‘Tis the time for another list – our Christmas present to you, subscribers and readers: Our favorite holiday flicks. We know, we know, it was EXACTLY what you’ve been waiting for, right?!?! Hold on to your butts!
It’s A Wonderful Life - My parents told me every year how amazing this movie was, that Jimmy Stewart was perfect, that it’s not a feel-good movie, it’s the only movie in existence that will make you feel better than you’ve ever felt. Like, better than five years of therapy or a bottle of Prozac. Finally, in college, I watched it. Start to finish. How many times must I be taught that my parents are almost always right?! ~Nikki
What’s hilarious is that I had a similar experience, although I watched it as a kid. I was disgusted by the thought of an ancient, black-and-white, presumably BORING, way to spend an afternoon – at my parents’ insistence!! I was fucking dead wrong. If you don’t like this movie, you’re missing part of the basic human DNA code. I remember when this was CONSTANTLY on TV, now they’ve wised up to the universal love and squander it, showing it once a season. Assholes. ~Annie
Christmas Vacation - I refuse to watch this from Jan 1 through Nov 30 every year. But, as soon as Dec 1 hits, I’m free to watch as frequently as I see fit. The record: December of 2005, 11 viewings within 31 days. It NEVER gets old. EVER. Nikki’s favorite line: “I wouldn’t be more surprised if I woke up tomorrow with my head sewn to the carpet.” Annie’s favorite line: “Take a look around here Ellen! We’re at the threshold of HELL!”
The Family Stone – There are a lot of things I really hate about this film. But what I love about it outweighs all that. I really like almost everything about it. Sarah Jessica Parker is vile and her character is too repugnant for words. I think she was supposed to come off as uptight and chatty but still vaguely charming and instead, maybe because her performance was too convincing, she was just entirely awful. Like, so bloody awful it was nearly unbearable while she was on the screen. Also, I might not have minded the whole SJP jumping from Dermot Mulroney to Luke Wilson and Dermot Mulroney falling for his girlfriend’s sister thing IF any of those couples had any degree of chemistry. SJP and Mulroney weren’t believable as a couple and she and Luke Wilson’s character were even less so. Mulroney and Claire Danes had a tiny bit of chemistry, but not near enough to save that whole story line. Aside from all that, I really liked it. I loved everyone else’s characters and their performances. I loved the whole New England family feel and their house and the Christmas vibe. And Rachel McAdams at the end was so totally perfect. (Actually, she was perfect throughout.) SJP just fucked it all up.
Scrooged – Lord knows it’s dated, but how can anyone with a pulse dislike Bill Murray? Or an adaptation of A Christmas Carol? His evil, scheming, Ebeneezer-like, bastard TV executive Frank Cross, sporting that mystifying half-balding/half-mullet hairdo, is hilarious to behold. Everything else is damn funny as well, and the straight 80s-ness comforts me like a binky and pajamas with footies. My college roomies and I watched this almost every night before Christmas break – it was our “fall asleep-to movie.”
Bridget Jones’s Diary - not entirely a holiday movie, but it begins and ends during the holidays, which, as far as I’m concerned, is enough for this list. And it really grasps the feel of the holidays from the music to the alcohol consumption to the snow (OH the snow — falling so softly, while Van Morrison sings and Colin Firth swathes you in his chic wool trench…) and the awkward family gatherings…it gets it all exactly right.
Just Friends - Ryan Reynolds and Anna Faris make one hilarious team. Silly, outrageous, over-the-top, but also sweet and charming in this screwball comedy about a man who returns to his hometown the week of Christmas to face the woman who broke his heart in high school. Ten years later, and 100 pounds lighter, Chris Brander (RR) confronts his unrequited love (the charming Amy Smart) while trying to keep Samantha James, the pop princess he’s unhappily hooked to (Faris), out of trouble over the holiday. It’s ridiculous, for sure, and full of shameless absurdities, but the chemistry between all the characters and that special, Christmas-y return-to-hometown feel make it a holiday must.
Planes, Trains and Automobiles - Steve Martin and John Candy – need I say more? Their banter and Odd Couple-esque relationship make this holiday comedy one for the ages. A slovenly Candy hitches a ride with uptight Martin, both trying to get home for Thanksgiving, and a wild, troublesome road trip ensues. Funny and full of heart, it reminds us why the holidays are worth the hassle. RIP, John Candy. You are missed.
Die Hard – I know action movies aren’t typically considered holiday flicks, but Die Hard is set on Christmas Eve and, despite all the violence and death, it really feels like Christmas. Oh, who are we kidding, it feels like Christmas because of all the violence and death. Also, this movie just kicks so much ass.
Love Actually – I actually hate this film (dripping with schmaltz, cheese, bashing us over the head with all the messages about love), BUTTTT it IS London at Christmastime, and stars like, 175 people that I reallly, really love. I usually hate myself when the end credits begin, but if you want Xmas eye candy and tons of Brits, this is where you go.
Home Alone – I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that this is one of, if not THE, most entertaining family holiday flicks around. Who would have guessed that a movie about a family freaking accidentally abandoning their child would be be so hilarious, heartwarming (and sort of believable!). I love the old man neighbor, who Kevin McAllister has to learn is a decent man. I love Daniel Stern and Joe Pesci, killing it as the bumbling robbers. And I LOVE THIS SONG. It is FOREVER Christmas.
While You Were Sleeping – I’ll never stop loving this precious little film, which takes place over the entire holiday season. This is another one that gets the family stuff, the feel of the weather, the way their house looks, sooo right – you can practically smell dinner cooking. If only 90s-era Bill Pullman would come sweep me off my feet.
Shout out to Elf and Bad Santa- neither had enough of the warm, snuggly feel of Christmas to make the actual list, but both will make you laugh until you cry. Will Ferrell makes Elf worth watching, in my opinion. No other adult could behave like a naive, child-like imbecile with such sincerity and charm. Billy Bob Thornton, on the other hand, sells the vile, repulsive drunk con artist shopping mall Santa as though he were made for the role. And maybe he was.
~Nikki & Annie