When I think about Christmas movies, these are the ones that come to my mind. Being essentially calm and peace-loving by nature, I'm not incorporating films which have nasty gremlins or heavy fighting sequences in this list. I am elated simply to finally be able to make a list of favourite movies on a particular genre where I can neatly bullet and pinpoint the favourites and not have a broken heart over the ones I missed. No wonder I love the yuletide cheer!
1. It's A Wonderful Life (1946): Quintessential Capra. I know that my guardian angel is someone like Clarence Odbody who is reading about Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn exactly when I am in one of my stickiest muddles. I do not know if it's a wonderful life, but if a confirmed skeptic like me feels weepy after watching this film, then it surely is a wonderful film after all.
2. The Bishop's Wife (1947): If for nothing else, then solely for the suave and debonair Cary Grant as one of the most attractive angels ever to be seen, and for his falling in love with the bishop's wife (Loretta Young) to show that angels too are not insusceptible to love. Oh, and intended footnote: I am disappointed though, on the film's celebration of the bishop's wife. Loretta Young stays pretty, cries a lot over her plight, and then when Cary Grant comes and takes her to one life-affirming, romantic situation after another, she giggles uncontrollably and moons over him. And, to add insult to serious injury, Cary Grant falls in love with such a specimen of womanhood. Oh the follies of men, and even angels!
3. Meet Me in St. Louis (1944): Colourful and vibrant, it's one of those feel-good movies which make you happy unfailingly every time you feel low. Judy Garland at one of her best (naturally), with the vagaries, comforts, innocence and beauties of provincial town life at the turn of the century. I watched it in technicolour, and you too should do likewise.
4. Miracle on 34th Street (1947): When I grew up, I just stopped believing in Santa Claus. It's just one of those things which you suddenly realise you don't feel anymore - like a cure - when you wake up one morning. But this beautiful, sensitive, heart-warming film which you watch when you've all "grown up" (and have a great life, very practical and all) wakes you up with a jolt at what you've been missing. This poster says it all. :)
5. Scrooge (A Christmas Carol - 1951): Yes, there's no Christmas Carol on-screen like the 1951 Christmas Carol (released in the UK as 'Scrooge'). And if you're lucky enough to snuggle up with your family on Christmas, this is the one to watch together after the sumptuous Christmas lunch.
6. White Christmas (1954): I could watch this film only for the Bing Crosby song sung at the beginning and feel nostalgic. But come on, it's Christmas and we have Rosemary Clooney who's not singing 'Mambo Italiano' but rather appearing docile and lovely. A classic entertaining, must-watch Christmas film.
7. A Christmas Story (1983): I am wary of the eighties (not particularly because I was born towards the end of the decade, but because I'm a heartless, mean, biased person). So naturally I steer clear of eighties movies. But then there are eighties movies and there is 'A Christmas Story', which after having braved a watch, I could sit down with it any day of the year and choose it over most nineties movies. Thoroughly fun, entertaining, and if you look closely a vignette of a time past - we just don't have families and moments like that any more. Anyway, no Christmas movie list is complete without this one.
8. A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965): And you were thinking I wasn't going to incorporate any animated movies? 25 minutes of unadulterated Charlie Brown, Linus, Lucy, Sally, Snoopy, Pig-pen, Scroeder, Patty and what more do you want? Re-quoting Lucy in a completely different context, this is the "Charlie Brownest" experience I've ever had. :)
9. The Snowman (1982): BBC's adaptation of Raymond Briggs's story touches the innermost chords of your heart and appeals to that part of you which you'd left behind while growing up. And to top it all, David Bowie introduces this otherwise wordless experience.
10. Love Actually (2003): I usually tag Love Actually with my favourite British comedies, but everything is so Christmassy about this film, beginning with the setting and the time-span. And what can be more fascinating than discovering and rediscovering your love over the holidays? "Love is all around" after all. (whatever)
11. The Holiday (2006): Another classic Christmassy-comedy spin-off with big stars. Thoroughly enjoyable to watch over the holidays and if you've had a bad year you'll find your sympathisers in Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz. Totally feel-good, totally worth it. Special mention: Kate Winslet's wardrobe and Hans Zimmer's music (why, naturally!).
So there we go, another year done and packaged to be scrutinised later. Having finished watching all the Christmas movies beforehand (another lesson learnt: keep the Christmas movies pending till the last minute. You won't have any cause for regret), I spent a dismal Christmas eve, watching a brilliant Angelopoulous movie (Ullysses' Gaze, 1995) which is so brilliant that it made me feel suicidal because of my mundaneness. Then P came along, swept me, and we had a rollicking Christmas. A week later, here I am, back on the couch, alone on New Year's Eve, reading a brilliant Calvino (If On A Winter's Night A Traveller), and tomorrow S and I will begin the year with a warm adda. To all my readers and friends (real and imagined), have a wonderful and bright New Year.