[IMG:L]The 21st century hasn’t yet provided us with a Christmas Story-level holiday classic, but ... lay off -- it’s not even 10 years old! Besides, there have been a few flicks that already stack up quite well against the classics of yore. Here’s our Four Christmases-free list of the best holiday movies of the 2000s (so far).
5. Love Actually (2003)Chick flick-y? Sure. But still, we’ll take a talky, R-rated romantic dramedy with an X-mas tie-in over a contrived, overwrought, roundabout Christmas tearjerker like The Family Stone any day of the week. (Even though Stone would probably come in at No. 6 on this list thanks to the dearth of holiday movies over the past 10 years!)
4. Joyeux Noel (2006)It doesn’t exactly fit the tidy mold of “holiday-movie classic,” in that it’s basically a war film -- and, to be honest, it’s not quite a “classic.” However, Joyeux Noel (translation: “Merry Christmas”), about the brief World War I ceasefire in observance of Christmas, evokes much stronger emotions than your garden-variety Christmas film -- and doesn’t rely on the usual devices to get there.
3. Bad Santa (2003)Talk about a holiday-movie shakeup -- for much of Bad Santa, its title might as well be How the Misanthrope Stole Christmas! As we all know, the movie predictably ends on a happier note, but it’s hard to even complain, because the very R-rated, wacky nastiness (or is it nasty wackiness?) that transpires before said conclusion is hilarious. We need more atypical holiday movies, and thanks to Billy Bob Thornton and director Terry Zwigoff, the rest of Hollywood knows that suck a task is doable -- and possibly even lucrative.
2. The Polar Express (2004)The Robert Zemeckis blockbuster did as much for Christmastime movies as it did for technology on the big screen. But while the Tom Hanks-starrer was nothing short of dazzling to look at, it wouldn’t have mattered if Polar didn’t have Chris Van Allsburg’s enchanting book (and visual style) as its blueprint.
1. Elf (2003)Truly an instant classic and, in a way, Will Ferrell’s best, least grating movie. There was silliness aplenty, and, yes, Ferrell plays his typical misplaced doofus, but (A) it was before we got tired of the Ferrell routine and (B) the story was such a welcome change from what we’re used to seeing every holiday season that we didn’t even mind the more traditional, heartwarming parts. Thank director Jon Favreau, too, for striking the perfect balance.
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