Five Holiday Movies To Watch (Published about a month too late!)

Ava Neumaier, Staff Writer

This upcoming February break, celebrate the snow, the songs, and all else Christmas with five movies that emulate the spirit of the season. Reignite one’s belief in Santa Claus in the 1947 film Miracle On 34th Street, experience classic, spunky adventure in the 1990 movie Home Alone, nostalgic childhood fun in 1983’s comedy A Christmas Story, the terrific 1970 adaptation Scrooge, and 2017’s ingenious origin story The Man Who Invented Christmas. From black and white to modern technicolor, these movies may span from Victorian England to the early 90s, but they will, and will always be, classics to appreciate.

In Miracle On 34th Street, a so-called Santa Claus faces doubt and ridicule from the coworkers at Macy’s after he gets a job playing himself in the department store. A great performance by a young Natalie Wood was praised by numerous critics for her heartwarming, believable depiction of a little girl alien to the concept of imagination, and Edmund Gwynn, who played Kris Kringle, for his playful expression of an old man’s inner child. Played like a modern fairytale, this film is the personification of imagination, and the importance of the magic of Christmas.

Many have already seen Home Alone, and those who have can attest that along with being a meaningful holiday movie about the importance of family, it’s also a rollicking adventure, centering on a boy accidentally left behind during his family’s vacation, and his attempts to booby-trap his house from the burglars that strive to rob it. Full of slapstick comedy and exciting near-misses, Home Alone is exciting, fun, and utterly brilliant.

In Jean Shepherd’s semi-fictional memoir, A Christmas Story he recalls his disastrously fun 1940s childhood Christmas season, an anecdotal adventure made even more terrific when it was adapted into a 1983 movie. One of the funniest parts of this massive misadventure is the fact that it’s narrated by Shepherd, giving the effect of a little kid’s immature consciousness being read by an adult; young Ralphie clearly thinks himself older and more responsible than he actually is, and that aspect of the voiceover adds consistent humor to whatever he says. From bullies and wild neighborhood dogs to the famed tongue-stuck-to-the-cold-pole-scene, this movie may be a bit outdated, but that’s part of its unending charm.

All of us are familiar with the many incarnations of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol – there are been over twenty adaptations since 1901. But one movie reigns far superior; Scrooge. The cinematography terrific, the acting extraordinary, this holiday classic perfectly encompasses the Christmas season. Albert Finney brings new life to the time-honored title role, singing and dancing as the cranky miser who learns the error of his ways.

The Man Who Invented Christmas, the newest of the five movies, is not only the engaging original story of Charles Dickens’ most famous work but also a deep dive into a writer’s psyche. In a six week rush to finish A Christmas Carol after six flops, writers will find themselves nodding in understanding as Dickens struggled to find inspiration despite the distractions, enemies, and personal demons that emerge from his past. The movie was accurate in many aspects of Dickens’ life, such as his love of walks and many children, and the personification of his inspiration has multiple metaphorical undertones. Dan Stevens plays the eccentric and imaginative writer with true brilliance, able to depict dozens of thoughts and emotions with a single facial expression. Both a holiday movie and a journey into one’s inspiration, this is an extraordinary account of an ordinary man who must rely on both himself and his friends to truly have a merry Christmas.

Kris Kringle chides a doubtful mother in Miracle On 34th Street, “Christmas isn’t a season, it’s a frame of mind!” and he’s right; you can appreciate these five holiday classics year-round, and reignite the Christmas spirit – and the memorable characters that accompany it – no matter what the time of year.