Top 5 Christmas Films

Posted: December 11, 2014 in Thoughts and Reflections

Well, it’s that time of year again. The time when we disturb the attic after its year-long hiatus to blow the dust off those decorations; the time when we fire up the oven and rummage through the drawer for the gingerbread man cookie shapes; when we fill the house with Christmas music; and when we sneak a jug of that delicious seasonal eggnog into the shopping cart.

Many people have different ways of celebrating the most anticipated and sensational holiday of the year—–many must-do traditions and odd-but-familiar customs—–but the thing most all of us do to get into the spirit is to pull out those timeless and beloved Christmas films that can be properly enjoyed this time of year. There are a many myriad Christmas classics—–old and new—–and everyone has those special ones that are forever close to their hearts.

#5 – Elf

Elf
As much as Christmas is often a critical reminder of how much we have in life, a time of year that opens our eyes to the neediness of others, sometimes it’s necessary to just sit back and enjoy the more jovial side of the season. Elf  is one of those films that’s just for fun. There’s a lot of holly-jolly, ho-ho-ho stuff going on, but that’s the point and essence. It makes us laugh by giving us hilarious situations and dialogue (“You smell like beef and cheese, you don’t smell like Santa. You sit on a throne of lies. . . how can you live with yourself?”)

One could easily put such comedic classics as The Santa Clause or I’ll Be Home For Christmas into this category: the type of films that are simply laugh-out-loud in nature. Are they silly? Sure. But that’s the point. They’re fun, rowdy films that allow us to kick back, put up our feet, and simply have a good time.

#4 – Miracle on 34th Street

Miracle on 34th St.
This charming and quant little film is for certain a must-see during the Christmas season. The story is so simple, yet so endearing. You become enraptured in this old-fashioned tale that whisks you back to a time when people enjoyed life for what it had to offer. It doesn’t seek to answer the question “Is he really Santa?” It gives you, instead, the opportunity to determine that for yourself.

While it may not be meant to be taken seriously, Miracle on 34th Street is ultimately the kind of film you watch for the “what if?” factor. What if Santa were real and he came strolling down the street? What would he look like? What would his mannerisms be? What kind of character would he have? This is a timeless classic that puts the warm, fuzzy Christmas spirit into our hearts.

#3 – A Christmas Carol  (2009)

Christmas Carol
Now we come to the flip side of Christmas—-the gloomier, not-so-jolly part of it. Charles Dickens, undoubtedly one of the most influential writers in history, was expert at telling these gripping, tragic, and provocative human stories that show us the unpleasant side of life while still managing to instill endings with satisfying conclusions. But what I love most about “A Christmas Carol” above his many others is that it shows us the value of a life and the impact we can make through simple acts of kindness and generosity; especially during, but not limited to, the Christmas season.

There are so many different versions and variations of Dickens’ timeless tale to be enjoyed, but what I love about Robert Zemeckis’ version is the use of subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) imagery and the use of modern technology. Using motion-capture, real actors performing in an authentic manner are superimposed into an animated environment, allowing the rich world of Charles Dickens to truly come alive in a way never accomplished before.

#2 – White Christmas

White Christmas
White Christmas is undeniably one of the most recognized and beloved of Christmas songs. Irving Berlin’s enchanting melodies blend seamlessly into this must-see Christmas classic. You can’t go wrong with a musical oldie, especially if it has Bing Crosby in it, and White Christmas is on the top of the totem pole. It’s simply one of those films where you can feel the charm and the warm Christmas sentiments flowing out. It’s the kind of film that you want to pull off the shelf during the rest of the year, not just around Christmas.

Have you ever tried to describe to someone why you love something so much, but just can’t adequately explain it without saying, “It’s just a really great film”? White Christmas is an example of that. You can’t really explain objectively what makes it so great or why you enjoy it; all you can say is how much you love the songs and how much it stays in your heart all year long. In a nutshell, simply an endearing Christmas classic.

#1 – It’s A Wonderful Life

It's A Wonderful Life
There are so many holiday classics to choose from, but the one that undeniably sticks out in my mind as the most heartwarming and emotional Christmas film of all time is It’s A Wonderful Life, a film that everyone needs to see and that should be watched every year. This is the kind of film that never gets old. It grows in magnitude with each viewing and with age. It’s a film that allows you to laugh, to cry, and to realize the tremendous impact one sole person can have in their community.

The story itself is enduring. What person has never wondered what life would have been like had they never been born? It’s an intriguing subject that plays out in a powerful way. You can’t help but feel sympathy for George Bailey: a man who has dreamed of exotic locations and grand ventures, a man who longs with fervent desire to shake off the life he has been forced to take. During the film’s final act, it becomes evident through sincere film-making and brilliant acting that no man’s life is a waste if he uses it to help others. During the film’s final scene, when George is declared “the richest man in town,” your emotions overflow and overtake you in a way that few films ever have.

These are the things that make It’s A Wonderful Life not only one of the most endearing Christmas classics, but for certain one of the greatest films of all time. It’s the perfect way to get into the Christmas spirit; by realizing that life—-even a life in Bedford Falls—-is a wonderful gift not to be wasted or underestimated.

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