Doing a Christmas movie count seemed pertinent to a column about choices in movies during the holidays. I say holidays because the politically correct term is “holiday,” but my research says most of the films you’ll see are Christmas movies.
I thought there would be a couple of hundred. I stopped counting at 200 and barely touched the list.
The most prolific source of Christmas movies is the Hallmark Channel. Those hooked on all things Hallmark can find a royal Christmas, a crown for Christmas and one about a princess. There’s magic and wishes, films about ornaments, mistletoe and kisses.
There’s a night before the night before, once upon a holiday, families, nutcrackers, Christmas lists, a Christmas makeover and a snow bride.
Once upon a holiday leads to help for the holidays for those not ready for Christmas. Those who are naughty or nice can trade Christmas, cancel Christmas, correct Christmas and even get lucky on Christmas while angels sing.
Then there’s my favorite: Murder She Baked.
For the rest of us, TNT blasts A Christmas Story nonstop for 24 hours each year. On other TV channels, or on this movie application or that, we can catch Elf, stay Home Alone — and Home Alone 2 — or take a National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. Your i’s can be dotted and t’s crossed with the Santa Clause and its sequels, while we Jingle All the Way. Or we can trade places in Trading Places with those wanting to take Four Christmases.
Bored yet? Want something deeper? There are 51 versions and adaptations of Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol. The list of those involved include Jim Carrey, Bill Murray, Alastair Sim and Star Trek and X-Men’s Patrick Stewart. Not to be outdone, the Muppets and cartoon characters Micky Mouse, Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Mr. Magoo, the Flintstones and the Smurfs gave Dickens’ classic a shot. Then there’s Dennis the Menace, Happy Days’ Henry Winkler, horror master Vincent Price, and one pleading for world peace called a United Nations special and written by the Twilight Zone’s Rod Serling. Even famed impressionist Rich Little made an impression.
With all those ghosts, A Christmas Carol has a bit of horror. Speaking of horror, there’s even a Christmas horror movie called Black Santa.
A Christmas Carol is actually my all-time favorite story, and Dr. Seuss did sort of a take-off on the topic with his famed How the Grinch Stole Christmas. You can grab the dull but live Jim Carrey version from 2000, or the wonderful Boris Karloff narrated animated TV classic from 1966.
For the kids, the list is endless. Animated flicks abound such as A Charlie Brown Christmas, The Nightmare Before Christmas, The Polar Express, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, A Mickey Christmas, Fred Claus, and my new animated favorite and the very sweet Arthur Christmas from 2011.
Non-Christmas Christmas movies also dot the landscape: Love Actually, Die Hard, Gremlins, The Ref and While You Were Sleeping.
Then there are the true classics:
It’s a Wonderful Life — 1946
Miracle on 34th Street — 1947
White Christmas — 1954
Meet Me in St. Louis — 1944
The Bishop’s Wife — 1947
The Shop Around the Corner — 1940
Holiday Affair — 1949
I only watch three Christmas movies every year. It’s a Wonderful Life floats my boat and is the only film on the list that I catch every year. The classic message of never knowing how important you really are to others makes it impossible to keep a dry eye.
The second film on my list is The Family Man with Nicholas Cage and Tea Leoni. The what-if film is Scrooge-like and has a wonderful payoff. An honorable mention is Christmas with the Kranks. It’s not that good but damn, the scene at the end of the film leaves you needing a hanky or two and saves the movie and makes it worth seeing.
My new favorite Christmas movie is Bad Santa or Badder Santa (the unrated version). Bad Santa 2 isn’t all that good, but it’s an option. Bad Santa is the very best, and — as shallow as the character is — maybe the deepest but certainly the most disgusting role Billy Bob Thornton has every played. This too has Dickens and Grinchly themes that can’t be beat.
Everything you’ve ever wanted in a Christmas movie easily can be found, except films about the birth of Jesus. I suppose in the hundreds of movies I didn’t count there are more, but a Google search only brought up a few.
The Star is one. It’s also one of three Christmas movies that have opened so far this year. Two of them came to us before Thanksgiving. The others are A Bad Moms Christmas and The Man Who Invented Christmas. The animated flick follows the birth of Jesus from the point of view of animals.
Another is The Nativity Story from 2006. It takes a dramatic look at what Mary and Joseph went through. Mary the Mother of Jesus was made for TV in 1999. Then there’s 1985’s Hail Mary where Mary plays basketball and works at her father’s gas station. Joseph is a high school dropout cab driver. Last is a serious French film called Mary of Nazareth.
That’s about it.
And with that, Happy holiday moving watching to you all.