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1 Day to Christmas: The Classics of the 2010s and a Look Back Over the Decades

December 24, 2012

By John C.

Arthur Christmas DVD CoverToday is December 24th and welcome to the last day of our Christmas Countdown, profiling numerous films from over nine decades.  Yesterday we talked about the many modern classics that we got throughout the 2000s, and today we are taking a look at the holiday films we have already gotten in the ongoing 2010s.

Among the most recent titles on our countdown list just so happens to be Arthur Christmas (2011), a film that was first released just over a year ago and already deserves to be remembered as a timeless classic.  Beautifully animated at Aardman, Arthur Christmas tells a story that is as wonderfully humorous as it is heartfelt, delivering a film filled with the true spirit of the holiday season that is perfect to watch on Christmas Eve.  Please read our full reviews right here.

Becoming Santa DVD CoverWe also got the wonderful documentary Becoming Santa (2011).  After his parents died and with no family of his own, Jack Sanderson found himself feeling lonely every time he thought about Christmas.  So he decided to have his beard bleached white and buy a red suit, so that he could become one of Santa’s many helpers come Christmastime.  Lovingly showing us the history of Santa Claus as well as Jack Sanderson’s inspiring true story, this is a wonderful and uplifting documentary about how we can all share the true spirit of Christmas.  Please read our full reviews here and my short interview with Jack Sanderson right here.

Just last month we got the touching and beautifully animated DreamWorks film Rise of the Guardians (2012).  Although the film technically takes place at Easter, the powerful story of hope overcoming fear is perfect for Christmas, and you can read our full reviews right here.  And that takes us to the end of our Christmas Countdown for 2012.

It’s been a great ride over the last ten days.  When I first started this countdown by decade, I really wanted to shed a light on the holiday entertainment that we have gotten over the years, in a way that would give us enough space to include all of the obvious classics.  But I also ended up learning a few things along the way, as I forced myself to examine what each of the nine decades from the 1930s to the 2010s had to offer in terms of Christmas movies and TV specials.  Now it’s time to take a look back over some of the highlights from each of the decades.

We started the countdown in the 1930s with two adaptations of A Christmas Carol, and moved right along to the 1940s.  The ’40s were a decade that brought us several films with scenes taking place during the holidays, as well as two of the most enduring and beloved Christmas films of all time with Miracle on 34th Street and It’s a Wonderful Life.  Both films came right after the end of WWII, and they still hold up just as well, both as time capsules of the decade and inspirational classics that still feel fresh.  The 1950s brought the classic entertainment of watching Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye in White Christmas, a film that also gave us the beloved title song.

There were no actual movies from the 1960s included on our countdown.  But this was the decade that gave us three of the most beloved TV specials of all time, with Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer, How the Grinch Stole Christmas! and the iconic A Charlie Brown Christmas, three television classics that have since become integral parts of the season throughout the years.  We also included the brilliantly conceived and beautifully animated Disney classics Prep & Landing and the equally awesome sequel Naughty vs. Nice, which both rank among the best modern TV specials.

Along with the versions from 1935 and 1938, we also gave mention to eight adaptations of A Christmas Carol, also including the Alastair Sim classic from 1951, Bill Murray’s Scrooged from 1988 as well as the beloved Muppet Christmas Carol from 1992 and Robert Zemeckis’ brilliant motion capture take on the story with Disney’s A Christmas Carol in 2009.  The 1971 animated short film of the classic story is the only version to ever win an Oscar, and the only other adaptation to come close to that honour is the four Academy Award nominations that the Albert Finney musical Scrooge received in 1970.  These are facts about the many film versions of the beloved Charles Dickens masterpiece that I had never really taken much note of until doing my research for the countdown.

The lack of many holiday films in the 1970s brought us right to the 1980s, a decade that could in many ways be seen as a turning point for Christmas movies.  The 1980s brought us nostalgic favourites like A Christmas Story and the iconic comedy Christmas Vacation, but also gave way to darker holiday films like the aforementioned Scrooged and Die Hard, which takes place on Christmas Eve.  The 1990s were a decade that produced three family classics that many young adults still count among their favourites, including the previously mentioned The Muppet Christmas Carol, the John Hughes classic Home Alone and the charming Disney film The Santa Clause.

But the most bountiful decade on our countdown list was the 2000s, delivering numerous modern classics, far too many to mention all of them again here.  This was a period of time that saw everything from comedies like Christmas with the Kranks and the beloved Will Ferrell classic Elf, to personal favourites like the deeply heartfelt romantic comedy Love Actually and Robert Zemeckis’ stunning 2004 masterpiece The Polar Express.

I can’t really say what was the best decade for Christmas films, because pretty much every one has something to add to the conversation in terms of holiday classics in general.  But looking at the classics specifically by decade has allowed me to catalogue them in a way that I haven’t really done before, and it’s been a fun way to count down to Christmas Day.

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