It is that time of year again. Actually, I’m already a little late because the Christmas movies have already started.
My ranking is based 1/3 on each movie’s strength against similar Christmas movies in the same time slot, 1/3 on a computer ranking generated through a secret algorithm and 1/3 on the NCAA coach’s poll.
So, here it is: my top ten (10) Christmas movies of all time.
1. A Christmas Carol (1951)
Dickens was one of the greatest writers of all time, and in my book this is the best Christmas movie of all time. It’s a story of repentance and redemption. Best line: Scrooge to Cratchit: “I suppose you’ll be wanting the whole day off for Christmas!” I try this line on my employees every year. It’s always good for some nervous laughter.
2. The Bishop’s Wife (1947)
An angel played by Cary Grant teaches a minister, played by David Niven, a thing or two about spirituality. Best scene: Cary Grant as an angel explaining to the bishop’s young daughter how King David came to write Psalm 23. A must see.
3. It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
You’ve seen it. Enough said.
4. Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
This movie has moved up the list since last year, primarily because I watched it the day after Thanksgiving and was reminded how good a movie it is. As a trial lawyer, I loved the courtroom scene when Kris Kringle is on trial. Clever and entertaining. Add to that a good story and very cute Natalie Wood playing the child who doesn’t believe in Santa and you have the makings of a very good movie.
5. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)
Chevy Chase, Randy Quaid. Best line: Cousin Eddie: “Ah…Clark, I wouldn’t kiss him just now, he’s got a lip fungus they haven’t quite identified.” Moral to this story: While the membership in the Jelly-of-the-Month Club is the gift that keeps on giving all year around, a bonus really is a better gift for your employees at Christmas.
6. A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)
A classic, driven by some great acting by Charlie Brown. Word is Brown was panned at the Academy Awards for the best actor award that year because this was technically made for television and not a major motion picture. Those of us who are true Charlie Brown fans have a different theory, which is more conspiratorial, involves the illuminati and is too much to get into here.
7. Elf (2003)
“Hi, my name is Buddy. What’s your favorite color?” Elf moves into the top ten list this year at number 7. I put off watching this movie for years even though I kept hearing how good it was. The premise just seemed so ridiculous. But this movie has a very good spirit on it, a Christmas theme about personal transformation and a very funny Will Ferrell.
8. Holiday Inn (1942)
Bing Crosby and Fred Astair in the movie that introduced the song, “White Christmas.” This one might be higher on the list except I couldn’t get over the implausability of an inn only being open on holidays and still making it financially. Perhaps I’ve been jaded by the recession.
9. How The Grinch Stole Christmas (1966)
On the surface, a cartoon, but underneath an indictment on the commercialization of Christmas. The strength of its message propels this classic into the top ten.
10. A Christmas Story (1983)
This movie captures better than any other movie what it was like to be a kid at Christmas. Funny, endearing and nostalgic. It has dropped down the list this year though because, while entertaining and nostalgic, there is very little about the true meaning of Christmas. Of course, I guess one could say the same about National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, which still holds a solid 5th on the list, but hey, blame it on the computer, or the coaches poll.
Like last year, my top ten are weighted toward the older movies. Good Christmas movies are like good wine, they get better with age.
That being said, what do you think? Are there any movies you would include that you think I’ve omitted? GS