Thursday, December 2, 2010

Ho-ho-ho: The best Christmas movies of all time

By Derrick Bang

Next to Halloween, Christmas remains the most popular time to gather friends and family members, surround yourself with food and enjoy a holiday-themed movie or two ... or three or six, depending on your level of commitment.

Far too often, though, the roster of movies for Christmas Eve or Christmas Day suffers from an acute lack of imagination. Everybody can rattle off It's a Wonderful Life, A Christmas Story and Home Alone, but where do we go from there?

While you'll find all three of those films cited below, I worked hard not to simply state the obvious.

To a degree, the challenge becomes harder every year, because — with a few exceptions — most of the best Christmas-themed films are decades and decades old. Many are in black-and-white, but try to be patient; I promise, the absence of color won't kill you. After all, story rules everything else; you might be surprised, halfway through one or more of these selections, that you're so wrapped up in the characters that you've completed forgotten about trivialities such as film stock.

As is true of any potentially significant historical event, one cannot truly judge a film's impact until it has been given a chance to stand the test of time. Hence, you won't find anything on the "classics" list newer than 1993.

That said, I still wonder where our modern holiday classics-in-the-making are hiding. Has Hollywood lost its ability to produce a poignant, well-made Christmas movie? Is trash such as Surviving Christmas, Fred Claus and Four Christmases really the best they can do?

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