Thursday, December 16, 2010

Michelle's Guide to Holiday Movies

Tonight we're having a Yankee Swap/Holiday Party in my suite, and I've been thinking about what movie we should watch after we swap gifts. To help myself decide, I thought I would compile a list of my ten favorite Holiday movies, trying to cover lots of ground--animated, feel-good, drama, classic, etc. I would love if you guys would give your recommendations for your favorite holiday movies, as well!

Also note that some of these aren't explicitly "holiday movies," they just "happen" to take place around Christmastime...but they still make me happy!

ALSO, all of the Harry Potter movies deserve to be on this list. It's not an oversight.

Finally...this post comes to you in lieu of studying for finals/writing my thesis. Holly jolly.

10. The Polar Express

I haven't seen this movie since I saw it in the theater with my parents, but I walked out permasmiling afterwards. It was beautifully animated and just totally feel-good...even though Tom Hanks' character sort of creeped me out a little (he looked JUST like him). I also had that song about hot chocolate stuck in my head for weeks.

9. The Family Man

This movie strikes a chord really deep within me. I know I'm the type of person to pull a Nicholas Cage and choose work over love...and miss out on a wonderful life. (In fact, the way things are shaping up, I'll have a Nicholas Cage-esque decision looming before me very soon, but that has no place in a holiday movies post and I don't want to think about it, so let's shelf that, shall we?) When he sits in the char on his last night and tries to stay awake? SO SAD. Although, it really sort of bothered me when Jack gets the apartment in New York and Kate freaks out at him and says she refuses to pull the children out of their schools. Like, I get that she's into the suburbs and all, but that's a great example of someone trying to compromise between family life and career ambition, and I think Kate should have been more open-minded about it. That's my PSA for the day.

8. Edward Scissorhands

First of all, this is totally one of those moments when you could say "Okay, Michelle, that is absolutely NOT a Christmas movie." That would be legit, but I DON'T EVEN CARE because this is literally one of my top three favorite movies of all time. It was Tim Burton, before Tim Burton got bad. It was Winona Ryder, before Winona Ryder got bad. And Johnny Depp is absolutely amazing, period. I love that this movie is heartwarming, heartbreaking, fairy-tale, violent/dark, and just absolutely beautiful to watch, all at once. Not to mention, unexpectedly hilarious. The waterbed moment? Priceless.

7. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

Rudolph is the most adorably awkward thing I've ever seen, and the stop-action animation only highlights this fact. I LOVE his nasally, awkward voice, and his awkward wobbly-legs, and oh obviously his super-awkward bright red nose. I also really like the abominable snowman. He's probably the most likable enemy in any movie I've ever seen...he's sort of a hot mess and just wanders around bellowing. Yukon Cornelius is just a straight up baller, and I LOVE that his sled-dogs are a random assortment of cuddly pups. Straight-up Christmas classic. (Oh. and Hermie has got to be the greatest name ever).

6. The Family Stone

First off, the sheer amount of star power in this movie is mind-boggling. My girls Rachel McAdams, SJP, and Claire Danes, all in one place? Yes plz! Luke Wilson, the best Wilson brother, Diane "I'm the same person in every movie" Keaton, and Dermot Mulroney? BEST CHRISTMAS EVER. Except it's not, if you're SJP, because you're put in so many unforch, awkward situations that even I, who pride myself on not even getting awkwarded out by The Office, cringe. I was sort of thrown by how this movie glided between comedy, drama and pure grief-stricken sob-fest, all relatively seamlessly. AND SJP's throat tickle/cough noise is the best tick. Finally, the name Ben Stone is taken already, by Seth Rogen's character in Knocked Up (favorite movie of all time). No points for creativity.

5. The Holiday

I might have been the only person on the planet who actually liked this movie. And THAT'S OKAY. Nancy Meyers' houses are reason enough to watch the movie, but if that's not your thing, who could turn down a movie with Kate Winslet and Jude Law? Cameron Diaz is the same as usual, and Jack Black is actually bearable/actually gets relatively serious. And I think the Arthur plot just adds so much to the movie; it elevates it from typical rom-com to an actually really good movie. OH and Mr. NAPKIN-HEAD! Do people this, though? Swap houses with total strangers, and coordinate the details over what appears to be AIM, I mean?

4. Home Alone

Oh, Macaulay. Look at yourself. LOOK AT YOURSELF. You used to be literally the cutest thing that ever graced the silver screen. Even John Hughes thought, at what--seven? years old--that you could carry an entire movie by yourself. They JUST let Rachel McAdams do that with Morning Glory, and it did not go ne'er so well. But YOU. You had it all. We just sat there for 103 minutes and watched you attempt to shave, eat ice cream, shoot things with BB guns, and you know what. We ATE IT UP. I think one of the best parts of Home Alone is that while Kevin does all the aforementioned activities, he also goes grocery shopping. Adorable. I always love a good cat-and-mouse movie (Catch Me if You Can, anyone? Inside Man?) Too bad after watching this movie I couldn't go into the basement for years. YEARS.

3. How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (Boris Karlof/Animated version, NOT Jim Carrey version)

Apparently the exclamation point is necessary. So, now it's time for me to admit that when I was little, when I found a movie I liked, I watched it over and over and OVER, until I knew the whole thing by heart. (To this day, I can still recite Beauty and the Beast by heart). I also used to have to fall asleep with my tv on when I was little, and still do sometimes. Thus, every Christmas Eve I would get into bed and pop this on, and if I fell asleep in the middle it didn't matter because I knew the whole thing, anyway. This movie is an absolute classic; there's really just nothing else to be said.

2. It's a Wonderful Life

Probably one of the top five best movies of all time, Christmas or not. We watch it every Christmas Eve just before we go to bed, and my mum, who has seen it about 50 times, still gets anxious/upset/cries every.single.time, which is sort of hilarious but also touching. Donna Reed and Jimmy Stuart are just perfect; every single time I watch this movie I forget that I'm, indeed, watching a movie.

1. Love, Actually

I can't figure out which of the storylines in this movie I love the best. It's probably the Colin Firth/Lúcia Moniz one, just because it is so ridiculously cute, and I love that they talk even though they don't understand the language. Laura Linney's plotline is so, so sad--I get that maybe it's supposed to be that she and her brother are the love story in that one, but still. Give the girl SOMETHING! And of course, Sam. His happy face/angry face are completely precious. Even though Hugh Grant is a bumbling fool in every movie he's in, he fits in this one. And I've been told I look just like the girl who plays Natalie, which I guess I'll take since if the President of the United States (oh, Billy Bob...why?) gets after it, that's alright with me. Oh, and I can't forget the wedding scene and the "caroling" scene with Keira Knightley. All in all, it's a good enough movie to win out over IAWL and Home alone--it's clever, hilarious, and just more feel-good than I can handle.

PS. I have a confession to make...I hate A Christmas Story! I'm sorry! I'm sorry! I just really can't stand it. I also really hate Elf. It creeps me out! Maybe I should do a follow-up post of Christmas movies I hate...

Finally, I've always felt that the Nightmare Before Christmas is more of a Halloween movie than a Christmas movie. What do you think?


  1. GREAT LIST! I agree with every one (except for Elf...I do like Elf :) )

  2. You left off a couple of my favorites, but otherwise you nailed it. Love Actually, Family Stone, The Holiday, Rudolph (but really watch Rudolph and you'll see how insanely politically incorrect it is. Makes me laugh so hard! "You women stay here and let the men handle it." Ha!) I am sad you don't like Elf. I think you need to re-watch it.
    I also don't like A Christmas Story that much. One you're drastically missing is The Santa Clause. One of my fav. Christmas movies. Not the crappy second or third ones, but the first one. Merry Christmas! Have a great Yankee Swap party. Can't wait to hear how it goes!

  3. Hey fellow holiday movie fans!

    Keep an eye out for "Holiday Baggage" written/directed by Stephen Polk, airing on Monday, December 20th, at 5pm on Lifetime.

  4. The dude is obsessed with Polar Express right now...or TICKET as he calls it!

  5. Love Actually is by far my favorite! I watch it year round because it's so fantastic, but it puts me in the best Christmas mood this time of year!

  6. @Melissa and DG: Haha a lot of lobbying for Elf, I see! I'm always on the fence about Will Ferrell in movies, BUT, for you girls, maybe I'll give it another chance haha.

    @Kristen: TICKET! That is SO cute, haha!

    @Michelle: It is just SO GOOD.

  7. So, I'm really not sure we can be friends anymore if you hate Elf. THAT MOVIE IS AWESOME! I love, love, love that movie. I'm sad that you don't like it. :(

    Also, The Santa Clause! A classic! I can recite that movie word for word, ha!

  8. the family stone and love actually are my fav christmas movies