By Tressa Eckermann, Senior Staff Writer
Is there anything more divisive than holiday movies? Some people love them and start pulling them out in early November, while others pray for the time when they stop playing on constant rotation. But there are some movies that have ingrained themselves in my mind and the minds of others.
1. “Love Actually” (2003)
I’m not a big holiday movie fan, but this is one of two movies that I absolutely have to watch every year. “Love Actually” follows the intersecting lives of eight couples and features a wonderful cast all at their charming best including, Hugh Grant, Emma Thompson, Alan Rickman, Liam Neeson, Colin Firth and the film’s standout, Bill Nighy, as an aging rock star who wants desperately to reclaim his faded fame. It’s such a lovely and charming film that isn’t actually about Christmas, but revolves around that time of year.
2. “Die Hard” (1988)
The best Christmas movie ever? I think so, and apparently so do a lot of people in England. A U.K. poll of favorite Christmas movies placed “Die Hard” at No. 8. Probably one of the greatest actions movies ever, “Die Hard” follows John McClane (Bruce Willis), a New York City police officer stuck in an L.A. high-rise with a bunch of machine-gun wielding German robbers, led by one of film’s best villains, Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman). This is one of my all time favorites and has long since become a holiday tradition in my family.
3. “Scrooged” (1988)
One of the strangest movies based on “A Christmas Carol,” one of the most classic stories of all time, “Scrooged” features one of Bill Murray’s funniest and most unique performances. A cynical TV executive is visited by three spirits aiming to teach him a different life lesson. “Scrooged” also features one of my favorite endings in any movie ever.
4. “It’s a Wonderful Life” (1946)
This is the perennial classic of holiday movies and probably one of the biggest tear-jerkers in film history. Jimmy Stewart plays George Bailey, a down-on-his-luck small town businessman who is shown what the lives of those around him would have been like if he never existed. It’s one of those movies that is played every year and makes you cry every time. It is a classic in the truest sense of the word.
5. “A Christmas Story” (1983)
Who doesn’t have a memory of Ralphie and his Red Ryder BB gun? This is one of those movies that seems to define the childhoods of so many people. It’s probably the simplest and most relatable film on the list, because what kid hasn’t pined for a coveted toy?
6. “White Christmas” (1954)
“White Christmas” is one of the most overlooked holiday films. Two performers (Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye) fall in love with a sister act (Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen) and work together to save a failing Vermont inn.
7. “Holiday Inn” (1942)
Another completely overlooked film, “Holiday Inn” finds Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire working at an inn only open on the holidays vie for the attention of a beautiful performer (Marjorie Reynolds). Charming, sweet and funny, this is a great Christmas movie that looks like it was filmed in a snow globe.
8. “Miracle on 34th Street” (1947)
This movie is so good that, yes, you actually want to believe in Santa Claus. A young Natalie Wood plays Susan, a young girl raised by her cynical mother to believe that there is no real magic or fantasy in the world. After a man who calls himself Kris Kringle and claims to be Santa takes a job in a department store, the world begins to believe it, too.
9. “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” (1966)
Another classic from childhood, “How the Grinch stole Christmas!” has had many incarnations, but the best is the 1966 animated version that still runs every season and leaves me with a warm Christmas glow.
10. “The Nightmare Before Christmas” (1993)
Perhaps an unconventional choice, but this one pulls double duty as both a Christmas movie and a Halloween movie. Innovative and unique, Chris Sarandon voices the timeless character of Jack Skellington, the king of Halloween who discovers the world of Christmastown and struggles to introduce his residents to that new world.