So far we’ve seen 28 festive films vie for a spot in the next round of the Ultimate Christmas Movie Showdown and now it’s time to rule on the final four. Today’s battles contain two dark horse favourites from the ’80s, Gremlins and Ernest Saves Christmas, and two familiar angelic fantasies: The Bishop’s Wife and The Preacher’s Wife, the latter a remake of the former. Which of these titles will claim the final two spots in the Round of 16? Read up on all four films, vote for your picks, then check back to see who wins!
As a kid, Gremlins taught me that a Christmas-themed movie did not have to be candy coloured and sugary sweet. They could be fun, edgy, and a little scary. Taking place a few days before Christmas in the small town of Kingston Falls, things go horribly wrong after Billy (Zach Galligan) breaks two of the three cardinal rules for taking care of his new pet mogwai Gizmo, the original Baby Yoda when it comes to cuteness. He not only gets Gizmo wet, but is also tricked into feeding the creatures uninvited offspring after midnight. With enough mischievous, havoc-wreaking gremlins to fill a movie theatre, Joe Dante’s film gleefully uses its holiday setting to maximum advantage. Whether it is Christmas carolling gremlins surprising one unsuspecting citizen or the way Dante uses classic films such as It’s a Wonderful Life and songs like “Do You Hear What I Hear?” to humorously subvert traditional expectations, Gremlins is a devilishly entertaining Christmas movie. – Courtney Small
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 85%
Ernest Saves Christmas (1988)
Cliched and low brow, Ernest Saves Christmas is not without its own version of heart and charm. Jim Varney’s loveable Ernest P. Worrell is up to his usual, silly hijinks but this time in his very own Christmas movie. The plot generally follows Santa (Douglas Seale) as he heads to Florida to recruit his replacement (Oliver Clark), and a teen runaway (Noelle Parker) who has stopped believing in the magic of the season. While the gags are amusing and the warm weather a bit disorienting, Santa’s sack steals the show here. It is magic! Anything you wish for can be pulled out of the seemingly empty cloth pouch. This could have easily veered into the consumerist focus of the holiday, but luckily Ernest is right there with a lesson to be learned and a smile on his face. – Deirdre Crimmins
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 36%
Voting ends December 9 at 11:59 EST.
The Bishop’s Wife (1947)
Often forgotten when it comes to modern best-of Christmas movie lists, this charming and fantastical cinematic gem is just as captivating now as it was when it was first released in 1947. The film centres on Henry Brougham, a Bishop stymied in his efforts to raise funds to build a cathedral. Dejected, he requests help from above and is immediately visited by a helpful angel named Dudley–sent to help the Bishop regain his faith. Despite his belief in a higher power, Henry is first skeptical and then jealous as Dudley proceeds to charm his friends, benefactors, and even his sweet but suffering wife, Julia.
The Bishop’s Wife’s success is down to its three leads–Cary Grant, Loretta Young, and David Niven–and a formidable supporting cast including Gladys Cooper, Elsa Lanchester, James Gleason, and a scene-stealing Monty Woolley. Grant’s charm is perfect for the disarming Dudley, Niven’s dry wit is tailor-made for the put-upon Henry, and Young is so luminous as Julia that it’s easy to understand her heavenly appeal. We could all use an angel like Dudley around the house to help us handle the holidays, especially when it comes to decorating trees and taking time out to appreciate what we have. The Bishop’s Wife will leave you with feelings of warmth and joy, making it an essential part of anyone’s festive film plans. – Emma Badame
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 84%
The Preacher’s Wife (1996)
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 60%
Voting ends December 9 at 11:59 EST.
The elimination showdown runs from December 1 until the 23, with the Ultimate Christmas Movie being unveiled on Christmas Eve! You can vote here, on Twitter, or on Instagram. Find out if your favourites are in the running below, then tune in tomorrow for two new face offs…