Editorial staffers put their deadlines aside to bask in holiday glory. Staring into an abyss, an ode to American consumerism and effusive muppets? Yep, it's all in here.
For me, the holy trinity starts with Rankin/Bass' 'Twas the Night Before Christmas
, the animated special that showed us that even a miracle needs a hand, and that mousy intellectuals with a penchant for clockwork should just mind their own damn business. The sleigh ride continues with the classic "Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy" from Bing Crosby's Merrie Olde Christmas
, featuring the legendary crooner and David Bowie—the oddest of holiday pairings since "fruit cake" and "delicious." You can sense Bing's impending fear of a dandy home invasion when Bowie walks through the manor and asks to use his piano. Then there's the Muppets' timeless rendition of "The 12 Days of Christmas" from John Denver and the Muppets: A Christmas Together
. The gusto from Miss Piggy belting "Five goooold rings!"
always gets me in the mood for the season—and for Christmas ham.
—Enrique Limón, editor
Christmas is always such a frantic season for movie-watching for me—packing in all the stuff to be considered for year-end awards—that I almost never have time for stuff I've seen 100 times and actually like
. Probably the closest I get to something like this is Robert Zemeckis' The Polar Express
, which I often have a hard time turning away from when I'm channel surfing during the holidays. It gets even more fascinating as the years go by, and its primitive "uncanny valley" motion-capture computer-animated characters look ever creepier. Sure, it's cheesy, schmaltzy spectacle, but it also feels more nightmarish than anyone involved could ever have intended.
—Scott Renshaw, A&E editor
For several years there in the '70s, I refused to watch the World War II epic Patton
after I'd read somewhere it was Richard Nixon's favorite film. My pettiness waned, and the 1970 film starring George C. Scott became a favorite. The sole holiday connection is when elements "Ol' Blood and Guts'" 3rd Army relieved Yanks in the French town of Bastogne on Christmas Day. Patton
pivots on quotes—which he actually
uttered. A war correspondent asks him about his pistol grips. "They're ivory," snaps the general. "Only a pimp from a cheap New Orleans whorehouse would carry a pearl-handled pistol." In another scene, a chaplain remarks, "I was interested to see a Bible by your bed. You actually find time to read it?" Responds Patton: "I sure do. Every goddamn day." He tells troops: "Now I want you to remember that no bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country." But, of course, the most-famous quote comes after he loses command of the 7th Army after slapping a shell-shocked soldier in a Sicily field hospital. "Ah, George," he laments to his orderly, "I wish I'd kissed the son-of-a-bitch!" And in this spirit of good-will-toward-all, that's my sentiment exactly.
—Lance Gudmundsen, proofreader
Come December, I try to stay far away from seemingly everyone's favorite Christmas flick, Elf.
Instead, I find myself more fascinated with mid-1990s holiday nostalgia. This is clearly because those were the years I still believed in Santa and everything seemed magical. Now, if I'm flipping through channels and come across Jingle All the Way
, you can sure as hell bet I'm not going anywhere else. Between Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sinbad's buffoonery trying to track down the virtually sold-out Turbo Man action figure and the cheesy lines throughout (I'm going to deck your halls, bub!), I can't help but smile. Bonus: I first saw this film during a birthday party at the small theater inside Jolley's Pharmacy and Top Hat Video on 1300 South and 1700 East—you know, back when video rental stores were still a thing. Ah, the '90s.
—Ray Howze, editorial assistant
I'm not much of one for movies generally, much less Christmas movies, which might be the kitschiest of the kitsch. Sentimentality is not my style, or at least that's what I like to tell myself, despite a long-running flirtation with the serial TV drama Grey's Anatomy
. But if I've got to watch one, I return to the holiday movies of my youth—and my grandparents' youth. Each year, we opened the holiday season with a post-Thanksgiving-dinner viewing of It's a Wonderful Life
. This 1940s classic follows George Bailey, a poor fella beset by accidental money woes who contemplates suicide, only to be saved by—that's right—his guardian angel. Fun fact: it was decried in an FBI memo as too communist. But don't worry, it's basically a paean to good ol' American capitalism. And then there's White Christmas
, the 1950s song-and-dance romance featuring Bing Crosby. I mean, they're really
good at harmonizing. These films have all the tropes necessary for a 1950s American (white) Christmas—but look, I'm still going to be humming Christmas songs for a day after viewing, before resuming my usual Grinch-like state.
—Naomi Clegg, copy editor
I've never been a fan of holiday movies. The moralizing, the mind-numbingly catchy music and the one-dimensional themes—I get it, holidays are a time for family, and giving, not receiving, gifts is what's important—all make me reflexively gag. I suppose that makes The Grinch
my favorite Christmas movie, and of all the films in Grinchdom, I'd have to choose 2000's How the Grinch Stole Christmas
, starring Jim Carrey, as my favorite. Carrey's Grinch has pizzazz as he breaks down his booked holiday schedule ("4:30, stare into the abyss; 5:00, solve world hunger, tell no one") and ruminates on universal quandaries ("Am I just eating because I'm bored?") before the inevitable Christmas Spirit inspires him to save the town's Christmas swag from falling off the side of a mountain. It's funny and gently mocking before it relents to the holiday's power, a series of emotions similar to my own feelings each December.
—Kelan Lyons, staff writer