Articles: Best Christmas Movies




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Samantha Ofole-Prince and Laurence Washington

Our critic at large Samantha Ofole-Prince and myself decided to pick five of our favorite Christmas movies and then share them with our readers. A fair warning, I always felt that this type of list are created to stimulate debate among fans of a certain genre and are purely written the sake of entertainment. Everybody has their favorites and our list (in no particular order) might entice you to visit some of the movies we suggested. Plus Samantha and I enjoy reading emails of the obviously choices that we have missed. OK, with ground rules being laid, many of the usual suspects such as “Miracle on 34th Street,” “It’s A Wonderful Life,” and “White Christmas” are missing because cable has abused them in 24-hour marathons. Plus in an attempt to be different, we listed only five films -- most of which your run-of-the-mill film critic probably wouldn’t list. Had we complied a list of 15 or 20 films, many of those films listed above would have probably worked their way respectively onto the list.

Samantha’s Favorites

1) Bad Santa (2003)
A comedy about two criminals  (Billy Bob Thornton and Tony Cox) who disguise themselves as Santa Claus and his elf simply to travel across the country to rob malls, it’s raunchy, quirky and riddled with crude and rude jokes. Wonderfully tasteless, this one’s naughty and not nice.

2) A Christmas Carol: Scrooge (1951)
Many versions have been made of this classic adaptation of Charles Dickens' novel. A sentimental tale which captures the holiday spirit extraordinarily well, this 1951 version stars Alastair Sim as Ebenezer Scrooge, the callous miser visited by three ghosts on Christmas Eve. Sim aptly captures the dour and crabby Scrooge and presents a hilarious and moving portrait of an old sourpuss.

3) A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)
The ultimate feel good family flick, this animated holiday classic tale about the lovable Charlie Brown searching for Christmas' true meaning sends a poignant message about the commercial viability of Christmas.

4) A Preacher’s Wife (1996)
A warm and fuzzy tale of an angel (Denzel Washington) sent from Heaven to help a discouraged pastor (Courtney B. Vance) and his family during Christmas, its a good-hearted, predictable and romantic comedy about the holiday season.

5) A Christmas Story (1983)
Released in the Christmas season of 1983, this classic film about Christmas and childhood has found a loyal audience over the years.  A touching comedy about Christmas told with a lot of narration and fantasy, it’s based on the novel by humorist Jean Shepherd (who also narrates the film).

Laurence’s Favorites

1) On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969)
OK. It’s really a James Bond film. However, the story unfolds on Christmas eve when Bond’s arch enemy Blofeld, sends the United Nations his yuletide greetings, that he now possess the means to wipe out the world’s agriculture using 10 beautiful women who will disperse a deadly biological virus if his demands are not met. What a guy, huh?

2) A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)
“Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?” asks Charlie Brown. Enter Linus who provides Charlie Brown with the answer in this enduring classic. Although technically not a movie (we’ll make the rules here), who can argue the fact that Christmas just isn’t Christmas without watching Snoopy decorating his dog house, while Charlie Brown seeks out the true meaning of Christmas. Vince Guaraldi’s suburb soundtrack punctuates this Emmy-winning program.

3) A Christmas Story (1983)
“A Christmas Story” has to be the best holiday movie of all time. It’s certainly a new classic that is broadcasted on cable all Christmas day. The film focuses on Ralphie, a nerdy kid whose trying to convince everyone that he should get a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas. “A Christmas Story” has the best tagline of any Christmas movie. “You’ll put your eye out with that thing!”

4) The Polar Express (2004)
All aboard! "The Polar Express," which was inspired by Chris Van Allsburgís children’s novel, might not become a Christmas staple, even though it succeeds in avoiding many Christmas clichés, but it’s certainly an artistic masterpiece that’s magical and at times haunting. Director Robert Zemeckis’ computer image tale follows a young boy, who lost his faith in Santa Claus, on Christmas Eve who awakes in the middle of the night to find a stream train pulling in front of his house. A conductor (Tom Hanks) advises the boy (who isn’t given a name) to climb aboard if he wishes to visit the North Pole where seeing is believing.

5) Home Alone (1990)
Of course Christmas would not be complete without madcap hi-jinks and mayhem when Kevin (Macaulay Culkin) is mistakenly left home alone when his entire family leaves for Christmas vacation, to fight off the ‘Wet Bandits.”

Honorable Mention:
Scrooged (1988)
Elf (2003)
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
The Chronicles of Narnia (2005)
National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (1989)
Holiday Inn (1942)
How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966)
The Santa Clause (1994)
Trading Places (1983)
Babes In Toyland (1960)
We’re No Angels (1955)
Gremlins (1984)

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