Jo shares her five favorite holiday movies! Correction: The first five are Jo's picks and the rest are from the web team.
It's A Wonderful Life (Not Rated)
George Bailey has so many problems he is thinking about ending it all – and it’s Christmas! As the angels discuss George, we see his life in flashback. As George is about to jump from a bridge, he ends up rescuing his guardian angel, Clarence. Clarence then shows George what his town would have looked like if it hadn’t been for all of his good deeds over the years. Will Clarence be able to convince George to return to his family and forget suicide?
Elf (Rated PG)
This hilarious Christmas film tells the tale of a young orphan child who mistakenly crawls into Santa's bag of gifts on Christmas Eve and is transported back to the North Pole and raised as an elf. Years later Buddy learns he is not really an elf and goes on a journey to New York City to find his true identity.
Four Christmases (Rated PG-13)
When your significant other tells you you both need an exit "safe word" before you enter his dad's Christmas gathering, you know you're not in Bedford Falls. But while Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon may not be It's a Wonderful Life's George and Mary Bailey, Four Christmases is a modern holiday classic in its own right. For one thing, every family neurosis and dysfunction have taken root in the four families of Vaughn and Witherspoon's characters, Brad and Kate–and the sleek yuppie façade each has built with the other is about to come tumbling down. There are real belly laughs as the couple unexpectedly has to spend holidays with their four extended family groups.
The Snowman (Unrated)
This charming British animated short film (it's just 23 minutes long) is a 1982 production of London's Channel 4, based on the classic children's book by Raymond Briggs and crafted with a colored-pencils-on-paper look, like fluffy, hand-drawn illustrations. Small children should be entranced by the story of a small boy in rural England whose lovingly constructed snowman comes to life and takes him flying over the white-blanketed landscapes, in a beautiful rotoscoped (traced) sequence based on live-action flying footage. Part of the charm of the film is the gentle, everyday quality of its fantasy adventures: the snowman is invited in to try on clothes and play with the Christmas decorations, then plays host to the boy at a party in the woods, at which his snowy relatives do English country dances.
A Christmas Carol (Rated PG)
From Walt Disney Pictures comes the magical retelling of Charles Dickens’ beloved tale — Disney’s A Christmas Carol, the high-flying, heartwarming adventure for the whole family, starring Jim Carrey. When three ghosts take penny-pinching Scrooge on an eye-opening journey, he discovers the true meaning of Christmas — but he must act on it before it’s too late. Complete with spirited bonus features, this exhilarating and touching Disney classic is destined to be part of your holiday tradition, adding sparkle and heart to all your Christmases yet to come.
Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer (Rated G)
A Charlie Brown Christmas (Rated G)
This television classic features the Peanuts characters in the story of Charlie Brown's problematic efforts to mount a school Christmas pageant. Everybody's on board: Lucy, Snoopy, Schroeder, Pig-Pen, but the biggest impression is surely made by Linus, who stops the show with his recitation from the gospels of the story of Christ's birth.
Love Actually (Rated R)
With no fewer than eight couples vying for our attention in dealing with their love lives in various loosely and interrelated tales all set during a frantic month before Christmas in London, England. Director Richard Curtis orchestrates a minor miracle of romantic choreography, guiding a brilliant cast of stars and newcomers as they careen toward love and holiday cheer in London, among them the Prime Minister (Hugh Grant) who's smitten with his caterer; a widower (Liam Neeson) whose young son nurses the ultimate schoolboy crush; a writer (Colin Firth) who falls for his Portuguese housekeeper; a devoted wife and mother (Emma Thompson) coping with her potentially unfaithful husband (Alan Rickman); and a lovelorn American (Laura Linney) who's desperately attracted to a colleague. Love Actually is a Christmas gift and love letter all wrapped in one.
White Christmas (Unrated)
This semi-remake of Holiday Inn (the first movie in which Irving Berlin's perennial, Oscar-winning holiday anthem was featured) doesn't have much of a story, but what it does have is choice: Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, an all-Irving Berlin song score, classy direction by Hollywood vet Michael Curtiz (Casablanca, The Adventures of Robin Hood), VistaVision (the very first feature ever shot in that widescreen format), and ultrafestive Technicolor! Crosby and Kaye are song-and-dance men who hook up, romantically and professionally, with a "sister" act (Clooney and Vera-Ellen) to put on a Big Show to benefit the struggling ski-resort lodge run by the beloved old retired general (Dean Jagger) of their WWII Army outfit. Crosby is cool, Clooney is warm, Kaye is goofy, and Vera-Ellen is leggy. Songs include: "Sisters" (Crosby and Kaye do their own drag version, too), "Snow," "We'll Follow the Old Man," "Mandy," "Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep," and more. Christmas would be unthinkable without White Christmas.
The Nightmare Before Christmas (Rated PG)