We all have our favorite holiday movies we like to watch as a means of tradition or for pure enjoyment. I decided to compose a list of holiday movie musts-haves that make up my own particular holiday library and thought I’d share. I’d love to hear your favorites and why you love them, as well as whether or not you have family traditions that go along with the movie.
Here’s my list. (By the way, this does not include Hallmark movies; I decided that I would keep that list separate, since I am addicted to them, and they should be kept in their own category. If you’d like to read about my favorite Hallmark movies, read this previous blog post. It also does not include cartoons such as “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” or clay-mation like “Rudolf The Red-Nosed Reindeer.”)
I stuck with feature-length films. So, below is the list as I count down to number one. But first, my two honorable mentions….
Honorable Mention: A Christmas Story
Honorable Mention: The Polar Express
About the Honorable Mentions
Some readers may be surprised that I put “A Christmas Story” as an Honorable Mention, as well as “The Polar Express.” While both of these movies should be included in the holiday library, I judged my list by what I “must see” each year. These two, while they are excellent, are not two that would be in my personal Top 10, though I know others would beg to differ.
Who can resist a movie that has tons of stars and several stories going on that make up this film, which is centered around the holidays. It’s become a fan favorite, and has spawned many other movies that are styled after this film. Some of the stars of “Love Actually” include Hugh Grant, Colin Firth, Emma Thompson, Alan Rickman, Liam Neeson, and Laura Linney.
9. White Christmas
Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, and Vera-Ellen star in this classic musical-romance centered around an army unit that reunites years later in order to support a retired general’s New England Inn. Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye are a variety act that hooks up with a sister-act. You can image what follows when they decide to “put on a show” in Vermont.
8. Christmas in Connecticut
Barbara Stanwyck and Sydney Greenstreet star in this whacky romantic-comedy. Stanwyck is Elizabeth Lane, a food writer who pretends to be the perfect housewife in order to get promoted and impress her boss.
My kids adore this movie, and my husband and I love it, too. It’s good fun and sweetly sentimental. An impressive cast makes up the hilarious good time and includes Will Ferrell, Zoey Deschanel, James Caan, Edward Asner, Bob Newhart and Mary Steenburgen.
6. Miracle on 34th Street
Great movie that is timeless. My son watched it for the first time last year (age 10) and thought it was great. The plot: Little girl believes the Macy’s Santa is real and must convince her mother of the same. However, he is deemed insane and a lawyer must come to the rescue to save him. Stars Maureen O’Hara, Edmund Gwenn, and Natalie Wood.
5. The Holiday
A romantic-comedy starring Kate Winslet, Cameron Diaz, Jude Law, and Jack Black, this film is perfect for the holidays. Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz, down on love and luck, decide to do a house swap for the holidays. Romance ensues for each and the movie takes place in both Los Angeles and the Cotswolds in England. Charming, funny, and contemporary.
4. The Bishop’s Wife
Someone bottle up Cary Grant. He’s debonair as an angel sent down to help a bishop and his wife get through the holidays because the bishop is obessed with building a new cathedral. Enter Cary Grant, who begins to have feelings for, you guessed it, The Bishop’s Wife.
3. A Christmas Carol
George C. Scott’s portrayal of Ebenezer Scrooge is spot on. This film, made in 1984, depicts Dickens’s classic book very well. I’ve come to really enjoy this version and am thankful for how closely it follows the novel.
2. Scrooge (The Musical)
I know I have two films about Scrooge and his ghosts on this list, but Albert Finney’s Scrooge is moving. This movie musical may sound corny, but it is far from it. You will fall in love with Albert Finney and the music is perfect. I can’t watch it and not get teary-eyed every year at the ending.
1. It’s a Wonderful Life
Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed offer amazing performances in this movie that transcends time and makes us all, each year, be thankful for our wonderful lives. If you have not seen this film, it’s a must. You will love mean Mr. Potter, adore Clarence the guardian angel, and fall in love with Bedford Falls and the characters that reside in the town.