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Top 10 Christmas Movies

This article was published on the original Sorry I’m Late.com on 30/12/2010.

Luke Miksa's: The Negative Space Bar


Honourable Mentions
Batman Returns, Trading Places, Bad Santa, Jingle All The Way, It’s A Wonderful Life
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Dishonourable mention
Santa’s Slay (2005)

Santa's Slay

What a terrible movie this is. But really, I don’t think the creators were really chasing an Academy nomination when they decided to cast former WCW Champion Bill Goldberg as a psychotic, murderous Santa Claus (because Santa is an anagram for Satan – get it?). The first scene involves Goldberg humorously killing off a bunch of annoying second string celebrities including Fran Drescher and Chris Kattan (and James Caan – why did he agree to this?). Goldberg tears through the movie killing, maiming and even smashing out some signature wrestling moves and catch phrases (and did I hear his theme music in one scene?).
…actually, this movie is pretty rad – the kind of movie that you laugh at, not with.
…wait; it’s produced by Brett Ratner: ewwwww!

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10
Die Hard (1988)

Die Hard

Yeah, Die Hard made my Christmas list. The Nakatomi-set action masterpiece is set on Christmas Eve – the Christmas decorations, snow and music are a dead giveaway (unlike Gruber’s minions who just wind up dead). Despite the body count McClane tallies up, Die Hard will always be a festive Christmas treat – as will the lesser-but-still great sequels.

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9
The Santa Clause (1994)

Santa Clause

They used to make us watch this seemingly every year in primary school, and it is now a nostalgic favourite. It doesn’t try to be ironic, complex or dark – yet refrains from being clichéd and trite; it’s just an easily accessible, enduring holiday classic.

The less we think about the dire sequels and Tim Allen’s seedy criminal past the better.

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8
A Christmas Story (1983)

A Christmas Story

Although a classic film in North America, A Christmas Story – as far as I can tell – is fairly unknown and unheard of around these parts. Which is a shame, because I watched it for the first time not long ago and I was very impressed with the screenplay, especially the many sub-plots which litter the film. It tops many lists as ‘best Christmas film of all time’, and rightly so. I recommend a viewing whenever you get a chance – because I’m betting you have never seen it, have you?

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7
Home Alone (1990)

Home Alone

This is classic Macaulay Culkin pre-oversaturation, pre-pubescence, and pre-his-brothers-are-actually-better-than-him. Home Alone – and it’s first sequel, but not the others – quickly became a family staple due to Culkin’s petulance appealing to children the world over, the character development and not-quite-cheesy sentimentality (thanks to maestro John Hughes) appealing to the older brigade, and slimy Pesci and Stern getting annihilated appealing to just about everyone.

Although the sequel is a blatant re-hash in a different setting (Old Man Marley = Pigeon Lady), the spirit was still the same.

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6
Edward Scissorhands (1990)

Edward Scissorhands

Tim Burton’s quintessential fairy tale is, for mine, a flawless piece of filmmaking. And, like a good half-dozen of his other films, it happens to be set at Christmas time; a visual and thematic aesthetic which he continually uses as a juxtaposition for his gothic tastes.

With that being said, there’s something special about any December-set Burton film where, despite the dark humour (and in the case of Scissorhands; Jim’s awesome death), there is something intangibly magical about his films that make them perfect yuletide fodder.

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5
Gremlins (1984)

Gremlins

Another straight from the Burton playbook; Joe Dante’s classic sees friendly Mogwai Gizmo accidently spawning the titular creatures who then proceed to go on a chaos-bender on Christmas night. Gremlins is the epitome of mis-marketing, as – for a supposed family film – it is tremendously violent and mean-spirited. But as I mentioned earlier in regards to Tim Burton, despite the absence of sickly-sweet Christmas tropes, Gremlins still satisfies those holiday requirements without condescension.

Also, I simply cannot refuse a chance to post one of my favourite all time movie moments: Phoebe Cates’ sad Christmas story!

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4
Scrooged (1988)

Scrooged

Out of the dozens of A Christmas Carol adaptations I could have picked, it came down to A Muppet Christmas Carol (tough luck, Rizzo) and the Bill Murray iteration from when Bill Murray was at the peak of his powers. Seriously, Bill Murray may not be any more smarmy or sarcastic in any of his other movies: a pretty big feat. If you are tantalised by an in-form Bill Murray starring in an 80’s-warped retelling of a Charles Dickens classic, I suggest you get on this.

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3
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

Nightmare Before Christmas

The Tim Burton produced* modern-day classic is a visual treat, rocks out some catchy tunes, and is generally pleasing all around. A perennial staple during December around these parts (although everything listed from here on is).

*Tim Burton is one of those filmmakers that have got a ton of ignorant people believing that he is responsible for every aspect of his films: directing, producing, writing, editing etc; everything bar acting in them. He is what’s known as a Scapegoat Director: as he gets all the credit for the good things (directing The Nightmare Before Christmas), but in turn solely gets heaped with the baggage of a failure (the script for Alice in Wonderland), neither of which was his responsibility.

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2
Elf (2003)

Elf

A bone-fide family Christmas classic; not many films from the last decade that lay claim to that distinction, but I believe Elf will be watched during the holidays for many years to come. Will Ferrell plays it like only Ferrell can: man-child. But instead of just being a knucklehead like in his other films, here it makes more sense as Buddy, the human raised by Elves who travels to New York to meet his biological father (James Caan, excellent). And he manages to do it within a Ratings Board approved G-rating.

And it also co-stars Zooey Deschanel, who if you didn’t know is actually my girlfriend. Just sayin’.

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1
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)

Christmas Vacation

If I told you that my parents let me watch Chevy Chase’s Vacation movies since I was a very young lad, does that make them bad parents or awesome parents?

I pick the latter, and out of all the Griswald adventures my absolute favourite is Christmas Vacation, in which Clark ambitiously invites his entire extended family – including Cousin Eddie – over for a Griswald Family Christmas. What follows are the usual misadventures you would expect from the perennially positive Clark – despite his many foibles and misfortunes.

I hope everyone had a safe and merry Christmas. As a gift to the both of you that read this, I present you with a gift: the classic Clark Griswald flip-out!

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