Indy Film Fest


Garland, the Godfather and getting into the spirit of the season

It's all I can do to keep from listening to Christmas music until after Halloween, let alone Thanksgiving, so it probably won't surprise you to know that I've been rotating through my holiday movies for about as long. Every year, there are a handful of films I have on hand to keep the festive mood going - White Christmas, The Family Stone, A Christmas Story. They're classics and, like good friends and a glass of wine, always sure to put you in a good mood.

With that in mind, I thought it'd be fun to share my top five favorite Christmas movies. Keep reading to get the scoop, then please - share yours in the comments!

5. ELF - I'm not sure if it's Will Ferrell at his best or Zooey Deschanel at her most adorable, but there's really not one off moment in this 2003 new classic. Every time I ride an escalator, I think of the scene at the beginning when Buddy's trying to figure out how it works. The other shoppers must think I'm goofy as I chuckle to myself at the thought. Like any good Christmas movie, though, it's the touch of sentimentality among the hilarity that keep me coming back year after year.

4. THE GODFATHER - OK, yes. At the outset, this seems like the furthest thing from a holiday film, and you're right. But there's only one time of year I've got the time to watch this three-hour masterpiece, and that's over my holiday break. So yes, every year I find myself being made an offer I can't refuse, revisiting the Corleone family and all their unforgiving ways. Have I mentioned what a crush I have on Michael Corleone? I'd meet him under the mistletoe any day.

3. LOVE ACTUALLY - These last three will be fairly predictable, but I'm OK with that. It's Christmas, after all, and if we can't bank on traditions at Christmas, what can we count on? Love Actually has been a tradition of mine since it came out  in 2003. Lots of films try to do the multi-storyline-connecting-at-the-end thing, and most fail (in fact, the only other one I can think of that does it any better is Playing by Heart). From the cast to the music to the cheering along with the underdog we find ourselves doing, LA gets me every time. I even have this theory that each of us identifies with one of the characters; I'm Natalie. You?

2. IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE - Frank Capra's masterpiece of course makes my list, but I'll be honest - this one can be such an emotional ride for me, I take a year off now and then. If you're questioning your faith in humanity, if you forget what an amazing actor James Stewart is, or if you just need a good cry, you can find them all in Wonderful Life. Every time I pop it in, it doesn't matter what multi-tasking I think I'm going to do, I always find myself transfixed by the simple but powerful message of community and redemption, as I'm sure you do, too.

1. MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS -  Made in Judy Garland's early twenties, this one is, like The Godfather, not a holiday film in the strictest sense of the genre. But the film that covers each of the seasons holds the number one spot on my list for one simple reason - Garland's captivating version of "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" on one snowy, wintry evening. Maybe it's because it was always my Grandmother's favorite and I have her to thank for my love of movies; maybe it's because I've got a much-younger sister with a striking resemblance to Tootie (whom Garland sings to in the scene); maybe it's because I'm already a sucker for Christmas and all its schmaltz and sentiment. It could be any of those reasons that put this one at the top of my list. I'm guessing it's all of the above.

So, there are mine. The films that, year after year, are the harbingers of the most wonderful time of the year.

What are your favorite holiday films - and why?

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  1. I always watch The Lord of the Rings Trilogy this time of year, so the Godfather doesn’t seem strange to me!

    Also, confession time: I’ve watched Love Actually twice this season so far.

  2. I have several versions of A Christmas Carol in my collection. The 1951 version with Alistair Sim is my favorite, followed by A Muppet Christmas Carol (Kermit as Bob Cratchit was truly inspired casting!).

  3. Five Favorite Christmas movies:
    1.) A Christmas Story
    2.) Better off Dead
    3.) Miracle on 34th Street
    4.) Christmas Vacation
    5.) Die Hard

    Confession time: I’ve never seen It’s a Wonderful Life.

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