It is that most magical time of the year where everything smells like peppermint bark and fir trees and non-denominational holiday candy and the air is filled with love and anxiety (equal parts). And a major part of what makes holiday season the holiday season ARE THE HOLIDAY MOVIES (duh).
So, without further a do, here are, in chronological order-all the holiday movies you can catch on the big screens across the area this month (+ some handy instant netflix selections at the bottom). Sadly, no “Just Friends” showings we could find, but plenty of other stuff. Pass the eggnog flavored popcorn….
- Silent Night, Deadly Night (Opens Dec 4th @ Angelika) It’s got murder, it’s got murderous revenge, it’s got evil nuns. And yes, it’s got Christmas. I haven’t often seen the horror and holiday genre pushed together, but I suppose if I ever were to see it I would want the murderer to be dressed as Santa while he kills people. And in that sense, this film seems to have it all.
- Home Alone (December 6 + 7 @ E Street Cinema) Macaulay Culkin is at peak adorableness in this wonderful holiday classic where an 8 year old boy is accidentally left at home when his entire family leaves for their Christmas vacation without him. At first, this is awesome obviously, but when some neighborhood hoodwinks try to rob his house, Macaulay Culkin takes matters into his child-sized hands and saves his house. This movie also has a truly great soundtrack, if you’re looking for easy holiday listening. Just sayin.
- The Polar Express 3D Experience (December 7 @ American History Museum) When I was a kid, I was SURE that Santa was real. So naturally, my ultimate Christmas fantasy was to get to be one of the few who would get to ride the Polar Express up to the North Pole to meet Santa and get that awesome bell that only the people who believe can hear. While that belief has gone away (and if there really is a bell that I’m not hearing I’ll be pissed), the amazing story of The Polar Express has not and no one better could bring it to life than Tom Hanks in a creepily realistic animated version of the story.
- Miracle on 34th Street (December 7-9 @ AFI) The theme of believing in Santa Clause is big for the holiday movie sort, but none really does it quite as well as this one. Macy’s hires the real Santa Clause (or so says Kris Kringle) and of course he is immediately deemed insane and probably not fit to have little kids sitting on his lap all day. But a lawyer, a Macy’s employee, and a super jaded little girl all work together to prove he is the real thing and therefore learn the true meaning of Christmas. If Santa did exist and tried to claim he really was real, I imagine it would go something like this.
- Die Hard (December 13 +14 @ E Street) I will never understand why people call this a Christmas movie. Call me a Christmas purist, but just because a movie takes place during the holiday season DOESN’T mean it’s a Christmas movie. Nonetheless, I don’t have to tell you that this movie is a classic and I suppose could be enjoyed at all times of year. NYPD officer John McClane teams up with himself to save his wife and her coworkers from a German terrorist and kicks some serious ass. This is not a Christmas movie.
- White Christmas (December 13 +15 @ AFI) Bing Crosby. Danny Kaye. Rosemary Clooney. This is the sort of cast that you can’t afford not seeing come together for a Christmas extravaganza (literally). These three greats are basically their singing and dancing selves as they team up to put on a truly great Christmas production for Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye’s former commanding general’s fledgling inn because there hasn’t been any snow this season. I think you can see where this is going (the title is White Christmas afterall) but the songs and the performances are not to be missed. You’ll also probably cry in this one too, because seeing an old, proud, military man cry may be one of the most heart-breaking things ever.
- It’s A Wonderful Life (December 14-25 @ AFI, December 15 @ Angelika) I shouldn’t have to tell you what this film is about, because you MUST have seen it, but George Bailey is having a crisis of faith and a streat of misfortune and contemplates ending it all on Christmas Eve. But when Clarence, an angel who’s trying to get his wings, is sent to help him see the light George Bailey learns the true meaning of wealth and happiness and it will make you cry your eyes out and you’ll love it.
- Holiday Movie Marathon Marathon (December 15 @ Arlington Cinema and Drafthouse) Something about the holidays and the movies makes them fit together so perfectly. The only problem is how do you decide which one to watch? Arlington Cinema and Drafthouse solves that problem for you and plays some of the best the season has to offer in an amazing night of everything holiday movies. The lineup is glorious: How The Grinch Stole Christmas, A Charlie Brown Christmas How The Grinch Stole Christmas, A Christmas Story, A Charlie Brown Christmas, Scrooged, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.
- National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (December 20 + 21 @ E Street) Dealing with family and the holidays can be stressful, but there may not be another film out there that tells it quite as honestly/hilariously as this one. Add a young Chevy Chase to the mix, and you have Christmas movie gold. The Griswold family gets together for their annual holiday celebration and everything goes wrong but hits all the right “my family is annoying but I love them anyway” notes in yet another Christmas classic.
- It’s A Wonderful Night (December 20-22 @ Arlington Cinema and Drafthouse). A wonderful night indeed. I believe that any time you watch the Christmas classic It’s a Wonderful Life you have a great night in store. But add in a venue for drinking and it reaches a whole new level.
- A Christmas Carol (December 21-24 @ AFI) While I’m partial to the George C. Scott version (amirite?) I suppose the version with Alastair Sim as Ebenezer Scrooge isn’t so terrible. But this tale never really could, it has an unmatched combination of fantasy, morality, sweetness, and stuff that scares the shit out of children than any other film I have seen. Scrooge is visited by three ghosts of Christmas (past, present, and future) to show him the error in his selfish ways and urge him to change for the better. A must-see holiday favorite.
- The Muppet Christmas Carol (December 21-24 @ AFI) Just take what I said above and imagine it played by The Muppets. So, epic.
and if you’re staying IN, here are a few that are just a few button pushes away:
Netflix Instant Viewing:
Love Actually – Every British actor you could name off the top of your head (hello Colin Firth and Hugh Grant) and every romantic comedy plot you could think of come together in the ultimate rom-com mash up. It’s exploding with cuteness and the only thing better than this being an actual film is that it’s also a Christmas movie. YES.
- The Nightmare Before Christmas – Tim Burton does Christmas (and Halloween) and it’s spectacular. You’ve seen this. But Jack Skellington is the king of Halloweentown and he discovers Christmas Town and weird things ensue.
- Jingle All The Way – Arnold Shwatzenegger + Sinbad = a 90s Christmas movie only a 90s child could love. Arnold is a dad who goes to great lengths to get his son the Turbo Man action doll for Christmas, but it’s the “It” holiday gift and then it’s just Arnold being Arnold from there. And yes, that synopsis is from memory.
- Black Adder’s A Christmas Carol – Inexplicably not on IMDB, but Rowan Atkinson flips the story of A Christmas Carol around to where the ghosts teach a Victorian merchant in meanness and it is hilarious.
- I’ll Be Home For Christmas – Another absolute product of the 90s, Jonathan Taylor Thomas (JTT, where have you gone?) and Jessica Biel star in this Christmas movie about a spoiled college kid who finds love and the true meaning of Christmas. I’m not so much recommending this so much as telling you that it exists.
- Jack Frost – This movie is like a Frosty the Snowman nightmare: a kid’s dad dies in a icy car crash on his way home from work on Christmas Eve and then comes back to life (ish) as a snowman and the kid is happy but the dad can’t be there and it’s sad. But it does teach you not to work on Christmas Eve. So use that to get out of work this holiday season.
- Charlie Brown’s Christmas Tales – Charlie Brown is always relevant and adorable, and the Christmas soundtrack for this movie is SOOO GOOD. It sounds like Christmas without being too in your face about it. And Linus explaining the Christmas story is amazing.
- Santa Claus: The Movie – I don’t know how I haven’t seen this because of the elements of Christmas, John Lithgow, and Dudley Moore but I will soon rectify that situation. This is the story of how Santa Claus became Santa Claus and also a “greedy toy baron.” Very promising.
- Planes, Trains and Automobiles – Steve Martin and John Candy play their archetypal characters, but who cares because that’s always funny. Straight-laced Steve Martin is forced to travel with a slovenly shower ring salesman (because of course he is) when easier modes of transportation fail to get them home for the holidays.
- The Polar Express – See above.
- National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation – See above.
- White Christmas – See above.
let us know in the comments if we missed anything. SPREAD THAT FILM CHEER FOR ALL TO ENJOY.