Somewhere between the sixth post-Thanksgiving viewing of Elf and the annual trip to Bedford Falls on Christmas Eve, it begins to sink in why these characters in Christmas-season movies are so beloved (or sometimes feared). They are makers and techies. They are hackers and storytellers. They are geeks.
For the next three days, eight fictional competitors will square off to see who is geekiest, as determined by popular vote.
After reviewing a number of Best Christmas Movies lists and consulting our own family DVD library, a handful of candidates for Geekiest Holiday Character rose to the top. There is nothing scientific about the selection process, other than the characters had to come from a movie involving the winter holiday season (sadly, eliminating Doctor Who Christmas television specials) and possess some quality of intelligence, ingenuity, and craftsmanship — mixed with a love of technology and gadgets, if possible — that make them kindred spirits.
The short list includes a human raised by elves, a mythical creature with a bad streak, and cop in the wrong place and the right time. There’s also a hard-luck builder and an optimistic boy with a plan. One character wants to steal Christmas, and another managed to do so. Finally, there’s the kid everyone forgot.
NOTE: One thing that stands out after poring over favorite Christmas-season movies — there is a dearth of females to consider. I’d love some suggestions for women who should have made the cut, and maybe some matriarchal script pitches for Hollywood.
The eight movie characters filling this bracket were seeded by virtue of their movie’s initial budgets, after adjusting for inflation. The voting will take place on Quipol, an Indiana startup for social polling built by Max Yoder. At the end of the day, the yes and no responses for this round will be tallied, with the winner of each battle advancing to Thursday.
Round One: The Elite Eight
Vacationing terrorist fighter
This Die Hard cop (1988, $53M) is cut from the Mythbusters mold, where guns and C4 are a raw material for creativity. McClane is also quick-witted and snarky.
Wired: Makes use of limited resources to take down a dozen terrorists
Tired: Pretty certain most of his techniques have been busted
Potentially the best Christmas present ever becomes the terror of Kingston Falls. In Gremlins (1984, $23M), cuddly little Gizmo spawns a lot of mayhem in the form of mischievous reptillian creatures. They are wet, well-fed and evil.
Wired: Can hack a stair-lift
Tired: Can’t hack a microwave or blender
Buddy the Elf
As a human in an elf’s world, Buddy couldn’t make quota. He may be a cotton-headed ninnymuggins in Santa’s workshop, but he can sure work the bricks in Gimbel’s department store. In Elf (2003, $40M), Buddy shows his versatility with paper, lite-brite and snow.
Wired: Human catapult for snowballs
Tired: Poorly caffeinated, given inexperience with coffee
After getting over the shock of wishing away his family in Home Alone (1990, $25M), Kevin comes down from the attic to a world of endless television and junk food. It works well until the burglars show up, and then Kevin’s all business.
Wired: Everyone picks on him. Everyone regrets it.
Tired: Chose gangster films over watching all The Prisoner episodes
Can’t escape his hometown
With a love for the sound of anchor chains, plane motors, and train whistles, George is blind to how good he has it in It’s a Wonderful Life (1946, $37M). He’s a builder with a big heart, and an early adopter without funding.
Wired: Built a gym floor over the school pool
Tired: Didn’t invent online banking
Escapes his hometown
In The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993, $28M), the Pumpkin King is bored with the same old same-old. He goes for a walk in the woods and discovers alternate universes. Failing to understand Christmas, he appropriates it and starts innovating.
Wired: Loves seeking knowledge, experimenting with new ideas
Tired: Could have checked Wikipedia’s entry on Christmas
Wants to stop Christmas from coming … but how?
The movie version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000, $161M) was much more bloated than the 1966 cartoon in many ways, including a bracket-topping budget. The Grinch has turns his plan into action. Excellent at re-gifting.
Wired: Can make his own clothes
Tired: Defies gravity with overladen sled, but not dog antlers
Wants a Red Ryder 200-shot Carbine Action Range Model Air Rifle … but how?
The hero from A Christmas Story (1983, $9M) is a keen strategist with a high success rate. He is a connoisseur of soap — a byproduct of his Fudge-ing language — and a crack cryptologist.
Wired: Didn’t shoot his eye out
Tired: Slave to rules, abandons friend to conform