LAMBracket: Best Christmas Movie – Round 1-8

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 final round one match-up, the second match-up in the Other Group, and is between the number one seed, White Christmas, and the second play-off winner, The Preacher’s Wife:

White Christmas vs The Preacher’s Wife

White Christmas, championed by Chris Staron from The Popcorn Auteur

On its surface, White Christmas may have some problems. It’s a movie built around a recycled song from a previous Christmas movie that can feel disjointed. It’s a movie that could be accused of being saccharine with no concept of diversity. And yet . . .

The songs of Irving Berlin and the direction of Michael Curtiz (yes, from Casablanca) produce a movie that is very communal and soothing. For years, I attended a holiday viewing of White Christmas at the Music Box Theatre in Chicago, and it is a perfect movie for a group setting. The familiarity and predictability of this film are part of its charm. The “Sisters” number always gets a laugh and the bizarre “Love, You Didn’t Do Right By Me” gets an even bigger laugh.

White Christmas wears its era on its sleeve. It screams 1950’s America with its patriotism and Bing Crosby. The performances are stellar and the music memorable; making even the biggest Grinch appreciate the song-and-dance era of Hollywood.

The Preacher’s Wife, championed by LeAnne Lindsay from Tinsel & Tine

I’m the type to cringe when I hear Christmas music before Thanksgiving, and even then, I’m really not in the mood until that final, crazy Christmas frenzy starting somewhere around December 15th. However, I make one exception to this ban on early Carols, and that is, still to this day, I’m happy to listen to Whitney Houston’s The Preacher’s Wife: Original Soundtrack Album – all year round. It debuted with the movie in 1996 and remains the best-selling gospel album of all time. The soundtrack also remained at number one for a record twenty-six weeks on the Billboard Top Gospel Albums Chart. I always pictured myself singing “Who Would Imagine a King” to my son or daughter as their favorite bedtime lullaby; the rousing “Step by Step” written by one of my other all-time favorite artists, Annie Lennox, is still one I listen to in my workout music rotation; “Joy” (with the Georgia Mass Choir) written by Kirk Franklin, well the title says it all! I could go on about the album, but this isn’t the only reason why this is my favorite Christmas movie. Directed by Penny Marshall, this uplifting holiday offering is one of the first movies with a black cast I can honestly say stole my heart. The other two are Whitney Houston movies as well, The Bodyguard (1992) and Waiting to Exhale (1995), before these flicks, there were plenty of socially relevant, inspiring, important, some terribly amateurish, and some great comedies with Richard Pryor or Eddie Murphy; but in my opinion, it wasn’t until Houston’s short-lived movie career that I could actually relate to a film with a predominately black cast, because it was as delightfully sappy and romantic as many of the old movies I grew up watching, like the film it’s based upon, Cary Grant’s The Bishop’s Wife.

In a nutshell, Rev. Henry Biggs (Courtney B. Vance) is the pastor of a small, struggling Baptist church in a poverty-stricken neighborhood of New York City. His wife Julia (Whitney Houston) is devoted to her husband, the church and their young son, Jeremiah, but she’s not feeling very appreciated in her marriage as Rev Biggs has so much more to contend with than romancing his wife. In pops Dudley (Denzel Washington); he’s not on the scene as an answered prayer by Julia, rather he’s an angel sent to take some of the burden off of Rev Biggs, although, his methods include befriending Jeremiah and some close to inappropriate attention paid to the good preacher’s wife. The always no-nonsense Jennifer Lewis plays Julia’s suspicious mother; there’s a cute little B romantic storyline between the reverend’s secretary (Loretta Devine) and a corpulent parishioner; the late great Gregory Hines plays the villain of the movie, a greedy real estate developer trying to woo Rev. Biggs away from his small parish to run his big soulless church, and Lionel Richie makes his acting debut as a night club owner who knew Julia before she became a preacher’s wife. All in all, every scene and frame is warm, funny and musically the embodiment of holiday cheer.

Which is the better Christmas movie?

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