The Daily BLAM! Staff Pick Their Top 10 Favorite Christmas Movies
With two days left before Christmas Day 2011 is upon us, our staffers have put together a little list of the good, bad and guilty pleasure films they love to watch during the holiday season. Are any of these on your Yuletide queue?
10. Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale
"This film is beautiful to look at, disturbing to watch and its creepy yet brilliant premise will haunt you for a long time. If you're looking for change from traditional holiday film fodder this may be the title for you."
It's the eve of Christmas in northern Finland, and an 'archeological' dig has just unearthed the real Santa Claus. But this particular Santa isn't the one you want coming to town. When the local children begin mysteriously disappearing, young Pietari and his father Rauno, a reindeer hunter by trade, capture the mythological being and attempt to sell Santa to the misguided leader of the multinational corporation sponsoring the dig. Santa's elves, however, will stop at nothing to free their fearless leader from captivity. What ensues is a wildly humorous nightmare - a fantastically bizarre polemic on modern day morality. RARE EXPORTS: A CHRISTMAS TALE is a re-imagining of the most classic of all childhood fantasies, and is a darkly comic gem soon to be required perennial holiday viewing.
9. The Muppet Christmas Carol
Walt Disney Pictures (1992)
"It's not the best Muppets movie around (or the best version of Charles Dickens' famous story) but this is a wonderful family film nonetheless. Fueled by the newly released Muppets movie currently in theaters, kids will surely come to appreciate this film a bit more now."
Brian Henson, the son of Muppet founder Jim Henson, took over directing duties after the untimely death of his father for The Muppet Christmas Carol, a re-telling of the Charles Dickens tale. Michael Caine, surrounded by legions of fuzzy, felt puppets, plays it straight as the crotchety Ebenezer Scrooge, an old miser who could care less about Christmas and the joy the season brings. Working for the skinflint is his faithful employee Bob Cratchit (Kermit the Frog), who begs Scrooge for a day off for Christmas. Scrooge reluctantly agrees and goes home on Christmas Eve filled with bile at the holiday merrymakers. But then he is visited by the sprits of Christmas Past, Present, and Future, and Scrooge, after revisiting his sorrowful past, hate-filled present, and doomed future, turns over a new leaf and becomes the most generous and celebratory person in town
8. How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Universal Pictures (2000)
"Out of all the live-action and CGI adaptions of Dr. Suess' crazy creations, this one does it right. A great story and outrageous performance by Jim Carrey make The Grinch one of the must-have holiday films."
He's mean, he's green, and he's doesn't like the Yuletide season one bit -- Jim Carrey stars in this live-action adaptation of the classic children's story by Dr. Seuss (aka Theodore Geisel). High atop Mt. Crumpet, the Grinch (Carrey) observes the residents of Whoville joyously preparing to celebrate Christmas. The Grinch was born in Whoville years ago, but was shunned due to his scary appearance, and his unrequited love for Martha May Whovier has turned him bitter; the good cheer of the Whos has been a thorn in his side ever since. Finally the Grinch decides he's had enough of all this happiness, and with the wary aid of his dog Max, the Grinch conspires to steal Christmas from Whoville, making off with their presents, holiday decorations, Christmas trees, and everything else used to enjoy the holiday. Molly Shannon, Christine Baranski, Jeffrey Tambor, and Clint Howard play several of the citizens of Whoville, while Anthony Hopkins narrates and Ron Howard directs.
7. A Christmas Story
"You don't even have to search Netflix or your local Redbox for this offbeat classic, as it plays for a solid 24-hours on TBS station every Christmas Day. Keep it playing in the background and randomly catch your favorite scenes over and over again."
Adapted from a memoir by humorist Jean Shepherd (who narrates), the film centers on Ralphie Parker (Peter Billingsley), a young boy living in 1940s Indiana, desperately yearning for a Red Rider BB gun for Christmas. Despite protests from his mother (Melinda Dillon) that he'll shoot his eye out, Ralphie persists, unsuccessfully trying to enlist the assistance of both his teacher and Santa Claus. All the while, Ralphie finds himself dealing with the constant taunts of a pair of bullies and trying to not get in the middle of a feud between his mother and father (Darren McGavin) regarding a sexy lamp.
6. Home Alone
20th Century Fox (1990)
"Everyone will enjoy watching two stupid thugs get their asses handed to them by Macauley Culkin, back when he was tolerable and even a little bit cool."
Home Alone is the beloved family comedy about a young boy named Kevin (Macaulay Culkin) who is accidentally left behind when his family takes off for a vacation in France over the holiday season. Once he realizes they've left him "home alone," he learns to fend for himself and, eventually has to protect his house against two bumbling burglars (Joe Pesci, Daniel Stern) who are planning to rob every house in Kevin's suburban Chicago neighborhood.
5. Jingle All the Way
20th Century Fox (1997)
"This movie features stand up comedian Sinbad being his usual unfunny self as well as Arnold Schwarzenegger in a superhero suit on a parade float. You should see this movie because Arnold Schwarzenegger is in a superhero suit on a parade float."
Howard Langston (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is a mattress salesman with a bad habit of putting his work ahead of his family. His son Jamie (Jake Lloyd), who wishes Dad would pay more attention to him, wants only one thing for Christmas -- a Turbo Man action figure, with all the accessories. Howard promises both Jamie and his wife Liz (Rita Wilson) that there will indeed be a Turbo Man under the tree for Jamie on Christmas morning, but come December 24, Howard realizes that he hasn't actually bought the toy yet. Seemingly it would be no great problem to head on down to the toy store and pick one up, but it just so happens that Turbo Man has been the hottest ticket of the holiday season, and literally thousands of parents are scrambling for the last few action figures. Howard then spends a hilariously hellish Christmas Eve madly scrambling from store to store in desperate search of a Turbo Man; in the course of his adventures, Howard keeps crossing paths Myron Larabee (Sinbad), a postal worker who wants a Turbo Man even more desperately than Howard.
4. Love Actually
Universal Pictures (2003)
"A star studded cast, Hugh Grant's killer dance movies and endearing, intertwining story lines make this is your ultimate holiday indulgence and the perfect guilty pleasure film."
Love Actually involves more than a dozen main characters, each weaving his or her way into another's heart over the course of one particularly eventful Christmas. The seemingly perfect wedding of Juliet (Keira Knightley) and Peter (Chiwetel Ejiofor) brings many of the principals together, including heartsick best man Mark (Andrew Lincoln), who harbors a very unrequited crush on Juliet. There's also recent widower Daniel (Liam Neeson), trying to help his lonely stepson Sam (Thomas Sangster) express his true feelings to a classmate. Across town, devoted working mother Karen (Emma Thompson) tries to rekindle the passion of her husband, Harry (Alan Rickman), who secretly pines for a young colleague of his. In the same office, the lonely Sarah (Laura Linney) not-so-secretly pines for a man just a few desks away (Rodrigo Santoro), who returns her affections but may not be able to dissuade her neuroses. Providing the unofficial soundtrack for all of the couples is an aging rocker (Bill Nighy) who just wants to cash in and get laid -- but even he might find a meaningful relationship in the most unlikely of places.
3. National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation
Warner Bros Pictures (1989)
"No matter how horrendous your family gathering is during the holidays the Griswolds' is worse. Unless you've electrocuted a cat and blown out the neighborhood's power supply within a span of two days, then you may be able to contest this."
Chevy Chase, star of National Lampoon's Vacation and its sequel, is back as the paterfamilias of the Griswold family (including Beverly D'Angelo) to skewer the Yuletide season. Chevy mugs, trips, falls, mashes his fingers and stubs his toes as he prepares to invite numerous dysfunctional relatives to his household to celebrate Christmas. Amidst the more outrageous sight gags the film features a heavy sentimental streak, with old wounds healing and long-estranged relatives reuniting in the Griswold living room.
2. The Nightmare Before Christmas
Walt Disney Pictures (1993)
"Tim Burton is the man behind bringing these memorable characters to animated life in a film that has since sparked a cult phenomenon lasting almost two decades."
Against the advice of Sally, a lonely rag doll who has feelings for him, Pumpkin King Jack Skellington enlists three mischievous trick-or-treaters--Lock, Shock and Barrel--to help him kidnap Santa Claus. Jack eventually realizes his mistake but has to contend with the evil Oogie Boogie before he can make things right and restore the Christmas holiday.
1. Die Hard
20th Century Fox (1988)
"Yippie ki-yay motherf*cker"
It's Christmas time in L.A., and there's an employee party in progress on the 30th floor of the Nakatomi Corporation building. The revelry comes to a violent end when the partygoers are taken hostage by a group of terrorists headed by Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman), who plan to steal the 600 million dollars locked in Nakatomi's high-tech safe. In truth, Gruber and his henchmen are only pretending to be politically motivated to throw the authorities off track; also in truth, Gruber has no intention of allowing anyone to get out of the building alive. Meanwhile, New York cop John McClane (Bruce Willis) has come to L.A. to visit his estranged wife, Holly (Bonnie Bedelia), who happens to be one of the hostages. Disregarding the orders of the authorities surrounding the building, McClane, who fears nothing (except heights), takes on the villains, armed with one handgun and plenty of chutzpah.