Miracles on 34th Street.
Photo: Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images
Funding Jeff Bezos’ penis rocket to Mars is not the right thing only The good thing about Amazon Prime: you can watch vacation movies for free! Some of these require you to watch a few videos to watch for free (or maybe some commercials), but free is free. You can save those dollars for a new Echo. (Disclaimer: We didn’t capture the 2017 Mariah Carey animated special All I want for Christmas is you, about a little Mariah’s search for a Christmas puppy. It’s out there if you want it, but you really, really shouldn’t see it.)
Aardman, the people behind the terrific stop motion Wallace and Gromit Shorts, provided this animated Christmas yarn that envisions the North Pole as a high-tech control center that delivers toys on Christmas Eve. But when a gift doesn’t make it to its destination, sweet, nerdy Arthur (voiced by James McAvoy) – Santa’s son who, unlike the rest of the family, hasn’t lost his joy for the season – has to go to one Impossible Mission–Style Quest to ensure his safe arrival. Arthur Christmas lacks the overwrought excess of most children’s films – it’s endearing and ironic rather than brutal and loud – and you can’t top a supporting cast that includes Hugh Laurie, Bill Nighy, Jim Broadbent and Imelda Staunton. An action film with heart, laughter and Christmas cheer: how can you resist?
Cary Grant hasn’t played an angel in any other film, but he probably should have: he’s kind of a great angel! A bishop (played by David Niven, played nicely) is praying for a new cathedral for his church, and Grant shows up to help him… but will end up expecting a larger part of the church fellowship and bishop’s life than anyone else. This is soothing old-school Hollywood entertainment at its best, feel-good and charmingly weightless: The bishop’s wife feels beamed out of a bygone, much better world. It was remade in 1996, starring Denzel Washington in the role of Cary Grant opposite Whitney Houston. Stick to the original.
There are so many A Christmas song adjustments, and ironic adaptations of this Adaptations and reinventions and reinventions of reinventions, that there is something pleasing and charming about a simple, straightforward adaptation of Dickens’ book as he wrote it. This CBS TV movie stars George C. Scott as Scrooge, and he’s excellent George C. Scott-y in the role: cranky, bug-eyed, mean, but with a hint of sweetness underneath. Many of you have probably fallen asleep on your grandparents’ couch while watching this film, and it was certainly a pleasant, warming and comforting rest. The film plays like a snuggly old blanket that’s only half remembered.
We have the old “Is that it film a Christmas film? is This one?” Discourse like you: Just so you know whatever you’re thinking Die Hard, we can confirm that it is not available for free streaming on Amazon Prime. but Edward with the scissor hands is, and while it takes a while before it turns out to be a Christmas movie, in the end it unquestionably is one. The film’s suburban satire about empty sprawl actually turns out to be something warmer and sadder, exemplified by the snow being released from Edward’s ice sculptures, letting an older Kim (Winona Ryder) know he’s still alive so many years later. The holidays are a constant in the world of Edward with the scissor hands: They are an annual reminder that the world is still standing.
About a month after the release of Beat drenched loveIn the film, which for Adam Sandler signaled a turn toward more serious fare, the Sandman went back to his old tricks Eight crazy nights, an animated film in which he voices (among other things) Davey, the town drunk who must change his life or face jail time. This is the immature, second-rate Sandler from BillyMadison and Lucky Gilmore, and the jokes are undeniably youthful. Yet they can also be sleazy fun – especially if you’ve got kids tired of the heartwarming syrup – and of course there’s a version of Sandler’s popular “Hanukkah Song” as an extra. Don’t tell the grandparents you’re watching this – they won’t approve. But how many other holiday movies feature deer eating poop? (Don’t actually answer that. We don’t want to know.)
One of the first offshoots of Jim Henson The Muppet Show — The original version includes an opening scene with Kermit the Frog, just to make sure you get your bearings — Emmet Otter’s Jug Band Christmas was actually an hour-long special that Henson did in part to expand his canvas beyond that The Muppet Show. (It worked: Paul Williams wrote the songs for it, and would go on to write the songs for the Muppet films.) But this is far more than just a stepping stone on Henson’s journey: There’s almost preternatural charm in singing those little otters on the River, well to each other and to everyone around them, spreading the holiday spirit. We guarantee that this will make your family very happy. And it’s short: less than an hour, just in time to ruin you.
Often mislabeled as a cheesy Christmas movie – usually by people who haven’t seen it – this Frank Capra classic is instead a fairly lucid portrait of despair and depression, led by James Stewart’s sad George Bailey contemplating suicide , because he believes his life was in vain. An unfortunate angel named Clarence (Henry Travers) steps in and shows him the ramifications of his existence and in the process It’s a beautiful life delivers a moving portrait of selflessness – albeit one fraught with minor tragedies and still relevant lessons about greed and man’s inhumanity to man. In other words, this film’s iconic happy ending is hard-earned and brought to life by Stewart, who embodied humble decency as beautifully as only an actor ever has.
Greta Gerwig’s acclaimed 2019 adaptation boosted the visibility of previous theatrical versions of Louisa May Alcott’s beloved tale – particularly Gillian Armstrong’s 1994 Christmas hit. Fitting for a time when female rock musicians were beginning to share the same stature as their male counterparts – and Jane Campion was only becoming the second woman to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Director in 1993 The piano – this takeover little woman emphasizes Jo March’s (Winona Ryder) hunger for independence, to be taken seriously as a writer and not just for her beauty. Before the Gerwig adaptation, this was the version — also starring Samantha Mathis, Kirsten Dunst, Claire Danes, Christian Bale, Eric Stoltz, Gabriel Byrne, and Susan Sarandon — that was the gold standard for Gen-Xers and older millennials, combining a feminist spirit with a warm tribute to family and true love. Almost 20 years later, it’s still more than holding up.
The best Christmas movie of all time? Miracles on 34th Street is shortlisted, although 20th Century Fox originally opened in the summer of 1947 and did its best to hide the film’s obvious Christmas-themed themes. Edmund Gwenn won an Oscar for his portrayal of Kris Kringle, a kind bearded man who becomes Santa Claus in a mall — except he’s the real Santa Claus and touches on the lives of several New Yorkers he meets, including Natalie Wood’s incredibly adorable Susan . A love story, a tribute to the power of optimism…even a courtroom drama? Sure, the more the merrier when it comes to a film that’s unabashed in its belief that a little kindness makes a big difference. All these years later, it’s impossible to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and not think about this perpetual charmer.
Grierson & Leitch regularly write about the films and host a movie podcast. Keep following them Twitter or visit her side.