Dre Rivas October 28, 2009
The holiday season is quickly approaching like a sprinting lion on
the African plains, waiting to dig its teeth in my zebra neck. o I
thought I’d put a list together of my favorite holiday movies for your
consideration when you venture the crowded retail stores Thanksgiving
weekend (also see my article on href="http://www.film.com/story/dvdsurefiredvdgiftideas/12686592">great
non-holiday-themed DVD gift ideas, and don’t miss my article on href="http://www.film.com/story/dvdlumpsofcoal/12667154">not-so-great
DVDs for those who didn’t quite make your list) . And that’s right,
It’s a Wonderful Life isn’t on this list. I love the movie,
but not any more than I do these classics.
My Top 10 Holiday Picks (alphabetically)
A Christmas Story
I watched this movie on HBO and WHT as a kid about a million times.
It’s gotten so popular, it’s no longer in “sleeper” status. You can’t
be a sleeper if TNT has committed to showing you 8 billion times
between now and New Year’s Eve.
Watch It For: The scene with Flick’s tongue sticking
to the frozen pole.
The third and best entry in the National Lampoon’s Vacation
movies in my humble opinion. I think this may be the last movie where
Chevy Chase made me laugh.
Watch It For: Any scene involving Randy Quaid as
cousin Eddie. “Save the neck for me, Clark!”
It was between this or Lethal Weapon as my href="http://stage.film.com.bluebox-placeholder.com.com/movies/diehard/6145856">favorite holiday action
film, but how can I deny the movie that elevated the action genre
forever. Alan Rickman’s Hans Gruber remains one of the most
entertaining of villains.
Watch It For: The wonderfully perverse scene where
John McClaine puts a Santa hat atop a dead man’s body with that
infamous message written on his chest, “Now I have a machine gun.
Home For The Holidays
Jodie Foster directed a great cast in a modern classic. The standouts
are Holly Hunter and Robert Downey Jr., but everyone (even Steve
Guttenberg!) does their part. The uplifting ending works surprisingly
well for what is sometimes a href="http://stage.film.com.bluebox-placeholder.com.com/movies/homefortheholidays/6148102">cynical
Watch It For: The disastrous Thanksgiving dinner
scene, a true classic (though not even the best on this list).
How The Grinch Stole Christmas (1966)
I’ve referred to myself as a href="http://www.film.com/story/dvduniversalanddisneybattleforyoursoul/12311601?listid=11597476&genre=dvd">Grinch
before, and I’m okay with that I think. I never get sick of Boris
Karloff’s narration, the animation, and the generally bizarre Dr.
Seussishness of it all. Give me href="http://stage.film.com.bluebox-placeholder.com.com/movies/howthegrinchstolechristmas1966/6152420">this
over that href="http://stage.film.com.bluebox-placeholder.com.com/movies/drseusshowthegrinchstolechristmas/6151533">Ron
Howard nightmare any day.
Watch It For: The scene where the Grinch’s heart grows
and Christmas spirit is triumphant. See, I’m not a grinch after all.
Miracle on 34th Street
There was a halfway decent remake in the ’90s, but the original remains
one of the defining Christmas movies for me. It’s a Wonderful Life
is probably the better movie, but I didn’t see that one until I was
older. This remains a fave since childhood, and that counts for
Watch It For: Edmund Gwenn’s wonderful performance as
The Nightmare Before Christmas
What’s this? What’s this?
Tim Burton film I love
Here you’ll find no turtle doves
It’s dark, it’s spooky, the songs are great
Wake Up, Dre, this isn’t fair!
Okay, we’re all going to pretend this never happened. Forever.
Watch It For: Um, some much more inspired musical
numbers that include little children waking up Christmas morning to
find gift-wrapped decapitated heads. Ah, a Tim Burton Christmas!
Plains, Trains and Automobiles
This John Hughes classic about two men trying to make it home for the
holidays is very funny but ends up becoming an emotionally satisfying
feature by the time the credits role. Steve Martin and John Candy have
seldom been better.
Watch It For: The scene where Martin and Candy share a
hotel bed together. “Those aren’t pillows!”
Scent of a Woman
Hoo-ah! You know I had to sneak in one of my favorite all-time movies.
However, I feel justification in doing so because it contains my
favorite Thanksgiving dinner scene ever. It isn’t quite as long or wild
as that great one in Home for the Holidays, but it is funny,
vulgar and shocking. Al Pacino and Bradley Whitford’s verbal sparring
Watch It For: In a movie where screenwriter Bo Goldman
and director Martin Brest seem to nail every scene, you have to see
this for the speech Pacino’s Colonel Frank Slade gives the Baird
school. Hoo-ah, indeed.
When Harry Met Sally
One of the best
romantic films ever made is also a great holiday movie, especially
considering the climactic New Year’s Eve scene at the end. Billy
Crystal and Meg Ryan are one of the great modern onscreen couples.
Watch It For: The ending. You can hear “Auld Lang
Syne” a thousand times but never be so touched as you will here.
That about wraps her up. I’ll be returning with some great DVD buys
to keep you busy this holiday (as well as some movies to stay away
from). Stay tuned.
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