Posted December 11, 2017 at 06:39 AM | Updated December 11, 2017 at 06:41 AM
Will Ferrell (far right) stars as “Buddy” in New Line Cinema’s family comedy, “ELF.” (ALAN MARKFIELD | Photo provided to MLive.com by NEW LINE PRODUCTIONS)
Let me get this out of the way now: “Home Alone” stinks. You will not find it in this list of classic Christmas movies. It’s cruel and moronic, and anyone who likes it is… definitely not me.
OK. Now we can get on to the serious stuff, namely, ranking the 10 Christmas movies I pompously and presumptuously deem worthy of your time every year. There’s nothing that warms a heart more than watching Billy Bob Thornton F-bomb his way through the Thanksgiving-to-Christmas retail gauntlet, or Will Ferrell machine-gun snowballs at bullies, or Rosemary Clooney croon about precipitation. Trust me. Here they are, funneled through my film-critical worldview and ranked in order of importance, counting down:
10. ‘Bad Santa’ (2003)
Director Terry Zwigoff and star Billy Bob Thornton take a beloved holiday icon and legend and indelibly twist and corrupt it counter to all good taste. This Santa is a drunk, swindling, fornicating creep. This movie is brilliantly wrong in every way, and is very much not a family film in the normal Christmas tradition.
9. ‘National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation’ (1989)
Clark Griswold. Good ol’ weird, naïve, naughty, sweet, dumb, smart Clark Griswold. He’s probably Chevy Chase’s greatest character (although “Fletch” fans may take umbrage at that assertion), and his unflappable personality is the hilariously asinine heart of the “Vacation” movies. One scene makes “Christmas Vacation” an all-time great: when Clark devours the electricity of the entire surrounding zip code with a zillion wasteful watts of Christmas-light glory. It functions as a clear illustration of his character, and, if you’re into overanalyzing goofball comedies, a metaphor for the American holiday tradition of extreme overconsumption.
8. ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’ (1993)
This stop-motion animated musical marvel is the epitome of Danny Elfman’s musical genius and Tim Burton’s warped imagination and director Henry Selick’s underrated skill behind the camera. It’s a gentle upending of Christmas traditions, courtesy Jack Skellington, the spindly king of Halloweentown, who doesn’t think it’s that big a deal to usurp Santa’s sleigh and deliver hilariously scary presents to all the children of the world. This might be one of the most visually creative and inventive movies ever.
7. ‘Gremlins’ (1984)
The moral of the story is, never, ever go Christmas shopping at a dusty mysterious candlelit ancient Chinese crazy trinket-and-creature shop and expect your holiday to be all dancing sugarplums and chestnuts roasting on an open fire.
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