by Shawn Clayton
on Thursday, December 24th, 2020 at 8:28am.
It’s a Wonderful Life
Whichever version you choose, Frank Capra’s classic is an exercise in depicting “the grass is always greener” proverb. Although, should you prefer the black-and-white original, “the grass is always grayer” might be more appropriate. A seminal holiday classic, it stars James Stewart as a man who gets a glimpse at what life would look like without him.
A Christmas Story
If Ralphie Parker didn’t rattle off his desire for an “official Red Ryder, carbine action, 200-shot, range model air rifle, with a compass in the stock and this thing that tells time,” did Christmas even happen? It’s become an unofficial rule—thanks in part to 24-hour airings on cable networks—that every year, we all watch the Bob Clark tale about a kid in the ‘40s try and convince Santa to gift him with a BB gun.
Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
Maureen O’Hara and John Payne star in the original film about that time New York City authorities committed a man to a mental facility because he thought he was Santa Claus. And though it can be debated which version of the classic film—this one or the John Hughes contribution starring Mara Wilson—is your favorite, there simply would be no miracle without the George Seaton 1947 prototype.
Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Jim Carrey was the Grinch in this 2000 adaptation of Dr. Seuss' iconic children's book, about the ultimate holiday grump—well, right up there with Scrooge. Don't worry: The green-hued, mountain-dwelling loner's heart ends up "growing a size" thanks to Cindy Lou Who (Taylor Momsen), one of the cheery Whos from Whoville.
The Holiday is essentially two Nancy Meyers rom-coms for the price of one. Cameron Diaz and Kate play women who decide to swap homes over the holiday season—changing scenery between a gorgeous home in L.A. and a charming English cottage. Under the twinkling lights and dropping temperatures, they each find transatlantic beaus.
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
Good for little drummers and little drummers at heart, this animated Claymation gem is arguably the best of the Videocraft classics. About a toymaker elf who wants to be a dentist, an illuminated reindeer who wants to be accepted, and all their misfit friends in between, it’s iconography of the 1960s that is just as quintessential 55 years later.
The Polar Express
This whimsical story is best served by the movie's animation style, which brings the cold of the North Pole and the magic of a train headed to the North Pole to life. The Polar Express is based on Chris Van Allsburg's picture book of the same name.