take five

All the charlatans I've known, of a certain age, are probably rolling their eyes at the title of this blog entry....

ANYWAY, in the spirit of the season (and not in the spirit of how cold my toes are, always, at this time of year), I offer my Top Five Christmas Movies. Warning: I sort of spoil them, but they're classics for the most part, so you should have seen them by now anyway. If not, where have you been? Honestly.

(Nope, has nothing to do with books. Erm..... pop cult for the masses. Like Tom Jones, but in 2007.)

5. The Family Stone -- Anyone else cringe during the Christmas Eve dinner scene? Really, who didn't cringe during that scene? The movie's all about Sarah Jessica Parker's pent-up, throat-clearing horror show visit to her boyfriend's picture perfect post card family. The family is enjoying their nice New England Christmas, complete with fashionable liberal values and lots of snow, but they can't get over their disgust with the favourite son's new girlfriend. Quintessential Christmas moment? When Awful Meredith heads to the small-town bar with Hunky Brother, meets up with Evil Sister's ex, and invites him to Christmas breakfast. Awesomely, recognizably small-town Christmas. The moral of the story? Be yourself, stop caring what everyone else thinks of you, and don't be afraid to crush on your sibling's significant other. Or your significant other's sibling.

4. A Christmas Story -- Filmed in St. Catharines, Ont., this one's a classic for anyone born after 1980. Or anyone who had nothing better to watch on TV the last few years, so saw the marathon showing on TBS. Remember when the dad gets the lamp that looks like a woman's leg? Most hilarious thing ever. Quintessential Christmas moment? Scary, scary Santa putting the boot to Ralphie. The moral of the story? Do not shoot anyone with a beebee gun. Ever. Also, nothing is as it seems. Even perfect 1950s nuclear families.

3. The Family Man -- So Nicolas Cage goes to sleep one night a hot, opera-singing, jackass in a suit. And when he wakes up, he is wearing ratty pyjamas, he's lying next to his college sweetheart and he's supposed to change dirty diapers. It's like a Dickensian novel -- in fact, it's like the Dickensian Christmas novel -- except he's not flitting in and out of possible realities. He's living just one. And his daughter -- or his alternate universe daughter -- totally knows he's not her dad. Quintessential Christmas moment? The airport scene. Would you have gotten on the plane? Tough call. The moral of the story? Business is bad, love is good, follow your heart, etc.

2. Love, Actually -- I know, I'm slotting this one in at No. 2, even though it has way too many characters and way too much neuroses and it's so hard to understand exactly what happens to Emma Thompson and Allan Rickman's characters.... But the soundtrack alone can put a girl in the mood for Christmas. Even the uber lame anthem. And, you have to love Hugh Grant's bumbling prime minister. And when the guy in love with Keira Knightley plays the carols on her front stoop and holds up massive cue cards telling her he loves her. Christmas is about being warm and fuzzy, right? And what's more warm and fuzzy than a whole movie about love? Quintessential Christmas moment? When Grant sings "Good King Wenceslas" to the little girls, and they hop around and dance. So cute! The moral of the story? Shagging your boss is bad, Joni Mitchell is a salve to all wounds, if your girlfriend cheats on you with your brother you should go to Portugal, and American presidents played by Billy Bob Thornton are surely bad guys.

1. It's a Wonderful Life -- Cliche attack! But the clicheness of the cliche is offset by the fact this is a movie that stars Jimmy Stewart. And if you don't appreciate Jimmy Stewart, you have no heart. Plus this is the cinematic equivalent to A Christmas Carol. If you think about it, this movie set the stage for classics to come, such as Sliding Doors or, well Family Man. So really, it would be a cliche not to include this cliche. And if that's not a post-modern thought.... Well, I've really never had a proper post-modern thought, so let's just drop this now. If you've not seen this movie, back away from the computer, run to a video store and rent it immediately. Or just wait until the week before Christmas and virtually every American channel will broadcast it at least once. Quintessential Christmas moment? The wings. If you don't know what I'm talking about, go and see this movie right now. The moral of the story? It's a wonderful life, darling. Stop underestimating it.

Bonus round.... movies that are really more about New Year's Eve than Christmas....

When Harry Met Sally -- Quintessential Christmas moment? Carrying a real pine tree along the snowy streets of New York City. Moral of the story? Take another look at the idiot who can't tell the difference between an opened or closed window. Why it's all about New Year's Eve: Christmas is about embracing what you already have. New Year's is about wondering if you could have more.

While You Were Sleeping -- Quintessential Christmas moment? A young, single woman asked to work Christmas day because she doesn't have any family in the city. Oh, something less bitter? Okay -- When Lucy's Christmas tree crashes through her landlord's window. Moral of the story? Pretending you're engaged to a comatose dude is fine so long as you don't hurt anyone's feelings and you manage to nab his brother. Why it's all about New Year's Eve: This movie is all about yearning for something just out of reach -- absolutely fundamental to dreaming up New Year's resolutions.

Bridget Jones's Diary -- Quintessential Christmas moment? Mark Darcy's reindeer sweater. Moral of the story? Forget the Hugh Grant baddies. Settle for nothing less than a man who likes you. Just as you are. Why it's all about New Year's Eve: What better time to start a diary....

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