I’ve never considered myself much of a traditionalist when it comes to movies. My love of movies spans genres. Therefore, my choices for my favorite Christmas movies should come as no surprise.
In no particular order, here are the movies I must watch every holiday season:
The Lion in Winter
Though not strictly a Christmas movie, it takes place during Christmas therefore merits inclusion on my list. Henry Plantagenet (Peter O’Toole), king of England, and his family have a tumultuous relationship. For Christmas, he decides to invite his estranged wife, Eleanor of Acquitaine (Katherine Hepburn), and their three sons (Richard (Anthony Hopkins), Geoffrey (John Castle), and John (Nigel Terry)) home for Christmas. Hilarity, assassination attempts, and mayhem ensue. Featuring stellar performances from all of its cast members and some memorable lines, it’s a must-see. The Plantagents put the fun in dysfunctional. If you think your family has troubles, you haven’t seen anything yet.
The heart-warming and bittersweet tale of the Christmas Truce during World War I, I like watching this film because it always reminds me that people can rise above even the worst of times. This multi-lingual tale follows the journeys of a handful of characters and their interactions with their allies and enemies during the first Christmas in the trenches. It always warms the cockles of my heart and then promptly stomps on them when I remember that they had four more years of war to go.
A few years back, I watched this movie with a bunch of friends during our monthly bad movie watching event, The Cavalcade of Schlock. We were all taken aback by how much this movie reveled in its cheesiness. When we wanted to make some kind of snarky remark, the movie would go ahead and make it for us. It was gleeful in its over-the-top violence and just such fun. Besides, any movie that kills off Fran Drescher and Chris Kattan in the first ten minutes is a winner in my book.
A Christmas Story
I’m going to indulge in a hipster moment here and say that I loved this movie before it was cool and before TNT started having their annual marathon. This now beloved Christmas film was always a favorite in my family. We loved the quirkiness of it and my parents enjoyed reminiscing about their own childhoods. Though their time was ever so slightly after the time depicted in the film, they still remembered a lot of the things from back then. In any event, I love this movie and am terribly amused by how it has become an institution, so much so that it’s becoming an annual musical production on Broadway.
The Christmas Toy
This adorable and occasionally traumatizing TV special was big when I was a kid. Brought to you by the Jim Henson company, The Christmas Toy teaches children valuable lessons about growing up and treating your toys right. Or something. It’s a lot likeToy Story in that it tells the story of toys that move around when no one’s watching. Why would this be traumatizing? Being seen by children results in the toy being “frozen” forever. Frozen, of course, is just a nice way of saying that the toy is “dead” and never coming back. I may have cried during this show as a child. I may still get teary-eyed as an adult. These facts do not stop me from watching this show every year.