Last week, I started A Quarter Century's Christmas Countdown with list of the 5 Best Christmas Albums (in my estimation, anyway, which is the only one that counts in this corner of the interwebs).
Part promotion of my favorite Christmas music, part well-intentioned ploy to increase my playlist with your comments, it was a fun rundown of good tunes.
In this week's installment of our newly-created Yuletide countdown, I offer you films instead.
Without further ado...
5 Best Christmas Films
5. Love Actually
Some wouldn't consider this a Christmas film so much as a film about relationships, love, etc, but as it takes place at Christmas time, includes a killer Christmas soundtrack, and offers lovely set design, we're going to count it.
What I love best about this film is that the underlying message in all of the storylines is that, simply because it's Christmas, there's no more perfect time to take a chance on love.
In a day and age when the suicide rate increases during the holiday season, it's a message that's worth repeating.
Bill Nighy as Billy Mack may also have something to do with my love of the film.
"If you believe in Christmas, children, like your Uncle Billy does, then buy my festering turd of a record."
The only thing I really don't like about the movie is the storyline and scenes between the two adult film actors. In general, I'm not one to appreciate such things - call me old school, but I really also have a simple intolerance for anything that's so obviously gratuitious in films...whether it be sex, nudity, vomit, violence, or bloodshed.
Just because the ratings commission says you can show it doesn't mean you have to, or that you should. Oftentimes, I find that less is more, and my overactive imagination is much better at eliciting the proper emotions than anything they can put on screen.
4. Miracle on 34th Street
You can take your 2000 version of this film and throw it out the window.
There's nothing better than Edmund Gwenn's rendition of Kris Kringle, nor Maureen O'Hara's or Natalie Wood's performances.
FACT: The parade sequence in this 1947 film was the actual parade...no one knew that Fox was filming it for the movie.
FACT: Edmund Gwenn won an Oscar for his perfomance as Santa in this film
FACT: The 2000 version isn't awful; it's just not in the same ballpark as the original.
There's something that's just so hilarious about this film.
Probably Will Ferrell's performance.
I really love the scene where James Caan takes him to the doctor's for a DNA test, and not only does Buddy delightfully eat cotton balls, but he acts like such an ADD toddler that we cannot help but fall out of our chairs laughing.
And who can't appreciate the nod to Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer in the way the North Pole is styled once Buddy begins his journey to New York City?
While I'm not sure it should get "classic" status just yet, I love the way this film reminds us of the kid we all have inside us.
2. Home Alone
I know a boy who loves this film.
Last year he got a long, toboggen-shaped sled for Christmas.
One day, his mother was working upstairs in her office, and small boy asks if he can sit on his sled (to dream of powdery snow, giggle-inducing sled runs, and face plant landings, I'm sure we can all assume).
Mom said yes.
A few minutes later she heard the tell-tale, rapid-succession "thump, thump, wump, thump" of a sled being driven down her carpeted staircase by aforementioned small boy.
This ill-fated run was followed up by a quick smack into the wall at the bottom of the stairs, tears, and a small boy scared crapless.
Lesson learned? I'm pretty sure that's a yes. (Note: no small children were harmed in the making of this blogging episode)
Needless to say, sometimes those warnings of "Don't try this at home" are quite helpful.
Personally, I love this John Hughes film for its set decoration. The entire house is outfitted in green and red down to the very wallpaper.
Additionally, the soundtrack is quite tremendous.
And you won't find a better rendition of this franchise without the lovable polka playing John Candy or the hopelessly klutzy Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern.
Home Alone 2: Lost in New York is a good one, but I don't think any of the sequels live up to the original.
1. White Christmas
I can't help it.
I love this film so much that I don't consider my Christmas season started until I watch it.
The musical number, Mandy (pictured at right), that is my namesake (if you say something often enough it becomes true, right?) may have something to do with it.
Strictly speaking, there's not much Christmas in the film - the themes mainly run toward giving, romance, and Irving Berlin's genious. However, the end scene where the entire audience joins the four leads in singing White Christmas and the shed doors open to show a beautiful pastoral scene of winter always...ALWAYS...bring a tear to my eye.
Honourable Mentions: I'm keeping this list to 5 for reasons even unknown to me, but there are a few other films I love during the holiday season. In no particular order:
It's a Wonderful Life
Not expected to be a hit, this film was released in July. Most were surprised at the reaction it received, and it stayed in theaters for over 5 months. As I've said before, Jimmy Stewart is my favorite Hollywood actor of all time, and I love his George Bailey.
A Charlie Brown Christmas
I mainly didn't include this one on the list, because it debuted as a television special and I already had a limited number of spots for "Best Films." Best part about this little gem? The soundtrack.
What are your favorites? Leave a comment and help me increase my DVD collection!