Now that I’m on holidays until the new year, my Christmas spirit is gaining momentum. Even a few snow flakes are falling today, not bad for an El Nino year, especially considering we’re on track for the warmest December ever.
Our family’s well into our annual Christmas movie/show cavalcade, in fact tonight, we’ll be watching #2, below.
I have ranked my list in preferential order, although over the years, number’s 1, 2 and 3, are pretty much interchangeable. You’ll no doubt be familiar with almost all my picks, there’s probably no real surprises here, perhaps just their order.
For now I’m not including Christmas shows/specials, I’ll save that for another post.
Here we go,
Not a Christmas movie? I beg to differ. This movie is all Christmas, at least for me, a favourite of mine since it’s release in 1984. The fact that I had a crush on Phoebe Cates as a 20 year old has nothing to do with my selection. (Actually, many years back, before I was married, I purchased a photo frame, just because the stock photo that came with the frame was of Phoebe Cates. I still have it, I think, unless my wife threw it out.)
Seriously though, a great film.
Growing up my sister loved this movie. I was not into musicals, so it wasn’t until later in life, particularly when I met my wife, that things changed. Needless to say, White Christmas is now a tradition in our household, playing in the background on the MacBook Pro, whilst we decorate the tree. Every year.
“After you dressed me up like a dame!” Best line.
Another household tradition. Our town, the first Saturday of December, holds it’s annual Santa Clause Parade. It is an evening parade, which makes it all that more special. Each year we attend (the past two years our daughter participated in the parade with her ballet troupe), bundled up, waiting for the big man, keeping warm and drinking Baileys and Kahlua disguised as hot chocolate.
Once the parade ends, it’s back home for homemade calzones and Polar Express BOOMING through my oversized speakers. Seriously, my sound system outclasses the theatres, not that I am bragging.
Usually our first holiday movie of the season, Polar Express sets the stage for the entire month.
This was always a classic, but became even more popular once our daughter (about 8 at the time) began watching this, over and over and over, and over (get the picture). Everything about this movie screams ‘Christmas’, and even features a few of my of my favourite Canadian comedians, (Catherine O’Hara and John Candy), making it that much more special.
Admit it, like George Costanza, we all get a little misty at the end when the old man hugs his son. I’m tearing up just thinking about it.
Bill Murray is a huge talent, and I love just about everything he does. I saw Scrooged in the theatre when it was released back in 1988, and despite loving it back then, the movie has gotten better with age.
Like Home Alone there’s at least a couple of scenes that bring a tear to the eye, (when he goes back in time to see his mom and dad -dad played by his brother Brian Doyle, and mom says; “Merry Christmas Frankie Angel”. “Merry Christmas mommy”, replies young Frank). Gets me every time.
A recent addition, but well worthy of the top ten. I was never a huge fan of Will Ferrell, but he is absolutely superb in this movie. His child like exuberance, energy and commitment to the role shine through in every scene. No actor, not even Jim Carrey, could have nailed this role any better. And that’s saying something.
As for our family traditions, my daughter and I create a multitude of paper snowflakes and hang them in our basement every December. I was inspired by the Christmas makeover Elf did in the store, and our basement, every season, captures a bit of that magic.
A few of you may be questioning this one, but I’m not budging. Like Scrooged, I saw this at the theatre when it was released, and instantly loved it. The opening sequence alone, old Coca Cola Santa portraits amidst a gorgeous Christmas choral medley, is wonderful. I was not a huge fan of the other Ernest movies, but this one was certainly special. And, after we became regular visitors to Disney World actually seeing signs for ‘Apopka’ was exciting.
An interesting trivia tidbit; during the filming of this movie, Florida experienced one of the worst hot spells in years. The biggest continuity challenge was keeping the actors from sweating between takes. Every time I watch this movie now, I can’t help but point out the sweaty takes, which drives my wife crazy. The other day she refused to watch the entire movie with me. RIP Mr. Varney.
Okay, did I mention that my top three are interchangeable? Yes I did, because, often I think Christmas Vacation may in fact be number one.
I cannot say enough about this movie, sufficed to say, as part of our outdoor Christmas decorations, I have two homemade Clark Griswold posters lit up for all my neighbours to see. I also have an original double-sided poster from the movie’s release, several framed original black and white publicity photos, and a few other novelty items.
I saw this movie at the theatre on its release, and fell in love with it instantly. I went from VHS, to DVD to Bluray, and still have all my versions. (I even bought a laser disc version on E-bay, although I have never owned a laser disc player).
I had an immediate connection to this movie. The scene when Clark is trapped in the attic and watches his old home movies- sentimental, hits home for me. Despite the fun and absurdity, Clark just wants to give his family the best Christmas ever.
Almost every line from this movie is comic gold, I’ll leave you with one:
“Where you gonna put a tree that big?”
I take great pride in the fact that I introduced my wife to this movie many years ago. It’s now her number one.
I’ve been watching Christmas Story since it first appeared on television in the late 80’s. The story line, although it technically takes place a few decades before my time, stirs up memories and emotions of my Christmases growing up. From the Christmas tree lots lit by 100 watt bulbs, to the mall Santa, this flic is all nostalgia for me. My home growing up was directly across the street from a school that looks identical to the school in the film. And, believe it or not, a kid did stick his tongue to the fence post at our school, only his ending was a lot worse than the movie. I still have a vivid image of the frozen blood and bits of flesh, to this day. Yikes.
From the ‘ho, ho, ho” of the mall Santa, to the old man (the former Night Stalker for anyone old enough to remember) fierce furnace fighter, to the Bumpas’ dogs, to mom’s ‘shriek of laughter’ when the duck’s head is chopped off, it’s all gold. Some of the film was also shot in Canada, including the school which is one town over from where we live, making it even more special.
We look forward to this movie every year, in fact we save it for a Saturday night, as close to Christmas as we can manage. And as I type this, that night is tonight!
Oh yes, and although I’ve owned an 18″ replica leg lamp for several years now, last year my family surprised me with the full sized replica. It’s now sitting in a place of honour on our porch for all to see, right next to Clark Griswold. Our 12 year old daughter is mortified every time her school bus passes by.
We got our first colour tv in the mid seventies. As a result, the old black and white became my first ever bedroom television.
I have a fond memory, back when I was about 12, watching A Christmas Carol in bed late on Christmas eve, while everyone else slept. This movie, and especially Alastair Sim’s performance, is a big part of why Christmas remains so special to myself and my family.
Over the years I’ve purchased a couple of very old copies of Dicken’s novel, and on some Christmases, we read from the book. I can’t say enough about this movie, from the dark imagery and ambience, to Scrooge’s performance (especially when he wakes on Christmas morning). My tradition, to keep ties with my younger self, is to watch the movie on Christmas Eve, after everyone else has gone to bed, whilst wrapping presents (and consuming rum and eggnog.) As good as Christmas Vacation and a Christmas Story are, I don’t know that they can ever oust this movie from top spot. Or can they?
Well, there you have it, but before we end, I’ll throw a wobbly in. A couple of runner ups for consideration:
Yes, I agree, this should be in the top ten, deserves to be. Fantastic acting, writing, directing, a classic in every sense, but I don’t get around to watching it every year.
I’d never heard of this one until a co-worker, many years back, mentioned it. I have it on VHS. It’s a bit different, about 3 escapees from Devils Island (Bogart, Ustinov and Aldo Ray). I believe this was originally a play, made into a movie, but this is another one I enjoy more every time I watch it. Check it out.
Okay, this is actually a ‘special’ and not a movie, but I’ve included it as a runner up. Not for ‘all audiences’ but unabashed fun. Julien, Ricky, Bubbles, Mr. Lahie and Randy, nail Christmas as only trailer park trash can.
Oh, and Mr. Lahie as a drunk Santa with the plastic grocery store bag as a beard, classic, I did that, even before they did.
One final word, I recently watched A Very Murray Christmas on Netflix (2015 release).
This will be a new tradition. It is great. Really.
Merry Christmas and best of the Season!