Everyone has their top picks for Christmas/holiday movies. And so do I.
The sheer number of holiday movies makes the task difficult, and when one takes into account the different genres, the task of creating a top five seems almost daunting.
A request for everyone’s top five movies on Ponoka News editor Jeffrey Heyden-Kaye’s social media pages brought a variety of films from the North American film industry with some key repeats. Granted, a top five list can be subjective but based on responses, here is a list of the best five holiday movies in the North American region. Based on those results, and my personal preference, here’s my favourites.
1 – It’s a Wonderful Life
It’s a toss-up for the top-ranked Christmas movie, because 1946’s It’s a Wonderful Life is one of those memorable movies that leaves the viewer with the warm Christmas fuzzy feelings.
Despite a less than stellar box-office performance, It’s a Wonderful Life was nominated for five Academy awards and is considered one of the great Christmas movies of all time.
There aren’t many people who haven’t seen this movie. It’s bittersweet, emotional and ends with an emotional surge.
2 – National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
The 1989 comedy featuring Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo as the parents Giswold is quite likely the quintessential Christmas family story.
Vacation is rife with odd family dynamics that set one’s teeth on edge while also garnering laughs. It brings cringeworthy moments to the big screen and seems to speak to anyone who has ever had family at their home during the Christmas holidays.
Add to that the remarkable family dynamics with Randy Quaid, as Cousin Edward “Eddie” Johnson, the film takes the second ranking in this not-so-scientific list.
3 – Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer
The 1964 stop-motion television special remains a staple on television screens during the holidays and those who enjoy it could watch it over and over again.
The animated movie follows the story of Rudolph through a variety of adventures and he meets a different group of characters that help tell the story.
It’s longevity and its ability to keep people coming back for more give it the third place spot and help it come on top of other animation classics such as Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas! and A Charlie Brown Christmas — although they do come close.
4 – Home Alone
This 1990 movie was such a hit that 20th Century Fox created a whole franchise, however, this is one of those cases where the first was the best and could not be topped.
Child movie star Macaulay Culkin playing the young Kevin McCallister finds himself home alone during the Christmas holidays after being forgotten by his family. When thieves decide to take the home’s valuables Culkin finds himself guarding the house.
The thieves, played by Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern got more than they bargained for from a kid who sets up a range of booby traps for the thieves. It’s full of Looney Tunes-type hits, falls, crashes, bangs and set-ups that one can’t help but laugh at.
5 – Die Hard
Anyone who has seen the 1988 movie can recount every single line that the main character, John McClane, played by Bruce Willis, uses.
It’s a high-rise building heist that is action-packed and features one good guy against many bad guys. It just so happens to be set on Christmas Eve, which makes it perfect for a Christmas/holiday movie.
The all-American hero takes on a German terrorist group and against all odds he defeats the bad guys (without his shoes), comes out alive and oh yeah, gets the girl too. It’s an action-packed classic, with a Christmas twist.
There are many more Christmas classics that were considered in this list among them the Gremlins, The Night Before Christmas, Polar Express, A Christmas Carol, Elf and more. With any list, however, there has to be an end.
On top of those classics are the ones that seem to be found on most everyone’s shelves, which includes 1947’s Miracle on 34th Street.
Bonus: A not-so-great-holiday-special:
One of the worst holiday specials this side of the universe has got to be the Star Wars Holiday Special. This 90-minute low-budget epic TV-special is one of those productions that no one in the Star Wars universe likes to talk about.
The show’s only saving grace was the introduction of bounty hunter Bobba Fett in an animated sequence in the special. For those looking to expand their Star Wars canon this will be something they want to see, if only to say that yes, they did indeed see it.