December 17, 2012 at 3:32 PM

Ira G’s Top Five Christmas Movies

"Here are the Christmas movies that I always come back to…."

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What to watch when the snow is falling, the tummy is stuffed and all you want to do is check out for two hours.  Here are the Christmas movies that I always come back to….

"It's a Wonderful Life" (1947) – It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve watched it or where I watch it from (even if I stumble upon it on television with 10 minutes to go), I make sure to have a box of Kleenex at arm’s length. It’s a terrific Frank Capra film that, amazingly, stiffed when it was released.

"Elf" (2003) – Whether you enjoy Will Ferrell or you’d rather have your teeth pulled than sit through his mugging for the camera, there is no denying the pleasure of "Elf" which also stars Bob Newhart, James Caan, the wonderful Mary Steenburgen, and a mostly unknown Zooey Deschenal.  This film would not have worked had they not had a star so willingly invested in the role.  Imagine another comedian (Mike Myers, anyone?) winking at the camera instead of playing it straight and "Elf" would have been banished to an ice floe.

"Love Actually" (2004) – I hosted the sneak preview of this film at DeVargas Mall before its official release and theatergoers were coming up to me after the screening asking me when it was going to be available for sale on DVD. Although some (most?) of the numerous love stories are ludicrous, there’s no denying its charms…Particular standouts are Hugh Grant, Emma Thompson, Alan Rickman, Colin Firth and Bill Nighy’s star-making turn.

"Die Hard" (1988) – More than 20 yeaers after its initial release it’s still the action film most other action films (especially Die Hard 2, 3, 4 and the upcoming 5) are measured against. Quotable, not overly violent, a Christmas soundtrack full of plums, a hero you can actually root for, and a dastardly villain too smart for his own good, it just happens to take place at Christmas time and is better for it.

"National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation" (1989) – While I’d rather watch the original Griswold family vacation, this was a worthy followup full of foibles. For you youngsters, a “Christmas bonus” used to be handed out from employers to employees although I don’t recall any of my peeps getting one big enough to buy a swimming pool for the backyard.

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