At this time of year, I bet many of you could come up with really long lists of all the things you've already done to get ready for Christmas this year. But give yourself a break and make a list of things you HAVEN'T yet done. It will likely be shorter.

Christmas Movies Starring Kentucky Actors

One of the activities I'm getting at is not just watching Christmas movies, but--and this is for all those who want to immerse themselves in a truly KENTUCKY holiday--watching Christmas movies starring actors FROM the Commonwealth. Let's dive in.

Josh Hutcherson (Union) - The Polar Express

Hulu's "Future Man" Panel at 2018 New York Comic Con
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He skyrocketed to fame with the Hunger Games trilogy a decade ago, but you have to go back nearly a decade BEFORE that for Josh Hutcherson's contribution to one of the most beloved holiday films of all time. And if you've seen The Polar Express and can't place where Hutcherson is, it might be because you can't hear his voice. The film's star, Tom Hanks, owned the rights to the book and planned on doing most of the motion-capture-animated characters in the film, including his character as a young boy. But director Robert Zemeckis an ACTUAL child would be a better fit, so he enlisted Daryl Sabara, whose voice you DO hear, and Hutcherson whose face you DO see. Indeed, a star was born.

Jim Varney (Lexington) - Ernest Saves Christmas


The late Jim Varney parlayed his TV commercial character Ernest into a highly lucrative film franchise. But it was 1988's Ernest Saves Christmas that became the biggest of them all, grossing $28.2 million at the domestic box office. That's a nearly $75 million haul in 2023 dollars.

Michael Shannon (Lexington) - Pottersville

SAG-AFTRA Foundation Conversations - "George & Tammy"
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Pottersville, starring two-time Oscar nominee Michael Shannon, is that rare holiday film that combines Christmas AND Bigfoot. It tells the story of Maynard Grieger (Shannon) who catches his wife and the sheriff "in the act" then gets drunk and heads back to his general store. After relating his sad story to the clerk, Maynard dons a gorilla costume and takes a walk through town only to be mistaken for Bigfoot. Seeing how he caused quite a stir, Maynard decides to milk the Bigfoot mania and eventually draws national attention to his tiny town. The film has a robust 14% Rotten Tomatoes score, making it one of the worst reviewed Christmas movies in history. Well...the headline DOES say "some" of your favorites.

Harry Dean Stanton (West Irvine) - One Magic Christmas

AFI FEST 2006 Portrait Session For "Inland Empire"
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Grizzled veteran Stanton, who passed away at age 91 in 2017, was criminally never nominated for an Oscar but nonetheless had a long and distinguished career in film, mostly indies. In this 1985 release, Stanton is the angel Gideon who teaches young Abbie that, despite the issues her parents are facing, things could be much worse. I've never seen it, but picturing Stanton as an angel is amusing. ITS Rotten Tomatoes score, by the way, is a bit better than Pottersville's at 47%, but that's still no great shakes. Again..."some" of your favorites, like the next one, for example.

Rosemary Clooney (Maysville) - White Christmas

Rosemary Clooney & Frank Sinatra
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In this 1954 musical-comedy classic, the legendary Clooney co-stars alongside equally legendary Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye in a story about two male singers who team up with a sister act to perform a Christmas show in rural Vermont. Along the way, the guys encounter their old World War II commander whose country inn has fallen on hard times, and they decide to help. The movie was a blockbuster, grossing $30 million dollars that year. In 2023 numbers, that translates to $342 million. And by the way, the MOVIE White Christmas features a new version of the immortal title song; the original was introduced in 1942's Holiday Inn.

Merry Christmas everyone, and happy viewing. (I'd, uh, skip two of them, though.)

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