The 1st Round of The Best Holiday Movie EVER Tournament is behind us, and some great match-ups are in store as we look forward to what should be a hotly contested Sweet 16.
A quick analysis of the 1st Round shows that none of the contests really got as close I expected. I thought we’d have at least a few 51-49/down-to-the-wire style battles, but in the end, every single match-up was decided by at least 20 percentage points.
The most interesting outcomes, at least in my opinion, were that Miracle on 34th Street’s rout of Holiday Inn wasn’t really the biggest beatdown, at least not based on actual votes cast, and that the two match-ups I thought would be the closest – Home Alone vs. The Nightmare Before Christmas and The Santa Clause vs. Scrooged turned out to be a crushing defeat and a disappointing outcome, respectively.
And that disappointment may be the biggest takeaway from the 1st Round: Your enjoyment of cheese and schtick and schlock is on display during the holidays. Scrooged and it’s dark, satirical, sarcastic-Bill Murray – despite being the closest match-up of the 1st Round – still got walked by Tim Allen in a campy story about a dude who somehow loses shared custody of his kid because everyone thinks he’s mentally unstable. If not for the schlock and schtick and cheese, and watched on an adult level with no buy-in on “the magic of Christmas,” The Santa Clause is a damn depressing movie. But you're not in that state of mind during the holiday season. You are as deadset on a good, old fashioned, family Christmas as Clark W. Griswold, Jr.
As the page turns toward the Sweet 16, and given the results of the 1st Round, some future fights take on a new hue, but it also looks like we’re in store for a lot similarity match-ups: Kid vs. kid in Home Alone vs. A Christmas Story, dad vs. dad in Christmas Vacation vs. The Santa Clause, bad guy vs. bad guy in The Grinch vs. Bad Santa.
With all this said, let’s just do the damn thing…. Our first contest of the Sweet 16, with the victor moving on to face either White Christmas or A Muppet Christmas Carol… is:
Classics genre: (1) It’s a Wonderful Life vs. (6) Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
Two classics of the holiday season, that for the longest time, were probably the two most ubiquitous Christmas movies in existence. Maybe that’s because they both used to be hammered home in the 80s and early 90s, when more recent holiday movies were – for the most part – crap, and basic cable was desperate for inexpensive programming. Or maybe it’s because they actually connect with people; Miracle with its timeless theme of belief is much more specific to the holiday season, and somewhat spiritual if you want to extrapolate out that belief to all of that which is unseen.
Wonderful, despite being classically constructed around Christmas Eve, is about so much more than just a belief in the unseen – Clarence, Angel 2nd Class, takes care of that angle nicely though. It’s about the epitome of all those qualities – perseverance, hard work, determination – that lead to the Capraesque American Dream. And on the side is a little serving of Joni Mitchell – you don’t know what you got ‘til it’s gone. George Bailey works his tail off making the building & loan the cornerstone of Bedford Falls, despite his dreams of traveling the world. He settles down and becomes the conscience of the town in its battle against the curmudgeonly miser Mr. Potter (and damned if Lionel Barrymore isn’t the template for every evil, greedy, smarmy bad guy ever since) until lives the average, everyday, middle class American husband/dad’s ideal existence until Uncle Billy nozzes it all up. For the two of you out there who have somehow avoided watching it, I won’t ruin it, but in the end George realizes just how, well… wonderful, life really is. Even when it’s trying to rain shite down upon you.
There it is, our first big Sweet 16 bout of the Best Holiday Movie EVER Tournament. Vote now.