Debating the best Christmas movies can often create more arguments than talking politics around the dinner table. To get around this, I’ll just say that this is my Top 10 Christmas Movies for 2021. For me, the list changes a little bit every year simply because some movies get played out a little too much on tv so they lose of their magic. So, just because your movie didn’t make the list doesn’t mean that I don’t love it. It just means that I wasn’t feeling it enough this year.
IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE
Don’t ever expect this one to fall out of the number one slot on my list. Anyone who doesn’t shed a tear at the “richest man in town” line of the movie simply isn’t human. For personal reasons, it has a stronger effect on me today that it did as a kid. The film has always been a heavy influence on my life, which is why the element of friendship is a strong theme in Surviving the Lion’s Den. My favorite scene will always be the telephone scene between Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed. It is believed that Stewart wasn’t sure if he could pull off the scene.
MIRACLE ON 34th ST. (1947)
Like It’s a Wonderful Life, this one will never fall of my list. It’s the movie that has everything. Comedy, Fantasy, Romance, Drama, and Christmas spirit. You can never go wrong with this movie. After Thanksgiving dinner, watching it is my official way of kicking off the Christmas season.
I really didn’t start to enjoy this movie until I was older. Now that it is available on streaming services, I watch it at least a couple of times during the Christmas season. I think that I like it because it is one of the few movies that takes place in the shadow of World War II and talks about what the soldiers did afterward. The fact that the characters Wallace & Davis stage the show for their old army general is touching. Remember, though, that the titled song was not made famous by the movie. It made it’s debut in another Big Crosby movie, Holiday Inn (1942). Rather than the movie making the song famous, the song gave birth to the movie- twelve years later.
A CHRISTMAS STORY
Boy, did anyone see this movie and its following coming? The original made for tv movie has literally taken on a life of its own and is now a staple in the American holiday season. Documentaries have been made about it. It’s spawned its own Broadway show. Plus, the house in which the film took place is now a museum in Cleveland and is available for overnight stays. Jack Nicholson once considered the role of the Old Man, but turned it down, which is probably for the best. Can you imagine the move without actor Darren McGavin’s cursing? Hats off to the Turner Broadcasting folks for giving us this one.
A CHRISTMAS CAROL (1984)
Everyone has their own favorite movie version of the Charles Dickens novel. This version has most “real feel” of nineteenth century London. It also deviates the least from the novel in comparison to other versions. Plus, you can’t go wrong with having a legendary actor like George C. Scott. Though his look doesn’t match the way the character was described in the book, Scott’s portrayal is unmatched in my estimation.
The comedic take on A Christmas Carol is hilarious. Who would have ever thought to make the Scrooge character a television executive? The scenes between Bill Murray and Carol Cane (the ghost of Christmas present) still make me cackle to this day. The variations of the film to include the brother rather than the nephew was smart. Despite all of the film’s comedy, Bill Murray pulls out all of the stops for the final scene. It’s rumored that the film is one of his least favorite, but I think Frank Cross was the best role of his career.
THE MAN WHO INVENTED CHRISTMAS
This one moves up my list every year. The more I watch it, the more I love it. The film is based on the book of the same name and address how Dicken’s came to write A Christmas Carol in only six weeks. As an author, it is fun to watch the little facial expressions and ideas forming in actor Dan Steven’s head as his character makes mental notes to put in the book based on what he sees and hears because that’s how us authors come up with many scenes that end of up in our books.
The film is only ten years old and has yet to gather a big following, but I have a feeling that this one will hit its stride within the next few Christmases. I laugh at it every year. Based on the world’s population, it’s take on how Santa would distribute presents to everyone in the world in one night and how the baton of Santa gets passed down. It is also a reminder that every child counts.
NATIONAL LAMPOON’S CHRISTMAS VACATION
Can you have a list about Christmas movies and not have this one on it? NO. It only ranked a little lower on my list this year because AMC has been playing it night and day. Regardless, who doesn’t quote Cousin Eddie’s or Clark’s lines throughout the movie? “I DON’T KNOW, MARGO!”
DIE HARD & DIE HARD 2
The debate as to whether first two John McClane movies are truly Christmas movies will rage on forever, but they will always make my list. After all, is it really the Christmas season if you don’t see Hans Gruber fall off Nakatomi Plaza? Yippe-Ki-Yay!