Entertainment Nick's Picks: 10 best Christmas movies | The Cullman Tribune


Nick's Picks: 10 best Christmas movies

Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) from "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation" / Warner Brothers

CULLMAN - It's that time of year again for families all over the country. Christmas is approaching, and everyone has at least one movie that they watch around this time every year. This list is comprised of the best of the best when it comes to Christmas films. Some were made to make you laugh, some are meant to make you cry but they all have roots in the Christmas season. If you haven’t seen any of them and you have some extra time after your traditional movie choice, they may be worth your time this year as well.

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989) PG-13: Directed by Jeremiah Chechik and written by John Hughes, “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” stars Chevy Chase as Clark Griswold, a husband and father of two struggling to put together the perfect family Christmas. This film is an annual tradition for a lot of families thanks in part to Chase’s performance as his most popular character. John Hughes’ signature humor is all over the movie and makes this one of the funniest holiday movie options to choose from. The film also contains several memorable performances from the supporting cast like Randy Quaid as Cousin Eddie and Beverly D’Angelo as Ellen Griswold. There are countless comedies about holidays spent with in-laws and other family members but this one stands out amongst the pack.

Home Alone (1990) PG: This is another choice that is already popular amongst families and is a holiday staple all over the country. Directed by Chris Columbus and written by John Hughes, “Home Alone” stars Macaulay Culkin as Kevin McCallister in one of the biggest breakout performances for a child actor of all time. Kevin is forgotten and left at home when the rest of his family takes off for Christmas vacation, leaving Kevin to face off against the wet bandits. The bandits, played by Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern, go head to head with McCallister in a battle of wits as they try to break into Kevin’s home. All of the leads work great together and the result is a film with lots of laughs that has a powerful emotional foundation, especially for younger viewers.

A Christmas Story (1983) PG: This film is a classic coming of age story set at Christmas time to give it more of a sentimental punch. Peter Billingsley stars as Ralphie Parker in another career defining role that has become one of the most memorable Christmas characters ever. Red Ryder Bee Bee Guns may be the biggest beneficiary of the film. They will be remembered forever along with a couple other classic moments in this film like the tongue on the flag pole or the now-famous quote, “you’ll shoot your eye out kid.” This film will probably appear on any top Christmas movie list you’ll find but if you haven’t seen it, it’ definitely worth your while and may become a new traditional choice for you and your family as well.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964): One of the oldest choices on this list, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” is a stop-motion animated film all about Santa’s most famous reindeer. It was made for television and runs for just 53 minutes but for a lot of young adults starting families this might be the first Christmas movie you saw. Directors Maury Laws and Larry Roemer pack a lot into those 53 minutes including lessons about bullying, action, comedy and a moral about what makes everyone special. This a particularly nostalgic edition to the list but all the lessons and points made still hold up today.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966): I went back and forth on whether or not include this version of the Grinch or the modern version starring Jim Carrey. Both of them are great movies with some slightly different takes on the same moral lesson. That being said, the original still holds up as a great Christmas film today. We all know the story the Grinch and his relationship with the citizens of Whoville but if you haven’t taken the time to watch the full story unfold, it’s a particularly great movie option for Christmas Eve.

It’s a Wonderful Life (1946): One of the most famous and iconic Christmas movies of all time, “It’s a Wonderful Life” stars James Stewart as George Bailey. Bailey is a banker in the small town of Bedford Falls. Bailey has made several sacrifices and choices in his life that have helped his community but when we meet him in the film on Christmas Eve, Bailey has fallen into a deep depression and is even contemplating suicide. Bailey is visited by his guardian angel Clarence Odbody, played by Thomas Mitchell. Odbody takes Bailey to visit different points in his life and shows him how the world would be if things had gone differently for George. This is an instant holiday classic for a reason, the moral of learning to appreciate what you have and gaining perspective makes this one of the most impactful films you can watch this Christmas season.

The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) PG: This movie is a different kind of Christmas movie. Thanks to director Tim Burton and the animated world he creates for this movie, the movie has both a Halloween and Christmas vibe. The film follows Jack Skellington after he puts on another successful Halloween in his home Halloweenland. After seemingly an eternity of focusing on Halloween, Jack is beginning to lose his enthusiasm and fears that Halloweenland is losing its meaning. Jack wanders over into Christmastown while contemplating his life and discovers a brand-new holiday to get invested in. “The Nightmare Before Christmas” is a creative, touching film about two holidays colliding in a fantasy world.

Miracle on 34th Street (1947): Similar to “It’s a Wonderful Life,” this movie is already one of the most famous Christmas films ever made. This film features an Oscar-winning performance from Edmund Gwenn as Kris Kringle to go along with some other iconic characters like Maureen O’Hara as Doris Walker and Natalie Wood as Susan Walker. This film has some drama and stakes involved in the plot but by the end you just feel warm inside watching the story play out. The film hammers home a warm, sentimental message that is sure to brighten your holiday weekend. Odds are you’ve seen this one at least once before but in case you haven’t, don’t let anyone spoil the conclusion for you before you see it.

A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965): The Peanuts’ holiday special is another selection on this list with a short run time, but it still holds up as a Christmas classic. You’re already familiar with the cast of Peanuts characters so you’re dropped right into the Christmas scenario from the opening scene. Charlie Brown isn’t having a great time with the rest of his friends and is trying to find a way to enjoy himself when Lucy suggests that he direct the Christmas play. From that point, some things don’t go according to plan and without spoiling anything, the gang learns the true meaning of Christmas by the end of the movie. This one would be a great watch for families with younger kids, especially if the parents grew up with the Peanuts crew.

A Christmas Carol (1951): This is a Christmas story that has been adapted, retold and modernized countless times, but the 1951 version directed by Brian Desmond Hurst and starring Alastair Sim as Ebenezer Scrooge may be the most faithful to Charles Dickens’ original story. We follow Scrooge throughout the film, a wealthy man who refuses to use his money to make contributions within his community, as he goes on a journey through time to learn a crucial lesson. After being visited by three spirits, we see Scrooge’s arc come full circle as he ends the film a changed man. “A Christmas Carol” connected with countless readers when it was written by Charles Dickens in 1843 and the lessons learned are still important today. You can never go wrong with this classic this time of year so if you haven’t seen it, this year is your chance to get in on the tradition held by families all over the country.

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