There’s nothing quite like this wonderful time of year to gather round with the family and sit by the warming roar of a television set. Christmas has inspired some of the finest cinematic classics – as well as things like Jingle All the Way. Most of these movies revolve around themes like peace, love, togetherness, and Santa. Every now and then you might even hear a mention of the birth of Christ as the reason for the season. And doubtless right now some cable channel is showing one of the approximately 4,845 versions of A Christmas Carol – two of which are mentioned below.
So as my Christmas treat to you all, here’s my list of the five best Christmas movies of all-time.5. A Charlie Brown Christmas – Technically this is a network special, but no Christmas is truly complete until you’ve watched Charlie and the gang magically transform a pathetic, dying tree into a renewed, beautiful symbol simply by waving their hands. I was an avid reader of Peanuts comic strips as a youngster, so the Christmas special always had a warm place in my heart.
4. Scrooged – Of the countless versions of Dickens’s classic, this stands out as one the most unique and certainly the funniest. Bill Murray plays a cantankerous network executive charged with putting on a live televised version of A Christmas Carol on Christmas Eve. He is then visited by three mysterious ghosts – hmmm, a familiar story.
3. Scrooge – This is the 1951 version starring Alastair Sim as the eponymous character. Dozens of excellent actors have played Scrooge, with George C. Scott and Patrick Stewart standing out as among the best. But to me Sim is and always will be Scrooge. This was always the one version I made sure to watch, and until recently not a Christmas went by without viewing it. Unfortunately most cable networks prefer some of the more updated editi0ns, but make sure you see this one if you have not already done so.
2. It’s A Wonderful – Come on, how can this not be on the list? I came of age at a time when the movie was not in continuous rotation at this time of year, so perhaps that has enhanced my appreciation for it. I’ve read quite a few reviews lately that have mentioned that it is in fact a rather dark movie. Upon reflection I would agree that this is not some corny, light-hearted movie. George’s life is one of constant sacrifice, which I think is the movie’s main message.
As dark as the movie is, consider how we’d view it today if they had gone with the original ending.
1. A Christmas Story. You’ll shoot your eye out. You know, I don’t think I’ve ever sat down to watch this movie in its entirety from start to finish once in my life. But thanks to TBS’ annual marathon, I have seen it dozens of times in recent years. No, it doesn’t have a heartfelt, endearing message or lesson like some of the other movies on this list, but that doesn’t make it any less enjoyable.
So, what are your favorite Christmas movies?