Ah, the holidays are upon us, which means that soon many of us will be partaking in familial and seasonal traditions, from gut busting feasts and conspiring with children to lay a trap for Santa to guzzling eggnog (ew). Here are five films to help you and those around you get in the Christmas spirit
1. Die Hard
Start your holidays off with blast by watching John McTiernan’s heartwarming classic about how detective John McClane wins the heart of his estranged wife by gunning down terrorists who have—in a maneuver that can best be described as unChristmasee — taken her office hostage during a Christmas party. Highlights include an equally moving story about the dad from Family Matters learning that it’s okay to kill people and McClane’s showdown with Severus Rickman.
Perfect for: Action movie junkies, folks who enjoy one-liners, people who don’t want to watch that Christmas movie where Danny Glover complains about his age.
2. The Muppet Christmas Carol
The Muppet spin on Dickens’ beloved story isn’t just moving because of the sweet familiarity and lovable hilarity of Henson’s puppets but, moreover, because of Caine’s surprisingly painful portrayal of Ebenezer Scrooge. It would have been an easy choice to make the role lighter and more humorous to fit the expected tone of a family film about Christmas, but Caine goes for the soulful route. “Bah humbug!” is Scrooge’s familiar phrase and one that’s expected to be accompanied by flying spittle and the violent wave of an old man’s cane. However, in the otherwise humorous introduction to Caine’s version of the character, he utters the phrase, almost whispers it. That moment and everything that follows it makes this version of Christmas Carol one of—if not THE—best.
Perfect for: EVERYONE.
Watch this Instead of: the pretty contrived but ultimately OK Zemeckis/Carrey version of the tale.
Maybe you’re not big on the holidays. A bad memory taints them or they just rub you the wrong way. If that’s the case, fret not, there’s still a movie for you, Grinch: the comedy/horror classic, Gremlins. Besides being a movie about what happens when rascally kids don’t listen to a stereotypical mystical Asian shopkeeper, Gremlins also features the most macabre monologue about Christmas ever. Watch it yourself:
Cates’ somewhat wooden acting aside, that’s a pretty miserable and convincing speech about the suckitude of the holiday that’s about as anti-Hallmark as it gets.
Perfect for: Nihilists, people interested in seeing a horror movie starring furby prototypes.
Scene That Will Make You Laugh and Feel Like The World’s Most Horrible Person at the Same Time: Mrs. Deagle’s spectacular demise via flying stair chair.
4. Love Actually
Love Actually should not be a good movie. In fact, on paper, the film is a recipe for disaster. It what’s would happen if someone decided he or she wanted to create a towering work of art with only romantic comedy clichés at hand. Richard Curtis’ film about Londoners’ intertwining love stories isn’t what I’d call a masterpiece, but it’s pretty enjoyable movie with strong acting—seriously, look at that cast!—and a clever script. It’s also a gosh darned Christmas movie that isn’t afraid to wear its heart on its sleeve, with characters declaring their love left and right, or using the holiday to reinvigorate their careers or even strengthen family ties during times of crises (Curtis’ somewhat ham-fisted narrative-commentary that there are other types of love besides romantic love, you fool).
If you want to bundle up with your significant other on the couch while drinking a mug of coca, this is the flick to watch.
Perfect for: Romantics, Englishphiles, disciples of lobster Jesus, members of Alan Rickman’s fan club (i.e.,EVERYONE)
Scene That Will Break Your Heart Even If It’s Two Sizes Too Small: Rick Grimes’ silent, humble declaration of love for Elizabeth Swann.
5. Home Alone
Ah, Kevin McAllister, anti-authoritative eight year old badass. Seriously, I wanted to be this guy when I was a kid. Doesn’t want to go on vacation with his irritating family? Manages to get out of it by sheer luck. Bumbling incompetent robbers try to rob his house? He MacGyers them into oblivion. And through it all, he learns the meaning of Christmas and the importance of family…of course, he forgets all of that nonsense and relearn it in Home Alone 2: Lost in New York—such is the life of a popular franchise destined to have the soul drained out of it in the name of box office receipts. But hey, the (first) sequel has Tim Curry in it, so all is forgiven!
If you’re in need of a laugh during the holidays, turn to Home Alone. It never fails.
Perfect for: People who want to laugh, rebels, those who want to see Joe Pesci in a role where he doesn’t swear or kill anyone.
Factoid: Robert Blossom, the creepy Santa-esque looking neighbor in the movie, played a necrophiliac serial killer in 1974’s Deranged.
What are you watching over the holidays? Let us know in the comments below.
Javy Gwaltney is an aspiring author, screenwriter, and essayist from South Carolina. You can find his articles on those at Bitmob and Whatculture! If you like, you can follow him on twitter: https://twitter.com/JavyIV