THE ALL-TIME TOP 10 CHRISTMAS MOVIES
Can you believe it? Christmas is almost here. And while there will be a few suitable golf days between now and then for us in Kansas City, the primary focus for golfers everywhere will be on family, friends and fun. When it comes to the fun, nothing if more fun than opening a bottle of wine, turning down the lights and watching a Christmas movie with your loved ones.
However, before that family ritual begins, you have a BIG decision to make: What movie do we watch? I am lucky enough to have a good friend, Buzz Willard, who knows and loves movies. Over the last 10 years, Mr. Willard is a truly amazing 55-5 in picking the top Academy Award categories -- Best Supporting Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Actress, Best Actor, Best Director and Best Picture: (This is NOT A FAKE statistic!) So instead of talking golf in this week’s e-mail, it’s Movie Talk With Buzz. Enjoy!
Let’s talk movies! It’s that time of year and Allan has asked me to identify my favorite Christmas movies. These are purely personal. Undoubtedly, you will have different thoughts and opinions about my about list and rankings. If you differ with my choices, accept that you’re wrong and move on. For the sake of entertainment and enlightenment, here are my All-Time Top Ten Christmas Movies.
10. Home Alone 2: Lost in New York – A sequel to the original Home Alone. First, it is a visual delight -- NYC looks beautiful and festive. And even though the end is a bit predictable, the humor is non-stop -- Kevin’s (Macaulay Culkin) stay at the Plaza Hotel; his creative use of his dad’s credit card, and the staff’s unusual and protective hospitality. Joe Pesci’s slapstick antics are also a plus. There are enough serious and thoughtful moments in this and the original Home Alone to make both of them more than mere fluff.
9. Christmas Vacation: Virtually everyone has seen it, so I don’t need to get into the merits as to why this is now a classic. Chevy Chase as Clark Griswold is one of my favorite characters ever and everything about Randy Quaid makes me laugh -- especially his dickie and polyester pants. Last, there are some hilarious and memorable lines that are now a part of our culture.
8. Home Alone: I love the set, the story, the church scene with the next door neighbor and the cleverness Kevin (Macaulay Culkin) imparts to beat the burglars (Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern).
7. Miracle on 34th Street: Both the 1947 and 1994 versions are terrific, but I prefer the 1994 version primarily due to the music and the set. Dylan McDermott, Mara Wilson, J.T. Walsh and Sir Richard Attenborough are perfectly cast -- not so much for Elizabeth Perkins, but with that exception, this movie written and produced by John Hughes is fun family fare. Besides, who wants to deny that Santa exists!!
6. Holiday Inn: Some may protest that this is not a Christmas move, but the song White Christmas debuted in this movie and it begins and ends at Christmastime. A number of great Irving Berlin songs came out of this movie and it’s fun to hear and watch Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire show off their respective vocal and dancing skills. It’s a family classic that I’ve watched annually for about 45 straight years.
5. The Polar Express: This Robert Zemeckis flick blows my mind every time I watch it. It was one of the first films to feature human characters that were animated. The technology is remarkable and what the story line lacks is made up for by the totally remarkable special effects. Tom Hanks plays a number of characters and is awesome. My favorite scene is when the conductor (Tom Hanks) summons the waiter staff to bring the children on the train hot chocolate.
4. A Christmas Carol: There are lots of versions of this movie and many prefer the 1951 version starring Alistair Sim. Not me. I love the 1984 version starring George C. Scott. Every character is cast perfectly and George C. Scott is the perfect Ebenezer Scrooge. Even if you don’t like the movie, the story is so good and so important that if you are not moved by this Dickens’ tale, you need to check your pulse and heart.
3. A Christmas Story: A modern classic (1983). Hilarious narration and story about Raphie Parker, his family and his only desired Christmas gift – a Red Ryder Carbine Action 200-shot Range Model Air Rifle. This one will make your belly ache with laughter. Darren McGavin is perfect as Ralphie’s father and steals every scene he’s in. Who doesn’t envy that beautiful Leg Lamp from Italy???
2. White Christmas: Made in 1954, this was the first movie released in VistaVision and features great, great songs by Irving Berlin. Terrific cast featuring Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, Vera-Ellen (who has the skinniest waist in the history of womanhood) and Dean Jagger. Everyone has seen it, so there’s no need to go into the plot, but I love the feel of post WWII America in this movie and except for a lengthy, boring and totally unneeded dance scene with Danny Kay in the middle of the movie, this movie hits on all cylinders.
1. It’s A Wonderful Life: This is one of the great movies of all time. Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed star in this Frank Capra classic. It was initially a box office flop, but has since been considered one of the 100 best American films ever made. It’s about sacrifice, doing the right thing and the impact one person can have on many. This is a MUST-SEE EVERY YEAR to remind us of what really matters in life. You can argue and disagree with me -- although it would be in poor taste -- about any of these choices except this one. There’s no denying this is the best!
Not making my list, but worthy of honorable mention are: Christmas in Connecticut; The Bishop’s Wife; The Holiday, and Elf. The recently released The Man Who Invented Christmas, a movie about Charles Dickens and his writing of A Christmas Carol, may make my Top 10 in future years, but it’s still fresh in my mind and I’m not prepared to rate it yet. It is worth seeing though.
BONUS ROUND: Recent “everyday” movies worthy of your consideration and time are (in no particular order): Lady Bird; LBJ; Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri, and Victoria and Abdul. I’d like to include Murder on the Orient Express, but it was average and I was disappointed in Kenneth Branagh’s performance as Hercule Poirot and his direction. Great cast, but Branagh didn’t do much with it.
From the Box Office,
If you have any thoughts about Buzz’s list, please let me know. Ho! Ho! Ho!
Allan (a 12 handicapper)