It’s that time of the year again. The holidays are fast approaching and ’tis the season to grab some popcorn, make a cup of hot chocolate, get warm under a blanket, and enjoy a holiday movie marathon. There are so many different movies to choose from, and we are here to help with a list of movies for whatever you are craving this holiday season.
It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) and A Miracle on 34th Street (1947) — or the 1955 and 1994 remakes — are classic holiday movies that have been passed down from generation to generation for good reason. It’s a Wonderful Life is an uplifting movie that deals with very dark subject matters to teach us important lessons about life. When a man wants to end his own life during the holidays, an angel shows him what his town would be like if he hadn’t been around. Don’t worry, there’s a happy ending! Taking a lighter tone, A Miracle on 34th Street is about a Kris Kringle who takes over as Santa at the local Macy’s, replacing a drunken Santa. After a while, people start to wonder if he’s the real thing or if he’s just a nut. These are classic tales that will be sure to put a smile on your face.
The Animated Classics:
Oh boy, there are so many. Interestingly enough, just about all of them were produced by Rankin/Bass Productions. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964), Frosty the Snowman (1969), Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town (1970), A Year Without a Santa Claus (1974) just to name a few. All of these deal with the origin stories of famous holiday characters with iconic soundtracks, but A Year Without a Santa Claus has to be my favourite. To list some of the great elements; the soundtrack had no business going that hard, the movie represented children of all ethnicities all over the globe giving to each other, and of course, it’s the debut of the OG’s Heat Miser and Snow Miser. These animated films are fun for the whole family and have stood the test of time. Check them out if you haven’t.
Other Animated Holiday Flicks:
These next animated features on this list are part of a new era of holiday films that with each passing year become classics in their own right. There is no doubt that The Polar Express (2004) has earned its spot on the classics list and Rise of the Guardians (2012) is slowly joining the club. They both are imaginative new takes on the holiday and the spirit of Christmas. Personally, I’m a sucker for The Polar Express because it’s very sappy, but they’re both ridiculously exciting. Bonus: Arthur Christmas is also a delight to watch.
Home Alone is and will always be a fixture in every household during the holiday season. How these movies have the exact same plot and message in every single film but still somehow makes me laugh and tear up is beyond me. Home Alone (1990) and Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992) are the only movies in the franchise that matter and are actually masterpieces that you will appreciate even more as you grow older. Watching two grown men get outwitted by an eight-year-old who should really be in Child Protected Services is just a good time. The third Home Alone isn’t quite as good as it’s predecessor, but young Alex D. Linz is a delight to watch. However, Home Alone will always belong to Macaulay Culkin, Joe Pesi, and Daniel Stern.
Just like every other Peanuts short, A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965) and Happy New Year, Charlie Brown! (1986) are a great watch for anyone at any age. Watching Charlie and the gang learn about the holidays and their traditions are cool, but I always stuck around for Linus, who’s sensitive spirit steals the show. Just like Home Alone, Charlie Brown is an iconic fixture in every home and should have a place in your holiday traditions.
All Ages Comedies:
The target audience for A Christmas Story (1983), The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992), The Santa Claus (1994), and Elf (2003) may have been kids, but there is always an extra layer to these films for the older crowd to enjoy and laugh along. They all have a good sense of humor that the entire family can enjoy and appreciate together.
No one really wants to deal with drama during the holidays, but some people like to watch it. Look no further. The Family Stone (2005), This Christmas (2007), A Madea Christmas (2013), and The Best Man Holiday (2013) are great movies if you need your dose of seasonal drama. They each have a comedic backbone, but they will certainly have you reaching for a tissue box.
*Make sure to watch The Best Man before jumping into The Best Man Holiday.
The holidays are always the perfect time of year for some romance. There are some obvious choices like Love Actually (2003). But, if you find yourself tired of viewing it every year here are some other picks to satisfy your romantic craving. The Holiday Calendar (2018) came out a few weeks ago on Netflix and has been garnering great reactions from fans of the sappy Hallmark/Lifetime-esque holiday dramas. Just Friends (2005) is a raunchy rom-com with pre-Deadpool Ryan Reynolds. Last Holiday (2006) starring the lovely Queen Latifah doing what she does best. Finally, if you want your romance to be dramatic then Carol (2015) is the movie for you.
Grown Folk Comedies:
Kids, look away for a moment! A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas (2011), The Night Before (2015), and Office Holiday Party (2016) have a very mature sense of humour and are rated R for good reason. They all maintain the magic of the holiday spirit while the most outrageous and vile things happen on screen. Nothing is off-limits, but they do warm the heart. Bonus: National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989).
Movies That Just Happen to Take Place During the Holidays:
Saying Batman Returns (1992), Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (2001), Catch Me If You Can (2002), Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005), and Iron Man 3 (2013) are holiday movies is a stretch, but I’m gonna do it anyways. They’re all holiday movies. While the holidays themselves don’t play a huge role, they’re still a part of the settings. So, if you want to watch a movie that has snow and red and green tints in certain scenes, there you go.
Lethal Weapon (1987) and Die Hard (1988) are considered iconic Christmas movies, despite not technically being Christmas movies. These machismo movies are full of action, guns, blood, sideburns, and the joy of the season serves as the backdrop. Our heroes are just doing what the gotta do, all while hoping to come home to their families and enjoy a “relaxing” holiday. Watch these if you are not interested in a traditional holiday movie and need some badass heroes, quippy dialogue, cool villains, and relentless action.
Some may think the Christmas holiday season has imposed itself in the months prior to December, and it seems to just grow and grow every year. Soon, you will be seeing Christmas displays in June, if you haven’t already. If you are someone who does enjoy Spooktober and wish to carry the Halloween festivities past October 31st maybe you should check these flicks out. Edward Scissorhands (1990) and The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) are light spooky movies for the holiday. These gothic holiday treats are a gift from Tim Burton who respects the sanctity of the macabre. There is also the 80’s cult classic Gremlins (1984), which is a creature feature set during Christmas. If you want a good scare, be sure to check out Krampus (2015) a holiday horror flick about the darker side of Christmas. If you want to venture outside into the winter hellscape to your nearby cinema, check out the holiday zombie musical Anna and the Apocaplyse, which hit theatres on November 30.
Speaking of spooky, I must admit I find literally any adaptation of the Grinch absolutely terrifying. But because everybody seems to gloss over his freakish body this time of the year, I guess I’ll talk about him too. If you don’t find him scary at all, you’re in luck: there are now three movies about him. We’ve got the original How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (1966) animated film, the 2000 live-action adaptation with Jim Carrey, and now another animated feature from Illumination starring Benedict Cumberbatch. Lucky you!
That’s it. These are our movie recommendations for whatever takes your fancy this holiday season. Did we forget any of your faves? Let us know in the comments down below!