TOP 5: Christmas Movies

Merry (Belated) Christmas, fellow movie lovers!

By now a lot of you have feasted on ham, turkey (or “The goose! The gooose!” as Tiny Tim would say), and swapped presents and stories with your family and loved ones. Christmas truly is the most wonderful time of the year. We at Cinexcellence love Christmas movies, and found it nearly IMPOSSIBLE to restrict our favorite Christmas movies to a mere five.

As you gather around the fireplace, read our lists and see if you and your family agree.

DANIEL’S LIST:

I’d like to preface this by saying that I purposefully left out White Christmas, Holiday Inn, Christmas Carol, etc, becauseI feel like they’d be on everybody’s list. The Christmas classics are certainly a favorite, but I thought I’d give a bit of a variety to my list.

5. Die Hard

What’s Christmas without a well-dressed Alan Rickman going against a barefoot Bruce Willis? Boring and bland, that’s what. The granddaddy of all action films, Die Hard just also happens to take place on Christmas Eve, with a healthy use of Christmas music and snow to create a holly jolly atmosphere. If the violence and profanity is a bit too much, check out John Hughes’ classic, Home Alone. It’s basically Die Hard for kids.

4. The Snowman

Animated Christmas shorts dominate our tvs during the holiday season. From Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer to Frosty the Snowman, to The Year without a Santa Claus to A Charlie Brown Christmas, there’s no escaping them. There’s one short, however, that stands above all the rest. The Snowman is a breathtaking, hand-drawn cartoon that epitomizes the magic of Christmas to a child. The story follows a boy whose snowman comes to life at night. They become best friends, so much so that the snowman takes the young boy to meet Santa. There isn’t any dialogue in the film, save for the opening narration. Relying on the combination of its visuals and music to tell the story, “The Snowman” is a magical journey not to be missed.

3. The Grinch

“It came without ribbons! It came without tags! It came without packages, boxes or bags!”

From the director of Apollo 13, The DaVinci Code, and A Beautiful Mind comes How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Though it doesn’t really seem like something that Ron Howard would make, there wasn’t a better man for the job. Under Howard’s direction, Whoville comes to life in a way that has and never will be seen again. It’s almost as if Jim Carrey was born to play the Grinch. The film respects its source material while still bringing something new to the table. It’s a wonderful attack of the consumerism that dominates the Christmas season. It’s a wonderful, light-hearted reminder that Christmas isn’t about the gifts.

2. A Christmas Story

This is a film that I have appreciated more and more as I grow older. A Christmas Story presents a realistic Christmas, one where visiting Santa in the mall was a terrifying experience, almost a chore. It gives us a holiday season where the Christmas meal is ruined and is instead enjoyed in a Chinese diner. It is filled with humor, yes, but it is saturated with Christmas spirit. The best scene in the movie is where the family sits in front of their Christmas tree. It’s a short scene, but it gets the point across. Despite the obstacles that Christmas may throw our way, the spirit of Christmas conquers all and brings us together.

1. It’s a Wonderful Life

“Help me Clarence, please! Please! I wanna live again! I wanna live again! I wanna live again! Please, God. Let me live again.”

Cliché as it may be, Frank Capra’s classic will forever remain my favorite Christmas movie of all time. Like all great movies, it gets better with every viewing. Although a colorized version is made available, it is best viewed in its original black and white. The final minutes of the film, chronicling George Bailey’s redemption and newfound appreciation for life, is one of the most moving scenes ever committed to film. Reducing me to a teary-eyed babbling brook upon every viewing, It’s a Wonderful Life is a magnificent Christmas film that I will continue to enjoy for years to come.

JOSEPH’S LIST:

5. Elf

“We elves try to stick to the four main food groups: candy, candy canes, candy corns and syrup.”

It was a struggle picking the film for the coveted 5th spot on my list. Elf is certainly a film that has grown on me over the years. It’s strange, takes a while to get going, but has many endearing and hilarious moments. And Zooey Deschanel sings.

4. It’s a Wonderful Life

“Why don’t you kiss her instead of talking her to death?”

What can I say that hasn’t already been said about this Christmas classic? I’ve watched this almost every year for as long as I can remember, and it still brings me back year after year.

3. White Christmas

“In some ways, you’re far superior to my cocker spaniel.”

Directed by my man Michael Curtiz, White Christmas is top-notch, from the banter between the characters (Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye, especially) to the memorable song & dance sequences.

2. The Muppet Christmas Carol

“Light the lamp, not the rat, light the lamp, not the rat! Put me out, put me out, put me out!”

The Muppet Christmas Carol seems to get better each time I watch it. With a story that is told over and over again, it’s wonderful to see it injected with Muppet humor and, of course, Sir Michael Caine.

1. A Christmas Story

“Deck the harrs with boughs of horry, fa ra ra ra ra, ra ra ra ra.”

I grew up hearing from several people that A Christmas Story was a stupid movie, so I never watched until I was a teenager. Renting it from our local video store one day on a whim, I quickly realized that A Christmas Story is a national treasure. It’s a wonderful film that effortlessly transports you back to the 40’s America. The story feels real, the scenes are memorable, and you’re left with a warm fuzzy feeling.

So those are our lists. What are some of YOUR favorite Christmas movies? Please share them in the comments section below. We would love to hear from you.

TOP 5: Horror Films

Joseph’s Picks:

1. Psycho

2. Let the Right One In

3. Halloween

4. Rosemary’s Baby

5. Nosferatu

Guilty Pleasure: Army of Darkness

Daniel’s Comments:

I think it takes time before a film can truly be called a classic. But what defines a classic? A film that stands the test of time and is still effective.

I enjoy  Saw, Paranormal Activity, and even Drag Me to Hell, but am curious to see how they stand the test of time. That being said, I think its too early to tell if Let the Right One In is a classic. I won’t deny that it is a magnificently made film. I’m just wondering if it will stand the test of time.I think a good chunk of its popularity is that its also true to the classic vampire myths. I will always contend that Nosferatu is one of the best vampire movies ever made.

I have yet to see Rosemary’s Baby, but I’m certain that Polanski’s film has stood the test of time. It is obviously a heavy influence on the upcoming Black Swan.

I am going to be a minority when I say that Halloween has NOT stood the test of time. I have seen it twice, and it is just cheesy to me by this point. I do love the opening first person shot. The score is still as chilling today as it was back then. I can admire it as a well-crafted film, but I don’t count it among my favorites.

Psycho is on everybody’s list. It has to be. It’s the granddaddy of all horror films.

A thought to leave with: is Nightmare Before Christmas a Halloween movie or a Christmas movie?

Joseph’s Response:

A good point about classics, Daniel, But I have come from the future, and Let the Right One In is indeed a classic. Also, we still don’t have jetpacks and re-hydrated food. :(

But seriously, it is true that it’s too soon to declare LtROi a ‘classic’ in a broad sense, but for me it already is.

And as far as Halloween is concerned, I think I should save my response for a proper blog post. But I will leave you with your own term: If Psycho is the granddaddy of all horror films, Halloween is…well, it’s the…favorite uncle of the last 30+ years of horror films.


Daniel’s Picks:

1. The Exorcist

2. The Shining

3. Signs

4. Psycho

5. Nosferatu

Runner Up: Scream

Joseph’s Comments:

Horror definitely isn’t my genre of choice. I’ve been dabbling in it for the last few years, and have a lot more to catch up on. All that to say, I’m embarrassed that I haven’t watched The Exorcist yet.

The Shining is a good choice; I watched it for the first time recently. In a few years, that would probably be on my list as well.

I’m surprised to see Signs on your list. It may be my favorite M. Night Shyamalan film (a constant debate in my mind), but I’ve always thought of it as a drama foremost, with the horror element used as a setting.

And come on, Psycho deserves a higher placement. Granted, the dialogue is weak at times and the ending tries to fill in too many gaps best left un-said, but it’s a masterpiece in maturing suspense and use of music.

Daniel’s Response:

I think once you watch The Exorcist, the majority of everything else will pale. THAT’S how much i love it.

Speaking of love, you have to remember that this is a personal ranking. If the list were, say, five greatest horror films of all time, i’m sure the list would be different.

That being said, Signs sill scares me. Even as a kid, it terrified me. I love the movie, despite its flaws. That’s also why Psycho isn’t so high; because it’s the ranking of my favorites.

Alphabet Meme

The Rules

1. Pick one film to represent each letter of the alphabet.

2. The letter “A” and the word “The” do not count as the beginning of a film’s title, unless the film is simply titled A or The, and I don’t know of any films with those titles.

3. Return of the Jedi belongs under “R,” not “S” as in Star Wars Episode IV: Return of the Jedi. This rule applies to all films in the original Star Wars trilogy; all that followed start with “S.” Similarly, Raiders of the Lost Ark belongs under “R,” not “I” as in Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark. Conversely, all films in the LOTR series belong under “L” and all films in the Chronicles of Narnia series belong under “C,” as that’s what those filmmakers called their films from the start. In other words, movies are stuck with the titles their owners gave them at the time of their theatrical release. Use your better judgement to apply the above rule to any series/films not mentioned.

4. Films that start with a number are filed under the first letter of their number’s word. 12 Monkeys would be filed under “T.”

5. Link back to Blog Cabins in your post so that I can eventually type “alphabet meme” into Google and come up #1, then make a post where I declare that I am the King of Google.

6. If you’re selected, you have to then select 5 more people.

Mine was done free-form. Whatever film popped into my head first was the one I picked, provided that I have seen it before. I didn’t want to just plug in my favorite films, which would be boring.

Amelie
Barton Fink
Conversation
Departed
Elephant Man
Fargo
Gosford Park
Heat
Ikiru
Jurassic Park
Kate & Leopold
Little Miss Sunshine
Mystery Men
No Country for Old Men
October Sky
Pirates of Penzance
Queen
Road to Perdition
Shawshank Redemption
Taxi Driver
Unbreakble
V for Vendetta
War of the Buttons
X-Men
You Can’t Take It With You
Zulu

Instigators: Blog Cabins / Insight into Entertainment

Victims:
1. Super Movie Time
2. Impromptu Audience
3. Rants of a Diva
4. Is This Seat Taken?
5. Noirishcity

Attack of the Meme

You can blame this on MovieMan0283 at The Dancing Image for starting this up and T.S. at Screen Savour for tagging me. ;) So before we get to the goodies, here are the rules for the latest Internet fad:

1. You must not have seen any of the films on your list, either in theatres or on video.

2. The films on your list should not be available on Netflix (this will be the criteria for “availability” since it’s too hard to track down what’s available where, to who, etc.)

3. You can organize the list however you want, in themed couplets like Piper’s original list, or just as twelve semi-random films.

4. You must credit and link to my blog, Piper’s blog for getting the original ball rolling, and for good measure, the guys at Out 1 for planting the seed.

5. Tag five people to keep the meme going.

6. If you’re too lazy to follow all of these rules, but still want to participate, you have my blessing (the more the merrier). Except for the rule about linking to my blog. That you still have to obey.

This time around I decided to break the films up into pairs of two, mostly by director. At first I thought that this would be too hard to accomplish (while abiding by the rules, that is), but then I remembered that there were quite a few Italian films that I couldn’t find on NetFlix. So doing some backtracking, and aided by a few bouts of genius, let’s get this party started:

Theme: Vittorio De Sica (Director)
Films: Shoe Shine / The Gold of Naples

Theme: Roberto Rossellini (Director) / Ingrid Bergman (Actor)
Films: Stromboli / Journey to Italy

Theme: Luchino Visconti (Director)
Films: Senso / Days of Glory

Theme: Abel Gance (Director)
Films: Napoleon / I Accuse

Theme: Miscellaneous
Films: Chaplin / Sleuth (1972)

***BONUS FEATURES***

Theme: Hitchcock Films that NEED to Be More Available
Films: Notorious / Rebecca

Honorable Mention:
War of the Buttons (Why is this gem not on DVD yet?)


Obligatory Tags:

Movie Reviews By CaptainD

The Kinetoscope Parlor

YDKS Movies

Celluloid Fire

/Film

(EDIT: Just found out that this is my 100th post. Yay)

Swiveling the Spotlight: Joe Johnston

I was just checking through some of my favorite films, looking for others to add to my must watch list. One of the directors I found was Joe Johnston. I didn’t realize this before, but I’ve seen all of his films. Here’s a quick ranking:

1. October Sky (1999)
2. The Rocketeer (1991)
3. Honey, I Shrunk The Kids (1989)
4. The Pagemaster (1994)
5. Jurassic Park III (2001)
6. Hidalgo (2004)
7. Jumanji (1995)

It turns out that Joe Johnston is directing The Wolf Man, which will be released next year. Benicio Del Toro stars in the titular role. Anthony Hopkins, Hugo Weaving, and rising actress Emily Blunt are in this as well.

The Batman List

With The Dark Knight coming out in less than three weeks, and now that I’ve officially seen all of the live-action Batman films, I thought I’d put them in order of preference:

Films:

1. Batman Begins (2005)
2. Batman Forever (1995)
3. Batman (1989)
4. Batman Returns (1992)
5. Batman (1966)
6. Batman & Robin (1997)

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nRp45EmzCSk&hl=en]

The Batmen:

1. Christian Bale
2. Val Kilmer
3. Adam West
4. Michael Keaton
5. George Clooney

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VNaDZIrxh-0&hl=en]

AFI: All About Eve

All About Eve (1950)
Directed By: Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Starring: Bette Davis / Anne Baxter
Rating:

Another AFI film off the list. Watching All About Eve, lots of things I’d heard over the years clicked and made sense. I heard the classic line, “Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy night” I finally saw a Mankiewicz film, who I’d heard about for quite some time (Although I may have seen The Virginian) And last but not least, I realized why All About Eve was listed AFI’s Heroes & Villians list, and deservedly so.

Anne Baxter put in a near-perfect performance as the title character, playing Eve with just the right amount of subtlety and charisma. I also really liked Bette Davis in the role of Margo Channing. I was reminded of Gloria Swanson’s chilling performance as Norma Desmond in Sunset Blvd. Both characters are obsessed with their own stardom and have a desire to control their surroundings. (Both films also have similar beginnings as well) Ironically, both films were released in the same year.

For a film that relies predominantly on dialogue between the many characters to tell the story,  I was surprisingly engaged throughout. This is proof that you don’t need action to tell an entertaining story.

All About Eve also has another ending that I really liked and fit the story perfectly in a circular manner. This is definitely a film worth watching.

The Films of James Mangold

With the latest news about James Mangold’s next film, I was thinking back on the rest of his work. He’s one of the few directors that I have seen all of his films. This is the final ranking of his films:

The Films of James Mangold
1. Kate & Leopold (2001)
2. Walk the Line (2005)
3. 3:10 to Yuma (2007)
4. Cop Land (1997)
5. Girl, Interrupted (1999)
6. Identity (2003)
7. Heavy (1995)

How would you rank them?

Haiku Movie Review and More

Funny Games
Is quite disturbing
Has a good message to tell
Will it register?

And here’s something I haven’t done in a while. The following is the top 250 films list from IMDB, based on user ratings. I have emboldened the films that I have seen. How many have you seen? The list is a week or so old, so there will be some changes from the most recent one.

1. The Godfather (1972)
2. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
3. The Godfather: Part II (1974)
4. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966)
5. Pulp Fiction (1994)
6. Schindler’s List (1993)
7. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)
8. Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
9. Casablanca (1942)
10. Seven Samurai (1954)
11. Star Wars (1977)
12. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)
13. 12 Angry Men (1957)
14. Rear Window (1954)
15. Goodfellas (1990)
16. City of God (2002)
17. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

18. Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)
19. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
20. The Usual Suspects (1995)
21. Psycho (1960)
22. Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)
23. Fight Club (1999)
24. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
25. Citizen Kane (1941)
26. North by Northwest (1959)
27. Memento (2000)
28. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)
29. Sunset Blvd. (1950)
30. It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
31. The Matrix (1999)
32. Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
33. Se7en (1995)
34. Apocalypse Now (1979)
35. Taxi Driver (1976)
36. American Beauty (1999)
37. The Professional (1994)
38. There Will Be Blood (2007)
39. Vertigo (1958)
40. Amélie (2001)
41. American History X (1998)
42. The Departed (2006)

43. Paths of Glory (1957)
44. M (1931)
45. No Country for Old Men (2007)
46. To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)
47. The Third Man (1949)
48. Chinatown (1974)
49. The Lives of Others (2006)
50. A Clockwork Orange (1971)
51. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
52. Alien (1979)
53. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)

54. The Shining (1980)
55. Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)
56. The Pianist (2002)
57. Spirited Away (2001)
58. Double Indemnity (1944)
59. Forrest Gump (1994)
60. Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)
61. Saving Private Ryan (1998)
62. L.A. Confidential (1997)
63. Das Boot (1981)
64. The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)
65. Requiem for a Dream (2000)
66. Reservoir Dogs (1992)
67. Downfall (2004)

68. Aliens (1986)
69. The Maltese Falcon (1941)
70. Raging Bull (1980)
71. Rashômon (1950)
72. Metropolis (1927)
73. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
74. Modern Times (1936)
75. Singin’ in the Rain (1952)

76. Hotel Rwanda (2004)
77. Sin City (2005)
78. Rebecca (1940)
79. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
80. The Seventh Seal (1957)

81. All About Eve (1950)
82. Some Like It Hot (1959)
83. City Lights (1931)
84. Amadeus (1984)
85. On the Waterfront (1954)
86. Life is Beautiful (1997)
87. The Great Escape (1963)

88. Touch of Evil (1958)
89. The Prestige (2006)
90. The Elephant Man (1980)
91. Full Metal Jacket (1987)
92. Jaws (1975)
93. The Sting (1973)
94. Cinema Paradiso (1988)

95. Once Upon a Time in America (1984)
96. The Apartment (1960)
97. The Manchurian Candidate (1962)
98. Braveheart (1995)
99. The Great Dictator (1940)
100. Blade Runner (1982)
101. Strangers on a Train (1951)
102. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)
103. Batman Begins (2005)
104. Bicycle Thieves (1948)
105. High Noon (1952)
106. Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi (1983)

107. The Big Sleep (1946)
108. The Wages of Fear (1953)
109. Notorious (1946)
110. The Wizard of Oz (1939)
111. Back to the Future (1985)
112. Ran (1985)

113. Oldboy (2003)
114. Fargo (1996)
115. Unforgiven (1992)
116. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)
117. Donnie Darko (2001)

118. Princess Mononoke (1997)
119. Cool Hand Luke (1967)
120. Ratatouille (2007)
121. Kill Bill Vol. 1 (2003)

122. For A Few Dollars More (1965)
123. Yojimbo (1961)
124. The Green Mile (1999)
125. Million Dollar Baby (2004)
126. The Bourne Ultimatum (2007
)
127. Nights of Cabiria (1957)
128. Gladiator (2000)
129. Into the Wild (2007)
130. Die Hard (1988)

131. The Battle of Algiers (1966)
132. Annie Hall (1977)
133. Ben-Hur (1959)
134. The Deer Hunter (1978)
135. It Happened One Night (1934)
136. The Sixth Sense (1999)

137. The General (1927)
138. Platoon (1986)
139. Life of Brian (1979)

140. Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949)
141. The Killing (1956)
142. Wild Strawberries (1957)

143. Amores Perros (2000)
144. Diabolique (1955)
145. Finding Nemo (2003)
146. The Incredibles (2004)
147. V for Vendetta (2005)
148. Heat (1995)

149. The Wild Bunch (1969)
150. Brief Encounter (1945)
151. Children of Men (2006)
152. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)
153. The Graduate (1967)

154. 8½ (1963)
155. The Princess Bride (1987)
156. Judgment at Nuremberg (1961)
157. Letters from Iwo Jima (2006)
158. The Night of the Hunter (1955)
159. Juno (2007)
160. The Big Lebowski (1998)

161. Stand by Me (1986)
162. Crash (2004)
163. Dog Day Afternoon (1975)

164. Gandhi (1982)
165. Shadow of a Doubt (1943)
166. The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)
167. Snatch (2000)
168. Harvey (1950)

169. Witness for the Prosecution (1957)
170. Kill Bill Vol. 2 (2004)
171. The Thing (1982)
172. The African Queen (1951)
173. Trainspotting (1996)
174. The Grapes of Wrath (1940)
175. Gone with the Wind (1939)
176. The Gold Rush (1925)
177. Groundhog Day (1993)
178. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)
179. Beauty and the Beast (1946)
180. Little Miss Sunshine (2006)
181. Scarface (1983)
182. The Conversation (1974)
183. American Gangster (2007)
184. Patton (1970)
185. Duck Soup (1933)
186. Toy Story (1995)
187. Twelve Monkeys (1995)

188. The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)
189. Nosferatu (1922)
190. The Terminator (1984)

191. Sleuth (1972)
192. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)
193. Umberto D. (1952)
194. The Hustler (1961)
195. Stalker (1979)
196. The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)
197. Glory (1989)
198. Ed Wood (1994)
199. King Kong (1933)

200. Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998)
201. The Lion King (1994)

202. The Exorcist (1973)
203. Grave of the Fireflies (1988)
204. Grindhouse (2007)
205. The Lost Weekend (1945)
206. Spartacus (1960)
207. Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
208. All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)
209. The Ox-Bow Incident (1943)
210. The Lady Vanishes (1938)
211. Magnolia (1999)
212. Stalag 17 (1953)

213. In the Heat of the Night (1967)
214. Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (1927)
215. Run Lola Run (1998)
216. The Philadelphia Story (1940)
217. Frankenstein (1931)
218. Big Fish (2003)
219. Out of the Past (1947)
220. Casino (1995)
221. Rosemary’s Baby (1968)

222. Anatomy of a Murder (1959)
223. Bonnie and Clyde (1967)
224. Mystic River (2003)
225. Toy Story 2 (1999)
226. 3:10 to Yuma (2007)
227. Once (2006)

228. Rififi (1955)
229. A Christmas Story (1983)
230. Hot Fuzz (2007)

231. Infernal Affairs (2002)
232. Manhattan (1979)
233. Ikiru (1952)
234. A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)
235. Young Frankenstein (1974)

236. Dial M for Murder (1954)
237. Rope (1948)
238. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962)
239. Roman Holiday (1953)

240. In Cold Blood (1967)
241. His Girl Friday (1940)
242. The 400 Blows (1959)
243. Shaun of the Dead (2004)
244. Hero (2002)

245. La Strada (1954)
246. Harold and Maude (1971)
247. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)
248. The Searchers (1956)
249. Le Samouraï (1967)
250. Barry Lyndon (1975)

188/250