite movie of my parents' childhood, my childhood, and at the rate it's going, probably a favorite of my future kids' childhood.  This, I feel, is a very admirable trait.  Keep up the good work, clay misfits of the North Pole.




8. The Muppet Christmas Carol, 1992
I will never - and I mean never - get too old for this movie.  I actually look forward to the day where I have children that I can watch this with so that I don't look/feel like such a creep for partaking in it's jolly entertainment.  First of all, the Muppets are the original gangsters of creepy puppet comedy.  Seriously, Fozzie Bear is a boss, Kermit's a pimp, and don't even get me started with Ms. Piggy.  So once you combine them all with a traditional heartwarming tale about the love of Christmas, you get one ballin' movie.  Plus Michael Caine plays Scrooge, and he's got a nifty accent.  I even got a 'smidge weird(er) this year and added a few of this movie's jingles to my "Ho Ho Ho" playlist on Spotify.  Though I do pray none of those songs come on when I'm in the presence of anyone other than Roon.


7.  A Christmas Story, 1983
First of all, TBS has officially ruined this movie for a lot of people by relentlessly playing it for 24-hours straight beginning on Christmas Eve.  NOT "very funny", TBS.  Now that I have that opinion out of the way, I'd like to dote on this classic for a minute.  I adore this movie.  Perhaps it's because just about any kid in existence can identify with Ralph Parker and his quest for attaining his most dreamed-of Christmas gift.  Just about every kid has lived a real-life take on this movie, so it's almost impossible not to identify with the plot.  Another reason why I love this movie is because regardless of how many times I've already seen it, I still discover "new" things in the movie just about every year that I never realized before.  For instance, with age I've noticed that the seemingly crazy-ridiculous adult characters are merely a portrayal of how Ralphie perceived them in his childhood memories.  To be honest, I also once viewed department store Santas as crazed lunatics lacking the proper agenda to supply me with my critical wishlist requirements.  Now that I'm a mature adult, I know that since Santa sees all, he'll totally fire their asses if they don't communicate my need "wish" for a ceramic squirrel speaker from west elm this year.  Anyway, if you can ignore TBS's shenanigans every December the 24th, this movie is still a lifelong keeper.

Oh, and "Bumpus Hounds" is a covert name we use for Rooney, Daisy, and Blue...



6.  Home Alone 2: Lost in New York
Kevin McCallister is an unpleasant little a-hole whose life defines "YOLO".  That's why we all want to be him.  Every kid growing up in the 90s wanted to be him.  Since I'll dote on Kevin later on in my countdown, allow me to describe why I specifically love the sequel to my #4 favorite.  First and foremost, the kid survives a few days in New York City despite all odds that he should've been kidnapped, murdered, or hit by a taxi.  That's pretty impressive, but then again, he's a survivor.  I'll also chalk it up to the fact that as Kevin got a little bit older, so did his need for immediate danger.  I mean, he had the audacity to befriend a scary hobo covered in bird crap in the middle of Central Park...#YOLO.  Comedy sequels are rarely executed properly, and subsequently fail to maintain the same humor conveyed in the original film.  That's definitely not the case with this movie.  Though it's further down my list than its predecessor, it still makes me chuckle quite a bit, thus deeming it a holiday success story.  Merry Christmas ya filthy animal.


5.  Elf, 2003
Leave it to Will Ferrell to uproot my life-long list of holiday favorites mid-way through high school.  Just when I thought that I had everything figured out, I really had to question and reformulate my list following the release of this nouveau holiday classic.  I'm pretty sure this movie was made with hipster adults in mind.  I'm not a hipster, and I'm nearly an adult but I adore this movie.  Plus I feel cool for liking Zooey Deschanel before everyone else liked her (...maybe I am a hipster).  I'd like to point out that much like Kevin McCallister, Buddy the Elf somehow survives the dangers of New York City...apparently it's a Christmas movie trend?  But Buddy's not my favorite character of this movie...it's the manager at Gimbel's played by Faizon Love.  He wears a Christmas light necklace, requires all ribbon curls to be precisely six inches, and has zero tolerance for sass.  'Nuff said.
Like a boss.

One of my favorite parts has to be when Buddy gets hit by a taxi...doesn't sound like it should be funny, but I die laughing every time.  See for yourself:
 


4.  Home Alone, 1990
KEVIN!  America's favorite little s**t definitely deserves a spot in my top five.  Even at the ripe age of 25, I still vicariously live through Kevin and his tomfoolery.  Sometimes when I'm grocery shopping (for milk, eggs, and fabric softener), I like to feed the cashier lies and make her think I'm older than I really am.  Or sometimes, I like to plot out ways to vanquish intruders from my home via a Crayola 16-pack and some random scroll-y paper.  Just kidding.  Kind of.  Let's not forget about the slew of other priceless characters in this movie, like Buzz, Uncle Frank, and the Wet Bandits.  Without the existence of this movie, terms like "trout sniffer" and "little jerk" would hardly be insulting.  And how would the hipster t-shirt industry survive without "Angels with Filthy Souls"?  I simply don't want to know.  Obviously this movie was created by geniuses and I am forever thankful for their cinematic creativity.




This moment still slays and terrifies me at the same time:


REMIX!!


3.  Scrooged, 1988
Besides the fact that this movie is deliciously 80s, it stars Bill Murray.  Need I say more?  I strongly feel that this is one of those movies that is highly underrated and forgotten in Christmases from 1980s-past.  As I've gotten older, I've definitely come to appreciate this movie for it's comedic value.  I remember as a kid thinking that it was really boring and stupid, but now I can't get enough of it.  In fact, I forcefully try to convince my friends and family that it's one of the best kept secrets of Christmas (usually to very little avail).  But here I go anyway...WATCH THIS MOVIE, IT'S SO GOOD.  If my concise review of this festive film hasn't inspired you to see it, I suggest you watch the original movie trailer.




One of my favorite parts of the movie is Frank's (aka, Scrooge) interaction with the Ghost of Christmas Present (specifically at 1:25):




2.  National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, 1989
Those of you who know me well are probably really confused right now.  For as much as I quote this movie and squawk about my excitement to see it annually, it's actually my second favorite Christmas movie of all time.  But a very close second, nonetheless.  Clark W. Griswold Jr is the last true family man, and I think just about every family in America can find some way to identify with his ridiculous plight for the perfect Griswold Family Christmas.  Either that, or laughing at Clark just makes you feel better about your own holiday blow-outs and shenanigans.  If you're reading this, please know that I will continue to relentlessly quote this movie until the world ends.  Why?  Because it's the gift that keeps on giving the whole year.  Here are some of Clark Griswold's best moments:



We're all gonna "have the hap-hap-happiest Christmas since Bing Crosby tap-danced with Danny-f****n'-Kaye."  What a conveniently fabulous segue to my favorite Christmas movie of all freaking time...

1.  Irving Berlin's White Christmas, 1954
Oh my goodness, I get teary-eyed just typing the title.  Talk about a movie to get you in the feel-good holiday spirit!  This movie is utterly incredible for reasons beyond my fantasy of traveling back in time and nailing a song 'n dance number with Bing and the other crooners whist dressed in fancy vintage holiday attire.  A lot of people don't have the stomach anymore for a movie comprised mostly of musical numbers, but I, myself, get way too much pleasure out of it.  Plus I get sucked into the emotional story line of a group of celebrity do-gooders who want to extend a heartfelt favor for an old pal in Army at Christmas time.  This movie really brings out the sap in me, but I dare you to watch it and not burst at the seams with warm fuzzies.



Here's one of the original theatrical trailers for the film...too much fun if you ask me.



So there's my list of the 12 Most Awesome Movies of Christmas.  As I commence this season of verbose cinematic entertainment, I'd like to wish for you the warmest of holiday seasons.  May a good Christmas movie find you and bring you good tidings 'n cheer.

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