To read more of Sharp’s Christmas Movie Smackdown, click here.
This was supposed to be fun. A few weeks ago, when we thought of the idea of running a bracket on Sharp’s website to determine the best Christmas movie ever made, it seemed like a harmless enough endeavour.
Instead, all hell broke loose. I sent out an email at 10 A.M. on a Monday to my colleagues and a handful of close family and friends, asking for their favourite Christmas movies alongside a preliminary list of candidates I’d prepared. By noon, my inbox looked like the climax of a Peckinpah flick: an absolute melee of well-reasoned endorsements, impassioned pleas, flagrant accusations, un-publishable vitriol and a couple of thinly veiled threats.
What I’d rather naively neglected to realize is this: People love their Christmas movies. Like, really love their Christmas movies. They care about them as much as — and, in a few sad cases, more than — they do some family members. You grow up with these movies, return to them for comfort and security and warmth year after year, and eventually develop unshakeable neural pathways that make these specific pop cultural artifacts the triggers that inform your brain that the holidays have officially arrived.
In other words: these things are deeply, deeply personal, and it’s no more possible to definitively determine the Greatest Christmas Movie Ever than it would be to choose the world’s best parents — everyone’s partial to their own. But, we’re still going to try anyway.
After countless hours of debates, deliberations and late-night viewing sessions, we’ve narrowed down our list to these final 16. They have been judged on a great number of criteria, including but not limited to: Nostalgia, Timelessness, Kitsch, Re-watchablilty, Reference-ability, and, most importantly, That Warm And Fuzzy Feeling. Each day this week, a Sharp editor will weigh in on the matchups to determine which of these holiday classics moves on, and which of them goes home with a lump of coal.
For now, though, without further ado, we proudly present Sharp’s Christmas Movie Bracket. We look forward to your hate mail.
1. It’s A Wonderful Life — Overlong and unexpectedly depressing, and yet it’s somehow still among the most essential, well-crafted and beautiful Christmas movies ever made.
2. A Christmas Story — The fishnet leg lamp. The tongue stuck to the pole. “You’ll shoot your eye out!” Need we say more?
3. Miracle on 34th Street — There have been dozens of memorable filmic odes to New York at Christmastime over the years, but this one remains the king of them all.
4. Love Actually – You have a mom, right? Then you’ve probably been subjected to this saccharine subplot hydra at least 40 times in the last 12 years. And — even though you’d never admit it to her — you’ve actually enjoyed about 35 of those viewings.
1. Elf — Peak Ferrell + intermittent Claymation + pre-GoT Dinklage = instant holiday classic.
2. Home Alone — The movie that inspired a million homemade booby traps, much to the detriment of parents everywhere.
3. Scrooged — We’d say this is Bill Murray in his prime, but let’s be honest: Bill Murray is always in his prime. The living legend brings the full breadth of his charisma to this hilarious Christmas Carol update.
4. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation — Perhaps the only threequel in existence that’s better and more memorable than the first two installments. (Sorry, Walley World, Big Ben and Parliament.)
THE KIDS MOVIES
1. The Muppet Christmas Carol — All the affable Muppets mayhem you expect, with the added bonus of getting to watch an aged Michael Caine sing and dance through the streets of the most endearingly fake London set you’ve ever seen.
2. The Santa Clause — Thanks to Home Improvement, every kid in 1994 already wanted Tim Allen as a dad. And then to make him Santa Claus on top of that?
3. Jingle All The Way — The Arnold in goofy Kindergarten Cop mode, alongside a who’s-who of early-‘90s comedy: Sinbad, Phil Hartman, Larraine Newman and Chris Parnell in his very first film appearance.
4. How the Grinch Stole Christmas — The 1966 cartoon TV special is more universally beloved, but Jim Carrey brings enough manic commitment to the title role to give the original a run for its money.
THE GENRE FILMS
1. Die Hard — “Now I Have A Machine Gun. Ho-Ho-Ho.”
2. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang — Christmas is writer-director Shane Black’s favourite seasonal setting, and he’s never deployed it better than in this wry, twisting neo-noir that caught Robert Downey Jr. in the midst of a roaring comeback and Val Kilmer just before his career fell off a cliff.
3. Gremlins — Inspired an inherent, widespread distrust of Furbies among people of a certain age when those fuzzy devils became a thing 15 years later.
4. The Nightmare Before Christmas — Tim Burton’s last truly great, inventive, unforgettable work.