I was asked the other day what my top five favorite Christmas movies are and why. So, i decided to enrich your Christmas experience with this humble (but correct) opinion!
1. It's a Wonderful Life directed by Frank Capra in 1946 starring James Stewart and Donna Reed
This movie is a classic but must be enjoyed in its original black and white version. Technicolor was not good to this movie. I watch this movie in its entirety EVERY Christmas Eve. I never get tired of the self-sacrificing George Bailey reach his breaking point and discover the wonderful life he never knew he had. The final scene is a tear-jerker as George's brother Harry raises a toast to his brother, "the richest man in town." This movie highlights selflessness, humility, generosity, responsibility, faith and family. A must watch.
2. Miracle on 34th Street. directed by George Seaton in 1947 starring Maureen O'Hara, John Payne, Natalie Wood and Edmund Gwenn.
This movie is another black and white classic. This movie was remade in 1994 keeping a similar story-line but lacks the authentic quality or the original and Santa, Richard Attenborough, does not compare to Edmund Gwenn from 1947. This movie brings out the childlike desire to believe in what we cannot see. Like me you may find yourself believing in Santa for a few minutes as you enjoy this movie. Countless times we are reminded of the value of giving and caring for others. These movies are truly from another time where Biblical values still remained as a part of American society. They serve as good reminders of the faith we should have in an unseen God who love us and gives good gifts to His children.
3. Holiday Inn directed by Mark Sadrich in 1942 starring Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire and Virgina Dale with music from Irving Berlin.
This movie carries far less spiritual significance however this is one of my mother's favorites and was a staple in our home growing up. I have grown to appreciate the musical genius of Irving Berlin and the voices and dancing of the cast. This movie feature some of the classic Christmas songs we hear every year that usher in the season. A classic love story develops throughout the movie as you are taken through the holiday seasons of the year in the quaint Holiday Inn. I promise this movie is not about a reasonably priced hotel chain!
4. Elf directed by Jon Favreau in 2003 starring Will Ferrell, James Caan, Bob Newhart and Zooey Deschanel
Get ready to laugh. By the way, laughter is a gift from God and we ought to be doing it more. I love this movie. It has bumped National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation out of my top five mainly because I laugh more and the comedy is cleaner. The story is actually very engaging. The audience immediately falls in live with Buddy the Elf. The absurdity of what Buddy will do somehow fits into the story. The most valuable part of this movie comes when Buddy's dad played by James Caan chooses his younger son, Michael over his demanding boss and finally becomes the good father we were hoping for. Surprisingly strong family values for a movie made in this century.
5. How the Grinch stole Christmas Directed by Chuck Jones and Ben Washam in 1966 written by Dr. Seuss starring the voice of Boris Karloff.
I had to include an animated film to the top five. This movie is another staple of my annual Christmas experience. My kids love this movie as well. This movie is short and we all know the story well yet we all love to watch the Grinch's heart grow three sizes when he understands the true meaning of Christmas. The newer version starring Jim Carrey in 2000 is not nearly as endearing and in my opinion butchers the classic simplicity of the original. Not to mention there is no comparison to Boris Kacloff's voice.
Each of these movies is a "must see" every year. I hope this helps you have a fun and Merry Christmas! Please comment with your opinions as well. Enjoy!