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With Christmas less than three weeks away, it’s officially time to hang up the decorations, crank up the tunes and turn on some classic holiday films.
With the dozens of Christmas-themed movies that have been released, it can be tough to distinguish clunkers from classics. Luckily, the CU Independent has compiled a list of the ten movies that must be watched this holiday season.
10. “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” – Starting off the countdown is the comedic classic “Christmas Vacation.” Chevy Chase stars in the 1989 film as Clark Griswold, a man determined to have the perfect Christmas with his family. When he invites his entire extended family, however, hijinks ensue in the form of tongue-in-cheek, slapstick insanity. Holly Moran, a 19-year-old freshman open option major, said she found the movie’s relatable content and humor one of the biggest reasons why the movie was such a success.
“The reason why ‘Christmas Vacation’ is so good is because everyone has had one of those Christmases,” Moran said. “Everyone has their crazy uncles and crabby grandparents. Also, the humor appeals to everyone. There’s a lot of easy, stupid jokes, but there are also a lot of subtle innuendos for the adults.”
9. “Miracle on 34th Street” – Unfortunately, the fact that this film was released in 1947 causes many younger viewers to overlook one of the greatest holiday films of all time. The story focuses on Kris Kringle, the Santa Clause at the New York City Macy’s store. When he confesses to being the true Santa, he sparks an outcry over the reality of Santa. By the end of the film, “Miracle on 34th Street” is able to make even the biggest Santa-skeptics true believers. As the winner of three academy awards, it’s sad to see that this film is often overlooked in modern day.
8. “White Christmas” – Another holiday classic that has been passed on through the generations is “White Christmas”, a staple in feel-good Christmas movies. Using music written by legendary composer Irving Berlin and starring the talented Bing Crosby, the film is a spectacle of singing, dancing and all-around merriment. The featured music has proudly stood the test of time, with the song “White Christmas” becoming one of the classic American Christmas songs today.
Although the film is over 50 years old, it is the sort of film that has become a tradition for many people. Ben Reed, a 19-year-old sophomore history major, said he found “White Christmas” to be a nostalgic journey upon every viewing.
“My family watches White Christmas every year on Christmas Eve, so now whenever I see it, it brings back fond memories,” Reed said.
7. “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” – In the 1960s, Production Company Rankin/Bass produced a handful of holiday films featuring stop-motion characters. None of their creations, however, could compare to their 1964 Christmas special “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” The movie was a reimagining of the song with the same name about a reindeer persecuted for being different until he finally helps save Christmas. The movie is the epitome of holiday nostalgia, and adds a great background story to a beloved holiday song.
6. “Love Actually” – Although many would think of “Love Actually” as a “chick flick” before a Christmas movie, it is still one of the best movies to watch during the season. “Love Actually” is actually 10 different, smaller movies taking place in December, each slowly counting down towards the big day. The movie takes viewers through every emotion imaginable, but ultimately leaves them feeling warm (after all, whose heart didn’t melt when Andrew Lincoln holds up the sign that says “To me you are beautiful”?). Also, who can turn down British accents?
5. “The Polar Express” – Taking a classic book and turning it into a classic film, “The Polar Express” brings out the innocent love for Christmas in anyone. The movie focuses on a boy who is taken on a fantastic journey en route to meet Santa Claus. While watching, it’s hard not to be brought back to a time of blissful youth, when the magic of Christmas was still wonderful and enchanting. The film emphasizes that one can ever be too old to believe. The movie, along with being a fun-filled adventure, is also a reminder that there’s more to Christmas than commercialism and presents.
4. “Home Alone” – As the generation growing up in the 1990s, many CU students said they fondly view Home Alone as one of their favorite Christmas movies growing up. The story of Kevin McCallister (played by Macaulay Culkin) being left alone in his house on Christmas was one that every child both dreamed of and feared. Things really get interesting when two thieves try and burglarize him, leaving him to outsmart them. For as fun and hilarious as the film is, however, it’s the softer side of it that really resonated with viewers. Shanae Johnson, an 18-year-old freshman communication major, said she found the familial aspect of the movie to be moving.
“At the beginning of the movie, Kevin is mean to his mother and doesn’t get along with his siblings,” Johnson said. “But by the end of it, he learns to appreciate and love them. It’s that lesson that really makes it a good holiday movie.”
3. “Elf” – Released in 2003, “Elf” stood out as a movie that catered to our generation of Christmas. Will Ferrell plays Buddy, an elf who goes to New York to find his human father. Ferrell is hilarious in this tongue-in-cheek story, which is full of countless one-liners (“I’m sorry I ruined your lives, and crammed 11 cookies into the VCR.”). As a comedy for all ages, “Elf” succeeds in bringing a laugh to anyone through its relevant, modern sense of humor.
2. “It’s A Wonderful Life” – There is no movie more likely to make a Scrooge smile than “It’s A Wonderful Life.” Despite the film’s age (64-years-old), it teaches a lesson that is universal and timeless. The legendary Jimmy Stewart does an amazing job of playing George Bailey, a man who discovers what life would be like if he was never born. The story is simultaneously heartbreaking and sweet, reminding people about what a great gift life is. “It’s A Wonderful Life” inspires the viewer to appreciate the little things in life, which are often overlooked in modern society.
1. “A Christmas Story” – Was there ever any doubt? There’s a reason why TBS broadcasts this movie for 24 straight hours on Christmas Day. Out of all the Christmas movies ever released, none have been as relatable or relevant as “A Christmas Story.” Taking place in the 1940s, the story brings nostalgia for the older viewers, while the sharp, biting humor appeals to a younger generation. The story is so full of content and subplots that it’s hard to pick a favorite part.
Whether it was the leg lamp, the bunny pajamas or the “triple dog dare” to lick the frozen flag pole, the entire movie consists of memorable scene after memorable scene. “A Christmas Story” relates to everyone’s childhood Christmas memories, and makes all viewers want a Red Rider B.B. Gun for Christmas – even if we’ll shoot our eyes out.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Matt Glassett at Matthew.firstname.lastname@example.org.