Dec 2, 2008

Movies to make the season bright

by Jennifer Schmidt

 
To help everyone ring in the season appropriately, the Champion staff has compiled a list of 23 essential Christmas movies – that’s right – one for every day until the 25th rolls around. If there isn’t enough time for quite that many movies, work your way through one of the categories, or pick one from each section. From claymation to musicals, here is our ultimate list of Christmas movies.

Makes…and Remakes

Some things never change, and some things come back … again … and again. Take, for example, Charles Dickens’s classic “A Christmas Carol,” which first came out in a film version as “Scrooge” in 1935. It made a comeback in 1951, and then again in 1970 (my favorite version). Bill Murray jumped in on the action with “Scrooged” in 1988, and Tiny Tim arrived in puppet form for “The Muppet Christmas Carol” in 1992. For a spin-off on Scrooge’s character, try the original “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” (1966) or Jim Carey’s manic laugh in Ron Howard’s modern interpretation (2000). And wishes come true more than once in “Miracle on 34th Street,” with the original from 1947 and in full color from 1994.

Old-Fashioned Class

“White Christmas” combines all the style and suave singing of the 1950s with fabulous costumes and Bing Crosby – simply fabulous. He also stars with Fred Astaire in “Holiday Inn,” an earlier musical lesser known, but not any less enjoyed. Staying in the black and white vein, “The Bishop’s Wife” and “Christmas in Connecticut” are two early classics from the 1940s.

Three’s Company

No one could get enough of Macaulay Culkin in the ‘90s so they gave us two movies following the defensive antics of Kevin. Make sure to catch the original “Home Alone” with the memorable pizza delivery scene and Culkin’s scream from the burning aftershave. A third movie followed, but the first two are the best.
Tim Allen arrived complete with a prosthetic gut for “The Santa Clause” trilogy. Nothing compares to the glory of a waddling Allen stuck on a snow-covered roof. Of course, the idea of accidentally killing the real Santa Claus can get any plot off the ground.

Childhood Favorites

Christmas equals “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” Of all the movies on this list, the most unique, and endearing, characters are featured in this American classic. Revisit the elf who dreams of becoming a dentist, listen to Santa’s booming voice, sing along with the misfit toys and cheer for Rudolph when he finally realizes the special gift it is to have a “nose so bright.”
“A Charlie Brown Christmas” has become known as one of Charles Schultz’s best-loved movies. If for no other reason, hearing Linus read the original Bible story from Luke 2 is reason enough to buy this one for a friend and stick it in their stocking.

If You Like to Laugh

Though it came out only a few years ago, “Elf” quickly captured the hearts and funny bones of people who love Christmas – or who love Will Ferrell. Either way, this movie has some of the best quotable lines and will give you 100 sure-fire ways to work syrup into your regular diet.

Possibly the epitome of Christmas comedy, Chevy Chase blows fuses in his pursuit of the perfect family holiday in “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.” With wild squirrels and some quirky relatives, this movie will be a Christmas Eve re-run for many years to come.

For fans of Vince Vaughn, he has stepped into the Christmas genre only in the past few weeks with Reese Witherspoon in “Four Christmases.” Sadly, it has yet to hit the dollar theater, but it might be worth taking a chance on a new Christmas movie.
Cornball Anyone?

Jonathan Taylor Thomas. Every girl wanted to marry him in middle school, and a little bit of nostalgia can be good for the soul. “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” is full of corny bits and cliché moments, but JTT is all the more endearing for it.
Before he was governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger starred in “Jingle All the Way” – a look back at the man who ruled only a toy store before he became governor of California.

Any Dolly Parton fan might enjoy her offering in the corny category with her country cabin and original songs in “Smoky Mountain Christmas.”

Best Overall

Of course, here reside the absolute must-watch Christmas movies of all time. “The Nightmare Before Christmas” puts a creepy twist on the traditional idea of Christmas - features friendly skeletons, aka. Sandy Claws, and bizarre presents under the tree.
“You’ll shoot your eye out.” People quote this line on a regular basis, making this the only Christmas movie to become a part of everyday speech. If you ever got into a snowball fight, or wanted a “dangerous weapon” for Christmas, here is your movie soul mate - it’s called “A Christmas Story.”

There are many reasons that the world will forever love Jimmy Stewart, and “It’s a Wonderful Life” may be the biggest reason of all. Ranked as one of the top films of all time, Stewart stars as a man struggling to understand his purpose in life – a question common to all. Known to be a tearjerker, Frank Capra directed the film in hopes that it would represent American ideals. In doing so, he reminded everyone of some powerful truths. And remember – every time a bell rings an angel gets its wings.

 


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