Ed Burns delivers his five favorite holiday films, more nice than naughty

Jonathan Crow
Movie Talk

The writer-actor-director Ed Burns, who got his start with the independent film "The Brothers McMullen" (1995), returns to familiar ground with his holiday film, "The Fitzgerald Family Christmas." We asked him what inspired him to make a holiday film.

"I wanted to make a film about a big, Irish-American family," Burns says. "Two of my best friends come from very large families. I wondered what it was like to grow up in a house of that many siblings, how insane the holidays were as kids and as adults. The holidays are a great time for forgiveness and healing.   There's plenty of dysfunction in this movie, a lot of wounds, things that have gone unsaid. Christmas is a great time for healing, but in order to heal you have to address the old wounds. If you can come out the other side, there's no better feeling."

It's a Wonderful Life: "Christmas is about family, and a sense of kindness, community, sacrifice, and selflessness," Burns says. "That is what holidays should represent, and those are all the themes that 'It's a Wonderful Life' explores."

A Charlie Brown Christmas: "I don't know that there's a better Christmas film to watch with your young kids," said says Burns, the father of Grace, 9, and Finn, 6, with Christy Turlington. "While it does have great storytelling and great characters, it's more the themes that Charles Schulz is exploring. As a parent of young kids, you want to instill those things in them."

Home Alone: "It's become a holiday tradition in our house to watch 'Home Alone' and 'Home Alone 2.' No two movies, or characters, make my kids laugh more than Macaulay Culkin," he says. "For us to watch our kids cackle like hyenas as Daniel Stern and Joe Pesci get the stuffing kicked out of them is so much fun."

Elf: "This is a kids' choice again," he says. "Clever, funny, and as a guy who explores father-son relationships in his own films, this one cracks my top five."

Love Actually: "This is the ultimate romantic comedy," he says. "It's a giant ensemble packed full of powerhouse actors —- Hugh Grant, Emma Thompson, Liam Neeson, and Laura Linney. To me, it's probably the most charming and romantic mainstream movie ever made, and it's all set around the three to five days leading up to Christmas."