Christmas is a holiday that lends itself to storytelling. There’s the actual Christmas story about the birth of Christ, but Christmas is a big idea, so there are a lot of different ways to tell stories about it. There are so many versions of the Santa Claus story, families get together and tell stories, there are so many beautiful picture books and poems, TV shows have Christmas specials, and of course, every year we get new Christmas movies.
While I’m perfectly happy to be kind of cliche and sentimental at all times, I practically luxuriate in it during the Christmas season. My favorite Christmas movies are no exception. Here are the five that are on my MUST watch once December hits.
1. Holiday Inn (1942) – I fell in love with this movie from watching it on TCM, where they cut out the unfortunate scene on Lincoln’s Birthday, so discovering that scene was a bit sad. I’ve tried, but I can’t eradicate the movie from my system. The music, the dancing, and the premise all speak to me. I’d love a quiet life in the country over hectic and harried ambition, combining work with holiday celebration and creativity. What can I say? Irving Berlin has a grip on me.
2. Santa Claus, the Movie (1986) – This is a true classic for me, even though no one I know seems to know what I’m talking about when I mention it. It’s a hokey 80s movie with obvious product placement, but it also has the best Santa Claus origin story. The movie is worth watching for the first act alone – it’s really beautiful if you stop before the wacky 80s story gets started. I find the rest of it fun, though too.
3. Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer (1964) – I bet I don’t really need to explain this one. It’s a true classic. Every year, Christmas begins with the soundtrack to this movie immediately following the Thanksgiving meal. Yeah, Santa’s mean and there’s no real explanation for why some of the toys are misfits, but I’m a sucker for stop-animation and Burl Ives.
4. Christmas in Connecticut (1945) – A gorgeous country home, an implausible story, incredible 40s fashion, a horse drawn carriage in the snow, and S Z Sakall? Sign me up. Barbara Stanwyk plays a proto-Martha Stewart who lives in the city but writes articles about a rustic country home life and cooking, about which she knows nothing. It’s a great ruse, until her boss decides to visit her for some home cooking at Christmastime. Holiday hijinks ensue.
5. The Hess truck commercials from the 80s – Ok, these aren’t movies, but these are instant nostalgia generators. Everything we watched at Christmastime when I was little was taped from television, so we spent a lot of time fast-fowarding through commercials. We’d always stop to watch the Hess truck commercials. I loved playing with my Hess truck.
There are a lot more too. Here’s my list of honorable mention:
- How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966).
- It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
- Love Actually (2003)
- Bridget Jones Diary (2001)
- Frosty the Snowman (1969)
- Little Drummer Boy (1968)
- The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)