Thursday, December 13, 2007

Twelve Days of Christmas Movies

I LOVE CHRISTMAS BREAK! I’m pretty sure (Beth are you with me on this?) that teachers need the break more than the students. I am so ready for some time away from students (who I love) and work (which I don’t) that the fact that I’ll still have projects to work on does not even faze me. I have only SORT of made life difficult for myself this year: Up until yesterday I was frantically trying to fit everything in and rushing to finish study guides and lesson plans and all that stuff. Today I have study guides for all my classes (after the break we have three and a half days of class and then finals start), I have my upperclassmen writing in-class essays (which they hate but which the seniors are currently hard at work on—plus it’s better than having an essay over the break), and I have my sophomores watching one of my favorite Christmas movies, Joyeaux Noel, which just so happens to tie into All Quiet on the Western Front, which they are currently reading. By the way, if I punctuated that entire sentence correctly, then I am amazing. The good news? Over the next few weeks all I have to do is grade some essays and write some finals. Not bad at all. In my spare time, expect lots of Xbox 360 action and a fair amount of movie watching. (Xbox’s recent update to allow you to watch DivX files from your computer means it is now my all-purpose media machine. Uh, what I mean to say is, I don’t download movies with bitTorrent. Yeah, that’s the ticket.)

In honor of my new movie-watching time, as well as the fact that today marks the first of the 12 days of Christmas, I present to you my top 12 Christmas movies. This list is no doubt incomplete. I haven’t even seen classics like White Christmas, so if I left off one of your favorites, let me know. And I know there are tons of lists like this out there. But mine is the only true and living Christmas movie list. So enjoy. Watch one a day. Feel the love. Sing a carol. Give me a present. Wait, what?

Day 1: Home Alone. Yes, this movie got way too much exposure. And yes, a feel good movie about a dysfunctional family that doesn’t even know how many children they have is odd. And yes, it’s cheesy. But come on, the creepy neighbor? The stupid physical comedy? The Macauley Culkin? You know you like it too. Good childhood memories.

Day 2: Scrooged. I admit this hasn’t aged as well as I’d hoped, which is why it’s so early in the year. But Bill Murray is so good, and the Ghost of Christmas Future is so freaky, that they permanently imprinted themselves on my ten-year-old mind as “amazing.” So it’s worth watching.

Day 3: Millions. Listen, I can’t frontload all the “so-so” stuff at the front. This little film by Danny Boyle (director of Trainspotting) about two lonely boys at Christmas is surprisingly sweet and unironically magical. Plus, Mormons!

Day 4: The Nightmare Before Christmas. The best of the Tim Burton-sponsored claymation movies, this classic features Jack Skellington and the kidnap and possible torture of Santa Claus. Deadly toys, Halloweentown, Mr. Oogy Boogy. What's not to like? Plus it’s a musical, so bonus points.

Day 5: Elf. Buddy the Elf, what’s your favorite color? Enough said.

Day 6: Joyeux Noel. 1914. World War I. As Christmas Eve falls on the trenches at the beginning of the war, a real and legitimate Christmas miracle occurs. This is a true story that is often told during Christmas Firesides and Devotionals, but that doesn't make it any less moving.

Day 7: Die Hard. The original is still the best. All the man wants to do is spend Christmas with his family. But no, terrorists make him walk on glass and shoot up an office building. Stupid terrorists.

Day 8: The Office Christmas Special. I love the American Office tv show. But the British will always hold a special place in my heart: stiffer, darker, and at times much funnier than the US version, this special brings appropriate closure to the lives of the prototypical Office dwellers. Set 3 years after the original 12 episode series ended, it’s the perfect way to end the series.

Day 9: Mystery Science Theater 3000 does Santa Claus Conquers the Martians. “Ah, Mr. Claus. You have a nasty habit of surviving.” “What’s in the pipe, Santa?” “No problem, we’ll give them to the dyslexic kids!” My inner 14-year-old is laughing his head off right now.

Day 10: Love Actually. Look, I know it’s not “cool” to like this movie. For some reason tons of people I respect can’t stand it. But it gets me every time. I love the interwoven story lines and the plethora of great British actors. Plus those real scenes of airport reunions? Gets me every time.

Day 11: National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. Was there ever any doubt?

Day 12: It’s a Wonderful Life. My brother Chris used to force us to watch this on Christmas Eve. I didn’t get it then (black and white? That’s for old people!) I do now. “Merry Christmas, movie house! Merry Christmas, Emporium! Merry Christmas, you wonderful old Building and Loan!” This is to me still my favorite Christmas movie. No man is a failure who has friends. Sorry, I have to wipe the tears from my eyes.

Well there you go. I can't say I watch all of these every year, but all of them get me in the Christmas spirit. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go wrangle more kids for the next 24 hours. Then the real days of Christmas will begin.

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