40 Best Christmas Movies (Part 2 – #30-#21)

Well, the weather outside might soon be frightful, but this list of movies sure is delightful. Enhance your 2021 Holiday experience with the right Christmas movies and I won’t make up any more stupid ass puns you have to read.

NOTE: Most of the movies on this list are widely regarded as Christmas movies, but about a fourth are not regarded as Christmas Movies in the slightest. I took some liberties to spice up the list by giving you some film suggestions that deal with the same or similar themes as Christmas movies or just feel like a Christmas movie. Feel free to argue with me about it in the comments.

Let’s get things started with #30-#21…

30. Home Alone 2: Lost in New York

Absolutely in no way as good as the first, but nostalgic and fun all the same. This one sort of plays like a remix version of Home Alone with more shenanigans, more traps, more characters, and somehow, less heart. Catherine O’Hara and John Heard are given less to do here and Brenda Fricker‘s pigeon lady seems much more forced than that old shovel guy. But…we get Tim Curry and he’s hilarious and we get more Uncle Frank (Gary Bamman) who is my vote for the funniest character of the franchise. Macaulay is still great, Pesci and Stern are good but less dynamic than they were in the original, and that cheese pizza limo scene is still as sexy as ever. (Disney+)

29. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

Really any Harry Potter movie can be up here as they all are epic, entertaining, and fun for the whole family. Also, I think they all (with the exception of Deathly Hallows Pts 1 & 2) have some sort of Christmas break scene because each runs the full school year. However, the first two installments are the most family-friendly and wholesome and since Chamber of Secrets kinda sucks, go with The Sorcerer’s Stone. Or The Philosopher’s Stone if you live in the UK. I guess philosophers are way more badass there. (HBOMax)

28. Dekalog III

One of the best films ever made is actually ten films. Originally ran as a ten-episode miniseries in Poland, The Decalogue or Dekalog centers around a housing project where each segment tells the story of a different resident and how their personal struggle syncs up with one or more of the ten commandments. If this sounds very religious and preachy, it’s absolutely not. It takes super-thorny characters in the throws of extremely complicated ethical dilemmas and shows us the dignity and humanity of those people. The third segment follows a taxi driver and part-time Santa Claus who gets confronted by a woman he had an affair with three years earlier, who is looking for her missing husband. It’s definitely one of the weaker stories of the ten, especially when compared to IV, V, and VI, but it’s still better than most anything you’ll watch this Holiday season. (Not Streaming Anywhere)

27. Little Women

Exceptional adaptation of the classic middle school favorite, Greta Gerwig‘s Little Women tweaks things/characters here and there and slaps on this surprisingly successful anachronistic story structure. Saoirse Ronan is fantastic as Jo but the movie ultimately belongs to Florence Pugh who takes a typically unlikeable character of Amy and makes her damn likable. There is a Christmas sequence but this whole thing feels like a Christmas movie, a great story for the whole family. Except for your dad. He’ll work on projects in the garage while griping about how feminine everything has become and how he’s being erased. (STARZ)

26. Catch Me If You Can

Released Christmas Day a year shy of two decades ago, Catch Me If You Can walks a tonal tightrope between thrilling and heartwarming and it’s low-key one of the best films Steven Spielberg has ever made. It’s better than E.T. There, I said. I finally said it. It’s better than E.T. And you can’t do anything about it. You can destroy every copy you ever find and there will still be more. You can’t stop this movie because it will always be there, reminding you how much better it is than E.T. Tom Hanks is in it. Tom Hanks wasn’t in E.T. I seem to remember there were no Oscar winners acting in E.T. Here, there are three. Hmmm. Interesting. (Paramount+)

25. Carol

If you’re looking for a Sad Lesbian Christmas, look no further than queer icon/indie filmmaker Todd Haynes‘ critically adored 2015 classic, Carol. It takes place in the 1950s, not exactly a very gay time, which is why the titular Carol (perfectly rendered by Cate Blanchett) has to be super discreet about her massively thurrrsty crush on Therese Belivet (a never better Rooney Mara). The two hook up and genuinely fall in love with each other, but that only complicates things in both of their personal lives to the point of barely being able to exist. Snubbed by the Oscars, even though it was superior to every single film nominated that year, Carol is a lush and incredibly powerful quiet little star-crossed lovers story if you have the patience for it. (PlutoTV)

24. Tangerine

Filmed on an iPhone with a paper-thin budget, Sean Baker‘s (The Florida Project, Red Rocket) debut feature takes place on Christmas Eve in Los Angeles and follows trans sex worker, Sin-Dee Rella (Kitana Kiki Rodriguez), fresh out of jail and on the hunt for her pimp boyfriend (The Wire Season 2 and It Chapter Two‘s James Ransone), who cheated on her with a cisgender woman. Along for the ride is Sin-Dee’s bestie, Alexandra (a marvelous Mya Taylor), another trans sex worker. It’s funny, it’s disturbing, it’s kinda sweet and extremely salty, it’s definitely a Christmas movie for adults or super chill families. (PlutoTV)

23. Brazil

A thoroughly disturbing but wonderfully dark yet comedic science-fiction epic about a dystopian future overrun by consumerism, terrorism, fascism, and pollution. Of course, it all takes place during the holiday season. Mostly it surrounds a low-level government employee, Sam Lowry (Jonathon Pryce), not to be confused with Sam Lowy, who accidentally gets involved in a government flub/resulting cover-up which turns his life completely upside down. This is a really pointed and funny satire with a massive amount of bizarre imagery including a plastic surgery scene that resembles pizza making. Written and directed by Terry Gilliam (Monty Python, Twelve Monkeys) and co-starring Robert DeNiro, Bob Hoskins, Kim Griest, Michael Palin, Jim Broadbent and Ian Holm. (TUBI)

22. Trading Places

The movie that really showed Jamie Lee Curtis had range beyond being just a scream queen, John Landis‘ fun, funny, and slyly political riff on Freaky Friday follows an up and coming WASPy banker (Dan Aykroyd) who is forced into trading places with a clever street hustler (Eddie Murphy) by two old rich assholes as some twisted $1 bet about nature vs. nurture. Curtis plays a sex worker that ends up helping them and falling in love with Aykroyd. Of course, it all takes place during Christmas. (STARZ)

21. The Exorcist

Look, The Exorcist is anything but a family-friendly or merry movie, but it does share a lot of attributes with Holiday movies. First of all, it surrounds a family, and even more than that, most of the action takes place in the family home. Second of all, all the characters are very cold, bundled up like you would be around December. Of course, this isn’t because the weather is chilly, but because Linda Blair is possessed by a demon who can manipulate room temperature. Finally, it has a Catholic/Jesus/God component a lot of Holiday movies have. The central conflict is overcome by a combination of Jesus’ love and family love and if that doesn’t spell Christmas, I don’t know what does. ($2.99 rental on Amazon Prime)

HANUKKAH HUB

I don’t know many true Hanukkah movies, but I know a handful of movies that celebrate the Jewish experience without being about the Holocaust or Munich or Brendan Fraser.

5. A Serious Man

The Coen Brothers’ darkly funny yet painfully awkward adaptation of the Old Testament’s Story of Job, set in 1967 Minnesota. Celebrated character actor Michael Stuhlbarg‘s breakout role. ($3.99 rental on Amazon Prime)

4. Shiva Baby

Another dark comedy, this time one more rooted in modern times about a Gen Z Jewish girl who runs into her sugar daddy and his wife at her aunt’s shiva. It plays out like a low-key horror film about social anxiety. (HBOMax)

3. Once Upon a Time in America

A powerful three-hour and forty-nine-minute crime epic about a couple of Jewish gangsters (Robert DeNiro, James Woods) spanning several decades. Ultimately, the movie is about the American dream and the journey of Jewish American immigrants in turn-of-the-century New York City. (STARZ)

2. The Producers

A Mel Brooks comedy had to be one here and I can’t think of a better one surrounding Jews in showbiz than Brooks‘ 1967 original The Producers. Far superior to the 2005 movie musical version, this one stars Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder (100% all-natural Jews). ($3.99 rental on Amazon Prime)

1. Wet Hot American Summer

Possibly the funniest movie ever made and the first thing that comes to mind when I think about other Jews my age. Clearly inspired by Top Secret and Airplane!, this teen spoof movie takes place at a primarily Jewish summer camp in the early 1980s. While most spoof movies released around this time relied almost entirely on raunch, Wet Hot American Summer relies on truly clever gags that are somehow jaw-droppingly stupid at the same time. Featuring a cast of future comedy legends from Amy Poehler to Bradley Cooper to Paul Rudd and even Frasier‘s David Hyde Pierce, but it’s Law & Order: SVU‘s Christopher Meloni as the camp chef/Vietnam vet who makes the largest impression. ($3.99 rental on Amazon Prime)

See you next Wednesday with #20-#11 and a Kwanzaa movie tribute

One thought on “40 Best Christmas Movies (Part 2 – #30-#21)

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