I stumbled upon this feature at boston.com listing the 50 best holiday movies. As you’ll see if you peruse the films on their list, picking the top 50 holiday movies of all time is like selecting the top dozen three stooges. Expanding some lists beyond a certain point just doesn’t make sense. Home Alone 2? Die Hard 2? Anything with a 2 at the end?
But reading that list made me wonder what my all-time favorite holiday movies are, and if I could even come up with ten good films. Here’s what I came up with:
10. It’s a Wonderful Life. Well, because you have to.
9. White Christmas. Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye and Rosemary Clooney. And it’s one of my wife’s favorites. (Do they even sing “White Christmas” in this one?)
8. Bridget Jones Diary. A slightly tubby Renee Zellweger matched with Hugh Grant and Colin Firth. Snow.
7. Elf. Bob Newhart as one of Santa’s elves. What more do you want?
6. The Family Stone. Funny, touching at times, Claire Danes and Sarah Jessica Parker as a real loony.
5. Love Actually. I’m a sucker for the sentimentality.
4. Nobody’s Fool. I don’t know if anyone realizes it, but this Paul Newman film is a 1990s rephrasing of It’s A Wonderful Life, just without the angels or the sappy sentiment. Also, Melanie Griffith flashes her boobs… talk about Christmas ornaments. Seriously, this is one of Newman’s best performances.
3. A Christmas Carol (1984 George C. Scott version). I could just as easily have listed the 1951 Alistair Sim version, but I like this one slightly better. Both are classics.
2. Miracle on 34th Street (B&W 1947 version). Even after 57 years of viewing this great movie, I still am not sure if Kris Kringle is the real Santa or not, but I love the message, and young Natalie Wood steals the show.
1. March of the Wooden Soldiers. Yes, I know it is supposed to be called Babes in Toyland, but I’ll always know it as March of the Wooden Soldiers, which is a much more appropriate title, and Babes in Toyland is a Disney movie starring Annette Funicello. This film has Laurel and Hardy vs. the sinister Barnaby and his boogie man army. We always watched it Thanksgiving Day when it was a holiday staple on WPIX from New York. (Trivia: the actor who plays Barnaby, Henry Brandon, was just 22 when the film was made. He later played a number of different Indian characters in the American western TV series Wagon Train.)