I’ve decided to be generous and give you all an early Christmas present. That’s right, I’m going to release the top two Christmas movies of all time today! Whoohoo! I figure most of you that remember what movies were on the list and what you voted for can kind of guess which two movies are remaining, plus I’m busy tomorrow so I won’t have a chance to release the No. 1 movie and you’ll all be sitting in front of your computers all day Saturday waiting to receive my email.
But before you scroll down to see what the final two movies are (I’ve already lost you haven’t I?) I’ll give you the honorable mention, and then recap the 10 movies that preceded these two and give you some useless statistical information.
Just missing the cut: “Scrooged” (67 votes), “Bad Santa” (51), “The Santa Clause” (46), “Love Actually” (46), “The Polar Express” (45).
No. 12 – White Christmas (41-percent of the ballots and an average ranking of 5.3)
No. 11 – Frosty the Snowman (46-percent, 5.4 ranking)
No. 10 – Home Alone (65-percent, 4.0 ranking)
No. 9 – How the Grinch Stole Christmas (51-percent, 5.3 ranking)
No. 8 – Scrooge aka A Christmas Carol (46-percent, 6.1 ranking)
No. 7 – A Charlie Brown Christmas (57-percent, 5.4 ranking)
No. 6 – Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (77-percent, 4.2 ranking)
No. 5 – Miracle on 34th Street (51-percent, 6.6 ranking)
No. 4 – Elf (62-percent, 5.8 ranking)
No. 3 – National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (62-percent, 8.0 ranking)
No. 2 – *Ahem* (76-percent, 7.1 ranking)
No. 1 – *Double Ahem* (76-percent, 7.5 ranking)
So as you can see, our highest rated movie was my own favorite “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation”, however, the top two films were named on an impressive 28 of 37 ballots and on average were ranked No. 7 or higher. What’s even more impressive is that our No. 1 movie was named No. 1 on just five ballots (that means that a lot of people liked it enough to rank it high) where “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” was No. 1 a poll-leading eight times and No. 2 was ranked No. 1 on seven ballots.
Tired of the useless information? Okay, then I’ll get to the final two movies. Both classics and both movies that every generation loves. They are also two movies that are played constantly throughout the season and especially the days leading up to Christmas.
I don’t have much to say about these two films as we had two people write their own “essay” on each film and they pretty much summed up why everyone picked these two films as their favorites.
Before I leave you, I want to thank everyone for voting. I’ve had fun compiling the useless information and posting them every day for the past 10 days or so. I’ve also been pleased with the interest and positive feedback I’ve gotten from people about the list. I hope everyone has a Merry Christmas and a wonderful 3-day weekend. I hope you spend it with the ones you love and maybe watching one of these top 12 movies.
No. 2 – It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
Directed by: Frank Capra. Starring: Jimmy Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore.
Total Points: 198 (Highest Rank No. 1 – seven times. Named on 28 ballots. Kevy’s No. 5).
Tagline: They’re making memories tonight!
Memorable Quote: Zuzu Bailey: Look, Daddy. Teacher says every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings.
“I first saw the movie in 1948 or 1949 as a dirt poor kid we always found the money to go to a movie. I placed myself in the movie as the kid working at the soda fountain, a.k.a Jimmy Stewart, as a 12-year-old kid. My “never forget” part was when the cute girls were sitting at the counter talking to young Jimmy. I put myself there meeting the girls and in love as I was 12 at the time and the hormones were flowing. I wouldn’t count sheep to go to sleep, I would picture myself over and over meeting the girls and getting a little kiss. I would fall asleep with a smile on my face, until my mom came home, drunk as a skunk and yelling and fighting with some guy she picked up in a bar. I would close my eyes and ears and think of myself at the ice cream counter and drown out the reality and wish I was there,” says my Grandpa about why he picked “It’s a Wonderful Life” as his No. 1 film. See the photo of he and my Grandma with Karolyn Grimes, the actress who played Zuzu Bailey.
My good friend Ron gives his “essay” on why he chose “It’s a Wondeful Life”. Good job Ron I give you an A-plus for your essay.
“Trapped! Trapped by responsibilities he never asked for. Trapped by bills. Trapped by other people’s expectations and needs. George Bailey had big dreams. He wanted to travel, to build bridges and skyscrapers, but he got trapped in Bedford Falls running his Father’s Building and Loan. Most of us can identify with George’s dreams, as well as his sense of loss and failure at never having been able to live his dreams. I believe that this is the first reason that so many people love the movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life”. We see much of ourselves in George Bailey – we feel his pain. (By the way, I think that this is the same reason so many people love “A Christmas Story”. We see ourselves in, and are able to re-live our childhood through Ralphie.)
But I believe there is an even deeper reason that we love this movie so much – we need its message of redemption. George Bailey gets a second chance. All of us wish we could get a “mulligan” or two in life, or at least the chance to know that we have not screwed things up too badly. George gets that. He might not have lived his dreams, but he gets to see that he made a very positive impact on a whole town! That is something we all wish for. Everyone of us wants our life to count, to matter. Combine that with the fact that we can identify with George, and that makes a powerful combination. Now it is true that “A Christmas Carol” is also about redemption, a second chance (that’s why it was #8), but not many of us are as nasty as Scrooge. Since we see ourselves in George, we gain hope when we see that he was not a failure, but was a massive success. Maybe, just maybe, we too can make a difference.
There is one last, and I believe the greatest, reason we love this movie. We all need to be loved. At its heart, “It’s a Wonderful Life” is a love story. It displays every type of love that makes life worth living – the love between a son and his parents; the love of two brothers; the love between close friends; and most of all the love between a husband and wife. In this movie all of these types of love are of the highest degree because they involve sacrifice. The movie is full of people who love so much that they are willing to do anything, to risk everything, and to even give their lives for one another. As Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this: that a man lay down his life for his friend.” After all, isn’t that what Christmas is really about – the love of God for men that led Him to be born in a stable so that He could eventually lay down His life for them by dying on a cross? We all need that kind of love!
Why do I love “It’s a Wonderful Life”? Why do we all love it? Because through it, for 2 hours every Christmas, we can forget our unfulfilled dreams and our disappointments and remember that “no man is a failure who has friends!”
Fun facts about the film: Lionel Barrymore convinced James Stewart to take the role of George, despite his feeling that he was not up to it so soon after World War II.
As Uncle Billy is leaving George’s house drunk, it sounds as if he stumbles over some trash cans on the sidewalk. In fact, a crew member dropped some equipment right after Uncle Billy left the screen. Both actors continued with the scene (“I’m all right, I’m all right!”) and director
Frank Capra decided to use it in the final cut. He gave the clumsy stagehand a $10 bonus for “improving the sound.”
And now the movie you’ve all been waiting for. The No. 1 Christmas movie of all-time…
No. 1 – A Christmas Story (1983)
Directed by: Bob Clark. Starring: Peter Billingsley, Darren McGavin, Melinda Dillon.
Total Points: 210 (Highest Rank No. 1 – five times. Named on 28 ballots. Kevy’s No. 3).
Tagline (from IMDB.com): A Tribute to the Original, Traditional, One-Hundred-Percent, Red-Blooded, Two-Fisted, All-American Christmas.
Memorable Quote: Ralphie: [Is shoved down the slide, but he stops himself and climbs back up] No! No! I want an Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifle! Santa Claus: You’ll shoot your eye out, kid.
My co-worker at the paper, Nels (Gary), writes this about why he chose “A Christmas Story” as his favorite Christmas movie:
“I never saw “A Christmas Story” when it first came out in the theaters in 1983. Some years later (circa late 1980s), when searching for Christmas movies to rent and watch with our two sons, Brian and Eric, JoAnne and I stumbled across “A Christmas Story” on VHS. It instantly resonated with me because I lived a lot of that movie, which truly captures the wide-eyed wonder kids have of Christmas. Although it depicted Christmas in the 1940s midwest, it reminded me of my Christmases in the 1950s (I was born in 1950). Many of the scenes and dialogue mirroried my childhood experiences: the “double dog dare you,” the Scott Fargas bully wearing what looks very much like a Davey Crockett coonskin cap (I owned one of those and wore it everywhere, but I wasn’t a bully); mom washing your mouth out with a bar of soap (yep, Nels sucked a few soap bars in his day).
Here are three of the movie’s moments that especially ring true with me. The opening scene of Ralphie and his brother gazing wistfully at toys in the department store window recalled trips with my parents to downtown Seattle, where Frederick & Nelson’s (now defunct) and the Bon Marche (now Macy’s) had similar window displays full of wonder. You you could spend hours — if only your parents would let you — at those store fronts wishing for all the wonderful toys displayed there, and the displays always had the coolest train set running through it. Then there was Santa and his slide. The Bon at one time had a similar set up. You’d wait forever to see Santa only to get on his lap, full of awe for the jolly red elf, and forget what you really wanted to tell him. Then it was off his lap and down a curling slide. And my little sister, whom I had accompany up to Santa in my older years, was like the kid in goggles: Calm all the way to Santa, then turning into a screamie meemee when placed on his lap.
But the movie’s coup de grace of Christmas reality was the “genuine Red Ryder 200-shot Carbine Action Air Rifle.” When I was young, every kid wanted a B.B. gun, and every kid’s mother, including my own, always said “No” with those same immortal words: “You’ll shoot your eye out.” While Ralphie ultimately got his Red Ryder 200-shot Carbine Action Air Rifle for Christmas at that tender age of 9, I never did. Still, my 1950 Christmases were wonderful and filled with the same kind of magic and excitement that’s so perfectly captured by “A Christmas Story.” It is a classic.”
Fun facts about the film (from imdb.com): Inspired the creation of “The Wonder Years” (1988). Ralphie says that he wanted the “Red Ryder BB Gun” 28 times.