During Christmas Eve/Day this year I decided to take advantage of the isolation we have been imposed with due to COVID-19 and watch a series of Christmas movies that I had never seen before. This was partially inspired by the Halloween marathon I did back in October that happened as the result of an online contest.
Here are the films I watched ranked, based on my opinion, from least impressive to most.
#9 Christmas at Graceland
This was the weakest of the nine movies we watched. Christmas at Graceland was an obligatory choice because it was filmed at a hotel we stayed in this year. It was saccharin, generic and (basically) a two-hour Christmas-themed infomercial for Graceland.
Krampus was fun, but the overall identity of the film felt a bit split. It wasn’t quite a horror movie thanks to the PG-13 rating, and it wasn’t quite a Christmas movie. It was entertaining, but not something I feel is “annual viewing material”.
#7 The Family Stone
Emotionally charged, this Christmas movie serves as a reminder of the ups and downs that come with family reunions during holidays. I experienced these frequently when I was younger so a lot of that resonated. The Family Stone is uncomfortable to watch at times and painfully funny at others. Not really something I’d screen annually, but it was worth the watch.
#6 A Christmas Story
This was one of the two movies that everyone would look at me like I have three heads whenever I would mention that I’ve never see it. My mom wasn’t a fan of guns, so a film about pining after a BB gun for Christmas just never made its way into our family’s living room. As a result, it was never a priority for me. This year, however, I finally saw it and… it was good? It wasn’t, IMO, the legendary flick some people make it out to be, but holiday movies are sometimes connected to nostalgia and there’s none here for me this late in the game. Additionally, parts of the movie (like many films in the eighties) haven’t aged well – such as the Asian stereotyping. Are there plenty of laughs and solid filmmaking? Sure. However, it’s not something I feel is a strong contender for a yearly tradition.
#5 Love Actually
I missed this the first time around because my wife saw it before me and was underwhelmed by it. That said, I really like it. I think my enjoyment vs. hers, though, is my love for dry British humor. I could watch this again and might do so during the holidays again in the future.
#4 Tokyo Godfathers
My enjoyment of this film is obviously biased since it’s an anime title AND a Satoshi Kon film. It’s a beautiful story and gorgeously animated. I will say that as a result of this movie, I’m now interested in checking out 3 Godfathers in the future… possibly as soon as next Christmas.
#3 The Apartment
As part of my quest to watch more classic films, I’ve quickly become a fan of Billy Wilder. My viewpoint of most movies in the sixties has always been sanitized and campy. The Apartment, like The Lost Weekend, tackles some pretty heavy stuff. In this case: suicide around the holidays. It’s a solid film and there’s no question why it won the Best Picture Oscar.
#2 The Shop Around the Corner
Shannon and I love You’ve Got Mail. It’s one of the best (THE best?) of Nora Ephron’s films. We both knew it was inspired by The Shop Around the Corner, but we never realized that there were scenes lifted directly from it. Both are great films in their own right. We might plan a back to back screening of both next year.
This was the best of the bunch. It’s a great movie. It’s beautifully animated. It is, without question, the most Christmas-y Christmas movie I watched of the bunch. Klaus is the sort of film that you could watch each year and make it a family tradition. It has heart. It’s beautiful. Klaus is a perfect interpretation of the story of Santa Claus with the most impactful final line of any movie I’ve seen in years. Do yourself a favor and make the time for this amazing holiday film.