We've just celebrated Thanksgiving, and are on our way to Hanukkah and Christmas, so I thought it would be a good time to bring the holiday spirit together with one of my favorite things -- movies! We all (well, most of us, anyway) enjoy a nice holiday film. They're typically heartwarming reminders of what it means to value friends and family, though of course some of them do so with a twinkle in their eye.
Frank Capra's classic is one I've always appreciated, though never quite warmed to. Having said that, it's filled with terrific life lessons, which resonate to this day. And Jimmy Stewart's performance, especially when he's at the end of his rope and praying to God, is one of his best.
9. Home Alone (1990)
The plot is preposterous, but there's no way this movie could miss my list. In my early teens when it came out, Home Alone was a juggernaut. Pure family entertainment, silly though it may be.
8. Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
Watching this as a rerun on TV as a kid, I was transfixed by the whole 'Is he or isn't he?' story line. The film got me emotional, which has long been my litmus test for a movie's worthiness. I remember being so angered that they were putting Santa on trial. And that ending.... why can't Santa buy everyone a house?
7. What's Cooking? (2000)
I saw this movie just once, at Ebertfest several years ago, yet it has retained a place in my heart ever since. Four different families -- Black, Latino, Vietnamese and Jewish -- celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday in their own special way. It's an opus to the love of family and, most certainly, food!
6. The Family Man (2000)
The not-unfamiliar story of a guardian angel who shows a person the life they could have had (right around Christmas, no less). It is done very well, and Nicolas Cage turns-in one of his better performances. I saw this in the theater during Christmas of 2000, the first Christmas with Ashley & I together, though we were apart because he was visiting family. Perhaps that is why it means so much?
5. Scrooged (1988)
Who doesn't like a Christmas movie with Bill Murray? A star-studded cast and a great holiday message combine to make this one of the best!
4. A Christmas Carol (1951)
The version of the Dickens story with with Alastair Sim. Stone cold classic.
3. Christmas In Connecticut (1945)
Barbara Stanwyck as a pretend happy homemaker who then has to impress her boss (Sydney Greenstreet) with some domestic bliss around Christmas time. I love the set design of this film, and all of the performances are spot on.
2. National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (1989)
Gotta love Chevy Chase, Beverly D'Angelo and, of course, Randy Quaid as Cousin Eddie!
1. A Christmas Story (1983)
Ralphie. The Old Man. Red Ryder. The line to see Santa that stretched to Terre Haute. "You'll shoot your eye out." "Oh, fuuuuudge." The soft glow of electric sex. The wonderfully loving and patient mother. This movie has it all.
And, there you have it. Honorable mentions go to The Family Stone, Krampus and Gremlins (which, although it takes place around Christmas, isn't really a holiday movie, per se, so it doesn't make the list).