LAMBracket: Best Christmas Movie – Round 1-7

From December 1st until Christmas Eve, here on the LAMB, we’ll be determining what is the BEST Christmas movie of all time. We’ve asked you all which films are the main contenders, and twenty-four of you replied with your choices, which will bauble battle it out for seasonal supremacy. It’s a head-to-head, single elimination tournament, so whichever film wins today moves onto the next round. However, here is not the only place to vote. No, head to FacebookTwitter and Instagram to see the same poll there, and it’ll be the total of all four results that determines the winner.

Today’s tinsel tussle is the first match-up in the Dickens sub-sect of the Other Group, and is between the number one seed, A Christmas Carol (1984), and the play-off winner, The Muppet Christmas Carol:

A Christmas Carol (1984) vs The Muppet Christmas Carol

A Christmas Carol, championed by James Wilson from Blogging by Cinema-Light

Of all the many versions and variations of Dickens’ classic tale, my favorite doesn’t have musical numbers (like Finney’s or Magoo’s), tortured concepts (like Mickey Mouse or Muppets), but is a straight-ahead version directed by Clive Donner, with an actor so appropriate it’s almost type-casting—George C. Scott as Scrooge. Sure, he’s American, but not even Alastair Sim could approach his baleful performance and the absurd (frightening) glee he displays after his “conversion.” With a superb cast including Frank Finlay, Edward Woodward, David Warner, Susannah York, Roger Rees, Nigel Davenport, Joanne Whalley, Lucy Gutteridge, and Michael Gough, and without the usual neutering of the themes of poverty and death that most versions blunt to be family-friendly, this Christmas Carol is as true as the “Dickens.”

The Muppet Christmas Carol, championed by Richard Kirkham from Kirkham A Movie A Day

If you are not considering The Muppet Christmas Carol as your choice for the best Christmas movie of all time, you must not have seen the film. Not only is it a great Christmas film, it is in many ways, the greatest telling of one of the most important Christmas themed stories of all time. Charles Dickens’ story has been filmed more than two dozen times, with distinguished Shakespearean actors and American Television Thespians. None of them can hold a candle to this version which succeeds because of two fantastic features. First, look at the title, “Muppets”. I have heard that there are people who do not appreciate The Muppets, I don’t want to know who those people are. The off kilter humor, the manic and deadpan delivery in the same scene, the plethora of weird characters are all things that make even the most mundane material watchable. Kermit the Frog is perfectly cast as Bob Cratchitt. Miss Piggy is surprisingly subdued as his wife and the mother of Tiny Tim. Meanwhile, subverting the proceedings by drawing attention to the narrative explicitly, Gonzo and Rizzo Rat are a Greek Chorus representing Dickens himself. You can’t beat that for creative story structure on this particular tale.

Muppets alone would be enough to elevate this to the status of Christmas classic, but there’s one other secret weapon here that should overwhelm any other objections, Michael Caine. In most versions of the story, Scrooge is ancient and closer to the end of life. Caine is closer to middle age, which means his arc of redemption will span the life of the Cratchit family more. Caine plays crotchety without being particularly old.We can accept that he has an old man disposition with a younger man’s vigor. He also sings. Maybe not the dulcet baritone that would be featured in a stage version of the story, but he has a “talk-singing” style that works perfectly for the amusing Paul Williams penned songs.

“Oh, Scroogey loves his money ’cause he thinks it gives him power,
If he became a flavor you can bet he would be sour “

Which is the better Christmas movie?

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