Dean Clough

December 15, 2021

Portico Darwin: The Definitive Christmas Movie List

My predilection for lists knows no bounds, and that doesn't change during the holidays.  Here are the Christmas movies we watch each year, in roughly my order of preference.

Nightmare Before Christmas
Although it's more of a Halloween movie, we still like to kick off the season with this one, especially Julie.  Has anyone else ever noticed the unusual aspect ratio Tim Burton used in the movie's filming?

The Holiday
Jude Law is a stud, and Kate Winslet is pretty darned attractive, despite having zero onscreen chemistry with Jack Black.  It's not that great of a movie overall, but Julie likes it, OK?  I must admit I like Winslet's home in England, and I could also deal with Cam's place in Bev Hills.  And the scene in the pub where Diaz surprises Jude Law is nice.  But while I love Eli Wallach, that whole part of the movie - and a lot of the rest - is too sappy for me.

Don't believe me on the Winslet - Black chemistry thing?  Are these two even of the same species?


Love Actually
Speaking of sappy!  Let's just call this a hate/like relationship with a movie.  I hate so many aspects of this movie, so I am not sure why I like it so much?  Some observations:

  • What is up with the the British PM's car?  Even when new, that was one small and shitty Jaguar sedan, and doesn't measure up to what a real Brit PM would ride in
  • Keira Knightley needs to eat a sandwich or 5
  • That tramp admin that wildly flirts with the late Alan Rickman is pretty sexy, and so is Natalie
  • The concept of those midwestern girls all sleeping naked in the same bed is a stretch
  • I can't stand that "Risky Business" rip-off dance Hugh Grant does at 10 Downing Street, nor the "you saucy minx" nonsense re:  Margaret Thatcher
  • I always choke up when Liam breaks down about his dead wife
  • Billy Bob Thornton gives arguably the most realistic depiction of a US president ever, but his car sucked, too
  • The actor that plays the object of Laura Linney's pitiful crush may be amongst the worst ever

Trading Places
This is our major go-to.  Not a Christmas passes where we don't watch this absolutely perfect holiday movie.  It really has it all, including an incredibly shapely Jamie Lee Curtis at her peak Killer-ness.  I live for the Christmas morning scene with Curtis eating a salad in her wonderfully festive sweater whilst Ackroyd cleans shotguns so he can rub out the evil Duke brothers (portrayed with genius-level acting by Don Ameche and Ralph Bellamy).


And as a special service to my readers, I present to you here the complete explanation of the movie's ending at NYMEX.

It's a Wonderful Life
This movie is the centerpiece of our family's proud Christmas Eve tradition, which includes fresh cracked Dungeness crab, steamed artichokes, SF sourdough, and a bottle or two of top-shelf dry California chardonnay or white French Burgundy.  We then screen the movie.  My tears start early, when the young George Bailey falls into the icy lake saving his brother from drowning.  They continue when Mr. Gower whacks the shit out of George in his bad ear, and I reach peak blubber at the very end when George reads Clarence's note, which is so very, very true.


Honorable Mention:  Die Hard
I would not include this myself, but I know there would be howls of protest and derision from some quarters if it were not on this list.  And it's not that bad, either, and Alan Rickman makes two appearances today.
And I have left off the original "Miracle on 34th Street" because I haven't seen it in so long (if ever?).  Are there any of your favorites that I've missed? 

The loyal reader and January dinner guest Dr. Doreen Downs joined me in commiserating on the state of our American democracy, via the retiring Brian Williams.

"I watched the insightful but somewhat frightening video clip of Brian Williams.  Thanks for raising awareness about our 'unrecognizable' nation." 

Unrecognizable it is.  This Mark Meadows stuff is another example how the America we used to know is fading, and fading fast.  How is his treasonous PowerPoint deck not getting wall-to-wall coverage?  Shouldn't all Republicans be calling for the jailing of these people?   What am I missing? 

I really long for a return to historical norms - you know, where the President's chief of staff doesn't lead coups and insurrections to overturn the will of the American people in an election.

Thank you to any one that is reading this newsletter.

I already shared my favorite Christmas album, so instead I'll pivot off of the insane Christmas video in "Love Actually," stay British, and keep it visual.  Here is Rod Stewart and his classic from 1971 "Every Picture Tells a Story".  What a great album and one that I personally don't give enough airtime. 


About Dean Clough

Plans To Enjoy Life.