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What you need to know for 12/14/2017

From 'Arthur Christmas' to 'White Christmas' — Foss' favorite flicks

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From 'Arthur Christmas' to 'White Christmas' — Foss' favorite flicks

There's a whole world of Christmas movies beyond 'Elf'
From 'Arthur Christmas' to 'White Christmas' — Foss' favorite flicks
Natalie Wood and Edmund Gwenn in "Miracle on 34th Street."
Photographer: The New York Times

When it comes to Christmas, I can be a bit of a Scrooge. 

But if there's one movie that never fails to put me in the holiday spirit, it's the sprightly 2003 Will Ferrell comedy "Elf." 

This good-natured Christmas film, about a human who thinks he's an elf, and his departure from the North Pole and quest to find his biological family, gets funnier every time I watch it. It also features a remarkably generous protagonist — a childlike man who can be quirky and exasperating, but wins people over with his enthusiasm and infectious cheer. 

There are a lot of good Christmas movies, and my favorite movie is "Elf." 

FOSS MOVIES CELEBRATE ELF.jpg
(Provided)

The film has lots of fans: On a recent Daily Gazette poll of favorite Christmas movies, "Elf" was one of the top vote getters. 

Its popularity makes it a classic Christmas movie, joining the ranks of "A Christmas Story," "It's a Wonderful Life," "Miracle on 34th Street" and "The Polar Express." 

These films are loved for a reason — they tell timeless, heartwarming stories that can be appreciated by old and young alike. They celebrate family and impart valuable moral lessons about giving and treating people kindly. 

FOSS MOVIES CELEBRATE HOME ALONE.jpg
Robert Blossom and Macaulay Culkin in "Home Alone." (20th Century Fox)

Other Christmas films that possess these qualities: "Home Alone," "A Charlie Brown Christmas, the 1970 musical "Scrooge," and "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation." I'm also a big fan of "White Christmas" and the 2011 cartoon "Arthur Christmas."  

If there's a downside to the most popular Christmas films, it's their ubiquity.  Viewers could be forgiven for getting sick of them — or for forgetting that there are plenty of other Christmas movies. 

If you're in the mood for something more offbeat, here are some options: 

  • "Die Hard" — Is "Die Hard" a Christmas movie? This question gets asked every year, and the consensus seems to be, yes, it is. "Die Hard" features a lot more explosions and gunfights than the average Christmas movie, but its plot, about a father trying to make it home for Christmas Eve, is as Christmas-y as they come. 
  • "Gremlins" — A father brings home a unique Christmas gift for his son ... and winds up unleashing mayhem upon his peaceful small-town community. "Gremlins" is one of the best Christmas horror movies ever made. 
  • "Bad Santa" — If you like your Christmas movies dark and vulgar, well, this one is for you. Like most Christmas movies, "Bad Santa" has its heartwarming moments - but they come in a decidedly R-rated package. 
  • "Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale" — Speaking of Christmas horror, this 2010 Finnish film concerns an evil, horned Santa Claus who preys upon naughty children. This is an imaginative and genuinely creepy film — not for the faint of heart. 
  • "Joyeux Noel" — This film isn't creepy at all. It's just unknown. It tells the genuinely moving and true story of the World War I Christmas truce, which saw German, French and British put down their arms and join together to celebrate the holiday. This is a war movie, albeit an unusually quiet and contemplative one. 

As I said, I always enjoy watching "Elf" and other well-known Christmas movies. 

But there's a whole world of Christmas movies, and it's fun to explore.

These films aren't always that well known, but they can be just as interesting and enriching as the films that are. 

Reach Gazette columnist Sara Foss at sfoss@dailygazette.net. Opinions expressed here are her own and not necessarily the newspaper's. Her blog is at https://dailygazette.com/blogs/thinking-it-through.

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