With the help of the Internet and my post-brain-operation skull machine, I have once again made a list as I used to compulsively do pre-brain-op constantly...this time of my ten favorite Christmas movies:
1. A CHRISTMAS CAROL, an adaptation of the Charles Dickens story that pretty much created the Christmas holiday I grew up with, this black-and-white 1951 version starring Alister Sim as Scrooge has stuck in my mind and heart since I first saw it when it first came out when I was a boy, and I continue to appreciate even more every time I've seen it since.
2. A CHRISTMAS STORY, a 1983 original from the legendary radio storyteller Jean Shepherd's quasi-autobiographical story collection (I used to listen to him spin his tales on a rebuilt radio I salvaged from the trash and fixed when I was a boy in my attic room) and the best heir to Dickens' classic take on the holiday.
3. LOVE ACTUALLY, a 2003 tale of several intertwining love stories that has grown in my esteem for its writing, acting, directing, and general filmmaking qualities, and as a deeply satisfying confection with moments of surprisingly profound depth, no matter how contrived some aspects of it might be.
4. IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE, the 1947 flop that I saw with my big sisters when it first came out that has since become a classic with help from the praise of movie masters like Scorcese, still hits home for me.
5. MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS isn't exactly a Christmas movie, more like a four seasons of the year movie, but it has one of the most moving Christmas holiday scenes of the classic Hollywood era (it was made in 1944), when Judy Garland sings "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" as a lament, and Margaret O'Brien has her crying scene in the snow (I had a crush on O'Brien for most of my boyhood, along with older actresses like Veronica Lake and Jane Greer).
6. THE BELLS OF ST. MARY'S isn't exactly a Christmas movie either but has a great Christmas scene and message, even if saturated in Hollywood sentimentality, but if you can't dig sentiment in movies you're missing one of the joys of life, and besides Ingrid Bergman co-stars with Bing Crosby and I had a big boyhood crush on her, and Bing was a prince of my people (Irish and Irish-Americans) back then (1945) as he was the dominant star of records, radio, and movies, and made it all look easy.
7. ELF took a while for me to appreciate after it debuted in 2003, but it has grown on me since, and Will Farrell has never been as appealing as he is in this film, for my taste.
8 & 9. REMEMBER THE NIGHT and CHRISTMAS IN CONNECTICUT are two 1940s films starring Barbara Stanwyck, maybe my favorite movie actress, in two entirely different roles (though the typical Hollywood treatment doesn't allow for too much distinction in whatever roles for movie stars then) but she shines in both and makes them worth watching.
10. 3 GODFATHERS is another 1940s movie (yeah, I'm a sucker for the Hollywood of my boyhood) but this time a John Ford Western starring his favorite leading man for Westerns, John Wayne, but no matter what you think of Wayne's politics this retelling of the story of the Three Wise Men is surprisingly compelling and almost modern in its focus.
BONUS: REINDEER GAMES from 2000 is another addition to my previous lists, a movie that has grown on me each time I watch it, because of the great direction by John Frankenheimer who gets the best out of the cast, especially Ben Affleck who gives maybe his best performance, and the always terrific Charlize Theron.
[PS: I'm sure I'm missing some other great ones, any suggestions?]