Needless to say, 2020 has been one hell of a wacky, weird, strange, taxing, emotional and unpredictable year. Hopefully 2021 we can all turn the corner and put this behind us. In the meantime the boatload of Christmas movies available should help bring some smiles, cheers and good entertainment to take our minds off our troubles for a couple of hours.
For me, be a traditionalist at some things, I have my 5 favorite Christmas movies that I never ever get tired of watching. Now I know many of you like films like Home Alone, The Grinch, National Lampoon with the Griswalds, The Santa Clause, Elf and others. I have seen them all and yes, they were fun and enjoyable, but none of those are in my personal top five. So here is what I truly enjoy every Christmas season.
5. White Christmas -1954 – It stars Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney and Vera Ellen. They are entertainers, there is a love story, but the main focus is helping others. The guys find out that their former commander in WW II, played by Dean Jagger, is having financial problems with his Vermont lodge and may lose everything. So the four of them get together and decide to put a big show together and give him a great Christmas present saving his lodge. Jagger is overwhelmed at the gesture, but in the end everything works out for the best. In the romance department that all works out as well. Of course the song “White Christmas” makes a big production appearance. The only Oscar nomination was a Best Original Song for “Count Your blessing” but didn’t win.
4. Polar Express – 2004 – This film stars Tom Hanks playing about six different characters in the movie. The film features human characters animated using live-action motion capture animation. The story is about a young boy who, on Christmas Eve, sees a mysterious train bound for the North Pole stop outside his window and is invited aboard by its conductor. The boy joins several other children as they embark on a journey to visit Santa Claus preparing for Christmas. It will make you smile, bring a tear or two but most of all make you believe. It was nominated for 3 Oscars but did not win any.
3. A Christmas Story – 1983 – This has become a “must see” Christmas classic. There is even a marathon viewing for twenty four hours on TBS. The story, if you don ‘t know, all revolves around Ralphie, his somewhat off the wall family, a leg lamp, pink bunny pajamas, a Red Ryder air rifle and a lot more. And of course the unforgettable scene of Triple Dare when bullies make one of Ralphie’s friends stick his tongue on the flag pole and it freezes. There is a lot going on in this comedy, but it is a great relief from all the stress we have been through in 2020. While it never won any Oscars it is always in the Top 10 of any list of all time best Christmas movies.
2. It’s a Wonderful Life – 1947 – The quintessential holiday ‘must see” movie. It is a story about never giving up no matter bleak things may look. In this film family man George Bailey, Jimmy Stewart, is ready to give up and ready to jump into the river and end it all. But a guardian angel, Clarence, played by Henry Travers comes along and shows him that life is more than material possessions. He shows George how he has touched the lives of so many and how different life would be for his wife Mary, played by Donna Reed, if he had not been born and how his town of Bedford Falls would be. He shows him there are ways to overcome the everything and be the man he really is. Ir was nominated for 5 Oscars and lost out on Best Picture to “Best Years of Our Lives.
1.Miracle on 34th St. – 1947 – It was great marketing to release this on New Year’s Day and become one of the biggest films of the year and then release it again during Christmas season. If there was ever a story to make you believe this is one of them. The story of an elderly man, Edmund Gwenn, who claims to be the real Kris Kringle while working as Santa at Macy’s and the havoc he causes because no one believes him. However there is a little girl, Natalie Wood, who becomes a believer and a champion for Santa against her mother’s, Maureen O’ Hara, wishes and also works at Macy’s. In the end when the jury finds in favor of Kringle who can dispute whether there is a real Santa Claus or not? It also won 3 Oscars and other awards.
Holiday Inn – 1942 – Starring Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire and Marjorie Reynolds. It was a love story, a story of dreams and hopes. While the story line is good and well done, this film was responsible for one very important milestone. This was the film that introduced the world to the original Bing Crosby version of Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas” which would go one to not only become a holiday classic, but also the best selling Christmas song of all time. The film’s only Oscar came for “Best Original Song” which was no surprise.
There you have my personal Christmas season favorites and my thoughts. I am sure you may have some of these as favorites as well. Regardless of what holiday movies we like they bring us some much need smiles and a sense of believing in today’s mixed up world. I sincerely wish for every one of you to have a very merry, safe, healthy Christmas and holiday season.
Art Koch, National Features & DVD Editor, NightMoves Magazine and AAN