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 finish the list with THE TOP 10…
10. A Christmas Story (1983)
Iconic Christmas comedy that I can appreciate much better in my old age than I could as a youngster. Everything with the leg lamp and really just Darren McGavin as the dad, in general, is aces. So much to love here. It’s funny but manages to be touching without being overly sweet. Director Bob Clark actually made another Christmas movie, one much darker and even better….but more on that later. (HBOMax)
9. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)
When it comes to Holiday Dark Comedies it’s hard to beat Shane Black‘s caustically sarcastic LA detective story about a cat burglar turned Hollywood up and comer (a never-better Robert Downey, Jr.) and a P.I. turned acting coach (a rarely better Val Kilmer) trying to solve the murder/disappearance of a Hollywood starlet. Exceptionally well written and actually a bit touching, this stands as the controversial writer/director’s best film to date. And of course, it takes place during Christmas. ($3.99 rental on Amazon Prime)
8. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)
I may be biased because of how much this movie meant to me growing up, especially around the holidays, but Christmas Vacation perfectly captures that feeling of needing the holidays to be perfect. The problem is, the holidays are never perfect but for some reason, they’re always presented as such in the media. This idea of a perfect Hallmark/Target Commercial Christmas is completely unattainable, so watching Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase), one of cinema’s most tragic doofuses, run so fast up that impossible hill is pretty hilarious if not kind of sad. This film has a great supporting cast including Diane Ladd, Doris Roberts, E.G. Marshall, John Randolph, Randy Quaid, Julia Louis-Dreyfuss, and a very young Juliette Lewis. (HBOMax)
7. Batman Returns (1992)
One of my earliest memories from childhood is watching the first half of this unlikely Christmas classic, every year in late December. It was always on at 8pm, which meant by the halfway mark, 9pm, it was my bedtime. My mom would have to come in and drag me to my room, as I protested that if I wanted to grow up to be an actor I needed to watch Danny DeVito bite a campaign strategist’s nose off. I personally like this more than Tim Burton’s original and think that this is the best line-up of villains a Batman movie has ever had – DeVito’s Penguin, Pfeiffer‘s Catwoman, and Walken‘s Trump? Doesn’t get better than that, folks. (HBOMax)
6. Everything is Terrible! Holiday Special (2012)
One of the absolute funniest, laugh for laugh, world wide web rabbit holes is that of Everything is Terrible!‘s. Basically, a sketch comedy collective comprised of ridiculously talented video editors who take old movies, TV specials, and overly personal home movies and compile them into these surreal, borderline obnoxious, and shockingly hilarious clip shows. This one is a 50-minute compilation celebrating the Holidays with clips ranging from cringe-inducing star-studded Holiday specials from the 80s to awkward real-life Office Christmas Party performances, and everything in between. (DVD available for purchase on their website)
5. Black Christmas (1974)
Now regarded as both a horror and Christmas classic, this innovative slasher from Bob Clark (A Christmas Story) was super underrated back in ’74, and all but forgotten with the arrival of John Carpenter‘s Halloween in ’78. However, Black Christmas can stand toe to toe with the best horror movies of the 70s, even Halloween, thanks to its genuinely creepy atmosphere, surprising humor, excellent performances, and bold ambiguity. Set during Christmas Eve at a sorority house, where an unknown killer stalks the halls and the girls not going home for the holiday. Olivia Hussey gives us one of the smartest and most interesting final girls of the entire horror genre and Margot Kidder is hilarious and scene-stealing as the spunkiest girl of the bunch. It all hinges on a remarkably uncomfortable ending that extends all the way through the closing credits. (AMC+ and Shudder)
4. Home Alone (1990)
From my Home Alone Franchise with Me Article from December 2020…)
I can’t even remember the first time I saw Home Alone because I was so young. Probably around Christmas 1991 or when it first came out on VHS. It quickly became a classic in my household, as I and pretty much every other kid that watched it saw themselves as Kevin MacAllister, a scrappy, smart little shit everyone in the family underestimates but when push comes to shove, is able to save the day. I remember laughing hysterically at all the booby traps, tricks, and especially Uncle Frank, a larger-than-life character even a two-year-old could appreciate.
The original Home Alone succeeds where the sequels most often fail for three major reasons. First, we don’t have concept fatigue yet as this is all still relatively fresh. Second, the adult actors Hughes and Columbus fill the movie with all do incredible character work in different ways — on one hand, you have John Candy and Gary Bamman (Uncle Frank) playing their ridiculous characters to the hilt and, on the other hand, you have Catherine O’Hara and John Heard really reigning in the reality of the situation with their nuanced but still humorous portrayals. O’Hara especially, who you really believe is, in fact, desperate to get home to her son. Third, and most importantly, you have a ridiculously capable child actor (Macaulay Culkin) anchoring the film, never taking us out of the reality it establishes.
At 1 hour and 43 minutes, it’s very well-paced and while it does feature some schmaltzy but obligatory heart-to-heart dialogue scenes, they resolve themselves quickly. Under all the violence and vigilante wish-fulfillment is a simple and beautiful message, no one deserves to be alone for the holidays. With Covid-19
this past year forever, that was is a reality for a lot of us. Catherine O’Hara didn’t rush to our house to comfort and hold us, we just sadly remained home alone, watching Home Alone. (Disney+)
3. The Godfather (1972)
My eighth-grade English teacher, Ms. Jensen, told me that her sister loves watching The Godfather movies every Christmas. How cool and totally deranged, I initially thought. Now, I feel like it makes complete sense. Sure, there is a brief Christmas/holiday shopping scene in the film and the Brando hospital stuff happens around the holiday, but there’s something much deeper about it that reads Christmas. This is a movie all about family and responsibility to family over anything else, as well as keeping up appearances for family, about family. More so than in Part II, which is a New Year’s movie for sure, Part I mostly revolves around family gatherings – both large and broad (the opening wedding sequence) and small and intimate (Sonny, Clemenza, Michael prepping for the McCluskey revenge hit). Also, it’s The Godfather, it’s a great movie to watch any time of the year cause it’s timeless. ($3.99 rental on Amazon Prime)
2. Scrooged (1988)
Critically panned but still my favorite adaptation of A Christmas Carol I’ve seen, with an in-his-prime Bill Murray as a tortured and torturing network TV exec. One Christmas, he reaches the level of Super-Prick, so God sends down three ghosts to prank him and hopefully, get him back on the right moral track. Lead singer of New York Dolls, David Johansen, plays a raspy-voiced, cigar-chugging taxi driver ghost and Carol Kane delivers one of her funniest performances as a fairy godmother ghost with a mean streak. This is the definitive Christmas Eve movie as far as I’m concerned. If you watch this on Christmas Day, it’s too late. (AMC+)
1. Die Hard (1988)
I wish I had a #1 for you that wasn’t such a giant cliche but whatever, I have to be honest. The film I enjoy watching the most during the Holidays is John McTiernan‘s surprise action classic Die Hard. It’s not only one of the best Christmas movies ever made, it’s one of the best action movies ever made, with a conveyer belt of great character performances (Reginald Val Johnson, William Atherton, Paul Gleason, De’voreaux White, Hart Bochner, Johnson & Johnson, the list goes on forever), a great hero in a never-better Bruce Willis, a more layered than usual (but still fairly 2D) female lead in Bonnie Bedelia and arguably the best action movie villain of all time in Alan Rickman‘s Hans Gruber. Throw in a lightning-fast pace, gloriously choreographed and shot action, and a surplus of humor, and it’s a regular Christmas miracle! (Amazon Prime)
Boxing Day Bonanza
So historically Boxing Day is about giving back to the poor but ironically it’s turned into a big shopping holiday. Weird, I thought Canada was supposed to be less materialistic than us yanks, but fuck me, I guess. Here’s a list of some great SHOPPING-related movies to ring in your Boxing Day.
5. Blank Check (1994)
Before you start giving Licorice Pizza a wave of shit for its illegal age-gap romance (a movie that fully acknowledges how co-dependent, creepy and weird its central relationship is), let’s take a look at this full-on, sexual adult kiss, that never gets called out, shared by an 11-year-old and Karen Duffy in the little boy fantasy Disney movie Blank Check. It’s super cringy after all these years but hey what if you got a blank check and wrote it out for $1 Million and got to spend a bunch of money on dumb shit? That would be cool, huh? Nostalgia strikes hard with me for this one. (Disney+)
4. The Stuff (1985)
A really funny and over-the-top horror-comedy satire about consumerism. The “stuff” is like an ice cream/pudding type dessert product that everyone is obsessed with. The problem is, it comes from outer space and can be really dangerous. Can our fat asses stop eating it or will “the stuff” take over the world? (AMC+, Tubi)
Another little boy fantasy, Big is without a doubt a higher quality motion picture than Blank Check and even features an Oscar-nominated leading performance by the great, the wonderful, the absolutely amazing Tom Hanks. He plays a 12-year-old kid who magically turns into an adult and ends up revolutionizing a toy company owned by fucking Robert Loggia. It’s hilarious, heart-warming, and very consumer-based for all your Boxing Day needs. (STARZ)
2. Passport to Paris
Using the terms “little boy fantasy” or “little girl fantasy” is really starting to creep me the hell out, so I’ll apologize and stop and just say that the Olsen twins’ banger Passport to Paris, is a fun and stupid kids’ movie you should watch. When two identical twin sisters get sent to Paris for Spring Break, they do a lot of shopping, ride mopeds and even clean up the city’s drinking water. Way to go, ladies! ($3.99 rental on Amazon Prime)
1. Chopping Mall
The most perfect unintentionally stupid 80s horror movie that isn’t Sleepaway Camp. Chopping Mall follows a bunch of horny teenagers hiding out in a mall overnight to fuck and eat pizza. When the mall’s new security robots go beserk, the mall becomes a bizarre and violent hunting ground for machines gone wild. No matter how awful your shopping experience was this Holiday season, it wasn’t this bad. I mean, look at the gif. That poor teenager gets her head blown off! (AMC+, Tubi, PlutoTV)