Because it is early Sunday evening and because I have a major project and big speech due this week and because I have a load of laundry in the washing machine just waiting to be hung up, I’ve decided to make a list of my ten favorite Christmas movies of all time*.
1. The Holiday
Obsessed. Acting is questionable throughout, but that only adds to the entertainment. The scenery, wardrobe, and hair stylists were working overtime to make up for the lack of plot and/or sensical dialogue -- and they pulled it off. Cameron Diaz’s hair in this movie is off the chain. Kate Winslet is a goddess. Jude Law is cute. And Jack Black is ridiculous enough that he makes a full revolution back to “believable.” And. It must be mentioned: Eli Wallach is outstanding and utterly captivating.
2. The Family Man
Love it. Just love it. Nic Cage is tremendous as a pompous investment banker who lives in Manhattan, beds whomever, drives a million dollar car, and has no family or friends to speak of. On Christmas Eve he meets an angel who grants him the opportunity to glimpse what his life would have been like if he’d married his college sweetheart and started a family in New Jersey. After some initial pushback, he falls in love with this real life -- just in time for the angel to come and call him back to his materially driven existence.
3. Home Alone
Perfection. (The clip below reflects a brilliant reframing of the 'home alone' narrative.)
4. Home Alone 2
5. Mickey’s Christmas Carol (Disney Cartoon)
Perfect length. Perfect music. Perfect Scrooge, Cratchet, Tiny Tim, Marley, Nephew, and all three Ghosts. This rendition avoids some of the overblown detritus of the other versions, and doesn’t descend into droll blather, either. And even without the super depressing overtones, the ultimate lesson/moral is not weakened in impact. (please take note, writers, including moi.)
6. Miracle on 34th Street
I saw this years ago and it cemented a place in my heart. Santa is as charming as ever, and Maureen O’Hara is one of my icons! I know this was remade in the late 90’s but I failed to see it, which is surprising as I love Elizabeth Perkins--and her costume/makeup looked AMAZE in the previews.
7. Just Friends
Total crap on many levels, but hilarious and cute, too. Julie Hagerty kind of steals the show.
This is basically my life. Not. No. This is a microcosmic look into a holiday break spent with the youthful New York elite. It’s delightful. The footage of New York at Christmas is beautiful and the dialogue is fun. They even found a way to work “Fourierism” into the script!
9. The Best Years of Our Lives
Frankly, I’m not sure this a Christmas movie, but I saw it last year during the holiday season, so it’s taken on a Christmas-movie flavor. This was one of the first films to confront the pain and difficulty of returning home after war. There’s no glamour, but there’s no excessive pathos either, so you won’t leave it feeling gutted and depressed to the bone. This is one of those knock your socks off kind of films. From the opening scene to the last, you’ll be right there.
10. One Magic Christmas
The reality of the situation is this movie destroys me. It’s a lower middle class Christmas gone wrong with a young husband falling dead, followed by a carjacking turned kidnapping turned death drive (not the Freudian concept). Just thinking about it brings me to tatters. BUT, it’s exquisite and naturally the magic of Christmas and hope and goodwill come to the rescue. Harry Dean Stanton is magnetic, as always, and Mary Steenburgen is tremendous. Stick with it all the way to the end and make sure you have a hanky (not sure how you spell that). Cheers and Merry Christmas!!
*This list will likely change before the day is over, but as of this moment (4:35 pm, November 4, 2012), it stands. Thanks for reading!
UPDATE: New films added 8:38 p.m. (November 4, 2012)
11. While You Were Sleeping
Two great aspects of this movie. 1. Sandra's intrusive but lovable neighbor. 2. Sandra's hair. The great thing about this movie is it was filmed pre-Sandra Bullock madness; hence, the studio didn't spend half its budget on hair products for her. In this film, you see Sandra realness, with her crazy hair as it TRULY IS (not shined up, and flat ironed to hell and back). This helps you focus on the acting and the plot and the dialogue. For another example of Sandra pre-flatiron, see The Net. If you want to see studio Sandra, see The Proposal (a great film, nonetheless).
12. Die Hard
I have to admit I considered this the first time, but crossed it off as I felt there were more deserving recipients. But upon reflection, I decided that's effed up. Because I've seen Die Hard more than I've seen The Holiday and Family Man and Metropolitan combined... so, yes, Die Hard. Excellent film. Starring an amazing actress who has the best name of all time and who seems to have slipped off the radar: Bonnie Bedelia. If you don't have time for the whole flick, here's an abridged version:
I actually forgot this one. I wasn't trying to not be cliched. I tried to find a clip of when Clark gets trapped in the attic and ends up watching home movies and wrapping himself in a turban, fur coat, and dinner gloves in order to stay warm... but I could not find it... alas...