It's that time of year where no matter where you are, especially if you are out shopping, you are surrounded by Christmas music, decorations, lights, and just about everything imaginable. On television, cable stations flood their outgoing feed with Christmas movies that they can only show at this time of the year. Many of these movies are crap, but some are almost requirements to have seen if you call yourself American. In no particular order, I present to you the top ten Christmas movies you should have seen.
1. Miracle On 34th Street: I start with this one because actor Edmund Gwenn, who played Kris Kringle himself, played the part of Santa flawlessly; possibly the best Santa in a movie ever. Recently it also has popped up on some people's Google searches because Susan, the little girl that Santa befriends, is played by Natalie Wood, the focus of the reopened accidental death case involving Robert Wagner and Christopher Walken. In a post World War II (1947) era, this movie solidified the image of a glorified 1940's and 1950's era that many reminesce about.
2. Bad Santa: The opposite of Edmund Gwenn's Santa, Billy Bob Thornton plays a dark and twisted robber who poses as a mall Santa to rob mall anchor stores. It's everything that is wrong with Christmas, but somehow still comes off as humorous. Also this movie features that last filmwork by actor John Ritter. At the end of the movie, the darkened heart of Billy Bob opens up as he risks everything to get the little boy a Christmas present. On a side note, this movie also features one of the best movie lines of all time, "Fuck me Santa! Fuck me Santa! Fuck me Santa," as said by actress Lauren Graham.
3. The Grinch: Speaking of dark hearts cracking open at the end, the Grinch is possibly the best character that Dr. Seuss ever created. Now the Jim Carey version lacked what the animated one did...heart. The animated one is about best Christmas movie to watch with your young ones, but not be bored by some message that will make you want to down a shot of Jack Daniels after they go to bed. The Grinch also has a twentieth century classic Christmas song, You're A Mean One Mr. Grinch.
4. National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation: Chevy Chase's Clark Griswold is the everyday dad trying to create the perfect Christmas for his family. From a house massively decorated in lights and annoying his neighbors to a family dinner ruined by the police busting in after Clark kidnaps his boss over a laughable Christmas bonus, Clark feels the pain of a Christmas not going to plan.
5. It's A Wonderful Life: This one speaks well to the current climate of American society...the banker is the evil guy. Featuring an almost suicide by Jimmy Stewart's character until an angel intervenes, this movie actually flopped while it was shown at the theaters. Through television, it survived and became a staple of television stations for over a half a century. This movie also coined the phrase, "Everytime a bell rings, an angel gets his wings."
6. A Christmas Story: The best Christmas movie of the 1980's, this movie features a boy focused on trying to get a Red Ryder BB Gun for Christmas. He deals with a Santa that pushes him down a slide, licking a frozen pole, and a father that brings home the sexiest lamp ever. Peter Billingsley's glasses also became an iconic look for the nerdy boy.
7. Scrooged: Bill Murray plays a television exec who has lost his Christmas spirit. A spectacularly funny performance by Carol Kane as the Ghost Of Christmas Present is the perfect match to Billy Murray's Frank Cross. In their pairing, unexpectedly bust Bill's balls...literally.
8. Gremlins: Not very well known as a Christmas movie, Gizmo was possibly the cutest Christmas present a parent could present their son. Unfortunately the three important rules were broken and a small town's Christmas is overun by small, green looking monsters. Despite the troubles, eighties children grew up wanting to own their very own mogwai.
9. Home Alone: Mac's best performance of his career, he was chased by Goodfellas star Joe Pesci and Wonder Years voice Daniel Stern. Forgotten by his departing family on their Christmas vacation, Mac survives on his own and staves off the would be burgulars from robbing his home.
10. A Charlie Brown Christmas: More like a Christmas short movie, I still count this classic because of genuine warm feeling you get when you watch it,. Charlie Brown picks the worst Christmas tree in the lot, which at first couldn't even support one Christmas decoration, but with the help of his friends, has the classic tree any family should have. A b-story of Snoopy decorating his doghouse is also classic.
The Nightmare Before Christmas (I know many of you are reading this and saying what the hell?! Only honorable mention? Yes, I dislike Disney. Plus unlike some of the other Christmas specials/movies Disney has done in the past, this one is massively commercialized.)
Elf (James Caan is one of the best actors of all time and Will Ferrell is so new to the life experiences he comes across. Zooey Deschanel would also make a big step in this to mainstream her career.)
Die Hard ( Yes, you read that write. Almost making my list, this is probably the most action packed Christmas movie ever. It features a performance by Alan Rickman that is outstanding. He is one of the best villains in movie history.)