Saturday, December 3, 2011

Get in the Mood...for Christmas!

Christmas is a mere 18 days away and we have halfway thrown ourselves into the Christmas spirit. We put up our paper sign "Welkom Sinterklaas" we got in the Netherlands when we visited friends in Venlo on our way here last year. We hung a "Wilkommen" snowman on our doorknocker that we inherited from some Irish friends that repatriated back to Dublin. We put up colorful lights on our bare balcony. We celebrated my birthday at a Weihnachtsmarkt. But without family here (paired with Ian's pneumonia that has kept us almost entirely housebound for 5 days) it's been hard to feel truly jolly.

However, we have a plan.

Movies play a large part in our entertainment schedule.
"What do you want to do?" is usually followed with
"Want to watch a movie?" which is followed by

Diligently, we have compiled a list of Christmas movies, both expected and unusual, to get us in the mood.

BEST CHRISTMAS MOVIE EVER?: Not a Christmas movie you say? Au contraire! It is set during this blessed holiday and it's kick ass approach is an inspiration. Someone actually took the time to compile "5 Reasons Die Hard is the Best Christmas Movie Ever Made". Well done sir.

BEST CHRISTMAS MOVIE FOR ALL AGES: Dickens's Christmas Carol makes several appearances on this list. It is a sign of the genius of "A Christmas Carol" that is can be told so many different ways and still be classic. Michael Caine plays one of the best Ebenezer Scrooges. Plus- there's muppets!

BEST CHEESEBALL CHRISTMAS CAROL: Oh yes! Here we are again with yet another Christmas Carol. A made for TV version no less. Before you automatically dismiss it note: Vanessa Williams, Chilli from TLC, Kathy Griffin, and hit single of Christmas spirit, "Heartquake".

BEST NOSTALGIC CHRISTMAS MOVIE: Surprisingly, neither of remember watching this classic before. And I do mean classic. It's so impressive when a movie from 1947 is both relevant and provocative in 2011. This will be added to must watch list for every Christmas.

MOST FORGETTABLE CHRISTMAS MOVIE: I don't really remember this one, but Ian is firm about this pick. Looks crazy saccharine, but Christmas is the one time of year I almost unilaterally let it pass. (When I searched "Prancer" on google images it came up with woman bent over & in bikinis. Yikes. )

Four Christmases

MOST AVERAGE ROM-COM CHRISTMAS MOVIE: Seeing Reece Witherspoon & Vince Vaughn on the bill we knew what we were in for. Cheesy, expected, and I seriously balked at the mainstream ideal of every happy independent couple actually secretly wants to get married and have a baby...this one barely squeaked by my lowered Christmas standards, but squeak onto the list it does.

BEST A CHRISTMAS CAROL: And another Christmas Carol, this time with Bill Murray. Another perfect embodiment of Scrooge, and one of the best films of Murray's career (besides Ghostbusters of course).

Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer

BEST CHRISTMAS MOVIE WHEN YOU'RE FEELING AWKWARD: What don't we love about this movie? Island of misfit toys, the Abdominal Snowman, friends compared to "Silver & gold"....this movie is Christmas catnip. If you don't feel Jingle Bells in your soul after watching this, you must be a Jehovah Witness. 


Edward Scissorhands

BEST TIM BURTON CHRISTMAS MOVIE: I always loved this movie, but it was only in the most recent watching I noticed all the perfect details. Watch it again and note the carefully selected house colors, the dinosaur hedges, the angel ice sculpture. These elements have to do with a truly great movie, not necessarily a Christmas movie, but the beauty of the snowfall and the underlining meaning of what it means to belong and what makes a family and an individual are perfectly in tune with the ever present melancholy of winter holidays. 


A Charlie Brown Christmas

MOST NOSTALGIC CHRISTMAS MOVIE: To be honest, I've never had much affinity for Charlie Brown, that little dope. But it's been years, and I'm ready to give him another chance this Christmas season. C'mon Charlie Brown, I'll hold the football.... 


Lethal Weapon

BEST CHRISTMAS MOVIE IF YOU ALREADY WATCHED DIE HARD: Once again, you may question the xmas appropriateness. A list:

  • Starts with "Jingle Bell Rock"
  • Christmas lights on balcony she jumps off
  • Drinking egg nog when shot
  • Drug bust Xmas tree lot
  • Storefronts decorated (before Mel Gibson jumps through it)
  • "I'll be home for Christmas" at closing
The 80s sax makes it almost unwatchable, but the ridiculous beginnings of buddy cop movies, Mel Gibson's crazy showing through, and Gary Busey get you through.


Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale

BEST FOREIGN CHRISTMAS FILM: Holy Crap - this sounds badass!

"The film focuses on a group of local reindeer herders whose Christmas is disturbed by excavations on the mountain. A scientist has ordered a team of workers to dig open what he calls "the largest burial mound in the world". An explosive used by the team uncovers what is referred to as a "sacred grave". However, the occupant of the grave is still alive. Soon, the reindeer important to the local people are mysteriously killed, and children and supplies begin to disappear from the town. It emerges that the occupant is the source of the original Santa Claus myth; a supernatural being who, rather than rewarding good children, punishes the naughty. One family, however, manages to catch the culprit in a trap, and plans to sell it to the scientist to cover the losses caused by his excavation"


The Santa Clause

BEST 90s CHRISTMAS MOVIE: Tim Allen was the (family) man in the 90's. I loved that family (and JTT). This movie still hits the funny bone as it narrowly dodges the unbearably sweet as a man faces the unwanted transition in becoming Santa Claus.


Nightmare Before Christmas

BEST HOLIDAY CROSSOVER MOVIE: I watch this movie around Christmas. And Halloween. And whenever I get "This is Hallowen" stuck in my head...which is a lot. Look at Tim Burton making our Christmas list twice! Almost as Christmasy as he is dark, eh?


Home Alone

BEST MOVIE FOR MAKING YOU FEEL OLD: Instant Classic. The gags are silly and while they do their best to make leaving a kid at home plausible, Home Alone 2 & 3 push this story line. Still - love watching Joe Pesci & Daniel Stern get annihilated. Hot irons, icy stairs, swinging paint cans, nail on stairs, broken ornaments....the kid had a plan that beats any of my protection against home invaders.



BEST MAN-CHILD MOVIE: This household will pretty watch anything Will Ferrel does. Though I am not sure if I am totally on board with this film, the man child I am married to loves it and I love him.


A THOROUGHLY AVERAGE CHRISTMAS MOVIE: DeVito hits the list again with Matthew Broderick. It is impossible to believe that Kristen Chenoweth would ever be married to Devito (the woman is a tiny goddess of talent), but this super cheesy flick almost has you believing it as he is a silver tongued salesman obsessed with getting enough lights on his house to be seen from outer space. Yeah, space.

Frosty the Snowman

BEST CHRISTMAS MOVIE FOR A SICK DAY: You can fall ina nd out of consciousness with this one. The storyline is... let's be generous and say not hard to follow. A snowman makes the children happy. Doom looms for anyone watching with a brain. It falls awfully close to the painfully cheesy line, but -hey!- it's Christmas and what's one more?

  Batman Returns

BEST SUPERHERO CHRISTMAS MOVIE: 3rd Tim Burton! Bam - the man is king of feel good. No, he's just good. And I LOVE the penguin. DeVito - you're a genius. Den of Geek gives an apt review.


  How the Grinch Stole Christmas (cartoon)

BEST ANIMATED CHRISTMAS MOVIE: 30 minutes of Christmas spirit embodied on screen. Suess was a master of the absurd and the wonderful and pairing that kind of children literary mastery with Christmas results in possible the most outright perfect holiday movie of all time. 


  How the Grinch Stole Christmas

BEST SUESS RE-MAKE: I was so angry when I heard they were re-doing the classic. Then I heard Jim Carrey would play the Grinch. Then I saw Cindy Loo Who. I saw the trailer. I thought, this could actually work. And it does.


Jingle All the Way

BEST CONSUMERISM CHRISTMAS MOVIE: Oh, Arnold. This movie certainly feels a bit different after the whole love-child, sexual harassment, racist /homophobe stuff. What did we expect - he's Austrian. (Just kidding Austrians, you have a lovely country and a thoroughly decent people...besides a few notable stand-outs).

This movie is still an entertaining watch and again hammers home the woes of commercialism tied up in this family centric holiday.

Love Actually

BEST ROM-COM CHRISTMAS MOVIE: Filled with romance & holiday spirit, I suppose this does fall in the chick flick category but I un-categorically love it. The oh so dry wit, the American stereotypes, love with fairytale happy endings...I always cry. And I hate to cry. I have a complicated relationship with this movie.



GROSSIEST CHRISTMAS MOVIE: This movie falls under the unique film category of "Horror Comedy" with these little monsters definitely on the naughty list.
Possibly, The worst Christmas gift of all time, these small, furry creatures are found in an antique store in Chinatown. Bad sign #1. Then given to teenage son (bad sign #2), they don't follow instructions (bad sign #3) and an old lady definitely gets hurt. Merry Christmas!


Christmas Vacation

BEST HOPELESS AMERICAN CHRISTMAS MOVIE: I never watch National Lampoon growing up & I am not sure if that is a good thing or not. Hopelessly cheesy, they somehow still manage to be endearing and perfectly embody the worst stereotypes of what it is to be an American. Even if you don't have a Clark, Aunt Bethany or Uncle Lewis, you feel like you know they are out there in the great planes of the USA.


A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas

BEST CHRISTMAS MOVIE TO WATCH HIGH: The first movie was surprisingly good. The 2nd wasn't half bad. Any chance the 3rd won't be a multitude of suck? Since Neil Patrick Harris is still going to be in it, I'm in.


It's a Wonderful Life

BEST CHRISTMAS MOVIE OF ALL TIME: I saved the best for last. Not just my favorite Christmas movie, this is one of my favorite movies. I love every second of this movie and all I want every Christmas is to watch this movie.

"What is it you want, Mary? What do you want? You want the moon? Just say the word and I'll throw a lasso around it and pull it down. Hey. That's a pretty good idea. I'll give you the moon, Mary.


 For more great picks from "professionals", Empire online has a surprisingly good list.


Update: 2012 Additions

Adams Family

MOST SURPRISING CHRISTMAS MOVIE: This movie starts with carolers. I already love it and now knowing it has a Christmas reference - adoration.

Babes in Toyland

MOST DISAPPOINTING CHRISTMAS MOVIE: Like a bolt of lightening, suddenly I remembered "Babes in Toyland". My family recorded it off of tv when I was a kid (Shhhh! Don't tell), and it was a perennial favorite. Drew Barrymore. Keanu Reeves. Cyclops bird of my nightmares. And the character Barnaby Barnacle. I'd be lying if I didn't say watching it as an adult wasn't a disappoint but still - BABES IN TOYLAND!


Update: 2013 Additions

Arthur Christmas

BEST MODERN CHRISTMAS MOVIE FOR KIDS AND ADULTS: I had never heard about this movie until a Nostalgia Guy rant. Taking an old storyline for a new spin, I was instantly enthralled with an old Santa that needs to retire and his possible heirs to the North Pole. Brilliant animation, plenty of cheer and all around good tidings.


While You Were Sleeping



BEST CHRISTMAS MOVIE TO HAVE AMNESIA: This idea struck me as entirely ridiculous, and the movie is just silly. If you like other rom-coms, this one might also be your bag. And clearly (below), amnesia may just be catching at Christmas.


Long Kiss Goodnight

BEST AMNESIA CHRISTMAS MOVIE 2: This movie is a hot mess of CIA agent (Gena Davis) with amnesia trying to re-discover who she is. 

Terrible? Yes.
Christmas-y? A little.
Perfect for the holidays. Completely.

Black Christmas 

BEST SLASHER CHRISTMAS FLICK: One of the original slasher films, it continues to shock years later. The vulgar language of the phone calls, the iconic words "the call is coming from inside the house and that cover...Christmas shiver.

Mixed Nuts

WORST CHRISTMAS MOVIE DISASTER: Officially star-studded, this movie is a complete disaster. Absolutely nothing is natural or believable and it is not funny. But it does touch on Christmas and we did watch it. Save yourself!


  Hebrew Hammer

BEST JEWISH CHRISTMAS MOVIE: A little something for our Chanukah friends, or anyone who wants to see a clever take-off of Shaft. Andy Dick is evil Claus and Adam Goldberg is the Hebrew Hammer (although not a practicing Jew in real life - disappointing).


A Christmas Carol



BEST CHRISTMAS MOVIE TO BORE ADULTS AND TERRIFY CHILDREN: We never saw this when it came out...turns out we weren't missing much. While the animation is ground-breathtakingly real and the 3D had to be cool in theatres, the pacing is terrible and I have no idea what audience they think would watch this movie. Our viewing alternated between total doldrums to scaring the children.

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang


MOVIE LOVERS CHRISTMAS MOVIE: This film makes no bones about being believable, it is just for fun. I was delighted watching this movie for the first time and a Christmas re-watching was equally rewarding.

A mystery wrapped in holiday cheer, Downey is at his best as a thief/wannabe actor in LA that gets wrapped up in a murder conspiracy. I love the gumshoe angle, the rubber-faced lead actress is wonderfully weird and Val Kilmer as a gay P.I. works somehow.



 And if you need help sprucing up your Christmas card/making a photo advent card and looking crazy, we have got pictures in which to get inspiration: Photo Advent Calendar.

Merry Christmas!


1 comment:

~ cheryl said...

Some additions you should consider, include:
Magoo's Christmas Carol
Joyeaux Noel (awesome movie)
A Christmas Story

live theater/ballet:
White Christmas (loved seeing this with you)
Nutcracker Ballet
A Christmas Carol

That Finnish one sounds totally bizarre, and interesting. Will be anxious to hear how you liked it.

Love Actually and A Diva's Christmas are annual events for me - and I do love them. Elf is very funny - and has some sparkling moments for a boy film.

Thanx for your list - and for the memories!!

~ mum

We're Back in Berlin Ja!

We're Back in Berlin Ja!
ebe & ian at Yak-toberfest 2008