Cheesy. Cliche. Sentimental. These are the charges that Cinema Scrooges often make toward Christmas Movies. It’s true, the genre features few art-house films and international offerings. But within the confines of popular Western entertainment, you won’t find a more diverse collection of eras and styles than around the holidays.
What other time of year brings people of all ages to watch Will Ferrell, Tim Allen and Jim Carrey back-to-back with Bing Crosby, Jimmy Stewart and Natalie Wood? What other films so seamlessly mesh the music of Frank Sinatra and Faith Hill, Burl Ives and Chuck Berry, The Crystals and The Drifters, Gene Autry and Run DMC? And what other collection mixes the diverse talents of children’s book authors (Dr. Seuss), cell animators (Walt Disney, Chuck Jones), stop-motion masters (Bass and Rankin), hand-puppet visionaries (Jim Henson) and comic strip artists (Jim Davis and Charles M. Schulz)?
With this is in mind, I’ve compiled a list of the 25 essential watches of the holiday season. The list covers both full-length movies and TV specials, but does not include Christmas episodes of TV series. That means you won’t find Michael Scott playing Yankee Swap on The Office; Ross Geller dressing up as the Holiday Armadillo on Friends; or the Costanzas airing their Festivus grievances on Seinfeld.
What you will find is a balanced list of adult flicks and children’s favorites over a wide range of time, from the 1940s through today. So break out your personal collection, browse your Netflix and set your DVR. Turn on your leg lamps, slap your cheeks and count your blessings instead of sheep. It’s time for The Film Spectrum’s 25 Days of Christmas. Where’s the tylenol?