Editors' Picks

Our Editors' Favorite Holiday Movies

It's a Wonderful Life, Elf, Meet Me in St. Louis...the gang's all here.

By Sarasota Magazine Staff December 23, 2020

“I know everyone’s seen 1946’s It’s a Wonderful Life a zillion times, and I admit I sometimes slip in and out of the first hour or so when rewatching. But it still never fails to grab me in the heart once Jimmy Stewart’s desperate George Bailey has been granted his wish by guardian angel Clarence that George had never been born…and then we see the unfolding of what that wish means, to him, his family, and his town. Director Frank Capra had no peers when it came to touching those emotional chords and showing us what really matters in life. BTW, did you ever seen the Saturday Night Live skit with Dana Carvey as a vengeful George setting out after the miserly Mr. Potter? Also a classic.”—Kay Kipling, executive editor

A Christmas Story is always a classic with my family. The movie airs for 24 hours on TBS every Christmas, and we will have it on repeat in the background while opening presents, enjoying holiday treats or cooking our Christmas dinner. It’s funny, quirky and has so many quotable lines. It brings out those nostalgic holiday feelings, and may not be the most beautiful or sappy Christmas movie, but it is certainly a tradition." —Allison Forsyth, editorial intern

"In my cynical family, few movies bring everyone together, but during the holidays, a Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn classic always works.  Our favorite? The Philadelphia Story. It’s funny, romantic and wickedly witty." —Susan Burns, editor-in-chief

"Nine years before Bob Clark directed the beloved holiday classic A Christmas Story, the filmmaker produced a somewhat less cheery take on the Yuletide season—Black Christmas, which was released  in 1974, making it one of the first slasher movies. It follows a group of young female college students who are being harassed by a stalker who makes lewd, menacing phone calls to the women's sorority house, phone calls that are being made from a location that even a horror ignoramus will guess within 20 seconds. But despite being somewhat predictable thanks to its widespread influence (the laughable incompetence of a local police department is another common trope), the film delivers solid scares and builds toward a dark twist ending that's genuinely haunting." —Cooper Levey-Baker, senior editor/food editor

"I can cite a dozen scenes in which the witty holiday film Elf makes me laugh my socks off every year. From the Central Park snowball fight to an elf’s favorite food groups. A favorite: in true Santa’s helper style, Will Farrell’s character slides across his father’s desk to answer the phone with gleeful enthusiasm: ‘Buddy the elf, what’s your favorite color?!’ It’s the ultimate Yuletide cheer in a modern goofball comedy." —Heather Dunhill, contributing writer

"Meet Me in St. Louis is a holiday classic—it chronicles a year in the life of the four daughters of the Smith family as they grapple with a potential move from St. Louis to New York, with the climactic scenes taking place at Christmastime. The set design is opulent and vibrant, and Judy Garland is pitch-perfect as Rose, the second-oldest sister. But of course, it's the music that's the standout—particularly "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas." In this year of of Covid and quarantine, listening to Garland sing, "Someday soon we all will be together / If the fates allow / Until then, we'll have to muddle through somehow" brings tears to my eyes. Here's to a brighter, more joyful 2021." —Megan McDonald, digital editor

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