Our critic’s top five Christmas movies: Are yours on the list?

(Source: Wiki Commons)
(Source: Wiki Commons)

Some of us wait all year for this magical time. The hot chocolate, the fluffy snow, the festive lights—and the wonderful movies. It is inspiring how inspired directors get when making movies for the holiday season. The first Christmas movie ever was “Santa Claus,” produced by George Alfred Smith in 1898. When it first appeared in theaters, it brought people together to share the magic of Christmas and the holiday season. Now, there are more than 800 holiday movies in the world. Below, I have compiled my ranking of the top five holiday movies based on my own opinion with the credentials of a human who adores all things festive.

5. “Elf” (2003)

“Elf” is such a funny and family-friendly movie. I love sitting around with my younger cousins to watch this one. There isn’t a crazy deep storyline, but I think that’s exactly what director Jon Favreau was going for. He wanted to create a light, childish feel, which was accomplished by star Will Ferrell. He was the perfect actor to play Buddy the Elf from the North Pole who is found by his dad and doesn’t know how the real world works. Buddy doesn’t feel like he belongs anywhere, but Santa and his dad accept him and eventually value him for who he is. It is such a good, laid-back movie with a simple storyline that is perfect for a family with children. But it lacks enough meaning for me to put it near the top of my list.

4. “Polar Express” (2004)

Besides the fact that Tom Hanks voices up to five characters in this one movie and the look of the movie is a bit weird, “Polar Express” is one of the best animated Christmas films of all time and an elementary-school staple to play before the break. Back then, we would all gather on the A-B-C carpet and drink as much hot chocolate as possible while watching this film together. I don’t think my elementary mind understood all of the deeper meaning within the movie that director Robert Zemeckis delivers. After rewatching it, I understand how it inspires belief in oneself and their dreams. I think, as a young kid, that was never a problem. I had 100% faith that I would accomplish everything and anything I wanted to do, but as I got older and experienced life, it was hard to have that same belief in my dreams and myself. This film gives me a refresher on what it means to have faith in my dreams because Tom Hanks as the Conductor asking repeatedly, “Do you believe?” really gets one questioning whether they do believe. The film is perfect for all ages because everyone should be asking themselves if they believe in themselves, in their dreams and in their hopes.

What really made me fall in love with this movie is the soundtrack. The instrumental score moves the soul to a world where things are exactly how they are meant to be, and there is nothing to worry about.

3. “Home Alone” (1990)

There are only a few movies that people are willing to watch repeatedly. “Home Along” is one of them. Directed by Chris Columbus, the film stars Macaulay Culkin as Kevin McCallister, the kid left home alone during the holiday break. There is something so pure and charming about young Kevin. He always ends up in the most peculiar situations and always manages to wreak the most havoc, which is what everyone loves about the movie. The cartoonish violence that Kevin ends up causing is the main reason why this movie is so funny and re-watchable. It’s like an old Tom and Jerry episode; we always end up viewing the same funny episodes repeatedly and don’t have a problem with that because they’re funny.

Rosemary Clooney as Betty Haynes in White Christmas. (Source: Wiki Commons)

“Home Alone” is a classic Christmas movie to watch alone or with friends and family. It’s a perfect movie for all ages. Kevin’s fear of the basement monster was relatable to younger me on a whole other level. Kevin gives children a very valuable lesson: As kids, we all wanted to have freedom, but he shows us that we should be grateful for the family we have. Without them, things could be fun for a bit, yet eventually it will get really lonely and hard.

2. “It’s A Wonderful Life” (1946)

I personally am not a fan of sad movies. But there is something about how Frank Capra, the director, depicts the life of struggling loan banker George Bailey, played by James Stewart, in a small town much like Pelham where everyone knows everyone, that makes me feel content with the realities of life. As George Bailey battles with his despair about life and meeting a day’s end, he forgets to be grateful for all that he has: his wife, his beautiful children and everyone in the town who loves him. Capra gives us a chance to realize the impact we have on others’ lives by showing George what the world of his loved ones would be without him in it.

The movie was filmed right after World War II, a time when everyone was shaken up by the bloodshed in the world. Capra understood this and that people were in a really dark state of mind, and he wanted to give people an understanding of why they should love life. I think this applies to our modern daily life as well, especially in recent years, with the awareness of mental health struggles.

The holiday season can be extremely tough for some people, but this movie is perfect for those who need a bit of hope and holiday magic in their lives.

1. “White Christmas” (1954)

This musical, directed by Michael Curtiz and starring Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen, highlights love and togetherness. It portrays the kind of matchmaking and love that makes one feel whole. How characters Judy Haynes and Phil Davis scheme to get Betty Haynes and Bob Wallace together makes me so happy. There are no crazy plot twists, nothing too hard to understand, just two guys and two gals having some fun in show business.

The iconic song “White Christmas” isn’t the only beautiful song that came out of this movie. There is something so soothing about all their voices. Crosby, Kaye, Clooney and Vera-Ellen sound the way European hot chocolate tastes, so rich and smooth.

To my own generation, I highly encourage those who haven’t seen this movie, or if it has been a really long time since you have seen it, gather with your family and loved ones to share this magical production of Christmas love and magic.


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