Thursday, December 12

My Favorite Holiday Movies [Christmas is in the Air]

Since I was old enough to understand that Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Frosty the Snowman only came on television in December, I've looked forward to the season of holiday movies.  Now that Mr. Q and I are all grown up and have more than 4 channels, it can get a little overwhelming between ABC Family's 25 Days of Christmas and all of the sappy Hallmark movies, but we have a few favorites that we watch every year to really make it feel like Christmas is on the way.  I've updated my list of movies this year to include some new favorites.

12. A Christmas Story

I had never watched A Christmas Story until I started dating Mr. Q and spending Christmas Eve with his dad's family - they watch it together every year before opening gifts.  It's so quirky and different from other Christmas movies.

11. How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

I'm talking the animated, 1960's, Boris Karloff version; I try to pretend the Jim Carrey version never happened.  At UVa, it's something of a tradition to re-write the poem for special occasions since we are known as the "Hoos," I wrote a version once called "The Grinch Who Stole Large Group" that we performed for my fellowship.  Since I started teaching I love it even more; my department has a whole mini-unit where students analyze the text of the book and the songs from the animated film for figurative language and literary devices, then put the Grinch on trial for stealing Christmas (with Cindy Lou Who as a witness) using persuasive techniques.  

10. White Christmas

Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney and Vera Ellen in a Christmas classic about WWII veterans turned producers who help save their General's Vermont bed and breakfast by putting on a show with a sister act.  The songs are so catchy, the colors are so bright, and the comedy-of-errors story is definitely from a simpler time.

9. The Santa Clause

It's cute, it's funny, it's heartwarming.  I love that the elves are played by kids.  I love the magical snow globe.  I love the line, "that's okay, Neil, you were just denying your inner child."  I watch this one every year and it never gets old- I think it was a classic as soon as it came out.  The sequel where Santa has to find a wife is not bad, but the third one with the robot Santa and the Jack Frost character is horrible.

8. A Muppet Christmas Carol

True story:  I played Mrs. Cratchit in a fifth-grade production of A Christmas Carol.  Forget about being loyal to Dickens; the Muppet version is the one that comes closest to that elementary school play, the Mickey Mouse one scared me as a kid, and the Jim Carrey version freaks me out now (are you sensing a pattern with me and Jim Carrey?  You should be.  HE RUINS CHRISTMAS).  I also like that A Muppet Christmas Carol one of few Muppet movies where the Muppets are not in danger of losing their theater.

7. Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer

My friend Susie's #1 favorite movie and Claymation's greatest triumph.  Rudolph is still the cutest thing ever with his constant cold-voice and big sad eyes, but I think my favorite character is Yukon Cornelius.

6. A Charlie Brown Christmas

We are really big on Snoopy and the Peanuts characters in our house - our Christmas cards this year have Snoopy, Charlie Brown, and Woodstock on them!  I have the soundtrack for this movie and play it in my classroom throughout the month of December - the kids are always a little confused at first until they recognize the familiar melodies! When the Cha Cha Slide says, "Charlie Brown," I dance like the kids in this movie.  Is that what you're supposed to do?

5. Love, Actually

A cast chock-full of wonderful British actors and actresses - Hugh Grant, Colin Firth, Alan Rickman, Emma Thompson, Martin Freeman, Liam Neeson, Keira Knightley, Bill Nighy, Chiwetel Ejiofor and a pre-Rick Grimes Andrew Lincoln - explore what it means to be in and out of love at Christmas in a set of intertwined storylines all set in London.  It came out my first year of college and all of the girls in my dorm were obsessed with it immediately.  Mr. Q watched the movie for the first time this year and his comment was, "I can see why you like this movie."  Very diplomatic answer, husband.

4. Elf

You'd have to be a cotton-headed ninnymuggins to not enjoy the tale of Buddy the Elf (Will Ferrel), a human adopted and raised by the elves in Santa's workshop who decides to travel to New York to find his real dad.  I love Elf because it's adult-funny but family-friendly, and takes on Christmas movie tropes (claymation animals, saving Christmas by believing in Santa) in an affectionate way.

3. National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation

My dad's favorite Christmas movie.  Every time my parents decided I was old enough to watch one of the National Lampoon movies, I would realize just a little bit more that we were the Griswolds, right down to the Christmas trees too big to fit into the house.

2. The Holiday

I think this is my favorite movie, period.  My favorite chick flick, at least.  In case you haven't seen it, it's about two women who are both stuck in ruts in their everyday lives, find each other online, and agree to swap houses for Christmas so that they can get away from their problems.  Iris lives in England and her lover Jasper has just proposed to another woman; Amanda lives in L.A. and has just kicked out her cheating boyfriend.  When they arrive for their holidays, Iris falls in love with Amanda's glamorous home, the warm climate, and the quirky neighbors; for Amanda, it takes meeting Iris' brother Graham for her to warm to Iris' cottage in the Cotsworlds.  Both women find themselves not wanting to leave.

1. It's a Wonderful Life

My all-time favorite Christmas movie reminds viewers that friends and family are the most important thing in life, not money or having a good reputation, and celebrates the idea that one person can make a difference. One of my fondest Christmas memories is begging all my friends to go see the late-night showing at the college theater and ending up going with a bunch of guys from my dorm who were basically my brothers that first year - and my oldest friend Travis basically saving my life when I slipped on an icy set of brick steps. Much like George Bailey pulling his brother Harry out of the icy pond in Bedford Falls.

What are your favorite Christmas movies?


  1. The top 2 on my list would have to be Love Actually, and A Muppet's Christmas Carol. with It's a Wonderful Life probably at number 3.

  2. I love all of these. There are so many great movies here. Thanks for linking up with us! Come back for round three :)

  3. I love all of these, I picked some of the same ones in fact. Thanks so much for linking up! I hope you come back for week 3! Happy Holidays!!!