It's that time of year when the networks roll out all those treasured holiday specials and films from days gone by. Some have aged well, some may as well be coated in Velveeta, but I watch 'em all, every year. And here's my list of the very best of the holiday season:1. It's a Wonderful Life
I've got to say, this is one dark holiday film. A guy's life falls apart, he contemplates suicide and a slightly dim angel shows him how life would have been even crappier without him. A flop when it was first released, It's a Wonderful Life
became a Christmas tradition when the U.S. networks aired it and aired it and aired it, basically because the rights were so cheap. The movie's got Jimmy Stewart at his earnest best, Donna Reed at her most sweetly adorable, a cop and cab driver named Bert and Ernie, and the best final scene in film history: 'To my brother George, the richest guy in town.' Just try not to cry.2. How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Boris Karloff. Mount Crumpet. Max. Cindy Lou Who. You're a mean one, Mr. Grinch. A heart that grew 3 sizes that day. What's not to love?3. White Christmas
Yes, it's sappy. What's your point? It's sentimental and gooey and warmhearted and that's what makes it delightful. That, and Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney singing about snow.4. Love Actually
Really, the perfect movie. It's only this low on the list because it's a little too recent to be a true classic. It's got Hugh Grant, Colin Firth and Alan Rickman - a trifecta of brilliant British leading men in romances that are by turns funny, sweet and heartbreaking. And then there's Bill Nighy as a washed up pop star anxious for one more chart-topper, Liam Neeson as a widower helping his young stepson through the pain of a first love, glorious, perfect Emma Thompson and an elfish Rowan Atkinson. Perfect.5. A Charlie Brown Christmas.
I'll be honest, this one is showing its age. Made in 1965, it looks a little worse for the wear. And this is another of those Christmas treats with a dark side - Charlie Brown is mercilessly mocked, and that Snoopy is a bit a bastard. Yet, I still get a little lump in my throat when the whole Peanuts gang decorates the sad little tree. And it has the best dance sequence in a holiday film, bar none.6. Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer
I tried to explain to my hubby that this Rudolph can be viewed as an allegory for the gay experience. After all, it's the story of not fitting in because you're different and finding friends who will accept you anyway. Hubby didn't buy it. But man, that Hermy is sooooo gay.7. Elf
Silly and sweet. I don't even mind that my hubby has a crush on Zooey Deschanel.8. WKRP in Cincinnati 'Bah Humbug'.
There had to be a nod to A Christmas Carol
. But which version? Alistair Sim was classic. Bill Murray was funny in a dated late-'80s kind of way. But this one - the WKRP version - has it all. On orders from his mother, Mr. Carlson tells the staff there will be no bonuses this year. Then he eats one of Johnny's special holiday brownies and, well, there are these 3 ghosts, you see.... You get the picture.9. Blackadder's Christmas Carol.
Then there's this entirely different kind of Christmas Carol, from one of the best series ever made. Here, Ebenezer Blackadder is the kindest man in Britain, the white sheep of the Blackadder clan. The Spirit of Christmas stops by to congratulate him, and show him how much better he is than his dastardly forebears. These insights, plus two visions of the future, convince Blackadder to become a plotting, evildoer. God bless us, everyone.10. Bing and Bowie sing the Little Drummer Boy.
Not a movie or a show, but nothing says Christmas like Ziggy Stardust and der Bingle.