movies matter | criticism by maryann johanson
Thu Dec 24 2009, 10:16am | 16 comments
The Online Film Critics Society, in our weekly survey, this week picked our favorite Christmas movies. It’s a Wonderful Life came out on top — as some of you may know, I am not a fan of It’s a Wonderful Life. My top five Christmas favorites, as I voted the OFCS survey:
A Christmas Story
Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas
Meet John Doe
It’s a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie
What’s your favorite Christmas movie?
(If you have a suggestion for a QOTD, feel free to email me. Responses to this QOTD sent by email will be ignored; please post your responses here.)
It’s a Wonderful Life is not a Christmas movie, no matter how many people think it is. Yes, it ends at Christmas, but that’s the only connection. It only became viewed as such when networks began showing it at Christmas time.
Your list, MaryAnn, at least has movies that are about Christmas, other than Meet John Doe.
My favorite Christmas movie: Love Actually. Centers on Christmas from the opening, never loses sight of Christmas, crescendos on Christmas Eve, and is full of love (and laughs).
A Muppet Christmas Carol, hands down my all time favorite. Anything the Henson Co lays their hands on will tug at fond childhood memories for me. But this one has it all: my favorite Christmas story wrapped in music and mayhem and Muppets. And it’s surprisingly true to Dickens’ original story, with a few Henson twists of course :)
It’s not Christmas until I’ve seen it at least once.
I think It’s a Wonderful Life is a Christmas movie in the best sense since it is centered on a person who exemplifies the spirit of Christmas. George Bailey gives to others throughout his life despite his selfish human impulses, and is shown that giving is better than receiving.
On the other hand, I’ve seen it too many times, so it no longer ranks in my top five. They are, inpo:
A Christmas Story (because it reminds me so much of growing up in Indiana); Love, Actually (for reasons enumerated by funWithHeadlines);
A Muppet Christmas Carol (Amy is right, it’s a totally wonderful version of Dickens)
White Christmas (for the music, performances and color)
The Apartment (which is only tangentially about Christmas, but I can’t get through the Season without watching it again)
I agree that Bailey exemplifies the Christmas spirit, so in that sense It’s a Wonderful LIfe qualifies, but so then too do hundreds of other movies that have nothing to do with Christmas but do have a giving protagonist. Still, in the spirit of the season, call it a Christmas movie :)
I also agree that any Muppets movie goes high up on any list.
Mine is a tie between Love Actually, which always just leaves me feeling full of happy, and A Muppet Christmas Carol which just puts me in a Christmas mood.
Close behind those two, however, is The Ref, because who doesn’t want Denis Leary fixing their parents’ relationship on Christmas Eve? At gunpoint, no less…
A Muppet Christmas Carol
My favorite Christmas movie is The Bishop’s Wife. I love it for three reasons. One, it’s a tacky orgy of the special effects that were available in the era in which it was made, and therefore cute and nostalgic. Two, it’s really pretty funny — Cary Grant especially. And three, what a great story! On the surface of it, it’s a religious story about how God sends his angel to serve and help the mortals who have lost their way — he uses stories and miracles and pushes moral lessons, (sounds a lot like a guy I read about in book once …) That’s fine for religious people, I’m sure, but personally, as a secular humanist, I prefer to see in this movie how we can all be a little bit more like “angels,” a little less burdened by convention, a little more daring, motivated by compassion and humbled by the responsibility to put the needs of others before our own desires. You don’t necessarily need God for that, you just have to decide for yourself that it’s worth it.
I would think you’d like it, too, MJ — after all, the angel in The Bishop’s Wife is a lot like The Doctor. This charming gentleman shows up, does amazing things, tells odd stories about the past, brightens everyone’s life, shows them how brilliant they are, but ultimately, he can’t stick around, and he’s definitely not allowed to fall in love with a human woman and lead a normal life …
My friend Kurt watches “Die Hard” every year at this time.
My friends Mark and Laura always put on “The Lion in Winter.”
My only favorite Christmas movie is Richard Williams’s “A Christmas Carol.”
I thought you asked this question already.;-)
1. Miracle on 34th Street. The original.
2. The Shop Around the Corner. Not really a Christmas movie but it takes place around Christmas time.
3. Remember the Night. I love Barbara Stanwyck.
4. Christmas in Connecticut. I really love Barbara Stanwyck.
5. . The one Christmas-ish movie with Cary Grant I like best.
6. Holiday Affair. You wouldn’t think Robert Mitchum would be the type of person you’d associate with a decent Christmas movie but you’d be surprised.
7. Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas. I actually used to know most of the songs in this by heart–and who doesn’t love Sally?
8. The Man Who Came to Dinner. A contrarian Christmas movie made long before they started making contrarian Christmas movies.
9. Love Actually. Some parts I like, some parts I really like, some parts are eh?
10. It’s a Wonderful Life. I’ll probably think of another choice ten minutes after I log off.
If I don’t post again on this site between today and tomorrow, I wish you a Merry Christmas, MaryAnn.
5. . The one Christmas-ish movie with Cary Grant I like best.
That would be the 1938 film Holiday, of course.
Oh, come on! There’s no contest! It’s Scrooge, the 1951 version of A Christmas Carol starring the irreplaceable Alastair Sim. My Christmas isn’t Christmas without it.
Persephone – you are exactly right. Really…what the fuckmas is everyone else talking about? This is a no-brainer :)
For me it is a Christmas movie and so my favourite is “It’s a Wonderful Life” because as others have pointed out George Bailey exemplifies the spirit of Christmas. But then I can see why others say it isn’t so each to their own.
I would also have to choose Scrooged, The Muppet Christmas Carol, White Christmas and Love Actually in that order for my top 5.
Ah, Muppet movies. Delightful funny for the kids, post-modern funny for the adults.
And yeah, I’m with “It’s a Wonderful Life” as a Christmas movie, but the darkest Christmas movie I’ve ever seen, or will probably ever be made. And I don’t think Bailey was motivated by religion, he was motivated by compassion. The angel didn’t come to him until he’d given up, been worn out by life, and broken by Potter’s greed and his uncle’s stupidity.
Thank you, Persephone, for reminding everyone of Alastair Sim’s Scrooge! He’s really brilliant in the part, probably the best onscreen depiction of the role I can think of (Patrick Stewart comes a pretty close second, but I prefer Sim’s humanity after Scrooge’s transformation).
Yes, the 1951 version of A Christmas Carol is a classic well worth watching but not all of us movie buffs could get through the holidays just on Dickens alone.
Then again, Persephone deserves major kudos for not suggesting Elf like some of MaryAnn’s colleagues did.
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