Hollywood’s Top Ten Christmas Movies — II
5. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
Henry Selick’s stop-motion animation classic is the perfect holiday treat. But, which one: “Halloween or Christmas?” Well, whatever holiday you choose, one fact can’t be disregarded: it is a jolly good fun flick for any holidays. The movie has ‘Christmas’ in its title and is about Jack Skellington – a skeletal resident of Halloween town – getting overwhelmed with the spirit of Christmas. He is so captivated by the festivity and joy in the ‘Christmas town’ that he wants to kidnap Santa Claus. The quirky poems written by master film-maker Tim Burton is an antidote from the schmaltzy holiday movies.
4. Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
We all might have felt the festive spirit, but have you ever seen it? You might when you watch George Seaton’s “Miracle on 34th Street.” The story follows Kris, a good-hearted mysterious old man, who is hired by a store to be their in-shop Santa. The store’s owner Doris has a little daughter named Susan, who was raised with a touch of reality, doubting the existence of Santa. The old man gets her to have some faith by believing in the unobvious. The emotions exhibited don’t become mushy and the good Santa condemns consumerism in a meaningful way. Set aside your preconceptions and watch this in the waning days of December.
3. A Christmas Story (1983)
When the festival spirit is conjoined with the nostalgic memories, what you get is a classic called “A Christmas Story.” Ralphie Parker narrates his childhood through the one season of Christmas around 1940. The nine year old Ralphie wants an air rifle as Christmas gift and he has convince his ma and pa that he won’t shoot his eyes out and hurt others. Whether he gets it or not is irrelevant because watching him convincing the adults is worth the 90 minutes of your time. This is a must watch film to vividly recall what it is to be kid on Christmas or any other festival in a more innocent era.
2. The Shop around the Corner (1940)
Ernst Lubitsch, the legendary film-maker known for creating humor and human interest from what might appear to be unimportant situations, made this deliciously delicate Christmas film. With the string of well supported actors, the flawless actor James Stewart leads the cast as Alfred, who bustles in the gift shop of Budapest. He is the manager and is quite offhand with co-worker Klara (Margaret Sullavan), although he carries on a correspondence with on a romantic pen-pal, which is of course Klara. The complications of their romance are superbly ironed out on the Christmas Eve. The film shows us the snapshot of a bygone era, where people went to trusted specialty shops to buy Christmas gifts. The Christmas setting was perfectly used to give a subtle commentary on consumerism and salesmanship.
1. It’s A Wonderful Life (1946)
One must be hard-hearted not to like this all time holiday classic. Frank Capra’s sixty seven year old story chronicles the everlasting tale of George Bailey, who is a very good man, but finds himself cheated out of the life he wanted. A desperate attempt to suicide leads him to meet an elderly angel ‘Clarence’, who offers George, a trip to see how people’s lives would have been affected, if he was never born. No one except James Stewart could have played the iconic role of Bailey. The disillusioned mood of American public after World War II made this film a box office failure, but now it’s etched in the memories of the movie-lovers of each generation. It is the most transcendental and joyful Christmas or Inspirational flick, a family could hope for.
Notable Omissions: “Christmas in Connecticut”, “Arthur Christmas”, “Muppets Christmas Carol”, “Polar Express”, “A Christmas Carol” (2009), “White Christmas” (1954).