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Posted at 12:20 PM ET, 12/16/2009

Michael Chabon & Wes Anderson pick 'em: Their favorite Christmas animation

By Michael Cavna

Michael Chabon is mulling the favorite holiday TV specials of his childhood -- as a man in his mid-40s, he was weaned on some of pop culture's "classics" -- but there is no hesitation when the Pulitzer-winning author has to pick one.

Chabon rubs his hands along the chair's armrests -- we're sitting in the lobby of a hotel in downtown Washington -- and affirms that "A Charlie Brown Christmas," that '60s perennial, is still tops.

As Chabon ("Wonder Boys," "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay") describes in his newest book, "Manhood for Amateurs," it didn't, and doesn't, matter that he's Jewish -- Linus Van Pelt's pure, humble soliloquy on the meaning of Christmas still strikes a deep chord, Chabon says. The poetry of that "Peanuts" moment is that affecting.


Another enormous fan of "Peanuts" is the director Wes Anderson, who notably used the Vince Guaraldi Trio's "Charlie Brown Christmas" instrumental music in his Oscar-nominated film, "The Royal Tenenbaums."

Anderson tells Comic Riffs, however, that when it came to making his new hit animated film "Fantastic Mr. Fox" (based on the Roald Dahl children's story), it was the 40-year-old's appreciation of the ol' Rankin-Bass stop-motion Christmas specials that inspired him -- from "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" to "Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town."

Here is one of Comic Riffs' favorite Rankin-Bass numbers:


So the Official 'Riffs Question of the Day is: What are your favorite animated holiday scenes ever? The hearth floor is now yours.

By Michael Cavna  | December 16, 2009; 12:20 PM ET
Categories:  The Animation, The Morning Line  | Tags:  Charlie Brown Christmas, Michael Chabon, Rankin-Bass, Wes Anderson  
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There was an animated TV special version of A Christmas Carol back in the 70s by Richard Williams. It was done in a pen and ink crosshatched style, like an illustration for a Dickens story. Utterly beautiful and strange and closer to Dickens than anyone else has come. You can find it in pieces on Youtube and I highly recommend it.

Posted by: rhompson | December 16, 2009 1:15 PM | Report abuse

I don't know if I have a favorite scene exactly, but I love Will Vinton's Claymation Christmas. I still have a recording of it on ancient videotape.

Awesome. Seriously, whose idea was it for two dinosaurs to "host" a Christmas TV special? I think the dinosaurs made it for me. And the ice dancing walruses.

Posted by: goldpress | December 16, 2009 11:32 PM | Report abuse

I'd have to go with Chuck Jones' rendering of Dr. Seuss' Grinch. Casting Boris Karloff in that role is something that wouldn't have occurred to 99.9% of the powers-that-be in Hollywood, but it worked perfectly. Of course, that's why Chuck Jones was to animation, well, what Dr. Seuss was to illustrated story-telling. What a combination of talent!

Posted by: seismic-2 | December 17, 2009 3:16 AM | Report abuse

I'm going to have the snow miser song stuck in my head all day, thanks a LOT.

Posted by: RKaufman13 | December 17, 2009 12:34 PM | Report abuse

I have to echo the other poster who said "Dr. Seuss' How The Grinch Stole Christmas." I probably annoy anyone watching it with me since I can quote all the lines. It still bring a lump to my throat and it has such great Seussian lines not in the book such as "He found the strenght of ten grinches plus two."

Posted by: dre7861 | December 18, 2009 11:54 AM | Report abuse

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