Looks like A Christmas Story nabs the #5 spot for both me and Jake. It’s definitely got its fair share of moments that are more downright strange than genuinely funny, but it’s fun and hilarious moments are far more plentiful. The movie captures a distinct sense of childlike wonder at Christmas in a very funny way, which makes it a very enjoyable movie overall.
I’m pretty sure I’ve watched White Christmas on Thanksgiving every year of my life. It’s a family tradition, and although it thoroughly bored me as a kid (you know, back when I had no taste), I’ve come to find a lot to enjoy about it over the years, especially the performances (both the music and acting) by Danny Kaye and Bing Crosby- their characters are both just so likable and funny. There are a couple skippable musical numbers, but those aside, it’s just a fun and endearing Christmas classic.
Elf has been around for 10 years now and I’m convinced it’s still centuries away from losing its charm. Will Ferrell’s acting is downright hilarious, and the film’s creative concept plays out fantastically from start to finish. There quite simply has not been a better Christmas movie released since 2003; Elf is already a classic that will surely be enjoyed for many generations to come.
I know, A Charlie Brown Christmas is a TV special, not a film per se, but it’s so darned good I had to include it in the list. Every time I watch it I come to enjoy it more (and I’m pretty sure I’ve seen this at least once every year of my life). I love Charlie Brown’s frustration with the excessive commercialization of Christmas (probably because I relate to it so closely), Linus’ telling it like it is by quoting off the Christmas story from Luke 2, and the overall message of remembering and rejoicing in the coming of the Son of God in the midst of all the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season. It’s charming and simple, yet deep and worth chewing on… and it accomplishes all of that in less than 30 minutes. And it has one of the best soundtracks of any movie or TV special I’ve ever heard, courtesy of the extraordinary Vince Guaraldi Trio.
It’s A Wonderful Life is not only my favorite Christmas movie, it’s one of my favorite movies of all time. Jimmy Stewart’s acting is absolutely brilliant, making George Bailey one of the best characters ever to appear on the silver screen. Everything about this movie is absolutely excellent- acting, script, plot, character development, storytelling techniques, it’s all just so (nearly) perfect. It’s also extremely rich thematically, asking the question of what the world would be like without you in a thought-provoking and brilliant way, reminding viewers that we all leave our marks on the world and the people around us (so make it count!). I can confidently say that this is one of the greatest films of all time, and I still tear up a little bit at the end when I watch it every year.