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Christmas Movies - If you can't escape them, embrace them
December 1, 2013 10:58 AM   Subscribe

There are a lot of Christmas movie plots out there; hard to believe some of them haven’t been filmed. Yet. I can't list Brazil as a Christmas movie no matter how great a movie it is. Watch it in January. Some Christmas movies resonate differently for grownups. The Polar Express didn’t make my list because you should read the book aloud every year on Christmas Eve. Highest-grossing Christmas movies, for those so inclined. Inside, my countdown of Christmas movies, one a day from here to Christmas.

  1. Prancer, because it’s a nice kids’ movie and a good warmup.
  2. Bad Santa beat out The Santa Clause and its offspring.
  3. and
  4. Lethal Weapon and Die Hard because I always think they’re the same movie.
  5. While You Were Sleeping because it’s okay to be a little bit sappy. Okay, a lot.
  6. A Midnight Clear because there’s still a war on.
  7. Elf, because it is required to be on the list. Rules is Rules.
  8. Stalag 17 because I mentioned there’s a war on, right?
  9. The Nightmare Before Christmas because it’s so beautiful.
  10. A Charlie Brown Christmas because Vince Guaraldi.
  11. Miracle on 34th Street because Santa.
  12. With Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol as a nice palate cleanser.
  13. Four Christmases, not sure why.
  14. Jack Frost with Michael Keaton. Nope, no slasher movies at Christmas.
  15. Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer, because The Abominable.
  16. The Muppet Christmas Carol is tied with Scrooged as the best Christmas Carol. Mr. Magoo doesn't count.
  17. The Grinch Who Stole Christmas (animated, 1966) because Dr. Seuss and Boris Karloff.
  18. Joyeux Noël because Merry Christmas sounds classy in French.
  19. Love, Actually, because Let's get pissed and watch porn.
  20. Life Of Brian because Bethlehem, Nativity, Wise Men.
  21. Scrooged, because Bill Murray.
  22. White Christmas, because Sisters.
  23. The Holiday because it’s romantic and funny and modern.
  24. Trading Places no reason necessary, you charlatans.
  25. It's a Wonderful Life because Zuzu’s petals.
posted by theora55 (86 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite

 


Ohhhhhhhhhh Stalag 17. So good. And of course, because it is good, not on Netflix streaming. The Grinches.

Seriously, this might be the best list of Christmas movies. Ever.
posted by davros42 at 11:08 AM on December 1, 2013


You must have misspelled National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. That's the only explanation I can think of.
posted by fishmasta at 11:10 AM on December 1, 2013 [12 favorites]


Everyone knows that "Die Hard" is the only true Christmas movie.
posted by planetesimal at 11:16 AM on December 1, 2013 [23 favorites]


Eyes Wide Shut is a Christmas Movie.

So is The Ice Harvest.
posted by The Whelk at 11:19 AM on December 1, 2013


A Midnight Clear was also a pretty good war film set on Christmas.
posted by cazoo at 11:20 AM on December 1, 2013


Flash is a Christmas movie. In my house.
posted by biffa at 11:20 AM on December 1, 2013




Home Alone Home Alone Home Alone!

I want to watch it NOW!
posted by discopolo at 11:26 AM on December 1, 2013 [4 favorites]


No Blade Runner?
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 11:27 AM on December 1, 2013


Gremlins?
posted by localroger at 11:28 AM on December 1, 2013 [8 favorites]


On Her Majesty's Secret Service. Blofeld was the original 'Bad Santa.'
posted by mazola at 11:28 AM on December 1, 2013


Iron Man 3.
posted by The Whelk at 11:29 AM on December 1, 2013


Yeah, I was wondering about Gremlins.
Also In Bruges and Millions.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 11:29 AM on December 1, 2013


Rare Exports?
posted by rmd1023 at 11:30 AM on December 1, 2013 [6 favorites]


Clip of one of my fave exchanges from Love Actually!

Karen: So what's this big news, then?
Daisy: [excited] We've been given our parts in the nativity play. And I'm the lobster.
Karen: The lobster?
Daisy: Yeah!
Karen: In the nativity play?
Daisy: [beaming] Yeah, *first* lobster.
Karen: There was more than one lobster present at the birth of Jesus?
Daisy: Duh.


Happy dance!
posted by discopolo at 11:31 AM on December 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


As with my cohort upthread, I'm dismayed at the lack of Die Hard. What could be more Christmas-y than a man so determined to spend time with his wife and family that he's willing to fight a band of heavily armed international terrorists while barefoot?

Also want to throw in for Beavis and Butthead Do Christmas and Blackadder's Christmas Carol and Merry Christmas, Mr. Bean.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 11:32 AM on December 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


Oops didn't see it on the list. my bad.
posted by cazoo at 11:32 AM on December 1, 2013


Actually the best part of Gremlins being a Christmas movie is that Kates' character has that out of nowhere traumatic story about a chimney full of DEAD DAD seemingly for the sole purpose of riffing off that scene in the gooifer, more cartoonish Gremlins 2

"Oh no! Don't talk about Presidents Day, something horrible happened to me on Presidents day!"
posted by The Whelk at 11:33 AM on December 1, 2013 [5 favorites]


Lethal Weapon and Die Hard because I always think they’re the same movie.


They aren't?

Never mind. I'd rather die of mistletoe poisoning than have to hear about it.
posted by discopolo at 11:36 AM on December 1, 2013


Actually, the only way I could be convinced to care a little bit is if Colin Firth is wearing a Christmas sweater in it. That man can wear a sweater!
posted by discopolo at 11:41 AM on December 1, 2013


Yes, Love Actually is such a great movie I once found I had it THREE TIMES on my DVR, because I'd see it coming on some movie channel and think "Oh, I haven't watched that for a while, I should record it and watch it later."

To make up for it, I made sure to watch each of the three recordings once each before deleting two, now I have one, and I watch it pretty regularly.
posted by hippybear at 11:41 AM on December 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


I like how Scrooged teases the ACTUAL ending and meaning implicit in the original text. It's not much that Scrooge's heart has grown three sizes that day, it's that he's had a NIGHTMARISH NEAR DEATH EXPERIENCE WITH ALL THE FORCES OF THE UNDERWORLD who have moved heaven and earth to make sure he gets this lesson or by god they're gonna haunt him until he's completely insane.
posted by The Whelk at 11:43 AM on December 1, 2013 [8 favorites]


Don't forget Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang!
posted by dismas at 11:49 AM on December 1, 2013 [5 favorites]


All Shane Black movies occur at Christmas time.

Actually there are probobly a lot of advantages for shooting in a holiday setting.
posted by The Whelk at 11:53 AM on December 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


No Santa's Slay?
posted by Faint of Butt at 11:53 AM on December 1, 2013


Trading Places is clearly a New Years movie, you heathens.
posted by Artw at 11:56 AM on December 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


No Blade Runner?

Even in the dystopian nightmare world of 2019 LA, Christmas is still in December.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:03 PM on December 1, 2013




Didn't the Torrances celebrate Christmas at the Overlook?
posted by Thorzdad at 12:10 PM on December 1, 2013


The Whelk: "All Shane Black movies occur at Christmas time."

Sample size of two.
posted by mkultra at 12:13 PM on December 1, 2013


theora55: Nope, no slasher movies at Christmas.

Sometimes you just need a few knives (and explosions, and general mayhem) to clear out all the accumulated sap of the season.


John Cohen: Previously, previously, NYC, previouslier, and previousliest.

And Christmas special episodes, including the most special of them all: The Star Wars Holiday Special.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:15 PM on December 1, 2013


Oh I hate It's A Wonderful Life with a burning white hot passion. I wrote an essay "It's A Miserable Life" that just scratches the surface of why this movie is such a miserable pile of crap. The worst part of all is the ending, which Capra intended to be a symbol of the socialist peoples' victory over greedy capitalists, they all contribute small amounts of money to make up for the missing money. And then after they gather enough, suddenly Bailey gets a telegram from his old friend, the wealthy capitalist, offering a line of credit to cover the missing money. I suppose this is intended to show that there were socially responsible capitalists. But instead, it makes the small contributions from the little people irrelevant, in fact, it insults them. They gave up money that they could not afford, and for nothing.

My pick for xmas movie: Patton.
posted by charlie don't surf at 12:21 PM on December 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


The Ref. The Ref. The Ref.

The best Christmas movie ever.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 12:28 PM on December 1, 2013 [5 favorites]


The Long Kiss Goodnight = one of the best ever Xmas movies.
posted by jammy at 12:30 PM on December 1, 2013 [4 favorites]


This is more than a few years old, but I stand by my list of Christmas Movies for Cynics.
posted by muckster at 12:31 PM on December 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


Die Hard does not have diplomatic immunity.
posted by Artw at 12:37 PM on December 1, 2013


Sometimes you just need a few knives (and explosions, and general mayhem) to clear out all the accumulated sap of the season.

Thanks so much for your invitation to spend Christmas with you and yours this year, but, um, something suddenly came up and I can't make it after all.
posted by discopolo at 12:42 PM on December 1, 2013


Comfort and Joy.
posted by sixpack at 12:47 PM on December 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Trading Places is clearly a New Years movie, you heathens.

SORRY NO but I am afraid a certain depressed drunk Santa eating smoked salmon through his filthy beard would beg to differ.
posted by elizardbits at 12:54 PM on December 1, 2013


And let me state for the record that I would rather watch all the Twilight movies back to back in a stuffy theatre full of shrieking fans on meth than watch even 5 minutes of It's A Wonderful Life.
posted by elizardbits at 12:56 PM on December 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


Trading Places is clearly a New Years movie, you heathens.
posted by Artw at 11:56 AM on December 1 [1 favorite −] Favorite added! [!]


Hello security? Merry Christmas!
posted by 4ster at 1:15 PM on December 1, 2013


Ghost of Xmas Past: Niagara Falls, Frankie-angel.

Frank: I was touched by a gift. A four-year-old kid receives what in today’s marketplace is a forty- or fifty-dollar piece of milk-fed veal.


Scrooged gets me in the Christmas spirit like no other.

Just because Frank's in the midst of a psychotic break doesn't mean he's *wrong.*
posted by rue72 at 1:19 PM on December 1, 2013


Where's A Lion in Winter?
posted by chaiminda at 1:24 PM on December 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


I will always love White Christmas and Holiday Inn. We would stay at my grandma's nearly every Christmas and watch them with her on Christmas Eve after visiting Temple Square to see the lights. It was the high point of the year.
posted by Brocktoon at 1:24 PM on December 1, 2013


Where's A Lion in Winter?

BRB, hanging golden balls from my nipples.
posted by The Whelk at 1:30 PM on December 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


We do the Alan Rickman two-fer on xmas day - Love Actually and Die Hard.
posted by parki at 1:46 PM on December 1, 2013 [4 favorites]


DIE ACTUALLY
posted by elizardbits at 1:47 PM on December 1, 2013 [10 favorites]


A romantic comedy about two serial killers murdering their way across town in an attempt to be together for one perfect Christmas.
posted by The Whelk at 1:49 PM on December 1, 2013


Yeah Admiral Haddock, we always watch The Ref at Christmas time. Along with Nightmare before Christmas, of course.
posted by Curious Artificer at 1:52 PM on December 1, 2013


A romantic comedy about two serial killers murdering their way across town in an attempt to be together for one perfect Christmas.

NATURAL BORN GIFTERS.
posted by localroger at 2:01 PM on December 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


While I admit that I have succumbed to the propaganda surrounding It's A Wonderful Life, I can not and will not stand A Christmas Story.
posted by ckape at 2:02 PM on December 1, 2013


The Whelk: "All Shane Black movies occur at Christmas time."

mkultra: "Sample size of two."


I think he's referring to Shane Black-written movies too, so throw Lethal Weapon in there along with Iron Man 3 and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. But 2/2 currently-released directorial efforts is a lot despite the small sample size.
posted by JauntyFedora at 2:22 PM on December 1, 2013


Actually, Long Kiss Goodnight too.
posted by JauntyFedora at 2:29 PM on December 1, 2013


I can not and will not stand A Christmas Story.

It's really one of those movies that all the broadcasters should agree to only play on leap years.
posted by planetesimal at 2:32 PM on December 1, 2013


The Polar Express didn’t make my list

I don't blame you. I find it boring and weird. It was a bad choice to do it in CG--it took all the humanity out of the characters and replaced it with weird plastic robots with sorta human expressions. A live action version would be far superior in my opinion.

I can not and will not stand A Christmas Story.

Why on earth not? It's hilarious.
posted by Hoopo at 2:33 PM on December 1, 2013


Polar Express should be the dictionary illustration for the phrase Uncanny Valley.
posted by localroger at 2:38 PM on December 1, 2013 [7 favorites]


I've never been able to sit through a showing of A Christmas Story. How it became a national treasure has totally escaped me. Mass hypnosis I suppose. Or maybe I'm not capable of getting drunk enough to endure it.

On the other hand, this list does fail to list About a Boy, which is only kind of tangentially relevant to Christmas, but less so than some that made the list.
posted by ardgedee at 2:46 PM on December 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


Came in to check for A Christmas Story, Die Hard and The Ref, and came away satisfied. (The latter has one of my all-time favorite lines from Kevin Spacey: "You know what I'm going to get you next Christmas, Mom? A big wooden cross, so that every time you feel unappreciated for your sacrifices, you can climb on up and nail yourself to it.")

But also, you guys? Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas. I defy you to watch it and not smile. "We're not birds. We're a jug band."
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 2:48 PM on December 1, 2013 [5 favorites]


A Charlie Brown Christmas because Vince Guaraldi.

I read somewhere that Guaraldi's motivation was to create an album of holiday music that wasn't steeped in the sadness and loss that's present in all those Christmas standards that were written during the war ("I'll Be Home For Christmas", etc) and had up to that point defined Christmas as a very depressing time of year.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 2:59 PM on December 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


Christmas Story is good once, but doesn't bear re-watching, imo.

Well, except that time a roommate got the DVD with all the language options and we watched it in French.
posted by rifflesby at 3:03 PM on December 1, 2013


Charlie don't surf, I always assumed they told whatshisname they didn't need his money. George hated that guy, I can imagine he'd be happy to either tell him where to stick it, or turn around and give it to the neediest citizens, or something equally socialist.
posted by emjaybee at 3:06 PM on December 1, 2013


I think he's referring to Shane Black-written movies too, so throw Lethal Weapon in there along with Iron Man 3 and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. But 2/2 currently-released directorial efforts is a lot despite the small sample size.

Black also wrote "The Long Kiss Goodnight"! Apparently I only like Shane Black Christmas movies.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 3:18 PM on December 1, 2013


National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation is the only Christmas movie that my entire family has ever been able to agree on. It might be my mother's all time favorite movie, period.
posted by billyfleetwood at 3:26 PM on December 1, 2013


Scrooged has been my favorite Christmas movie so long as I can remember. I might've been a strange kid.

Frank Cross: I want to see her nipples.

Censor Lady: But this is a CHRISTMAS show.

Frank Cross: Well, I'm sure Charles Dickens would have wanted to see her nipples.

Carpenter: You can barely see 'dem nipples.

Frank Cross: See? And these guys are REALLY looking.

posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 3:32 PM on December 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


JauntyFedora: "I think he's referring to Shane Black-written movies too, so throw Lethal Weapon in there along with Iron Man 3 and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang."

He also wrote The Last Boy Scout and did a major rewrite of The Last Action Hero, neither of which are really defensible as movies, let alone Christmas ones. Just sayin'.
posted by mkultra at 4:39 PM on December 1, 2013


I think you're taking The Whelk's comment too literally.

Plus you can lay off The Last Action Hero, it might have been overlooked at the time but there are plenty of things there to appreciate.
posted by JauntyFedora at 5:13 PM on December 1, 2013


The important thing to remember when watching Scrooged is that at the time a VCR was actually a pretty good gift.
posted by ckape at 6:06 PM on December 1, 2013


I read somewhere that Guaraldi's motivation was to create an album of holiday music that wasn't steeped in the sadness and loss that's present in all those Christmas standards that were written during the war ("I'll Be Home For Christmas", etc) and had up to that point defined Christmas as a very depressing time of year.

Which is weird to me. When I think of Guaraldi, I think of "Linus and Lucy," and "Linus and Lucy," in its own mild way, sounds sad.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 6:43 PM on December 1, 2013


This list contains a lot of movies that are good, and perhaps thematically related to Christmas in some way, but really more "movies that happen to be set around Christmastime" than "Christmas movies." I know it's sort of trendy to hate on them, but the only true Christmas movies (aside from the kids' specials, like Rudolph) are It's a Wonderful Life and A Christmas Story.
posted by breakin' the law at 7:05 PM on December 1, 2013


Which is weird to me. When I think of Guaraldi, I think of "Linus and Lucy," and "Linus and Lucy," in its own mild way, sounds sad.

And Christmas Time Is Here, lovely song but way tipping toward melancholy, to my ears.
posted by methinks at 9:19 PM on December 1, 2013


sort of unfortunately for the clearly intended mood, Arrested Development completely owns that song now
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 9:22 PM on December 1, 2013


I once saw Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence in the Christmas movie section at the video store. That could really put a damper on someone's good time....I mean if you're in the mood for a Christmas movie staring David Bowie you're going to be mighty surprised.

Plus one for Gremlins and Home Alone.
posted by fyrebelley at 10:36 PM on December 1, 2013


Even in the dystopian nightmare world of 2019 LA, Christmas is still in December.

I would love to see Bladerunner reworked as a Christmas movie, posslbly just by keeping it exactly the same, but Batty has a Santa hat on in the final scene to go with his dove and bike shorts, and some of the music cues have sleigh bells worked in along with the synths.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 10:46 PM on December 1, 2013


I'm a big fan of depressing movies that just happen to occur during Christmas. See the aforementioned Brazil, 12 Monkeys, and Less Than Zero.
posted by enjoymoreradio at 10:59 PM on December 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Forgot Eastern Promises.
posted by enjoymoreradio at 11:08 PM on December 1, 2013


My favorite Christmas movie is Metropolitan. But I still have doubts about agrarian socialism.
posted by mrhappy at 11:47 PM on December 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Am I the only person on earth who loves Bernard & The Genie?
posted by ninazer0 at 2:52 AM on December 2, 2013


Millions is a favorite at our house. Depictions of the saints are priceless.
posted by childofTethys at 3:03 AM on December 2, 2013


sort of unfortunately for the clearly intended mood, Arrested Development completely owns that song now
...and The Royal Tenenbaums.
posted by pxe2000 at 4:30 AM on December 2, 2013


Batman Returns.
posted by Trochanter at 6:07 AM on December 2, 2013


I must confess that I have not seen National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation or The Ref. I promise to correct the oversight. Certain omissions were not unintended. John Cohen, I didn't find those ask.mes, thanks for adding them. I thought about the Star Wars Holiday Special, but, sheesh, it's just awful, they should be allowed to forget. Besides, you will die if you watch it.
posted by theora55 at 7:20 AM on December 2, 2013


Not really a "Christmas movie," although it does have one scene set around Christmas, but I always watch Auntie Mame around this time of year.
posted by dnash at 9:22 AM on December 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Glad ardgedee mentioned About A Boy. It's the film turtlegirl and I traditionally watch each Xmas eve. Every year since it was released which just happens to coincide with every year since we were married.
posted by terrapin at 1:38 PM on December 2, 2013


Hog Father
posted by Belle O'Cosity at 11:19 PM on December 2, 2013


White Reindeer. Worst Ever.
posted by sixpack at 5:20 PM on December 7, 2013


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