Ursula Petersen ’15
As we go into finals week, it’s easy to lose your head. As you pour over old notes, readings, essays, and even flashcards with a coffee in hand, keep in mind one thing to get you through these next few weeks; December 25 is coming up. That’s right, this is part two, or rather, a follow up to last week’s article, which featured the best Christmas albums. But even better, this week, I’ll be focusing on the best Christmas movies. So when finals are over, settle on the couch at home, turn down the lights, and enjoy some of the following holiday films.
Home Alone (1990): If you haven’t seen this, you’ve been doing Christmas wrong. One of the most recognized Christmas films of all time, this 90s classic stars child superstar Macaulay Culkin. Arguably, (since Culkin hasn’t been in anything in…years, really) this is his most popular film. The movie focuses on young Kevin (Culkin), who’s accidentally left behind when his family goes off on vacation, leaving him ‘Home Alone.’ Culkin gets into various hi-jinx, including defending his home against a pair of idiotic burglars. The best moment of the film is when Kevin scares off a pizza delivery man, and then delivers the famous line, “Keep the change, ya filthy animal.”
A Christmas Story (1983): Possibly the kookiest Christmas movie of all time, based on the book “In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash”, is told from the perspective of nine-year old boy named Ralphie (Peter Billingsley). The story takes place in the late 30s/early 40s, back in the good old days, where kids were still stupid enough to stick their tongues to cold metal poles (who even does that?) We follow the conquest of young Ralph, focused on his Christmas greed, all directed at the glorified Red Rider BB Gun, much to the chagrin and disapproval of his elders, who often tell him “You’ll shoot your eye out!” Along the way to Christmas day, viewers get to partake in witnessing Ralphie’s altercation with the local bully, his hilariously disappointing interaction with a mall Santa, and Ralphie dropping the F-bomb during the family’s Christmas Tree shopping excursion. The film has been a favorite of mine since childhood, since I, along with every other kid in the world, always knew there would be that one present your parents insisted you couldn’t have…but then ended up getting you anyway.
Elf (2003): I watch this movie year round. Not even kidding, I think the last time I watched this was in July. I just can’t resist the cheer of Buddy the Elf, played by the riotous Will Ferrell. As the title might suggest, Ferrell plays an elf, or at least, that’s what his character believes. Ferrell plays Buddy, an orphan adopted by a North Pole elf, who finds out that, at age 30-something, he’s actually a human. The film follows Buddy’s journey to New York City, where he attempts to connect with his biological father, who’s the epitome of a scrooge, and just happens to be on the naughty list. The cast is noteworthy, featuring Mary Steenburgen, who played Ferrell’s mother in “Step Brothers,” and a blonde Zooey Deschanel. Perhaps notable of all, however, is a cameo by Peter Billingsley (Ralphie from “A Christmas Story”!), who plays a gossiping, busy body elf at the North Pole.
Love, Actually (2003): This is yet another Christmas movie I could watch year round…but that might just be because I love Alan Rickman so much. Yes, it’s true, Professor Snape was in a Christmas movie. Set in England, this film follows the love lives of various London inhabitants in the five weeks leading up to Christmas. The film features other Harry Potter actors, Bill Nighy and Emma Thompson, as well as various other English actors: Colin Firth, Hugh Grant, Liam Neeson, Keira Knightley, and Rowan Atkinson. The film explores everything from first love, to platonic love, to love for a spouse, and even heartbreak. The best part of the film doesn’t even happen to be the declarations of love, but rather, the performance of “All I Want For Christmas,” performed by ten-year old Olivia Olson, a breathtaking rendition that’s incredible for anyone of any age.
It’s a Wonderful Life (1946): I’ve been forced to watch “It’s a Wonderful Life” every single year for as long as I can remember. When I was younger, its meaning was lost on me, and I rolled my eyes in anticipation for the moment we could change the channel to a Christmas special or another movie. But as I grew older, and finally understood the real meaning of Christmas (hint: it’s not presents), I found that Jimmy Stewart’s character of George Bailey won me over and earned “It’s a Wonderful Life” the title of my favorite Christmas movie of all time. The story is all about George Bailey, a man who would do anything for anyone and everyone, even going as far as to sacrifice his college education, a trip to Europe, and financial opportunities that would increase his own personal wealth. Bailey struggles with his life decisions one Christmas, going so far as to consider suicide, until his guardian angel shows up to show him how important he truly is, and how his life has touched so many around him. It’s in this parallel universe that George Bailey realizes how much he has loved and been loved, and what’s really important in life. If you decide to watch this, be sure to keep a box of tissues by your side, this is one of the only movies I can honestly say has ever made me cry.
“The Grinch Who Stole Christmas” (2000): Featuring comedian Jim Carrey and pre-Gossip Girl/pre-raccoon eyes Taylor Momsen
“The Polar Express” (2004): If only we could all take a train to the North Pole… Starring Tom Hanks and Josh Hutcherson
“The Nightmare Before Christmas” (1993): Another one of Tim Burton’s creepy animation-style movies, but with a holiday twist
“National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” (1989): Featuring Chevy Chase from SNL and ‘Community’, this hilarious Christmas movie will have you in stitches at the end.