Saturday, January 4, 2014

Guest Post: Top 5 Christmas Movies

Though it’s hard to recreate the magic of a holiday book on film, there are a few noteworthy mentions that have either nailed it or come close. Below, you’ll find a few holiday films that do justice to the work they were based on: 

Miracle on 34th Street by Valentine Davies

While the 1947 film Miracle on 34th Street has been a longtime classic Christmas film, many don’t know that the movie was actually based on a novella written by the screenwriter. A 120 page story was first crafted by Valentine Davies, which then he turned it into a screenplay for the film. The novella and the film were released in conjunction with each other in 1947, but it’s clear that the film far eclipsed the novella’s popularity in the years after. 

Skipping Christmas by John Grisham

When most people see the 2004 film Christmas with the Kranks, they don’t immediately connect it to the book Skipping Christmas by the famous thriller author John Grisham. The comedic book by Grisham tells the story of the events following Luther and Nora Kranks discovery that their only daughter won’t be coming home for Christmas, deciding to boycott the holiday and go on a cruise instead. The couple’s neighborhood is up in arms about their decision and tensions reach a boiling point when the couple finds out last minute that their daughter has changed her mind about returning home. 

The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsberg 

This classic childrens book has been an annual best seller every Christmas season since its release in 1985. With its creative storyline and detailed illustrations it’s easy to see why children continue to love the story year after year. When it was adapted into a film in 2004, the filmmakers knew they had to keep that same attention to detail. The result was an incredible CGI crafted world that has the same dark sheen as the novel’s original illustrations. The $165 million film earned a place as one of the most expensive animated films ever, but also won a place in the hearts, and DVD collections, of children worldwide. 

How the Grinch Stole Christmas! by Dr. Seuss 

Since its publication in 1957, the Grinch has been a holiday favorite for each generation since. Almost every Dr. Seuss book is amazing, but the Grinch has emerged as one of the author’s most revered books. The book was first turned into a cartoon television special in 1966 and has rerun every Christmas since. In 2000 Universal Pictures and Imagine Entertainment acquired the rights to the book and decided to make an ambitious live action film. Before this, no one had ever attempted to adapt a Dr. Seuss book into feature length movie - let alone a live action film. For the film they cast Jim Carrey as the title character and enlisted the likes of Molly Shannon, Christine Baranski, Jeffrey Tambor, and a then unknown Taylor Momsen. The film was a smash hit at the box office, pulling in over $345 million worldwide. It became the second highest grossing holiday film ever, only behind Home Alone. 

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens 

The famous 1843 novella by Charles Dickens has been reinterpreted more times than anyone can comprehend. From radio to film to television, it seems that every medium has its own interpretations of the tale. Some personal favorites of mine include 1992’s The Muppet Christmas Carol, 1988’s Scrooged starring Bill Murray, and the 2009 CGI blockbuster, A Christmas Carol. 

What each different adaptation gets right is the infamous Ebenezer Scrooge’s journey from grumpy, greedy, selfish old man to an enlightened individual aware of what troubles he has caused. The clear message of redemption for past wrongs is perhaps what made this story live on for over 160 years. 

Spencer Blohm is a freelance entertainment, lifestyle, and pop culture blogger for He must admit his bias that How the Grinch Stole Christmas is probably his favorite Christmas film of all time and inspired him to write this article. He lives and works in Chicago, which can easily be confused with the North Pole this time of year. 

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