By Jane TV
Thank you to everyone who provided input in our edhat holiday movie poll.
Here are some edhat readers’ favorites and some of my personal selections for the holiday season (movie posters and synopses provided by Rotten Tomatoes):
MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET (1947)
In this Christmas classic, an old man going by the name of Kris Kringle fills in for an intoxicated Santa in Macy’s annual Thanksgiving Day parade. Kringle proves to be such a hit that he is soon appearing regularly at the chain’s main store in midtown Manhattan. When Kringle surprises customers and employees alike by claiming that he really is Santa Claus, it leads to a court case to determine his mental health and, more importantly, his authenticity.
Starring: Maureen O’Hara, John Payne, Edmund Gwenn, Gene Lockhart
IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE (1946)
After George Bailey (James Stewart) wishes he had never been born, an angel (Henry Travers) is sent to earth to make George’s wish come true. George starts to realize how many lives he has changed and impacted, and how they would be different if he was never there.
Starring: James Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore, Thomas Mitchell
A CHRISTMAS STORY (1983)
Based on the humorous writings of author Jean Shepherd, this beloved holiday movie follows the wintry exploits of youngster Ralphie Parker (Peter Billingsley), who spends most of his time dodging a bully (Zack Ward) and dreaming of his ideal Christmas gift, a “Red Ryder air rifle.” Frequently at odds with his cranky dad (Darren McGavin) but comforted by his doting mother (Melinda Dillon), Ralphie struggles to make it to Christmas Day with his glasses and his hopes intact.
Starring: Peter Billingsley, Darren McGavin, Melinda Dillon, Ian Petrella
DIE HARD (1988)
New York City policeman John McClane (Bruce Willis) is visiting his estranged wife (Bonnie Bedelia) on Christmas Eve. He joins her at a holiday party in the headquarters of the Japanese-owned business she works for. But the festivities are interrupted by a group of terrorists who take over the exclusive high-rise, and everyone in it. Very soon McClane realizes that there’s no one to save the hostages — but him.
Starring: Bruce Willis, Alan Rickman, Bonnie Bedelia, Reginald VelJohnson
Buddy (Will Ferrell) was accidentally transported to the North Pole as a toddler and raised to adulthood among Santa’s elves. Unable to shake the feeling that he doesn’t fit in, the adult Buddy travels to New York, in full elf uniform, in search of his real father. As it happens, this is Walter Hobbs (James Caan), a cynical businessman. After a DNA test proves this, Walter reluctantly attempts to start a relationship with the childlike Buddy with increasingly chaotic results.
Starring: Will Ferrell, James Caan, Bob Newhart, Edward Asner
WHITE CHRISTMAS (1954)
Singers Bob Wallace (Bing Crosby) and Phil Davis (Danny Kaye) join sister act Betty (Rosemary Clooney) and Judy Haynes (Vera-Ellen) to perform a Christmas show in rural Vermont. There, they run into Gen. Waverly (Dean Jagger), the boys’ commander in World War II, who, they learn, is having financial difficulties; his quaint country inn is failing. So what’s the foursome to do but plan a yuletide miracle: a fun-filled musical extravaganza that’s sure to put Waverly and his business in the black!
Starring: Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, Vera-Ellen
THE SANTA CLAUSE (1994)
Divorced dad Scott (Tim Allen) has custody of his son (Eric Lloyd) on Christmas Eve. After he accidentally kills a man in a Santa suit, they are magically transported to the North Pole, where an elf explains that Scott must take Santa’s place before the next Christmas arrives. Scott thinks he’s dreaming, but over the next several months he gains weight and grows an inexplicably white beard. Maybe that night at the North Pole wasn’t a dream after all — and maybe Scott has a lot of work to do.
Starring: Tim Allen, Judge Reinhold, Wendy Crewson, Eric Lloyd
This made-for-TV Christmas special is a classic. Based on a Dr. Seuss book, it is about a Christmas-hating Grinch who wants to make everyone as miserable on Christmas as he is. The poor, small-hearted Scrooge learns the true meaning of Christmas through the loving Whos in Whoville.
Starring: Boris Karloff, June Foray, Thurl Ravenscroft, Eugene Poddany
HOLIDAY INN (1942)
In this Irving Berlin musical, Jim (Bing Crosby) and Lila are members of a performing trio who plan to quit and run a country hotel. When Lila says she has fallen in love with the dancer in the act, Ted (Fred Astaire), Jim leaves town with a broken heart. After turning the inn into a holidays-only live entertainment venue, Jim winds up booking — and falling for — Linda (Marjorie Reynolds). But when Ted shows up at the place after being dumped by Lila, he too sets his sights on beautiful Linda.
Starring: Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire, Marjorie Reynolds, Virginia Dale
A CHRISTMAS CAROL (1951)
Crotchety Victorian businessman Ebenezer Scrooge (Alastair Sim) has no use for festivity, even at Christmas. After resentfully allowing timid clerk Bob Cratchit (Mervyn Johns) to have the holiday to spend with his loving wife (Hermione Baddeley) and family, Scrooge is swept into a nightmare. The ghost of his late partner, Jacob Marley (Michael Hordern), appears, warning that Ebenezer will be visited by three more spirits who will show the coldhearted man the error of his parsimonious behavior.
Starring: Alastair Sim, Kathleen Harrison, Mervyn Johns, Hermione Baddeley
As the holidays approach, Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) wants to have a perfect family Christmas, so he pesters his wife, Ellen (Beverly D’Angelo), and children, as he tries to make sure everything is in line, including the tree and house decorations. However, things go awry quickly. His hick cousin, Eddie (Randy Quaid), and his family show up unplanned and start living in their camper on the Griswold property. Even worse, Clark’s employers renege on the holiday bonus he needs.
Starring: Chevy Chase, Beverly D’Angelo, Randy Quaid, Diane Ladd
In this modern take on Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” Frank Cross (Bill Murray) is a wildly successful television executive whose cold ambition and curmudgeonly nature has driven away the love of his life, Claire Phillips (Karen Allen). But after firing a staff member, Eliot Loudermilk (Bobcat Goldthwait), on Christmas Eve, Frank is visited by a series of ghosts who give him a chance to re-evaluate his actions and right the wrongs of his past.
Starring: Bill Murray, Karen Allen, John Forsythe, John Glover
HOME ALONE (1990)
When bratty 8-year-old Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin) acts out the night before a family trip to Paris, his mother (Catherine O’Hara) makes him sleep in the attic. After the McCallisters mistakenly leave for the airport without Kevin, he awakens to an empty house and assumes his wish to have no family has come true. But his excitement sours when he realizes that two con men (Joe Pesci, Daniel Stern) plan to rob the McCallister residence, and that he alone must protect the family home.
Starring: Macaulay Culkin, Joe Pesci, Daniel Stern, Catherine O’Hara
LOVE ACTUALLY (2003)
Nine intertwined stories examine the complexities of the one emotion that connects us all: love. Among the characters explored are David (Hugh Grant), the handsome newly elected British prime minister who falls for a young junior staffer (Martine McCutcheon), Sarah (Laura Linney), a graphic designer whose devotion to her mentally ill brother complicates her love life, and Harry (Alan Rickman), a married man tempted by his attractive new secretary.
Starring: Hugh Grant, Laura Linney, Colin Firth, Alan Rickman
THE PREACHER’S WIFE (1996)
Starring: Denzel Washington, Whitney Houston, Courtney Vance, Gregory Hines
THE FAMILY STONE (2005)
Everett Stone (Dermot Mulroney) wants to bring his girlfriend, Meredith Morton (Sarah Jessica Parker), to meet his bohemian Connecticut family at Christmas. Straitlaced Meredith, feeling she needs backup, asks her sister Julie (Claire Danes) to come along. Hoping to win the approval of her boyfriend’s parents Sybil (Diane Keaton) and Kelly (Craig T. Nelson) and the rest of the family, instead Meredith succeeds only in highlighting her uptight personality and making Everett doubt his intentions.
Starring: Dermot Mulroney, Sarah Jessica Parker, Diane Keaton, Luke Wilson
THE HOLIDAY (2006)
Two women, one (Cameron Diaz) from America and one (Kate Winslet) from Britain, swap homes at Christmastime after bad breakups with their boyfriends. Each woman finds romance with a local man (Jude Law, Jack Black) but realizes that the imminent return home may end the relationship.
Starring: Cameron Diaz, Kate Winselt, Jude Law, Jack Black
A BAD MOMS CHRISTMAS (2017)
Under-appreciated and overburdened moms Amy, Kiki and Carla rebel against the challenges and expectations of the Super Bowl for moms: Christmas. As if creating the perfect holiday for their families isn’t hard enough, they’ll have to do it while hosting and entertaining their own respective mothers when they come to visit.
Starring: Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell, Kathryn Hahn, Cheryl Hines