I have to admit that when it comes to Christmas movies I’m not much into the black and white classics. Like with any genre of film, I certainly have my highbrow days, but for the most part I like comedy or action or a combination of the two when celebrating the birth of little baby Jesus.
I decided to compile a list of my favorite Christmas-time films. There’s no possible way I could rank these – while there are certainly cinematic classics in this list I doubt there’s much of an Oscar pool. Anyway, I’ve found the quality of most movies, even holiday films, can be dependent on my mood while viewing the movie. And I doubt there are any shockers here, either; it’s just a reminder that there’s plenty of great cinema if you’re looking for a distraction over the next few days.
Oh, Die Hard. Such a perfect Christmas movie. German terrorists, Japanese businessmen, honor, loyalty, bearer bonds. Oh, and a cop who will stop at nothing to save his (feisty) wife.
Quite a few of my friends rank Gremlins as their favorite yuletide flick. Cute, fuzzy little Chinatown pets have so many rules! Personally, I think Polly Holliday steals the show as Ruby Deagle, a cross between the Wicked Witch of the West and Mr. Potter from It's a Wonderful Life.
And speaking of It's a Wonderful Life, it truly is a wonderful movie. This is maybe the only classic-classic I have on the list. I never grow tired of Zuzu's petals or young George Bailey getting clapped on the ear for questioning the grieving pharmacist. And who doesn't love Clarence?
Scrooged is the best version of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol - ever. Bill Murray is snotty and hilarious and vulnerable in all the right ways. It's perfect.
How can you not love Will Farrell as Buddy in Elf? I always sort of imagined Santa Claus looking like Ed Asner, and this movie confirmed those thoughts.
No child should ever see Bad Santa. I think I'm scarred from Bad Santa. Still, John Ritter is priceless, and Lauren Graham's turn as a bartender with a Santa fetish is hilarious. Nobody does scummy, scuzzy, or sleazy like Billy Bob Thornton.
TNT has sort of ruined A Christmas Story for me. Still, Darren McGavin as Ralphie's father is one of the funniest performances in any Christmas film and I always try to catch some of his performance over the holidays, even if I can't really stomach the entire movie anymore.
Oh, when life imitates art. Randy Quaid was recently charged with a slew of crimes, including defrauding an innkeeper. Obviously he was born to play Cousin Eddie in the National Lampoon Vacation movies. The Christmas edition is by all accounts simply awful - but there are so many slapstick, laugh out loud moments that it's a Christmas must-see.
Dan Akroyd is the nastiest Santa ever in Trading Places. This movie is simply genius, as Eddie Murphy and Akroyd plot, with the help of a hooker with a heart of gold and a savvy butler, to get revenge on a pair of high rolling brothers. It's the best Christmas comedy ever.