This is a list of my favorite Christmas movies. I go on a mad mission in the month of December. I feel I must watch each and every one of these or I won’t be able to get in the spirit of the holiday.
1. It’s a Wonderful Life
I first saw this in a film class in college. First, we all heard the story behind the movie—how Jimmy Stewart wanted to quit acting, but the director convinced him to star in one more movie—then we saw the film. We all sat, crowded into it an auditorium, and I couldn’t help but think that this was how movie-goers saw this for the film for the first time. I fell in love with the movie and have loved it ever since.
2. The Bishop’s Wife
Who wouldn’t enjoy watching Cary Grant bumble around as a dangerously handsome angel, falling in love with a woman he’s supposed to be helping. Loretta Young glistens as the object of his affection, albeit always faithful to her husband, the bishop.
3. While You Were Sleeping
Sandra Bullock rescues the man she thinks she loves, although he falls immediately into a coma. In the process, she finds herself enchanted with his family—and his brother, played by Bill Pullman—and for the first time in years, she doesn’t feel lonely on Christmas. This one melts my heart every single time I watch it.
4. Christmas in Connecticut
Did I love this movie because the main character was a writer? In retrospect, it’s hard to say, but over the years this story of a columnist, Barbara Stanwyck, who must pretend she is a great cook and homemaker (I can relate to that dilemma) has become one of my favorites.
5. Home Alone
He’s a brat and he needs a spanking and, yet, you find yourself rooting for Macaulay Culkin before his family even lands in Paris. Completely alone, unless you count that dastardly tarantula (shivers), Culkin sets a trap for holiday thieves that makes me laugh until my sides hurt. Every. Single. Time. I. Watch.
6. Meet Me in St. Louis
Judy Garland at her most charming. She sings, she dances, she falls in love—literally. Her director in this film was her future husband, Vincente Minelli, and this was the first time the two of them met. This tale of a family who lives in turn-of-the-century St. Louis captures al the romance of the era.
For some reason, this is my favorite version of A Christmas Carol. Starring Bill Murray and Karen Allen (remember her from Raider’s of the Lost Ark?) star as lovers who went their separate ways years ago. Murray went on to become a lonely, wealthy TV executive, while Allen became a tender-hearted social worker who runs the local homeless shelter. Murray is given a second chance when their paths cross again.
8. Little Women
My favorite version of this movie stars Claire Danes, Winona Ryder, Christian Bale and Kirsten Dunst. Set during the Civil War, this tale of a young woman who wants to be a writer is heart-warming, to say the least. Of course, I never could figure out why Jo (Ryder) didn’t fall in love with Laurie (Bale), but then I can’t figure out why Bella doesn’t love Jacob either.
Adorable. Simply adorable. Will Ferrell and Zooey Deschanel (one of my favorite actresses) are just so cute in this film about a real, live elf who leaves the North Pole to find his true father. By the end of the movie you just want to give Ferrell a big hug.
10. The Family Man
A little bit like A Christmas Carol, this film stars Nicholas Cage as a rich man who gets a chance to see what his life might have been like, if he had made different choices along the way. Also starring Tea Leoni, one reason I love this show is the fact that it adds that element of an alternate universe—and I do love alternate universes.