Tis the season for me to conjure up a list of my favorite Christmas movies. If you were expecting to see Christmas Vacation or A Christmas Story, you may be disappointed (I didn't see either growing up). I should also warn you that I have a soft spot for the 90's.
Home Alone (1990)
Home Alone is the ULTIMATE mischievous kid fantasy. It also helps that I looked exactly like Kevin McAllister and that I had all the same toys that he used to terrorize Marv and Harry with. This film was singularly responsible for me setting up countless Rube Golbergian contraptions throughout my house (none of which worked whatsoever). Watching Rated R movies, eating all the pizza and ice cream you want, going through your brother's private stuff, this is the stuff of dreams for a 9 year old boy.
The Santa Clause (1994)
Another movie that preyed on 10 year old boy fantasies. What if your dad was Santa? Oh the possibilities! Of course you'd tag along with him and hightail it to the North Pole, and no one would believe you. I still say "I SHAVE IN THE MORNING, AND IN THE AFTERNOON I LOOK LIKE THIS" for no particular reason, and whenever I see accomplished actor David Krumholtz , I only think "Bernard the Arch-elf". Sorry, David.
It's A Wonderful Life (1946)
Frank Capra's 1946 masterpiece is a no-brainer. While the first two films on this list struck a chord with the 10 year old boy in me, this one continues to get better and better. A transcendent story of community and redemption that never fails to bring me to tears when George Bailey (in the role of a lifetime by Jimmy Stewart) reads Clarence's note that says "Remember George: no man is a failure who has friends." The definitive Christmas movie.
How The Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)
I am by no means a Jim Carrey apologist. Apart from Dumb and Dumber and his more serious roles (Eternal Sunshine, The Truman Show), his rubberface slapstick shtick is downright grating, but he is fantastic here. He does all the grand gestures and makes all the same funny faces he usually does, but in a hairy green suit under a metric ton of makeup that works somehow. The art direction is imaginative and actually does justice to Dr. Seuss which is no small feat. I'll always have a spot in my "two sizes too small" heart for the original cartoon, but this is an admirable alternative.
I may be in the minority here, but I think this is the best thing Will Ferrell has ever done. He brings a wide-eyed enthusiasm that makes Buddy's behavior completely believable and completely hilarious. One would think that the fish-out-of-water story would get stale quickly, but Favreau and Ferrell deliver, scene after scene (as the video below can attest). The best measure of a performance is whether you can imagine another actor filling the role. Will Ferrell was born to play Buddy the Elf.
A Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)
My favorite iteration of the Christmas Carol story.
Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964)
What are your favorites? Did I miss any?