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Top Christmas DVDs

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The Christmas season can get hectic, but there are still times when many of us seek diversion by playing a holiday-themed DVD or Blu-ray disc. With that thought in mind, here's a variety of perennial favorites ordered by theatrical release date from the most recent to the oldest.

'The Polar Express' DVD (2004)

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"On Christmas Eve, many years ago, I lay quietly in my bed," says Tom Hanks, quoting from Chris Van Allsburg's little book, and we're off on an astonishing, dreamlike visual journey. Hanks plays six roles in this children's film made with performance-capture animation. One of his roles is as the conductor on the Polar Express, a train that takes kids to the North Pole, which looks like an old factory town, but spotlessly clean and populated by elves.

DVD Details:
DVD Release Date: November 22, 2005
Two-Disc DVD Set
Deleted Scenes
Featurettes

'Bad Santa' (2003) DVD

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If holiday treacle gets you down, this bust-a-gut profane comedy could be the antidote. Billy Bob Thornton creates an unforgettable character as Willie, an alcoholic, foul-mouthed, randy guy who becomes a Santa in a different city every Christmas. He and a dwarf who works as Santa's elf use their seasonal jobs to get inside big department stores so they can rob them. Yet Willie ultimately manages a measure of Hollywood-style redemption.

DVD Details:
DVD Release Date: June 22, 2004
John Ritter Tribute
Widescreen Anamorphic Format

'Love Actually' (2003) DVD

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Set during the five weeks leading up to Christmas, this British comedy explores aspects of love through a mosaic of subplots involving over a dozen characters. There's breezy dialogue, and the attractive ensemble cast includes Hugh Grant, Keira Knightley, Liam Neeson, Emma Thompson, Colin Firth, Laura Linney, Alan Rickman and Bill Nighy. The film is witty and generally cheerful, and sexuality, nudity and profanity prevent it from becoming too cloying

DVD Details:
DVD Release Date: April 27, 2004
Commentary
Deleted Scenes
Available in Widescreen and Full-Screen Editions

'Elf' (2003) DVD

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Will Ferrell is perfectly cast in this delightful family comedy about a man who wears tights and likes syrup on his pasta. Buddy (Ferrell) is a tall human who was raised as an elf at the North Pole, but he goes to Manhattan to connect with his biological father. He has a series of misadventures, but ends up kissing a nice young woman. There's good soundtrack music, and the finale has a crowd in Central Park singing "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town."

DVD Details:
DVD Release Date: November 16, 2004
Two-Disc DVD Set
Commentary
Deleted Scenes

'Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas' DVD (2000)

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Jim Carrey does lots of physical humor and cracks lots of jokes in this adaptation of Dr. Seuss' little book about a grumpy, reclusive creature called the Grinch stealing all the Christmas presents in Whoville. But the movie greatly expands the story, such as flashing back to the Whoville youngsters treating the eight-year-old Grinch cruelly. Although the film has a happy ending, it isn't overly cheerful, and much of it has a contemporary, slightly edgy feel.

DVD Details:
DVD Release Date: November 20, 2001
Faith Hill Music Video
Spotlight on Location
Max's Playhouse: Includes Sing-Along Songs

'Home Alone' (1990) DVD

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Macaulay Culkin was a gifted and likable child actor when he carried this slapstick comedy to box-office success. The movie centers on the large, disorganized McAllister family, which jets off to Paris for Christmas, accidentally leaving eight-year-old Kevin (Culkin) home alone. The boy gets into some amusing mischief, but mostly he must fend off a pair of comically inept burglars who target the McAllister's three-story mansion.

DVD Details:
DVD Release Date: November 21, 2006
Commentary
Featurettes
Deleted Scenes
Gag Reel
Widescreen

'A Charlie Brown Christmas' (1965) DVD

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Based on Charles M. Schultz' comic strip Peanuts, this is an animated color half-hour TV special that initially aired in December 1965. Much of its charm derives from its quirky, not-too-polished feel. There's Vince Guaraldi jazz on the soundtrack, and Linus recites Bible verses. Charlie Brown gets a pathetic-looking Christmas tree, but the gang turns it into something attractive by using Snoopy's prizewinning doghouse decorations.

DVD Details:
DVD Release Date: October 7, 2008
Remastered
Includes It's Christmastime Again, Charlie Brown

'White Christmas' (1954) DVD

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Irving Berlin songs — 13 of them, including the iconic title tune — done by Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen are the reason to watch this stately old Technicolor musical. Crosby and Kaye play guys who were in World War II together, then became song-and-dance men. There's romance when they meet sisters (Clooney and Vera-Ellen), and these four plus others put on a show to bail out a financially troubled Vermont ski lodge.

DVD Details:
DVD Release Date: November 3, 2009
Two-Disc DVD Set
Commentary
Featurettes
Trailers

'Miracle on 34th Street' (1947) DVD

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Edmund Gwenn perfectly captures the essence of Father Christmas in this heartwarming, sentimental drama. Gwenn portrays a kindly, white-bearded man calling himself Kris Kringle who becomes the store Santa at the big Macy's on 34th Street in Manhattan. Based on evidence provided by the US postal service, a judge rules in a court proceeding that Kris may be the true Santa Claus. The doubting little girl is played by Natalie Wood.

DVD Details:
DVD Release Date: November 21, 2006
Two-Disc DVD Set
Includes Two Versions of the Film: Colorized and Original Black and White
Commentary
Featurettes
Poster Gallery

'It's a Wonderful Life' (1946) DVD

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With James Stewart in front of the camera and Frank Capra behind it, this great American fable is a feel-good film that deals with financial woes and suicidal depression. The hero is George Bailey (Stewart), the favorite son of the stifling, but supportive town of Bedford Falls. He rescues lots of people, but has to abandon his own dreams to do it, while the villain, Mr. Potter (Lionel Barrymore), is unrepentant and unpunished.

DVD Details:
DVD Release Date: November 3, 2009
Two-Disc DVD Set
The Making of It's a Wonderful Life
Documentary

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