Essential Holiday Films

edited December 2016 in Television & Film
What movies or TV specials must be part of your holiday viewing?

For me, Christmas can't pass without watching A Muppet Christmas Carol, A Muppet Family Christmas, Charlie Brown, the Rankin-Bass Rudolph, and Love Actually.

Mr. C insists on Die Hard and the Claymation Christmad (which I find unbelievably creepy).
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  • These aren't exactly *essential*, but they are favorites:

    The 1955 We're No Angels, with Humphrey Bogart, Peter Ustinov, and Aldo Ray being delightfully funny and charming - as escaped convicts on Devil's Island creating a happy holiday for their unwitting host family.

    Any of several variations on A Christmas Carol: the 1984 film with George C. Scott; Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol; Bill Murray's snarky deconstruction/homage, Scrooged; even the 2009 animated version with Jim Carrey, which got a bit too video-game for my taste with the miniature-Scrooge/chase-sequence but which was otherwise quite good - and had a killer theme song on the closing credits {wry grin}.

    The Bishop's Wife, with Cary Grant, Daivid Niven, and Loretta Young.

    I adore Love Actually, but tend to watch it often year-round, not just at Christmas time.

    Those are the ones that come to mind at the moment. Oh, wait - forgot the most recent one: Arthur Christmas, an animated film, with James McAvoy, Hugh Laurie, Jim Broadbent, and Bill Nighy voicing several generations of Santas and would-be Santas. Very funny, very sweet!
  • I concur about "A Christmas Carol."  Don't forget the classic Mr. Magoo version from the 1960's 
  • National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation is a holiday re-watch must for me. I also agree that Bill Murray's Scrooged is fun. I especially like Carol Cane's demented and somewhat violent Ghost Of Christmas Present.
  • Scrooged, Love Actually and The Ref.
  • How the Grinch Stole Christmas, a Charlie Brown Christmas and the Polar Express are must watch movies for me at Christmastime. :)
  • edited December 2016
    I just got out the rest of my Christmas DVDs yesterday.  I've got A Charlie Brown Christmas, the George C Scott A Christmas Carol, It's a Wonderful Life, The Bishop's Wife, Miracle of 34th Street, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, A Christmas Story, Gremlins, Elf, The Holiday, as well as a few like Little Women, Meet Me in St. Louis and Meet John Doe where parts of the film is set at Christmas.  

    There are some films I've come to love because TCM introduced them to me:  The Shop Around the Corner, It Happened on 5th Avenue, Holiday Affair, Remember the Night, The Man Who Came to Dinner, Susan Slept Here, The Great Rupert and Three Godfathers. 

    Can you tell I love Christmas movies?

     


  • I always look forward to the mrathons of christmas themed episodes you get on METV, TVLand, etc. Not to mention the schmaltz christmas romantic films on ION and Hallmark channels. They're silly and completely predictable but they make ideal background fodder

    I always love the films that genuinely are about christmas (rather than set at Christmas) like Miracle on 34th Street and Charlie Brown.
  • Munchkn said:
    I just got out the rest of my Christmas DVDs yesterday.  I've got A Charlie Brown Christmas, the George C Scott A Christmas Carol, It's a Wonderful Life, The Bishop's Wife, Miracle of 34th Street, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, A Christmas Story, Gremlins, Elf, The Holiday, as well as a few like Little Women, Meet Me in St. Louis and Meet John Doe where parts of the film is set at Christmas.  

    There are some films I've come to love because TCM introduced them to me:  The Shop Around the Corner, It Happened on 5th Avenue, Holiday Affair, Remember the Night, The Man Who Came to Dinner, Susan Slept Here, The Great Rupert and Three Godfathers. 

    Can you tell I love Christmas movies?

    Ah yes, I forgot Miracle on 34th Street - the 1947 version; the remake lacks the same charm, and the whole concept of the power of the post office doesn't update well. And despite being aired a gazillion times, It's a Wonderful Life can still touch me. Same goes for How the Grinch Stole Christmas, the original animated version - while I like Jim Carrey's work, the live-action grinch just didn't do it for me!

    I don't think I've ever seen 3 Godfathers, but will have to look out for it; I gather it was one of the inspirations for Tokyo Godfathers, which I loved.
  • We always watch A Christmas Story on Christmas Eve. Other faves are Elf, and Love Actually, even though I cry every time I see it!
  • National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, Home Alone, and the Charlie Brown Christmas special are my usual stand-bys (A Christmas Story used to be in the rotation a lot too, but I got burnt out on that one a few years ago after they played it non-stop on TBS/TNT?) I'll also watch pretty much any Christmas themed cartoon/claymation, etc. show if I happen to catch them when they're on. 

    Every year I also look up Hardrock, Coco, and Joe; Suzy Snowflake, and this jazzy Frosty the Snowman video. They used to play them around this time of year on the Bozo Show (Chicago area, WGN). I found them online a few years ago!
  • Elf, Love, Actually, Christmas Story, Scrooged, all the claymation classics, and Die Hard.
  • I must be the only person who hates Love, Actually.  Hugh Grant is on my IHL.  I also loathe Meet Me in St. Louis because "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" is the saddest Christmas song EVER, although I adore the MMiSL book.

    Holiday movies for me include:  White Christmas, Charlie Brown, all versions of A Christmas Carol/Scrooge (except for the Albert Finney version), A Christmas Story, The Shop Around the Corner.  I do like Miracle on 34th Street (Natalie Wood version only).   Suzy Snowflake scares me, but Hardrock, Coco and Joe is wonderful (another WGNer here). 
  • edited December 2016
    PaulaO said:
    I must be the only person who hates Love, Actually.
    You're not though, from what I've read it's basically a love it/hate it movie and the Internet seems to be evenly divided on the issue. I'm firmly on the "love it" side myself.

    The Muppet Christmas Carol is my absolute favorite Christmas movie though. DVD version only though, the Netflix version doesn't have "When Love is Gone" which pissed me off so much when I tried to watch it on there last year.

    I also try to watch A Colbert Christmas, Charlie Brown, the original animated Grinch, Family Guy's Christmas episodes, and a bunch of other stuff. I actaully have a list on my computer to keep track of it all.
  • In addition to A Charlie Brown Christmas and my TCM holy trinity (The Shop Around the Corner, the Man Who Came to Dinner, and Christmas in Connecticut), I always have to watch the the Seinfeld episode "The Strike," aka The Festivus Episode.  I find tinsel to be very distracting!

  • For humor: Christmas Vacation. For old-time musicals: White Christmas. For good feels: It's A Wonderful Life. 
    Lots of others out there that I might catch, but these 3 fill all of my Holiday Christmas needs. 
  • In my family we have a tradition of watching the musical version of Scrooge with Albert Finney every Christmas eve. I love the music in this one especially the Christmas Children song. We also try to watch It's A Wonderful Life, Christmas Lilies of the Valley, The Santa Clause, The Polar Express, White Christmas, American Girl Samantha movie, Holiday Affair and the Snow Queen. Also, added Arthur Christmas movie in the last few years.

    For Holiday Specials, we usually try to catch Year Without a Santa Claus, Rudolph, The Tangerine Bear, Ziggy Christmas Special, Garfield Christmas Special, Nestor the Long Eared Donkey and the Life and Times of Santa Claus. Plus we always have to try every new Christmas movie or special that comes along as well. When my grandmother was still with us, we would watch every Bing Crosby holiday movie there was....to this day I can't watch one of those without thinking of her.
  • @GoryDetails, 3 Godfathers was the inspiration for Tokyo Godfathers.  I like the 1948 version directed by John Ford and starring John Wayne.  Three bank robbers on the lam from the sheriff find a laboring woman.  She gives birth but dies shortly after birth.  She gets the men to promise they'll look after her baby boy.  I find the film charming and tender which you don't expect a John Wayne western to be.

    The 1948 film is the 5th remake of the 1916 original which starred Harry Carey.   Both the 1919 and 1921 remakes are considered lost.


  • Must sees in our household are the Alastair Sims Scrooge, 1947 Miracle on 34th Street (love the scene between Kris Kringle and the little Dutch girl), as well as the Baryshnikov Nutcracker
  • If you guys haven't seen it yet, A Diva's Christmas Carol is campy fun. I love every cheesy second of it. Vanessa Williams as Ebony Scrooge, Kathy Griffin as Ghost of Christmas Past, John Taylor from Duran Duran as Christmas Present and VH-1's Behind the Music as Christmas Future.  It's on YouTube. 
  • That reminds me I recall years ago Susan Lucci doing her own version of Chritsmas Carol called Ebbie. Of course that was a stroke of genius. What woman better to play a female scrooge?
  • PaulaO said:
    I must be the only person who hates Love, Actually.  Hugh Grant is on my IHL.  I also loathe Meet Me in St. Louis because "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" is the saddest Christmas song EVER, although I adore the MMiSL book.
    I love Love, Actually.

    Not because it is funny or romantic or anything, but I think Emma Thompson is so sublime as a heartbroken woman of an age that we don't often get to see as heartbroken. It's a fabulous representation of the way middle aged men are still seen as desirable while women of the same age are disposable except as caregivers. And Laura Linney's character is shifting into that role out of a sense of duty. So, yeah. Not a happy Christmas movie but I really appreciate the nuanced female roles. And there was a section that (regrettably) didn't make the final cut of the head mistress at the children's school caring for her partner as she was dying. 

    I totally agree about Meet Me In St Louis though. It's SUCH a sad song, but I don't think I've ever heard a version that hit the tragic notes the way Judy's did.
  • @foodycatAlicia

    I'm on the same page as you about Love Actually. I would have enjoyed the film a whole lot less if those 2 storylines were not part of it. For me the film shows the whole spectrum of love stories from the silly ones with Martin Freeman and Kris Marshall, to the endearing hopeful ones with Liam Neesan and Colin Firth and the bromance of Bill Nigh.

    Sometimes love is shitty and painful and uncertain. As you say, the nuance to Emma Thompson's story is so powerful. What I really repsonded to is you never really know what will happen with that marriage. They may get past it, they might not. They might stay together and just have their lives grow cold

    Laura Linney's character was so sad as well. It's an unfair situation and no matter what decision she would have made, someone was going to suffer in the end. And of course her brother, owing to his mental state, will never realize the huge sacrifice she's making for him
  • I love Love, Actually.

    Not because it is funny or romantic or anything, but I think Emma Thompson is so sublime as a heartbroken woman of an age that we don't often get to see as heartbroken. It's a fabulous representation of the way middle aged men are still seen as desirable while women of the same age are disposable except as caregivers.

    @foodycatAlicia ;  Yeah!  My favorite scene.  Even the way she cries…!  It’s not the ‘hurl yourself upon the fainting couch and wail away' cry of a distressed young woman.  She is a woman in full, and her children’s big Christmas pageant is at hand, and for their sake she can’t fall apart.  Can’t even smudge her make-up.  (Song lyric:  “...don’t let them know/ don’t give yourself away...”)

    Every time I watch that scene, *I* start to cry out loud!  I’ll empathy-wail FOR you, Emmaaaa!  Waaahhh… :)

    God, that Joni Mitchell song is perfect.  I’m near Emma’s age, and I remember Joni’s original Both Sides Now playing constantly on the radio when I was little:  her voice was so light and sweet that, even when they "blocked the sun,” her songs' clouds were fluffy pastel pink.  So it just guts me, and probably many women my age and older, to hear the version in the movie.  (I just looked it up – Joni would’ve been 56-57 on that re-recording.)  Not only has her voice grown deep and rich, darkened and roughened by time…she uses it so beautifully there!  Singing from the shadows now, with raw emotion where those delicate, pretty flutters used to be.

    On the comedy side:  There are lots of little moments that make me smile, but this year I’ve been thinking of the scene where Alan Rickman confronts Laura Linney about her eternal 'secret' crush on Karl.  She’s shocked and embarrassed that he knows…then, “Do you think everybody knows?”  “Yes.”  The final indignity:  “DO YOU THINK KARL KNOWS?!!”  “Yes.”  I love how her voice gets increasingly desperate – and his response is a flat “yes” each time, but accompanied by those droll Alan Rickman facial expressions… Aww.  Miss him.


  • @winterwhite - oh yes. Miss him so much.

    And have been missing you enormously too.
  • edited December 2016
    A Christmas Story, Merry Christmas, Mr. Bean and the first Home Alone. 

    ETA: How could I forget White Christmas and T-Lo's Musical Monday White Christmas post. Duh. 
  • They don't show it too often, but how about "All Mine to Give?"  It's about a boy in mid 19th century Wisconsin who must find homes for his siblings after their widowed mother dies.
  • edited December 2016
    @foodycatAlicia ; <3  Sending a hug.  (And a PM!  For some reason, I'm no longer notified when someone PMs me, and I don't think others are notified of mine.)

    I do watch Love, Actually every year, but my special favorite Christmas movie is a quirky, sweetly melancholy little film from 1984 called Comfort and Joy.  (NOT!! the one with Nancy McKeon...which was apparently some Lifetime cable thing?)
    My Comfort and Joy is a Scottish film from Bill Forsyth – the guy who made Local Hero.  It hits just the right notes – gentle, amusing, but also moody and odd – for a holiday-depressive like me!    

  • TCM should (and usually does) show All Mine to Give sometime during the holidays.  It's a gem.

    @PaulaO [email protected],  if you think that the words to "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" are sad now, you should have hears what they were like before Judy insisted that they be changed.  She told the songwriter, Hugh Martin,  that she could not sing those words to Margaret O'Brien.  It took him a while, but eventually he realized that Judy was right and changed them to something not so grim.


  • Munchkn said:
    TCM should (and usually does) show All Mine to Give sometime during the holidays.  It's a gem.

    @PaulaO [email protected],  if you think that the words to "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" are sad now, you should have hears what they were like before Judy insisted that they be changed.  She told the songwriter, Hugh Martin,  that she could not sing those words to Margaret O'Brien.  It took him a while, but eventually he realized that Judy was right and changed them to something not so grim.


    Really?! Oh wow. I will google!
  • ORIGINAL VERSION
    Have yourself a merry little Christmas
    It may be your last
    Next year we may all be living in the past
    Have yourself a merry little Christmas
    Pop that champagne cork
    Next year we may all be living in New York
    No good times like the olden days
    Happy golden days of yore
    Faithful friends who were dear to us
    Will be near to us no more
    But at least we all will be together
    If the Lord allows
    From now on, we'll have to muddle through somehow
    So have yourself a merry little Christmas now

    Crikey...
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