top five holiday movies: pre-festive-ass edition

So earlier this month I came up with a way to get myself writing consistently and posting and also writing about shit that people probably care about way more than how I wash my face. So I decided that starting the day after Thanksgiving and ending on Christmas Day, I would watch a holiday movie every day and post about it. So I came up with a list and a name (31 Days of Festive-Ass Flicks) and have been ~preparing dutifully~ since.

But I thought I should write about my five favorite holiday movies coming into the project, so I can compare and contrast the list to one I will write when the dumb thing is done with. Also, I need practice writing about stuff. So, without further ramble:

ash's top five holiday movies

5. Christmas Vacation

Christmas Vacation was THE holiday movie of choice in my household growing up. We are not a sunshine and unicorns kind of family. We are loud and brash and embarrassing and unapologetic. We have never, ever fooled anyone into thinking we were IN ANY WAY AT ALL perfect. No one has ever seen us as a group and been like, “Damn, that is some Leave It to Beaver status familial relationship shit going on right there.” But we love each other and we work pretty hard to treat each other well and bring each other joy.

The Griswolds remind me of my family in the way that the Conners from Roseanne always have. They are imperfect and they make mistakes and a lot of shit happens to them (both of their own fault and not) but they LOVE EACH OTHER SO MUCH.

Clark’s an excellent dad and a good husband. He works so hard to make Christmas special for the people around him and it’s always struck me as a perfect mix of selfish and noble and heartfelt. And I love him and I love the Griswolds and comparing my family to them is a pretty damn good compliment.

4. Love Actually

I hate — HATE — romantic comedies. This initial hate came from a rejection of all things feminine because they were weak, but even once I learned better and grew out of that, I could never get my head into the game of romantic comedies. The women are so often weak and wilting and embarrassing, the men caricatures of what success or failure or rebellion is supposed to look like. MOSTLY THEY ARE BORING. And I’m just not into it. But since the very first time I saw Love Actually I have LOVED it. And I’ve said, again and again, it’s the ONLY romantic comedy I love and recommend.

When I worked at Hollywood Video, we’d do staff picks up on the couner and whenever someone was like, “Ash, you’ve picked three horror movies in a row” or “Ash, stop putting Clerks up,” I’d grab Love Actually to shut them up. There isn’t a single story I don’t LOVE. I laugh and I get choked up watching Liam Neeson be this amazing dad and I love Keira Knightly and Martine McCutcheon and Laura Linney is one of my favorite actresses.


3. Elf

My girlfriend hates Will Ferrell. This is not, on its own, a dealbreaker because, I mean really, what do I care? I like Will Ferrell okay and all, but I’m not going to go around declaring war because someone’s not into what he’s throwing down. Sometimes I don’t like Will Ferrell either! But in Elf he is a perfect beautiful angel beam of light from heaven. He is… is there a word for more than perfect? Because that’s what it is. So I waited, like, three years to watch this with her so that if she didn’t like it, I’d be too entrenched in our relationship to break up with her over it.

Elf hits me in all my feel-good movie places. It’s got this wonderful, warm father-son relationship between Buddy and Papa Elf and the new, strained one between Buddy and Walter. It has a woman totally willing to accept her husband’s adult child into their lives without question and with warmth and excitement. It has lights and decorations and the most best Christmas soundtrack. It has that NYC nostalgia thing that works even for people who’ve never been there. It has a Zooey Deschanel that I not only don’t hate, but actively love.

Complete excellence package.

[I am only now realizing that these are probably the things I would’ve written for my reviews/posts when I actually watch them for the project. OOPS. Oh well, I guess I will just have to find a new angle/way/lens through which to be awesome and astute and articulate. UGH.]

2. A Charlie Brown Christmas

A television special rather than a movie, but this is my list and I DO WHAT I WANT.

Charlie Brown is great. The music is… a word more flawless than flawless? The animation is so simple and so iconic. The story is human. Charlie Brown is a loser (through no real fault of his own) but he plugs away, trying to make things good for other people, trying to treat people and things fairly even when all they do is shit on him.

I love Charlie Brown’s dumb tree and Snoopy’s blue ribbon decorations and catching snowflakes on tongues and Sally’s letter to Santa. I love Linus’s exasperation. I love Schroeder the very most, plunking out “Jingle Bells” for Lucy until she says it’s right.

This would be higher on the list (aka #1) but I am a heathen and the “reason for the season” shit has unsettled me forever, even when I was a kid and thought there was a god. The sentiment is all good though. Peace on Earth, good will toward men. Let us treat each other like humans all year round, okay? And just add some glitter and alcohol and tunes for the holidays.

1. A Christmas Story

Duh?! Duh. A Christmas Story is perfect and weird and beautiful. Ralphie is the most perfect version of what it is to be a kid ever put on film. THAT IS WHAT IT IS LIKE SOMETIMES. That family is beautiful. Ralphie’s imagination is beautiful, the lamp is beautiful, swearing is beautiful. And now adult Peter Billingsley can get it.

As a kid, I couldn’t figure out the age of this movie and I got really tense about watching it because I thought it was from the 50s and I got really weird about watching/reading/using old stuff. But it seemed so modern! And like how people around me were! And I remember it confusing me SO PROFOUNDLY. I don’t even think I realized it was an 80s movie until I was a teenager.

There is a reason TBS airs this ish for 24 hours on Christmas. If you don’t love A Christmas Story just get the fuck out.

Honorable Mentions: Eight Crazy Nights and Scrooged.