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Bad Santa stays, Polar Express off the top 10 Christmas movie track

Tis’ the season to debate  whether it’s Christmas or The Holiday Season, depending on which politically correct manifesto we’re reading from, but there’s no controversy that can keep me from squeezing out another Top 10 list.
Now this list originally ran about six years ago and was static until this year. I took Polar Express off. I don’t know how that’s possible since it’s the same film it was last year, but I was under tremendous pressure from my daughter to include Elf. She makes these really amazing squares at Christmas and there was at least the veiled threat of them disappearing from the menu so artistically and critically, I had to review my position on Elf. Plus all those dead eyes on The Polar Express creeped me out. It was like a field trip for those wacky kids in The Village of the Damned.
Originally, I thought we could just reprint the original one but I thought it might be interesting to see if I came up with the same 10. Well 11 but who’s counting? And I’m sure I left your favorite out, so just send your cranky comments to In truth, if you’d like to send me your Top 10 my email is Thanks to both of my readers for your input.
But I digress.
THE PRETENDERS: Arthur Christmas, Deck The Halls, Santa Clause 3, Santa Clause 4, Santa Clause goes to Police Academy 22, Christmas With the Kranks, Surviving Christmas and just about every other Christmas movie made in the
last decade.
I can’t explain why Hollywood can’t come up with a new classic but they just don’t get it. I suspect it might have something to do with their willingness to just cash in on the season for purely financial gain. The exceptions
would be The Polar Express, Love Actually, and Bad Santa.
How’s that for bringing the column to a crashing halt ­ Bad Santa? It’s just so funny, and somewhere in there, there might be a season of good will message. Certainly not for the faint of heart but it’s breathlessly hilarious.
Speaking of criteria, here’s what I’m looking for. It has to be seasonally themed, have some kind of an upbeat message, and have staying power. It doesn’t sound like much but there are very few movies you can watch once a year, year after year.
#10 ­ Bad Santa ­ Sorry. I can’t help myself. It’s a dark nasty adult Christmas comedy and I couldn’t stop laughing. Ruined me for Gilmore Girls tho.
#9 ­ Elf-This has replaced Polar Express and I can hear the collective groans across the land but the dead eyes lose out to a truly charming film about believing. I’m not a Will Ferrell fan but it’s a really sweet story and it allows for the simple fact that yes, Buddy, there is a Santa Claus.
#8 ­ How the Grinch Stole Christmas ­ it’s clever, funny and almost works as a heartwarming tale. If I liked Jim Carrey this would be top 5.
#7 ­ The Homecoming ­ the movie that inspired The Waltons TV show, there’s something very simple and charming about this movie. Full of tension and drama I think it’s grown in stature in my mind. Simple stories are nice sometimes.
#6 ­ Love, Actually ­ A great movie that’s another one of those collections of great story lines, a la Notting Hill, 4 Weddings. I have a hard time watching it because Alan Rickman breaks Emma Thompson’s heart, but it’s just a wonderful movie. It doesn’t have the classic Christmas themes and there isn’t the obvious redemption move but it’s a 10 on the movie scale so that brings it up. It could be Top 3 now that I think of it. Here’s the sleeze factor: If I’m including a not just about Christmas movie in the Top 10 the The Family Man ties with Love, Actually. It has a slow kind of redemption, but it really is It’s A Wonderful Life updated and with an edge. Also the best ever use of a U2 song in a  preview. I’m just saying.
#5 ­ It’s A Wonderful Life ­ Jimmy Stewart, angels getting their wings, and what would life be like without you? It’s a classic in the truest sense of the word.
#4 ­ Christmas Vacation ­ Chevy Chase at his finest, although the all-star cast makes it work more than he does. It’s just so universal, even today, and is definitely must watch TV around Rancho Paul.
#3 ­ Miracle on 34th Street ­ It’s cute and warm and actually offers an asnwer to the eternal question of “Is there A Santa Claus”, and unlike Yes Virginia, the answer is definitive. It’s a bit dated now, but Maureen O’Hara as the stiff mom and Natalie Wood as the worldly child are hall of fame.
Here’s how I know it’s one of the best. Just talking about it here makes me want to go watch it. Best Santa ever by the way.
#2 ­ Scrooged ­ Bill Murray is brilliant, and this remake of the classic Christmas Carol is the only one that could hold a candle to the one and only, class of it’s own, ultimate Christmas movie…
#1 ­ A Christmas Carol ­ Ebenezer Scrooge lives on in fame and infamy. He’s a pitchman for every product imaginable, a generic term for someone cheap of spirit and an example of Christmas redemption at it’s finest. Only the black and white version will do and those last five minutes are worth every second of suffering you vicariously endure. Still #1 after all these years.
As always, other opinions are welcome, but wrong. That’s it for this week. The cheque’s in the mail and I’m outta here.

Filed Under: Paul Peterson

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