Christmas. It’s a time that the vast majority of Americans, as well as people in other parts of the world, enjoy and celebrate. We love the decorated trees, wrapping presents for our loved ones, being with our families, the snow on the ground, the tradition of Santa Clause, and so many other things about the Christmas season. One of the great things about the Christmas season is Christmas movies. This month is the month that many people go crazy with Christmas films, watching as many as they can bear during the month of December. Here are some of our favorite Christmas films. Whether you do or don’t celebrate Christmas, and whether you do or don’t do so religiously, we hope that you enjoy seeing what great Christmas movies are out there for you to enjoy.
I’ll be blunt. The first time I watched Elf, I thought it was one of the dumbest films ever created. My family, on the other hand, loved it immediately, which meant that I would have to endure this nonsense at least a few more times. However, the more I watched it, the more it endeared itself to me. Will Ferrell has a reputation for engaging in some pretty crude humor, which is kind of why I love him in this role – his character is innocently funny for a change! There is nothing crass about Buddy the Elf (except maybe for the belching at the dinner table, which is actually one of the funniest parts of the movie). As Buddy, Ferrell produces some of the most quotable lines since The Princess Bride and is laugh-out-loud hilarious. One of the best things about Elf is seeing the way Buddy’s child-like spirit changes the lives and attitudes of those he loves. I know more people who watch this movie around Christmas time than I can shake a stick at! As a Christmas film, it’s a keeper.
A Christmas Carol (2009)
When I found out that Jim Carrey would be voicing Ebenezer Scrooge, I thought it an odd choice. But not long after A Christmas Carol was released, I heard nothing but favorable reviews from many of my friends, and I thought perhaps Carrey had nailed it. Indeed, he had. Jim Carrey does a bang-up job making himself sound like a selfish, pitiless, grumpy old miser who hates life, and he isn’t the only one who demonstrates wonderful voice acting skills. Gary Oldman and Colin Firth are captivating as they inject their voices into their characters and give them genuine personality, the latter as Scrooge’s nephew, Fred, and the former as Bob Cratchit. As a whole, the film is visually appealing with its colorful vibrancy, and the grave yet charming manner in which the story is told sucks you right in. I haven’t read Dickens’ classic (though I intend to change that as soon as possible), so I can’t comment on how closely the film follows his story, but it is definitely one of my favorite Christmas movies.
It’s a Wonderful Life:
Frank Capra has always praised the “little guy” in his films. In almost all his flicks we see the small men who happily and swiftly take this role given to them by fate. Yet, he did something a bit different this time around. Capra decided to look at someone who was sick and tired of being the “little guy.” We live in a world where people want to live rich and famous and where they can “see the world” as George tell us. What Capra wanted to get across is that these are far cries from requirements in order to have a “wonderful life.” You have the proof of such a grand life in the beloved people around you. It is for this reason that “It’s a Wonderful Life” is not only the greatest Christmas movie ever, but also one of the greatest movies ever!
It is the most Christmas-y Christmas movie, like ever. Seriously, from its Rudolf set up North Pole, to its December-time New York get-up, to its excellent Christmas soundtrack, to its over indulgence in candy, candy cane, candy corn and syrup…it is perfection. It might be as cheesy as any Christmas film ever, but it is done so with the most comic sense possible. Truth be told, this film could have just as easily flopped as it did succeed, but the success is all thanks to Will Farrell’s perfect child-like (hilarious) innocence. All these areas combined make for one of the best Christmas movies ever!
It’s a Wonderful Life
Not the most original choice, and I’ll admit that, but Frank Capra’s classic is the thing that really got me to admit that Christmas films can be both good and deep. There certainly are some successful bad ones out there, that only survive because, hey, it’s Christmas! But this is definitely not one of those. The story of George’s hard work and his wonderful family and how Clarence shows him all the good that he’s done in his lifetime is more than just a charming story. It tells us that every person that God created is important. We may never know how much He’s accomplished through us, but you can know for sure that if you’re working hard and doing what you can, God is using you in some way to make the world a better place. That’s pretty much the most encouraging film message you can find, Christmas or otherwise.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas
You simply cannot have one of these lists without mentioning the classic “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” It’s still cheesy and it’s still corny and it’s still among the most phenomenal and iconic Christmas films in existence. Jim Carrey nearly single-handedly destroyed the story with his later live-action rendition, but the original animated film remains, in my mind, a great classic. From the deep-voiced singing to the wonderfully cheesy narration to the oh-so-hesitant dog, everything about the film remains magical. Not to mention the great memes that have come from the film in the modern age. It is and will always remain for me, an integral piece of any Christmas film canon.
This movie came out when I was 11; not yet past the age to think Kevin McCallister was awesome! Of course, what really makes the movie is the intersection of film geniuses John Hughes (The Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off) and Chris Columbus (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief). Even the great John Williams makes even the opening title sequence the Christmasiest Christmas you’ve ever seen. Besides the hijinks from the plot, Kevin’s experiences with old man Marley teach us to look beyond appearances at the heart (1 Samuel 16:7).
A Christmas Carol (2009)
Bob Zemeckis (Back to the Future, Forrest Gump) hits this one way out of the park! Not only do I get the dark, Victorian creepiness of mid-19th century London (that I had only caught a glimpse of in maybe the Alistair Sim version) but I also get the playfulness of Fezziwig’s festive party. In other words, the movie is scary, somber, and joyful when it should be. That’s hard to pull off and (without trying to offend anyone) something the previous classics could never quite get right, for example either the ghosts were too cheesy or reformed Scrooge was too corny. And, of course, A Christmas Carol cannot be truly appreciated without noticing its implicit biblical messages. My favorite visual out of the entire film is Marley’s chains; makes me reflect on Matthew 6:19 every time!