Lights, Camera, Christmas

Mele kalikimaka students!  It's Michael from the Admissions office here and I'm hoping you're either finishing up studying for finals or are exempt from even having to take one.  Either way, you better be in an awesome mood because it's THE CHRISTMAS SEASON and with that comes the holiday treat of getting to watch those timeless Christmas movies yet another time.  

Speaking of Christmas movies, I thought it would be fun to share my personal top 5 (or 7!) Christmas movies of all time and then hear from all of you about what makes your personal favorites list. I also hope some discussion of Hollywood's finest films encourages you to pop some popcorn, fill up a mug of hot chocolate or wassail and gather around with the family for a fun old fashioned family Christmas. Oh, and extra points if you know what "Mele kalikimaka" means and which movie it's found in.  Let me know in the "comments" section. Let's get started!

Honorable mention: THE POLAR EXPRESS
 Worth mentioning, but just out of the top 5 is the animated flick, "The Polar Express." This movie takes me back to my childhood each and every time I watch it. I grew up reading the illustrated book by Chris van Allsburg every year, and the animation in the film definitely captures the beauty of the illustrations in the book. Tom Hanks lends his voice to many of the characters and with him you can never go wrong. Plus, I don't know about you, but I still hear the bell!

Honorable mention: THE FAMILY MAN
This is the first DVD I pop in every year on the day after Thanksgiving. There is no better way to kick off the Christmas season than with Nicholas Cage and Tea Leoni sharing the screen for a modern re-telling of It's A Wonderful Life/A Christmas Carol. Nicholas Cage is in his rare, Oscar-worthy form and definitely steals the show as the character who undergoes the miraculous life-change after being visited by a helpful angel. Fun, laughter, and maybe a tear or two abound in this flick. It is a must-see to start off the Christmas movie watching.

5: HOME ALONE (1 and 2)
I still remember how my brothers and I laughed and laughed in the theaters when we saw this for the first time. Since that day it has become a staple at my house during the Christmas season. I mean, what kid cannot relate to the troubles of the oft-forgotten, oft-insulted Kevin McCalister? Throw in Harry and Marve, aka, the "Wet/Sticky Bandits," and you are ready for a comedic treasure.

Best Actor in my Top 5 goes to Jim Carrey (just beating out Jimmy Stewart) for his role as the Christmas-hating, Whoville-loathing Grinch. Humor abounds, and it entertains all ages. Plus, there just isn't a better redemption/change of heart-type moment in any other Christmas movie than what happens in the final minutes of this fun tale (with the possible exception, again, of Jimmy Stewart as George Bailey or Reginald Owen as Scrooge..both of whom may make the list in a bit!) Oh, and having Anthony Hopkins' awesome voice narrate doesn't hurt either!

If your family's Christmases over the years are always as fun, crazy, hilarious, awkward, and memorable as mine usually are, then you will definitely relate to the Griswolds in this annual staple. Great performances abound, highlighted by Chevy Chase as Clark, and Randy Quaid as Cousin Eddie. From one crazy moment to the next, so many of them will remind you of your own family…which is why this movie makes almost everyone's top 5. Although a little cruder than the others on the list, there's not a Christmas that goes by that it doesn't get watched at least once. It's pretty much the gift that keeps givin'..the whole year.

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There are many versions of this out there, but none more special or better-acted than the 1938, black and white staring Reginald Owen as the quintessential promoter of Christmas jeer. This is the last thing my family does on Christmas eve after reading the Christmas story from Luke 2. We all gather around the tv one final time and watch Scrooge have his life-change moment and then we hit the bed dreaming of sugar plums. Owen captures what I'm sure Dickens imagined with his brilliant performance that keeps us coming back year after year. After a viewing of this classic you can't help but agree with the new, joyful, generous Scrooge, saying "Yes! Yes I do! I like Christmas! I LOVE Christmas!"

The gold standard. Nothing in cinematic history compares. This is not only my favorite Christmas movie, but also tops my list of all time favorite movies. The themes, the acting, the is simply timeless. No matter how many times I watch it, I am always moved by the main theme: that each and every one of our lives have great meaning, whether we realize it or not. One of the greatest gifts of all was given to George Bailey (played incredibly by the unmatched Jimmy Stewart), a chance to see what the world would be like if he had never been born. He then realizes how much of an effect he's had on everyone he has ever known. The film then closes with a 20 minute finale greater than any other in movie history, and anyone with a heart cannot help but be moved. If you haven't seen it yet, do yourself and your family a favor. Go out and rent it (or just go ahead and buy it because it will become an annual tradition), make sure the rest of the fam is there, and let the greatest movie of all time warm your hearts.

So, that's my personal top 5 (or 7!) Now it's YOUR turn to hit the "comments" section below, and let us know all about your favorite Christmas movies. Which movies rise to the top? Why are those movies so meaningful to you and your family? Let us know and maybe one of your movies will end up on next year's top 5!

And finally, MERRY CHRISTMAS from all of us here at Mississippi College. We hope to see you out on campus soon!