Best Christmas Movie: “A Christmas Story”
There are some movies you love, and there are some movies you like. And then there are certain special movies that become a part of your existence. You can’t help but smile thinking about them, and you’re always in the mood to watch them … even when you’re not in the mood to watch them. “A Christmas Story” is one of those movies.
Director Bob Clark’s holiday classic is one of the rare movies that manages to balance feeling remarkably specific and personal with being universal, as well as having both heartwarming schmaltz and cynicism. I mean, it’s iconic for a reason.
Best Christmas Song: “The Christmas Song”
I’ll be honest: I don’t really like Christmas music all that much. It serves as great background music for baking cookies, opening presents and cracking jokes with the family, but I would never really listen to Christmas music for its own sake. The songs all sound pretty much the same (except for the really bad ones), and the radio plays the same 20 songs into oblivion.
But if I had to pick one Christmas song I get the most joy from, it’d probably be “The Christmas Song.” It has a warmth to it that, no matter who sings it, plays like a soothing mug of hot chocolate.
Worst Christmas Song: “The Christmas Shoes”
Listening to “The Christmas Shoes” is like getting jabbed in the ear with pine needles for four minutes. It’s not enough that the hit is shamelessly cloying and packed with enough sugary sweet schmaltz to give you diabetes. It also attempts to teach listeners a lesson by giving a young boy’s mom cancer. It’s borderline sickening. Plus, nothing kills a festive holiday dinner like hearing about a young boy’s dying mother needing shoes to look good for Jesus, who seems uncharacteristically snobby when it comes to fashion, I guess.
Favorite Movie: “It’s a Wonderful Life”
Okay, so it may be old, and it’s possible that the only time you’ve seen it was when your family forced you, or when you were too lazy to get off the couch and change the TV from the Hallmark Channel. But I still encourage you to give this 1940s classic another chance. It’s filled with cheerful Christmas clichés, quirky angels and a happy ending that may just make you want to dash down Wisconsin Avenue wishing every student, professor and academic building a very merry Christmas.
Favorite Song: “All I Want for Christmas is You”
No matter where I am or what time of year it is, this Mariah Carey Christmas classic will always make me drop what I’m doing and skip outside with more holiday spirit than one of Santa’s elves on a sugar high. With a catchy, upbeat pop tempo, it’s no wonder it’s been rocking around Christmas trees everywhere since 1994.
Worst Favorite Song: “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas”
Sung by demonic elf-child Gayla Peevey, “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas” is easily the least relevant and most annoying song you will hear this holiday season. The elaborate amount of thought and free time this child has put into deciding how to care for her/his (I can’t even tell) two-ton friend is ridiculous and makes the listener wonder if Peevey should spend more time looking for friends instead of hunting down violent river animals.
Favorite Christmas Movie: “The Polar Express”
There is no doubt that “The Polar Express” is my favorite Christmas movie. Adapted from the best-selling children’s novel by Chris Van Allsburg, “The Polar Express” is a faithful interpretation of the literary Christmas classic with cinematic touches that only add to the experience. The film holds a deeper tone than most Christmas movies – a welcome change from nonsensical cheeriness – but is still a Christmas delight for young and old alike. And hey, Tom Hanks sings about hot chocolate – what could be better?
Favorite Christmas Song: “Believe”
One would assume my favorite Christmas song would be in my favorite Christmas movie, and he or she would be right. “Believe,” the Grammy Award-winning song from “The Polar Express,” takes the top spot. Sung by Josh Groban, the song is a reminder of the regenerative nature of Christmas. It recognizes that adults have lost the magic of Christmas as time passes, but on Christmas, they are able to find their lost childhood dreams and live them again. With a great holiday message, combined with Groban’s soothing voice, the song is a winning combination.
Worst Christmas Song: “The Chipmunk Song”
For my ranking of least favorite Christmas tunes, there is no second or third place. There is only one – “The Chipmunk Song.” It’s hard to look (or listen, for that matter) past the annoying voices of the three chipmunks who supposedly sing the song, and if you somehow are able to do so, the substance is also terrible. Christmas is the same day every year, so do not fret, Chipmunks; it has not and will never be late. Literally any other Christmas song is better, so save your ears some distress, and choose anything else. Believe me, you won’t regret it.
Favorite Christmas Movie: “Scrooge”
In the case of the 1970s musical version of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” I’ll admit that I have absolutely no perspective on whether it is actually a good film. As with most Christmas favorites, my love is rooted in childhood memories and family jokes rather than real quality. But I think there may be some actually great stuff here: There is the fantastic song “I Hate People,” which I am always tempted to hum under my breath waiting in line on Black Friday. Albert Finney does a genius Ebenezer Scrooge. There are as many Dickensian street urchins with cockney accents that you could ever want. And best of all, the ghost of Christmas present has one of the greatest beards ever filmed.
Favorite Christmas Song: “River”
I could live in Joni Mitchell’s “Blue” album – especially when it snows. “River” is one of the few Christmas songs I can listen to any time of the year. Mitchell so perfectly evokes a sort of bittersweet holiday spirit and manages to sing about reindeer and Christmas trees without making me roll my eyes. While the lyrics make you think of the traditions and beauty that Christmas can bring, there are also the tinges of sadness that often accompany the holidays as well. I mean, don’t we all sometimes need a river to skate away on?
Worst Christmas Song: “Santa Baby”
Stop coming on to Santa, you selfish fool! I remember as a kid having to sing this song in music class and being totally disgusted. Why were we encouraging thinly veiled materialism? Weren’t we supposed to talk about a season of giving? And most importantly: Wasn’t Mrs. Claus going to be furious? I hated the song then and I still do, though not so much to avoid disrespecting Mrs. Claus and more because I think the coy Marilyn-Monroe-esque delivery is just weird. Why is there a need to write a sexy Christmas song? Christmas is not sexy. Joyful? Yes. A time for family and good cheer? Yes. Sexy? No. The same goes for “Baby, it’s Cold Outside.” I prefer my holiday music creepy-seduction free.
Favorite Christmas Movie: “Elf”
I don’t know how to say this without sounding like a huge Grinch, but I’m not a fan of Christmas movies. Or Will Ferrell for that matter. Now that I’m done being negative, I’ll admit even I love “Elf.” It’s probably one of the few Christmas movies my sister and I watch without fail every holiday season. The story of a human adopted by Santa, raised by elves in the North Pole and heading back to New York City to look for his real family is silly, hilarious and highly quotable. What’s not to love?
Favorite Christmas Song: “The Lights and Buzz”
“The Lights and Buzz” by Jack’s Mannequin holds a special place in my heart. I’d always loved the song, but it wasn’t until I went away to college and had the experience of being away from home that I truly appreciated it. It’s a song about coming home to the “lights and buzz” after a hard time away, “making plans not to make plans” while you’re there and spending Christmastime in a place that “feels like summer all the time.” Yup, sounds just like my life.
Worst Christmas Song: “Carol of the Bells”
“Carol of the Bells” isn’t a bad Christmas song, but it wins my vote for “Least Favorite” because for some reason it completely terrifies me. I think it was used in a trailer for a Christmas-themed horror movie, and I’m mentally scarred or something. As soon as the first notes of this song start playing, I instantly picture a chorus of creepy children singing it.
Favorite Christmas Movie: “White Christmas”
One of my fondest Christmas memories is drinking hot chocolate and watching (and singing along to) “White Christmas” with my family. This Christmas classic not only has a charming and witty story; it is filled with intricate song and dance routines, all performed as skillfully as a Broadway production. Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye make it even more enjoyable with their chemistry as the film’s leading gents.
Favorite Christmas Song: “O Holy Night”
It is my life goal to sing a duet with Josh Groban. In my mind, I plan that duet to be “The Prayer,” but his rendition of “O Holy Night” would work just as well. His clarity, precision and incredible range make him one of the best vocalists alive today. Combine that with a simple yet powerful carol, and the result is a breathtaking Christmas song that can and should be listened to year round.
Worst Christmas Song: “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer”
What demonic entity possessed someone to write a song about an old lady getting killed on Christmas Eve? Whatever it was inspired Randy Brooks to write “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer” and consequently ruined the jolly Christmas spirit we all know and love. Grandma gets drunk on eggnog, Santa is accused of murder and Grandpa mourns his loss by drinking beer and watching football. Mark my words, this song is going to make some poor child clinically depressed.