It’s the first week of December, and as yet another year winds down with shorter days and chillier evenings, we know one thing’s for sure—Christmas is in the air! If twinkling house fronts and holiday jingles on the radio have eluded you as of late, just take a peek at your local cinema listings. Disney’s newest feature, “A Christmas Carol,” is rising up the charts with its animated retelling of the travails of Ebenezer Scrooge (voiced by Jim Carrey). Whether or not you’ve watched the film, or have only seen previous renditions of the Charles Dickens classic, the mere mention of the timeless tale is sure to evoke some heart-warming holiday cheer.
With that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of our top five best Christmas movies, from the present decade dating back to Old Hollywood times. Get into the spirit and gather your guests ’round the flatscreen for a showing of one, or all, of these Yuletide flicks.
It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
This Oscar-nominated film stars James Stewart as the deeply depressed George Bailey, who is ready to end his life on Christmas Eve after losing $8,000. Fervent prayers by his loved ones are heard in heaven, and an angel is sent to save Bailey’s life. The angel, Clarence Odbody, takes Bailey back in time and shows him all the wonderful little things he has done for other people, without knowing how greatly their lives were affected by him. “It’s a Wonderful Life” was nominated for 5 Academy Awards, including Best Actor, Best Director, and Best Picture, but failed to win in any category. However, the American Film Institute has recognized the picture as one of the 100 best American films ever made, and ranked it No. 1 as the country’s most inspirational film of all time.
(Photo courtesy of Liberty Films)
How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966)
While the 2000 version starring Jim Carrey is a decent version, the 1966 TV special in cartoon form will always be a favourite among fans of this Dr. Seuss tale. “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” tells of a selfish, grouchy, Christmas-hating Grinch who plots to keep the big day from coming to the pleasant villagers down in Whoville. Disguising himself as Santa Claus, the Grinch plans to steal all the Whos’ gifts—until he realizes that the Christmas spirit goes way beyond presents. Originally telecast on CBS, the 26-minute short may seem undersized for a “real” movie—but the fact that it has run on network television every succeeding Christmas season since it was first aired makes it a big hit in our book.
(Photo courtesy of CBS)
Home Alone (1990)
The first of the “Home Alone” series produced by the late great John Hughes, this 1990 family flick launched then-child star Macaulay Culkin into overnight celebrity. Culkin plays Kevin McCallister, an eight-year-old youngster who is accidentally left at home when his entire family leaves for their Christmas vacation in Paris. Initially excited to be the king of the castle, Kevin’s little fantasy is interrupted by two house thieves whom he must outlast, outwit, and outplay in order to protect his family’s belongings. Not big on the kiddie stuff? Don’t be fooled by the movie’s childish exterior: as the highest grossing live action comedy of all time in the US, “Home Alone” packs a punch that’s fit for grown-ups, too.
(Photo courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox)
A Christmas Carol (1999)
In 1988, legendary thespian Patrick Stewart was so moving in his one-man stage performance as Ebenezer Scrooge that over a decade later a film adaptation of “A Christmas Carol” was made for television on his behalf. We all know the age-old story: the miser Scrooge is visited by three apparitions on Christmas Eve to teach him the importance of the holiday season—and show him the consequences if he doesn’t change. But Stewart’s vicious, while elegant, portrayal of Dickens’ antagonist-cum-protagonist is so undeniably memorable, we can’t help watching him over and over again.
(Photo courtesy of Turner Network Television)
Love Actually (2003)
Here’s a feel-good movie no one can resist! With a star-studded cast including Hugh Grant, Emma Thompson, Colin Firth, Liam Neeson, Laura Linney, and then-newcomer Keira Knightley, “Love Actually” is probably the best ensemble romantic comedy produced in this decade. Set five weeks before Christmas, the film revolves around 10 distinct but intertwined stories involving pairs or trios of people who are experiencing their own unique love troubles. By the time Christmas arrives, we discover how each character resolves what’s in their hearts—and what happens to them a month after the Yuletide holiday. With superb acting, fantastic chemistry, and a sweet soundtrack that hit No. 2 on Billboard’s OST album charts, “Love Actually” is a movie not to be missed. Good luck getting Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You” out of your head!
(Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures)
What's your favorite Christmas movie of all time? What do you think of our picks? Leave a comment below or talk it up with other GIRLTalkers on our forum!