From Bad Santas to Callous Millionaires – My Top 10 Xmas Movies

Dan Aykroyd at the mercy of his two callous millionaire Uncles in “Trading Places”


by Shannonn Kelly
02:19AM, EST December 24, 2013

After reviewing my list from last year, I decided to make a couple of changes as I now have had a change of heart.

Two films not mentioned that are runners up would be: “White Christmas” (1954) starring Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney and Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence(1983) a UK, Japanese co-production starring David Bowie, Tom Conti, Ryuichi Sakamoto and Takeshi Kitano.

As an avid Holiday movie fan, I think I’ve got a few selections that may surprise some people as part of my Top 10 Christmas Movies. Especially, since many people who know me, know who my all-time favorite actor is: James Maitland Stewart.

Originally Published
by Shannonn Kelly
06:29AM, EST December 24, 2012

Every year it’s the same thing. You can never get anyone to agree on the best Christmas movie to watch.

With the ability to view movies pretty much anywhere now, you can get your fill of Xmas flicks that you like and still leave some room for a movie everyone can sink their teeth into when you get to Grandma’s house.

The reason “It’s A Wonderful Life” (1946) is not on my Top 10 Xmas List, is because it’s a film for all seasons and ranked in my ‘Best Films Of All Time” quite highly. And frankly, I personally feel this film is best watched on New Year’s eve, along with “Made For Each Other” (1939), starring the wonderful Carole Lombard, Charles Coburn and of course – – James Stewart.

Here is my Top 10 Xmas Movie List. I hope you have a very Merry Xmas! Enjoy

Trading Places” (1983) John Landis directs this clever and well written script. Sadly at the root of the hilarity is a timely message about economics especially in today’s spiraling climate.

Saturday Night Live alum Dan Aykroyd plays trust fund baby Louis Winthorpe III who is an absolute self absorbed ass. When his two callous uncles Randolph Duke played Ralph Bellamy and Mortimer Duke played by Don Ameche make a little wager on “Nature vs. Nurture” they wreak havoc on Winthorpe’s life by replacing him with a smart-alec street con-artist Billy Ray Valentine played by another SNL alum, Eddie Murphy who was only 21 years old at time of production. I may have seen this film 20 times. There’s SO much that’s perfect here, including an incredibly sexy and unexpected ‘partner in crime’, the delicious Jamie Lee Curtis.

The Ref (1994)
A very dark, black comedy about jewelry thief Denis Leary, who is forced to take a squabbling, dysfunctional family hostage on Christmas Eve just so he can get some peace and quiet while he robs them. Kevin Spacey and Judy Davis star as the back-biting couple who carve each other up more than the Xmas turkey.

Miracle on 34th Street” (1947)
A 9 year-old Natalie Wood steals this heartwarming movie about a little girl wise beyond her years, who may not believe in Santa. Also stealing the film is Kris Kringle played by London, UK born and educated actor Edmund Gwenn.

Elf” 2003
Overgrown child Will Ferrell plays an adorable dim-witted elf. The movie actually feels like an old-timey Danny Kaye movie as Ferrell who was raised as an elf at the North Pole is sent to the USA in search of his true identity and the true meaning of Christmas.

Holiday Inn” (1942)
It’s ironic that Bing Crosby who is rumored to have been a battering Dad and known by all as a raging drunk, is the star of one of the most memorable Christmas movies of all time. As a sort of cabaret act, Crosby and Fred Astaire celebrate a year’s worth of holidays with love interests played by Majorie Reynolds and Virginia Dale with 12 specifically written songs for the film by Irving Berlin. Each tune opens to a new dramatic point in the story about love, loss and finding the right path to travel in the snow. Features the song “White Christmas“.

Solid Gold Dancers help teach curmudgeon Bill Murray the true meaning of Christmas.

Christmas Vacation (National Lampoon’s)” (1989)
Chevy Chase heads the Griswold family into another disaster, this time for Christmas. It’s interesting to take a step back and look at these actors Chevy Chase, Beverly D’Angelo, Randy Quaid, Juliette Lewis, Johnny Galecki, before they were a) Not difficult on set, b) Not on Entourage in a great role, c) A little cray-cray, d) Still finding herself, d) Not on a #1 TV series

Bad Santa” (2003) In my opinion, you can never get enough Bernie Mac. And now that he’s no longer with us (died August 09, 2008 from cardiac arrest due to complications from an gene related disease called sarcoidosis) I think it’s important we go back and watch every film he’s in. Besides being just funny with inspiration from great idols like the Three Stooges, Redd Foxx and Richard Pryor, Mac was extremely hardworking (sometimes toured 47 weeks a year) and well respected on the comedy circuit and in Hollywood. I’m not sure the same can be said about his co-star Billy Bob Thornton, who is a little too good as the baddest (as in worst) Santa who’s lap you’d ever want to sit on. Thornton makes the film as a sadistic, demented ‘Father Christmas’ and he has us belly-laughing all the way. The film also stars the late, great John Ritter in an excellent role.

The Nightmare Before Christmas” (1993)
The King of Halloween, Jack Skellington gets a taste of Christmas and tries to get the hang of it. Interestingly, composer, musician Danny Elfman does the singing voice of Jack. I’ve recently decided that this is one of Tim Burton’s best. Also stars Chris Sarandon as the speaking voice for Jack Skellington, Catherine O’Hara, Paul Reubens and one of my all-time favorites – Greg Proops who does 3 speaking roles.

Joyeux Noël (Merry Christmas)” (2005) In what was called a “true lesson in humanity”, French, Scottish and German soldiers, on the eve of Christmas, December 1914 in World War I agreed to a truce and embrace the ‘true meaning’ of Christmas – – “Goodwill to All Men“. Based on a true story, Joyeux Noël was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film Academy Award® in March 2006.

Joyeux Noël (Merry Christmas) a 2005 French film about the 'true meaning of Christmas'
Joyeux Noël (Merry Christmas) a 2005 French film about the ‘true meaning of Christmas’

I know many people will ask me – Hey what happened to “Love Actually“. And so that’s my Xmas gift to you. Another movie you can check out with the GREAT Bill Nighy.

I’d love to know what your favorite Xmas Movie is. Drop me a comment and have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas! 🙂

One Reply to “From Bad Santas to Callous Millionaires – My Top 10 Xmas Movies”

  1. I don’t know most of your picks (or almost picks) but do like the ones I know – Miracle, White Christmas, Elf, Love Actually (which I love and only saw for the first time last week). I also love Christmas Carol with Alistair Sims. My kids can’t stand it, but I think it is classic and does the dark and evil, and the touching and heartful very well. I especially like the scene where the ghost of Christmas to come opens his cloak and reveals the 2 children Ignorance and Want – “This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased.” I also love the scene where Scrooge is mad with joy after the night of ghosts is over and hails the boy on the street to get the turkey that is bigger than him. The Holiday with Jack Black, Cameron Diaz, lovable.Kate Winslet, Jude Law is also great. Jack almost looks sane and Cameron

    Merry Christmas

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