As producers and creative masters in the art of filmmaking, the team considered the qualities of a great movie: conflict, character development and the intangibles that successfully capture the spirit of Christmas. While the children’s classics should be respectfully noted – such as “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” – this list was compiled and declared as “those movies that everyone in the family can agree on.”
5. Christmas Vacation
We all can relate to Clark Griswold in this holiday mishap comedy. We just want to have the perfect Christmas with everyone, but family and other obstacles keep getting in the way. There’s always problems – at times chaos – but at the end of the day you simply love your family. This movie earns a spot on the list for including the whole family, embracing the imperfections and having the hap-happiest Christmas on this side of the nuthouse … where’s the Tylenol?
4. White Christmas
This is the movie some call the epitome of Christmastime – from every smile in the chorus down to the tapping toes of Bing Crosby. This movie has it all: The iconic songs, cozy spots by the fireplace counting blessings, comedy and romance, and immeasurable respect for our soldiers. Let’s hear it for the general!
3. How the Grinch Stole Christmas
In this case, it’s OK to root for the bad guy. Jim Carrey brought to life “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” in 2000, and he still has us laughing 18 years later. This classic Dr. Seuss tale teaches us to put aside our miseries and embrace the season … We’re also impressed that a 30-minute segment from 1966 was turned into a full-length feature film.
The CIY film team agreed “Elf” is funny any time of the year, but it deserves the No. 2 spot because Elf is the child in all of us. He embodies who we want to be at Christmastime with his sensational joy, amazing decorating skills and killer snowball fights. We know there are people who aren’t as into Christmas as we are, but Elf brings out the best in them. Elf teaches us to believe in the magic of Christmas with childlike wonder.
1. It’s a Wonderful Life
This movie isn’t just a Christmas classic, it’s a cinema gem. It has it all: Character change, conflict, it makes you laugh and cry – but most importantly, when you’re done watching it, you want to be a better person. The movie was ahead of its time in talking about suicide and how important individuals are to family, friends and their communities. It shows us we play a specific role in God’s divine plan, and what a gift life is. Who wouldn’t want to celebrate an angel earning their wings?
It’s not over. We have some honorable mentions to add.
Nobody else on the team had even seen CIY Director of Film MD Neely’s favorite Christmas movie, “Arthur Christmas” that came out in 2011.
“Educate yourself and watch this story of the bumbling underdog who risked his life to deliver one Christmas present,” Neely said. “It is the spirit of Christmas to me – I cry like a baby at the end of it every time.”
“Are you kidding me?! ‘Polar Express’ is all about the spirit of Christmas,” said Corban Aspegren, film producer. “The boy hears the bell, there’s music – it has so much spirit – and there’s no way this list is complete without it.”
“You want to talk about character development? Tim Allen in ‘The Santa Claus’ has to change completely to become Santa,” said Elena Weddle, film project manager.
While it’s difficult to narrow our favorites list down to five, we all can unanimously say, “Merry Christmas” – Love, the CIY Film Team