I'm going to start with the first of My Favorite Things, a collection of Top 10 lists related to Christmas. With this list, I'm going to be covering my top 10 favorite Christmas movies. To be clear, when I say Christmas movie, I mean one where the celebration of Christmas, its meaning, and its message are central to the movie. It's not just a setting. Meaning primarily Die Hard is not on this list.
With that addressed, here are my Top 10 Favorite Christmas movies, in release date order.
- Christmas in Connecticut (1945) - I love the character actors in this one. Sydney Greenstreet and Szőke Szakáll. Plus it has a Christmas marriage/romance plot that would make a Hallmark movie jealous.
- Its a Wonderful Life (1946) - The Christmas classic. A surprisingly dark, but hopeful film from Frank Capra, reflecting a bit of how his outlook changed from what he saw in World War II. The perfect reminder for the reach of one man.
- It Happened on Fifth Avenue (1947) - An underrated Christmas classic, revealing how Aloysius T. McKeever spends his December in New York City. Another excellent cast of character actors and a great message on the power of generosity.
- Miracle on 34th St (1947) - We believe in Santa Claus. The movie that made Macy's the undisputed king of Christmas. Great performances by Edmund Gwenn, Maureen O'Hara, and Natalie Wood. We have our own precocious little girl who has a lot of Natalie Wood in her.
- White Christmas (1954) - The Christmas musical. The best selling Christmas song of all time, and a great quartet in the lead. And We'll Follow the Old Man at the end is guaranteed to bring a little mist to the eyes.
- A Christmas Story (1983) - In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash. One of the funniest Christmas movies with so many great moments. I'm determined to have a "Major Award" as our primary Christmas decoration visible from the outside once we have a house.
- Muppet Christmas Carol (1992) - Michael Cain is the best Scrooge. He could truly be the best incarnation of Scrooge in a straight version of the Christmas Carol story, but the fact that he's still able to pull it off acting as the straight-man for Muppet craziness is amazing. Plus, the songs are wonderful.
- Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) - This is a Christmas movie, not a Halloween movie. The whole plot revolves around learning about Christmas and making Christmas their own. A delightfully off-kilter Christmas movie. Plus it leads to a great overlay on the Haunted Mansion.
- The Preacher's Wife (1996) - I debated on this one. It's hard to beat Cary Grant, Loretta Young, and David Niven in The Bishop's Wife. But Courtney Vance, Denzel Washington, Loretta Divine, Jenifer Lewis, Gregory Hines, and Whitney Houston come close. This is one case where the remake is just as good as the original. What puts it over the edge for me is the music. A great interpretation of Joy to the World at the end. written by Kirk Franklin. I Believe in You and Me and Who Could Imagine A King are beautiful songs. And I love the version of the Lord's Prayer turned into song which isn't on the soundtrack, but only in the movie.
- Love Actually (2003) - I've written before how I love movies with colliding storylines. This is a big favorite of mine and has special significance to me and Jamie. It's a little wonky and has a couple of excesses I wish could be excised, but a couple of storylines have wonderful payoffs. Christmas is really all around us.
What are your favorite holiday movies? Are there underappreciated gems you love to share?