“I think cinema, movies, and magic have always been closely associated,” film director Francis Ford Coppola once said. “The very earliest people who made film were magicians.”
With Christmas day nearly upon us, it is certainly difficult to dispel the feeling of magic that seems to linger in the air and permeate our soul with just a flicker of light, warmth of a fire or viewing of a holiday film.
Indeed, we couldn’t agree more with Mr. Coppola – a great amount of magic can be found in movies, particularly in the holiday classics that, by their very nature, capture the Christmas spirit and – more often than not – remind us of all the good we have in our lives. It’s amazing how certain scenes in particular have the ability to evoke such powerful sentiments, leaving us with unexpected chills or causing us to think or reflect on something in a way we never have – or at least have forgotten to do.
So, in the magical spirit of Christmas, we’ve compiled a list of ATG’s top ten holiday movies (from oldest to most recent), in addition to those moments and quotes that left us with that good, “magical” feeling – either that, or those that were just plain funny!
We hope you enjoy and hope you will share with us some of your favorites in the comment section below, as well as on Twitter and Facebook using the hashtag #MyATGMoment (i.e. #MyATGMoment in Love Actually: Where Jamie goes to Aurelia’s house with her dad and sister, and the whole town marches to her restaurant). Share and we’ll choose a few to highlight in a separate post!
1. The Shop around the Corner (1940)
Jimmy Stewart, Margaret Sullivan and Frank Morgan (yes, he was the Wizard of Oz) – Before Jimmy Stewart established himself by playing the all-time classic character George Bailey (see below), he gives an outstanding performance in this oft-forgotten Christmas tale.
- Our ATG Moment: Alfred Kralik (Jimmy): “There might be a lot we don’t know about each other. You know, people seldom go to the trouble of scratching the surface of things to find the inner truth.”
2. It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
Jimmy Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore and the best director to ever come out of Hollywood, Frank Capra – The single best Christmas movie ever made, and one of the greatest messages of all time: the impact we have on people, our community and the world we live in.
- Our ATG Moment: Clarence (the Angel): “Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives. When he isn’t around he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?”
3. Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
Maureen O’Hara, John Payne and Edmund Gwenn – While for many folks this is the all-time best Christmas movie, we think this is the best portrayal and message of Kris Kringle ever on the silver screen.
- Our ATG Moment: Kris Kringle: “Oh, Christmas isn’t just a day, it’s a frame of mind… and that’s what’s been changing. That’s why I’m glad I’m here, maybe I can do something about it.”
4. We’re No Angels (1955)
Humphrey Bogart, Peter Ustinov and Aldo Ray – Some may not consider this a Christmas movie, although one could argue (because of its message) that it is up there with all the other classics. What better Christmas message than revealing the goodness in the wicked and the wickedness in the seemingly good?
- Our ATG Moment: Joseph (Bogey): “We came here to rob them and that’s what we’re gonna do – beat their heads in, gouge their eyes out, slash their throats. Soon as we wash the dishes.”
5. Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Stole Christmas (1960)
Chuck Jones (of cartoon fame) and Boris Karloff – This family classic is a timeless story that, true for many other of Dr. Seuss’ works, will still hold up over 100 years from now.
- Our ATG Moment: Narrator (Karloff): “He puzzled and puzzed till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. Maybe Christmas, he thought… doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps… means a little bit more!”
6. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964)
Burl Ives and Bumbles – A holiday original with timeless messages to all children (and adults), and another must watch every Christmas.
- Our ATG Moment: Mrs. Claus: “Eat, Papa, eat.”
7. Mixed Nuts (1994)
Steve Martin, Madeline Kahn and Rita Wilson (Director: Nora Ephron) – While it never received the reception it deserved, this movie has a very funny plot with interesting characters and a great final scene (and song).
- Our ATG Moment: Phillip (Martin): “Just remember that in every pothole there is hope. Well, you see, pothole is spelled P-O-T-H-O-L-E. So if you take the P, and add it to the H, the O, and the E, and rearrange the letters… or contrariwise, you remove the O, T, and the L, you get “hope”. So, just remember, in every pothole there is hope!”
8. The Santa Clause (1994)
Tim Allen and Judge Reinhold – Really funny premise with a great underlying message of the importance of believing.
- Our ATG Moment: Dr. Neil Miller (Reinhold): “Scott, what was the last thing you and Charlie did, before you went to bed Christmas Eve?” Scott Calvin (Allen): “We shared a bowl of sugar, did some shots of brown liquor, played with my shot guns, field-dressed a cat, and looked for women…”
9. Elf (2003)
Will Ferrell, James Caan and Zooey Deschanel – Director Jon Faureau met his goal in creating a modern day timeless classic. It’s perfect from start to finish, and extremely funny.
- Our ATG Moments (too hard to choose just one!): Buddy (Ferrell): “This place reminds me of Santa’s Workshop! Except it smells like mushrooms and everyone looks like they want to hurt me.”
- Buddy: “We elves try to stick to four main food groups: Candy, candy canes, candy corns and syrup.”
10. The Family Stone (2005)
Diane Keaton, Craig T. Nelson, Sarah Jessica Parker, Luke Wilson, Rachel McAdams, Claire Danes and Dermot Mulroney – With a phenomenal cast, everyone is likely able to identify with at least one of the characters and laugh out loud at some of the funniest scenes and sequence of events ever seen in a “holiday” movie.
- Our ATG Moment: Ben Stone (Wilson): “Don’t dilly-dally there, pretty lady. We’re all gonna be down here talking about you.”
2 thoughts on “Magical Moments of Christmas Classics”
Great songlist. I see you have my fvaroite Clay Aiken and My Grown Up Christmas List. His Christmas Album, Merry Christmas With Love is a beautiful album. He is also doing a Christmas Tour starting Nov.23 Dec.21. You can check out his Official Fan Club for all the dates.
It’s A Wonderful Life!!!
That movie should be a mandatory watch once a quarter.