Movies with Michael: Holiday Favorites

Movies with Michael: Christmas edition

Our resident movie expert, Michael Gendron, reminds us of a few favorite holiday movies to curl up & watch this season.

Lift movie expert Michael Gendron shares his five holiday favorites to enjoy this season.

5. Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer

The production company Rankin/Bass have released so many wonderful stop-motion holiday specials since the 1960s.  From the “The Little Drummer Boy” to “The Year Without a Santa Claus”, I love them all. “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” with Mickey Rooney was nearly my pick, but I’m going with the special that started it all– “Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer”. Does the movie have a great morale lesson? Probably not, but it has a cast of memorable characters, so many great songs, Burl Ives, and most importantly with a holiday movie, it has a ton of memories attached to watching it with people I love. I also quote “She said I’m cute” to my wife a lot.

4. Black Christmas

In 1983, Canadian filmmaker Bob Clark released his classic “A Christmas Story” which has remained a fixture of television marathons in the decades since.  A decade earlier, he released a very different kind of Christmas movie with the seasonal slasher “Black Christmas”. There is no shortage of Christmas horror, but “Black Christmas” may be the crown jewel of the sub-genre. A killer targets a sorority house that starts to empty out for the holiday break. It’s one of the few classic slashers that I find actually frightening. The lights, decor, and carolers help set the Christmas mood and it’s also filled with 70s stars including Olivia Hussey, Margot Kidder, Deir Dullea, and John Saxon.  “Black Christmas” is definitely not a gather the whole family watch, but if you are in the mood for snow covered scares, its currently streaming on Amazon Prime and Peacock and has great Blu-ray and UHD release.

3. Hey Arnold, “Arnold’s Christmas”

The show “Hey Arnold” on Nickelodeon has just burned itself into the mind of so many 90s kids. For those who’ve never seen the show, it stars a young football headed kid who lives in a boarding house with his grandparents and a variety of boarders. The special, “Arnold’s Christmas” is a wonderful watch even for newcomers to the show. Arnold must play secret Santa for boarding house resident Mr. Hyunh who was separated from his daughter years ago during a war. The special is truly touching and a surefire way to warm the heart. It feels like a natural evolution to a Peanuts’ special as it’s a surprisingly nuanced and down to earth story fueled by a jazzy score.  Its currently streaming on Paramount+ and Hulu.

1 &2. My favorite Christmas Carol adaptations

The next two movies are tied. “A Christmas Carol” is not just one of my favorite holiday stories, but one of my favorite stories in general.  The ’51 version, sometimes also just known as “Scrooge”, just oozes with atmosphere. It features gorgeous black and white cinematography and Alastair Sim’s Scrooge is my favorite portrayal of the character. He’s a sad figure who’s soul truly feels like it’s at stake. Its available to rent and stream on several digital platforms or you could also pick up the Blu-ray for the best looking version of the film.  

 “The Muppet Christmas Carol” is just my nostalgic favorite though. I love the Paul Williams’ songs, I love Kermit’s Bob Cratchit, and I love, surrounded by Muppets, Michael Caine playing Scrooge with a deadly seriousness.  The streaming version on Disney+ restores the song “When Love is Gone” for the first time since the 90s VHS release making it the best and most complete version of the film to watch.