The holidays are full of hustle and bustle and can be enjoyed a little more when you find time to relax. Certain cinema classics make their appearance every holiday season and are guaranteed to bring a smile to your face. Curl up on the couch with your family and a cup of peppermint hot cocoa to enjoy one of these spectacles.
"It's a Wonderful Life" is a delightful 1946 Frank Capra film starring James Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore and Thomas Mitchell. The despondent protagonist, George Bailey, played by Stewart, has given up on life. With the help of a guardian angel, he learns how important he is to his friends, family and community, and discovers the true value of love. Nominated for five Academy Awards, this is an uplifting film enjoyed by all generations.
Another oldie and goody is "Miracle on 34th Street," released in 1947, directed by George Seaton and starring Edmund Gwenn, Maureen O'Hara, John Payne and Natalie Wood. Gwenn plays a department store Santa who restores faith in Santa Claus, Christmas and happy-ever-after endings. The movie won three Academy Awards and is preserved in the Library of Congress National Film Registry for being "culturally, historically or aesthetically" significant.
Everyone recalls the most famous reindeer of all. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer appeared in a 1964 animated television special based on Johnny Marks' song of the same title. Young fawn Rudolph is an outcast who's mocked for being different due to his glowing red nose. But when a major snowstorm almost cancels Santa's Christmas flight, it is Rudolph who saves the day, using his nose to light Santa's way. Airing several times each holiday season, the show is now the longest continuously running Christmas TV special and was even named the "most beloved holiday film" by a 2018 Hollywood Reporter/Morning Consult poll. It's perfect for both children and nostalgic adults.
Few other holiday stories have as many kooky characters or clever lessons as "How the Grinch Stole Christmas." Based on a book of the same title by Dr. Seuss (aka Theodor Geisel), this 1966 TV short follows a grumpy hermit who hatches a plan to steal Christmas from the cheery Whos of Whoville. After encountering the endearing Cindy Lou Who, he finds a hitch in his plans. Seuss wrote the story, as well as the lyrics to the feature song, "You're a Mean One Mr. Grinch," as a criticism of the commercialization of Christmas. It captured audiences, and Boris Karloff, narrator and voice of the Grinch, won best recording for children at the 1967 Grammys. Both the book and its show adaptations are hailed as one of the best children's stories.
"A Christmas Story" is a 1983 yuletide classic that always brings out laughs. In a series of vignettes, 9-year-old Ralphie Parker, played by Peter Billingsley (young Ralphie) and Jean Shepherd (adult Ralphie), reminisces on past Christmases. In the most famous vignette, Ralphie wants one thing, an official Red Ryder BB gun, but is told, "You'll shoot your eye out," and that he can't have one. His father secretly gets him the coveted item, and despite having nearly shot his eye out, he remembers that Christmas as one of his best. The film won best director and best original screenplay at the 5th Genie Awards. It grew in popularity so much that it's now an annual Christmas special.
In "Home Alone" 8-year-old Kevin McCallister, played by Macaulay Culkin, is mistakenly left behind when his family flies to Paris for their Christmas vacation. His jubilation at having the house to himself is quickly doused when he has to fend off two burglars. Kevin asks Santa for his family to return and finally gets his wish granted on Christmas Day when his mother walks through the door. This comedy has become a Christmas classic with four sequels. "Home Alone" was the No. 1 film at the box office for 12 straight weeks after its release in November 1990, and Culkin won a Young Artist Award for best young actor in a motion picture.
One of the best parts of the holidays is tradition. Between tree trimming and stocking stuffing and party hopping, revisit or explore any of these films that have brought joy to families for generations.