Saturday, December 04, 2021

My Ten Favorite Christmas Movies -- 2021 Update

I made my first list like this back in 2013, but it is high time for an update because I have seen several Christmas movies since then that just have to be on this list, while others have dropped off.  So here we go!



1.  White Christmas (1954)

A team of showbiz stars (Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye) try to rescue a retired general (Dean Jagger) from bankruptcy by staging a show at his ski lodge.  I've watched this almost every single Christmas season for three decades, and I never get tired of it.

2.  We're No Angels (1955)

Three escaped convicts (Humphrey Bogart, Peter Ustinov, and Aldo Ray) try to rescue a bumbling businessman (Leo G. Carroll) from his unscrupulous cousin (Basil Rathbone).  Possibly the funniest movie I have ever seen, and also one of the most heart-warming.  DO NOT get the 1989 remake by mistake.


When a lonely train fare collector (Sandra Bullock) rescues a handsome stranger (Peter Gallagher) from being hit by a train, his family mistakes her for his fiancee.  My favorite romantic comedy, my favorite Sandra Bullock role, my favorite Bill Pullman role, and another of the funniest movies I've ever seen.

4.  It's a Wonderful Life (1946)

George Bailey (James Stewart) decides he's worth more dead than alive, and it takes an unlikely angel (Henry Travers) all of Christmas Eve to convince him otherwise.  There's a reason it's so famous -- it's really that good.

5.  A Christmas Carol (1999)

Ebenezer Scrooge (Patrick Stewart) learns not to be so stingy.  A stellar performance from Stewart elevates this above the usual made-for-TV Christmas movie.

6.  Holiday Affair (1949)

An unconventional sweetheart (Robert Mitchum) and a convention-bound widow (Janet Leigh) work very hard convincing themselves they haven't fallen in love over a toy train, a Christmas dinner, and a very loud necktie.  I love this weird little movie more every time I watch it.

7.  The Holiday (2006)

An unhappy LA woman (Cameron Diaz) trades houses with an unhappy British woman (Kate Winslet) for Christmas, and they find happiness and love in their new surroundings.  Did I mention Jude Law?  And Rufus Sewell?  But my favorite part of the whole movie is everything that involves Eli Wallach's sweet, elderly Hollywood writer.


Ebenezer Scrooge (Michael Caine) learns not to be so stingy with the help of a lot of Muppets.  My kids really love this movie too :-)

9.  The Man Who Invented Christmas (2017)

Charles Dickens (Dan Stevens) needs money.  And he needs his career to stop fizzling.  And he needs these grumpy characters in his head (especially Scrooge, played by Christopher Plummer) to cooperate.  And he needs people to stop pestering him so he can just write his next book.  I was WAY more charmed by this movie than I expected to be!

10.  The Bells of St. Mary's (1945)

Father O'Malley (Bing Crosby) is tasked with shutting down a Catholic school run by Sister Mary Benedict (Ingrid Bergman), who is determined to save it.  I like this a lot better than Going My Way (1944), Crosby's other turn as O'Malley.


Well, that's my list!  Did you notice that the posters for two of them mirror each other?  I just think that's neat.  And probably deliberate, don't you suppose?  Anyway, are any of your favorites here?  Got any suggestions for me of Christmas movies you think I might need to see?

24 comments:

  1. Aww, The Bells of St. Mary's! Even though I often don't "get" old Hollywood movies, I immediately adored that one. So sweet. <3

    I really need to watch The Man Who Invented Christmas. I think I'd love it.

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    1. Katie, that's because The Bells of St. Mary's is just that good.

      I think you would have a lot of fun with The Man Who Invented Christmas. As a writer, it's just so relatable!!!

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  2. I need to watch some of these, White Christmas is a favorite, the muppet Christmas Carol and It's A Wonderful Life aren't my thing. I grew up with the Disney animated Christmas Carol, and I'd like to watch some of the older ones.

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    1. Livia, I've seen Mickey's Christmas Carol once, and it didn't charm me, but I'm glad it works for you!

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  3. Several of these are on my favorites list too!

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  4. Just a few weeks ago my sister and I decided to watch a movie at the same time while talking on the phone, and by a random choice we picked While You Were Sleeping, because she wanted a rom com and I'd heard about it on your blog. I just didn't realize it was a Christmas movie! Whoops. (Only whoops because this was the middle of November and I usually only watch Christmas movies starting in December...) Anyway, we had a lot of fun.

    It's been SO LONG since I've seen The Bells of St. Mary's, but I remember loving it. It's been more recent since I've seen Going My Way and I enjoyed that a lot more than I remembered. Probably because I know so many priests who are just like Fr. O'Malley! Haha!

    Michael Caine as Scrooge? That sounds like a blast! I think I've seen that one, but it's been too long. The Patrick Stewart version was the first Christmas Carol I ever saw, but now it's been ages since I've seen it. My dad's favorite is the George C. Scott version, but there are too many to pick for me!

    And then of course It's a Wonderful Life. <3 Best movie ever!

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    1. Chloe, well, I can watch While You Were Sleeping any time of year. It was the first movie I went to see in the theater with the girls who became my best friends all through my teen years, and man, I just LOVE IT. I'm glad you and your sister liked it!

      I should rewatch Going My Way -- I haven't seen it in decades. Maybe I would like it better!

      Yes, Michael Caine as Scrooge, and he is just PERFECT. Mmmm, so good. Patrick Stewart is also perfect, and I will never be able to choose which of them is my favorite Scrooge. I haven't seen the George C. Scott version yet, tho.

      Mmmmmmmm, It's a Wonderful Life is just beyond wonderful. I'm thinking my kids are old enough to appreciate it now, so I'm hoping to show it to them this year.

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  5. I saw The Man Who Invented Christmas a couple of weeks ago for the first time and haven't been able to get it out of my head.

    The Bells of St. Mary's has a subtle humanity that appeals to me, and the performances from Ingrid Bergman and Bing Crosby are among their best.

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    1. Caftan Woman, isn't that just a delightful movie? Dan Stevens and Christopher Plummer are sooooooo fun to watch together. And it definitely improves with rewatches.

      I think The Bells of St. Mary's is so effective because it's never preachy, but it IS honest.

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  6. It's a Wonderful Life is absolutely on my favorites list. You're right: it's beloved for a reason.

    My favorite version of A Christmas Carol is the 1951 version starring Alastair Sim—just brilliant. But I have a soft spot for the shorter 1938 version too. Other favorites: The Shop Around the Corner, Miracle On 34th Street, The Bishop's Wife, and A Dog Named Christmas.

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    1. Elisabeth, I haven't seen either of those older version of A Christmas Carol! I think I have one of them in a Christmas movie collection, though, so... one of these days.

      I really like Miracle on 34th Street, too. I haven't seen Shop Around the Corner for many years, but I just got my hands on a copy, so I'm hoping to watch it again this year. I really should see The Bishop's Wife again, as I've only seen it once. I remember liking it, though.

      But I've never seen A Dog Named Christmas :-o

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  7. I haven't seen half of these! I love seeing updated lists.

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    1. DKoren, I'm having a good time updating some of these old lists. It's so interesting to me how some of them have changed!

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  8. I watched “While You Were Sleeping” in college and thought it was kind of weird. I really need to watch it again! And yes! Wallach is the best part of “The Holiday.” We watch the George C. Scott “Christmas Carol.” Haven’t seen the Muppets on yet but we recently got it on VHS from our neighbor :)

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    1. Phyl, well, I will not deny that While You Were Sleeping is weird. But it's a good weird ;-)

      I still haven't seen the George C. Scott version of A Christmas Carol :-o I hope you get a kick out of the Muppet version!

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  9. White Christmas, While You Were Sleeping, and The Man Who Invented Christmas are all high on my Christmas movie list, too! Such good ones.

    I didn't know that We're No Angels is a comedy. I'll have to look into it.

    Fun post! :D

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    1. Olivia, I feel I have been remiss as a friend. How could I not have communicated to you that We're No Angels is a comedy? Dark, dark comedy, and so unapologetically funny. I adore it.

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  10. I don't really think of While You Were Sleeping as a Christmas movie (even though it is) because I watch it all times of year. Heh!

    My favorites... It's a Wonderful Life (too intense to watch every year, though), The Grinch (the version from a couple of years ago; it's so cute), The Miracle on 34th Street (the one from the 90s), The Holiday, and The Muppet Christmas Carol. That's the only movie I insist on watching every year. (Oh, and Emmett Otter's Jugband Christmas is adorably nostalgic. I finally found a copy and gave it to my mother for Christmas a few years ago.) I also like Home Alone, but it gets redundant after having seen it 30 times. ;)

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    1. Charity, yeah, I watch While You Were Sleeping any time of year too :-D

      I have never seen the newer Miracle on 34th Street, but I've watched the original many times, and also the TV remake with Macdonald Carey.

      I've just never been a Grinch fan, I'm afraid.

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  11. "Christmas in Connecticut" starring Barbara Stanwyck is a great one! And so very funny. "Shop Around the Corner" is another favorite too. Oh, and "Holiday Inn" with Bing Crosby. :)

    I enjoyed your list--I've only seen 5 of those thus far; so I have some new ones to check out now!

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    1. Annie, I keep trying to like Christmas in Connecticut because Stanny is SUCH a favorite of mine, but it just bugs me that all her problems stem from her lying, and it doesn't make me laugh as much as I feel it should.

      I haven't seen Shop Around the Corner in like 20 years, but I just got a copy of it, so I'm hoping to watch it next week! I remember quite liking it. Haven't seen Holiday Inn in a long time either, but it's definitely fun :-)

      Hope you can try out some new movies on this list, and like them!

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  12. Yay, an updated list! I remember us chatting about this ;) Like you I absolutely adore We're no Angels, White Christmas, It's a Wonderful Life, Muppet Christmas Carol, and The Man Who Invented Christmas.

    For some reason I haven't been able to get into Holiday Affair, but I'm hoping this year that will change. The Shop Around the Corner, The Bishop's Wife, Come to the Stable, and The Man Who Came to Dinner are some other faves.

    Oh and I need to see The Bells of St. Mary's this year! Thanks for reminding me :)

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    1. Muse, YES! I managed to make it happen. I have plans for updating some other made-long-ago lists in the next few months, too.

      Holiday Affair is quirky and unusual, so I definitely think it's just not going to please everyone. But I find it delightful :-)

      Speaking of Bells of St. Mary's, my husband gave me the TV show that's based on the Father O'Malley movies, Going My Way, which stars Gene Kelly! I've wanted to see this for simply years! Can't wait to try it out.

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