Monday, December 12, 2011

My 5 Favorite Christmas Movies of All Time

You asked for it (no, you didn't), so here it is. Brian O'Rourke's five favorite Christmas movies of all time:

5) Lethal Weapon. Richard Donner, Shane Black, Danny Glover, and Mel Gibson make buddy-cop movie history in this tightly-plotted actioner that combines all the cliches in the book and rises above the trappings of the genre. And, uh, it's set around Christmas.

4) Trading Places. Old school Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd, er, trade places in this comedy set in Philly during the holiday season. Murphy's a homeless grifter/self-proclaimed "karate man," while Aykroyd's a yuppie stock guru who's next in line to run the big firm and marry the buttoned-up, but not exactly prudish, blue-blood. Aykroyd's bosses orchestrate a switch for both men, elevating Murphy out of the slum and tossing Aykroyd into the gutter, and hilarity ensues.

3)Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. It's no coincidence that Shane Black shows up on this list more than once, given his penchant for setting action flicks around Christmas. This one's part deconstruction, part glorious homage, to action movies and private eye stories of old. Eat your heart out Raymond Chandler. My favorite line from the film is delivered by Val Kilmer, who plays a gay PI named, uh, Gay Perry: "Merry Christmas. Sorry I f--ked you."

2) Ernest Saves Christmas. The inexplicable juggernaut that was Jim Varney reached its cinematic peak with this film. Okay, that's not saying much, but still I fell in love with this movie growing up and tuned in faithfully each week to Ernest's Saturday morning show. Sometimes nostalgia trumps quality, and this is one of them times.

1) Die Hard. A total anomaly: an action movie set during Christmas not penned by Shane Black. And a total triumph. The 80s were all about heavily-muscled supermen, like Arnie and Sly, who were able to mow down hundreds of faceless enemy soldiers (not that there's anything wrong with that) and take a few bullets while hardly breaking a sweat, till Bruce Willis showed up on the scene. Officer John McClane is very real, very in over his head, and very much a resourceful, everyman wise-ass who just might save the day. Directed by John McTiernan, this flick went on to become the quintessential action movie, much imitated and never matched. Alan Rickman nearly steals the show as one of the greatest villains of all time. And always remember, it's Gary Cooper that rides off into the sunset with Grace Kelly.

Honorable Mention: Scrooged, National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation,


Nathanael Green said...

Not even a mention of
Christmas Comes to Willow Creek

Jenna said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jenna said...

First off, Nate Green, you read my mind! The 80s terribleness definitely deserved at least an honorable mention.
I think I need to express my disappointment in this list in general (sorry, dear). I can assure all of you that Brian lives in a house where all things Christmas are valued - Christmas music, decorations and yes, movies. This list made me wonder if it has all been in vain...
On a serious note, I am having trouble limiting my list of films that should have been included. If we're going for the 'remotely Christmas related, but not Christmas themed' notion, then Love Actually should be on the list.
But when it comes to Christmas movies that appeal to us true fans, I think I have to get obscure and say you all NEED to track down this gem... a made-for-tv special from 1995... starring Robert Downey, Jr., Stockard Channing (with a ridiculous Scandanavian accent) and Leslie Nielsen... I'm getting the feeling that no one has any guesses. Ok, I'll end the suspense. It is called,Mr. Willowby's Christmas Tree. If you haven't seen it (and I know you haven't), you should. If you want to borrow my VHS copy, taped from TV, I'll require a deposit :)

seana said...

Mr. Willowby's Christmas, huh? I'm going to have to see if I can find that one.

Here's my five:

Pretty much any version of A Christmas Carol. Maybe the Alastair Sim version, but maybe the Albert Finney version. (I know, predictable.)

The Dead (James Joyce, John Huston, Angelica Huston--what's not to like?)

White Christmas--I can't watch it every year, but I can watch it some years.

The Santa Clause.

And don't forget A Christmas Story.

If I was going to do more, I'd also include Nightmare Before Christmas and yes, Love Actually.

Guys? Bill Nighy? Come on.

Anonymous said...

Nate -

I was leaving that for you or my wife to mention.

Anonymous said...

Babs -

I'll give an honorable mention to Love Actually.

Do I have to put a deposit down if I want to see Mr. Willowby?

Anonymous said...

Seana -

All very fine choices, though I have to admit I've never seen The Dead, which constitutes sacrilege on my part. Love the story, though.

And yeah, Bill Nighy is awesome.

seana said...

You should see it sometime. It's very well acted, and does actually make a great nostalgic Christmas flick.

Nathanael Green said...

Jenna, anything starring John Schneider and Tom Wopat should never be referred to as "terribleness."

I do have to say that while I have to support CCTWC because of its cast, I'm with Brian on his choice of Christmas movies.

Love, Actually was actually pretty good. And I'm eagerly awaiting the sequel, Science, Actually, starring my favorite Bill Nye.