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The Decade That Was: Ho, Ho, Holiday movies strike back in a big, bad way

Posted Wednesday, December 23, 2009 at 11:03 AM Central

by John Couture

If you were take a poll in the street asking 20 random strangers to name their favorite holiday movie, it's very possible that you would get 20 different answers. Well, there might be one or two repeats, but the sentiment is still there.

Everyone has their own favorite Christmas movie and there is no real rhyme and reason to predict their answer. I think it has something to do with how much we internalize Christmas over any other holiday. Everyone celebrates it in their own way and it's the one holiday that means more to people than any other.

Likewise, whether you're a fan of It's a Wonderful Life, White Christmas or A Christmas Story, no one can convince you otherwise and you'll defend your favorite until the end of time. So, it's pretty pointless to compile a list of top all-time Christmas movies, let alone the best ones released in the last decade or so, but we can come to an agreement that certain decades produce better holiday movies than others.

Case in point, the '80s were a banner decade for Christmas movies with the likes of A Christmas Story, Christmas Vacation and Scrooged leading the way. While, on the other hand, the '90s were a huge disappointment with something as dismal as Jingle All The Way being the torch bearer of those 10 years.

Well, I'm happy to report that as the 2000s come to a close, great holiday movies are back in a big way, thanks mainly to funnymen like Vince Vaughn, Will Ferrell and Tim Allen. As I mentioned above, it would be fruitless to try and assemble the decade's best holiday movies in any sort of objective order, so I'm just going to list my top 5 of the last 10 years, in no particular order.

  • Elf - This little gem was released back when Will Ferrell was still funny and not overexposed at all. To me, it's the classic fish out of water meets the sentiment of the holidays. Ferrell is spot on in a role that is easy for him to knock out of the park. Although the real scene stealer here is Zooey Deschanel who sparkles (quite literally) in the lead female role.
  • Fred Claus - There's no denying the coolness of Vince Vaughn and there's no one else that I'd rather see playing the brother of St. Nick than he. From the great performances from Elizabeth Banks and Kevin Spacey to the sheer audacity of the support group scene for siblings of famous people with real famous sibs playing themselves, Fred Claus just works on all levels.
  • Four Christmases - If Vince Vaughn were to simply make holiday movies for the rest of his career, I could live with that. Here, the nuclear family Christmas gets put to the test when a happily unmarried couple is forced to spend the holidays with their very dysfunctional families. Scenes with Vaughn and Jon Favreau always make me want to go throw Swingers in the old DVD player.
  • Reindeer Games - And here is where I'm sure I'll get all the hate mail. I don't care what you say about my boy Ben Affleck, but I like his movies. And sure, this is a guilty pleasure more than anything, but it has all the earmarks of a non-traditional Christmas hit, bloody Santas, a casino robbery scheme and a topless Charlize Theron in a pool. Ho, ho, ho.
  • Bad Santa - Not everyone gets to be on Santa's nice list and that's ok. This little gem is so devilishly despicable that I enjoy it more and more with each repeat viewing. And considering that it's John Ritter's last live-action movie before he passed away tragically, I can't think of a better way to honor the man that was, as Jack Tripper, my own personal hero.

Well, another decade has come and gone and I'm sure that I'll be adding many of these above to my annual "must watch" list for holiday excitement. How did we do? Which ones did we miss and more importantly, what's your favorite holiday movie of all time?