9. The Preacher's Wife-Who can really resist the smile of Denzel Washington? Yeah, not me. He's just so endearing. Anyways, this movie has a preacher who tries to help everyone at the end of his rope. Finances at his church are looking grim, his marriage could use some attention, and he's simply lost his spark in life. Enter Dudley, the smiley Denzel Washington. Also stars Whitney Houston (prior to her fuzzy days of yelling "Bobby!"), Gregory Hines, and narrated partially by the little boy who plays Whitney Houston's son, who competes with Denzel in the cuteness department. Whitney's feisty mom is a good addition to the movie as well.
8. Home Alone--Christmas just isn't complete without hearing the little theme song from this movie. I also saw this about 14 times in the theatre the year it came out, we listened to the CD for years to come. Yeeeah, it's practically in my DNA to like this movie.
7. National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation--A must. Enough said.
6. Love Actually--This movie both depresses you and gives you a feeling of hope. It's a pretty impressive cast, including Hugh Grant, Emma Thompson, Kiera Knightley, Liam Neeson, Alan Rickman, and Colin Firth. The intertwining storylines are all well-developed and are interesting how the characters connect to each other.
5. Prancer-Another childhood staple. Yet another cute kid in the main role. Jessi recently lost her mom and her dad is facing hard times trying to keep the family farm afloat yet she tries to keep the Christmas spirit alive in her household, though her beliefs are seen as juvenile to her dad and brother. When she comes across a reindeer she is convinced is Santa's own Prancer, she decides to nurse him back to health. Sam Elliott is a perfect fit as her dad. The last 10 minutes make me cry every. single. time.
4. One Magic Christmas-A lesser-known Christmas movie, but a total gem if you haven't seen it. Mary Steenburgen (AKA: Ted Danson's wife) plays Ginny, a mom of two who is pretty bitter about the whole spirit of Christmas. She even makes statements to crush her young daughter's belief in Santa. Her husband, a good-hearted guy, just lost his job and they're being forced out of the humble little company home where they were living. Things are looking pretty grim financially. An angel named Gideon comes to visit her daughter, a total cutie, to tell her that he is going to try to show her mom the true meaning of Christmas and what's really important in life. Even though this movie is from the 80s, it still rings true today. If you haven't seen it, try to watch it sometime this season.
3. The Family Stone-One of my newest Christmas favorites. Another great ensemble cast. I especially love Luke Wilson, Rachel McAdams, and Craig T. Nelson in their roles. Despite the fact that this movie was marketed more as a comedy, there is a serious (and sad) undertone. I still love it. It has such an authentic family and home for the holidays feel. Just a warning: You will cry. Hopefully you'll have some good laughs through it though.
2. How the Grinch Stole Christmas-The classic 30 minute cartoon. Love. From the growing evil grin of the grinch to him slithering around gathering up all the holiday decorations to his heart growing so big it broke the heart measuring scale. It's perfect. By far, my favorite Seuss story.
1. It's a Wonderful Life-What else? No, you won't find "You're gonna shoot your eye out!" at the top of my list. (I never knew that movie existed until TBS started showing it for 3 days straight anyway.) No, I shall stick with the ultimate Christmas classic. Another story of always doing the right thing, but still feeling like you're down on your luck. It definitely illustrates how we need to really look at our lives and see how fortunate we really are. I think I appreciate this movie more each year.
Honorable mention for this list goes to: While You Were Sleeping starring Sandra Bullock and Bill Pullman. It takes place during the holidays, but it's not a typical Christmas movie. The family dynamics is absolutely hilarious...the grandmother is particularly funny. The dad from Everybody Loves Raymond is also a part of this ensemble cast. A totally enjoyable and charming movie from start to finish.