I have a love/hate relationship with Christmas every year. I love the idea of the holiday but can’t stand having to get ready for it. Sure, there is nothing like seeing someone open a gift and smile and squee with delight but there’s a lot of work behind that moment. The one thing I do love are the Christmas movies. So here are my Top 5: Christmas Movies for 2014.
This list is for this holiday season and will most likely change next year but you never know. Regardless, it’s always fun to make lists for others to read and mock me for. All five of these films I watch every Christmas without fail.
This one is easy for me. If you know me or listened to the show you know that I consider It’s A Wonderful Life not only the best Christmas movie but also the best movie ever made. A classic that gets a lot of negative vibes because, like the Ten Commandments (on Easter), it gets played every year at least once. If you are not familiar with the flick, it’s simple. George Bailey is at a moment of crisis in his life and makes a life altering decision. When that happens, forces conspire to help him understand the truth about his life: That no man is a failure, who has friends. It’s an often overlooked aspect that the film’s dark theme is actually one of hope, not despair. In the end we, like George, are reminded that life is hard at times but there are always people around willing to help us, if we just ask.
A great action comedy that many forget actually takes place over the Christmas holidays. It’s not hard to see why, since the whole movie takes place in L.A. They don’t get much snow in the land of Hollywood celebrities. This movie made Mel Gibson a household name and a bona fide movie star that could open movies to huge box office returns. As the newly teamed Murtaugh and Riggs are investigating the death of a girl, they discover a nefarious drug plot just bubbling under the surface. This leads to an epic, bad-ass fight on the front lawn of Murtaugh’s home between Riggs and the bad-ass Mr. Joshua (played by the insane but great Gary Busey). Another film with dark undertones about suicide and a loss of self worth until Riggs realizes he has something to live for. A classic example of 80’s action and Christmas movies done right.
Hands down one of the best pure action movies of it’s era. Bruce Willis rockets from TV’s Moonlighting to box office mega hero with his career moment as John McClane, a cop from New York who comes out to L.A. to visit his estranged wife and kids for the holidays. He is treated to first class treatment as he is brought to his wife Holly’s work before going to see the kids. As he arrives and learns that Holly is moving on from him he tries to relax after a long flight only to realize that the building has come under siege by terrorists. Well, at least that’s what the cops & FBI outside think. John learns the truth is that the leader, Hans, is really just a thief looking to steal the bearer bonds in the company vault. Mayhem ensues as John disrupts the plans of Hans and his men throughout the film. Like I said, a great action film with tons of sarcastic humour that always makes me smile.
The story of con man Billy Ray Valentine played by Eddie Murphy and an executive Louis Winthrop III played by Dan Aykroyd who, because of a bet by Aykroyd’s bosses, switch positions in life. The Duke brothers make a bet to figure out the battle of nature vs. nurture and which is right. Louis is a rising star from the Dukes and is set to marry their niece while Billy Ray is working cons on the street as a blind, legless hustler. Randolph’s belief that Billy Ray is just as capable as Louis is proven right as the story progresses. Just as Mortimer needs to also accept that Louis, regardless of breeding and upbringing, turns to petty crime in a short period of time. The laughs are always present here even though a few points are a little far fetched. The one thing that isn’t far fetched is the climax on the NY Stock Exchange, considered to be one of the most accurate depictions of trading in film. Fine performances by all including Aykroyd in his only other truly great performance of his career.
A classic of Christmas and Bill Murray’s career. His performance is quite remarkable throughout. Here he plays Frank Cross, a TV president of IBC that is about to air it’s biggest Christmas TV event ever. This movie suffers a few problems along the way in the story but it’s held together by the powerhouse performance of Murray. He is essentially doing a one man show within a larger frame work of loosely relatable scenes from Dicken’s A Christmas Carol. Cross (filling in for Scrooge) is visited by 3 hilarious ghosts that show him his past, present and future, much to Frank’s chagrin. All of this culminates in the final act for the big monologue he gives when realizes the errors of his ways. Sure, he gives much of the same character beats in Groundhog Day, but here he is doing a lot with very little. A great movie to have fun watching during the holidays.
So there it is, my list. There are so many more that I could have added but I wanted to go with what I think of as the best representatives of the group. If you are looking for something to watch this holiday season, give some of these a shot.
If you’re gonna geek out, GEEK HARD!