A very merry, diversionary Christmas
I am a Halloween person. I'm talking an all-year-round, 24/7 Halloween person. Just the thought of October 31 still makes my stomach churn with excitement, the way Christmas morning kind of ceased to long ago.
This year, however, I must cop to a certain bowl-full-of-jelly type feeling creeping up in the ol' tummy. Call it middle-age nostalgia, holiday spirit, or blame it on this dumpster fire of a year finally coming to an end.
In any case, I've caught the bug to share some of my favorite seasonal films, all of which are either availalable through our catalog (on DVD or digitally) or through the multitude of streaming platforms within reach out there.
First up, I want to talk about my yearly top five must-see films – and, I'm talking about my top five here. This is purely subjective, but they are all amazing, essential, and should be required Christmas viewing:
We're not going to debate whether or not this is a Christmas movie, for there is no debate to be had. It's Christmas Eve, and New York cop John McClane (Bruce Willis) thinks visiting his estranged wife in L.A. is as bad as this holiday is going to get. He is, of course, dead wrong, as Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman) and friends show up to take hostages, and the rest is Greatest-Action/Christmas-Film-of-All-Time history. Pair this with Lethal Weapon, and you can get into the spirit with two of cinema's most unparalleled action heroes – McClane and Martin Riggs (Mel Gibson). Add in the classic Tales From the Crypt episode, "And All Through the House", and you have yourself a triple feature; the connecting threads are (you guessed it) Christmas, producer Joel Silver, and late, great character actress Mary Ellen Trainor. Cheers!
Since its 2003 release, I have watched this one upwards of 20 times (one December day, I just watched it on a loop with my mother-in-law) and when I do, I don't stop laughing for 98 minutes. Every time. How many things in life are that certain?
While it is a different Tim Burton film that gets all the press this time of year, my go-to quirky, Danny Elfman scored Christmas flick is this strange and bittersweet fairytale, starring Johnny Depp and Winona Ryder, in their "it-couple" heyday. I dare you not to tear up at the last line: "Sometimes you can still catch me dancing in it." I'm not crying, you're crying.
I'm talking the original,1966 animated special, featuring the voice of Karloff as the bad banana, with a greasy black peel. Accept no substitutes.
Ted E. Bear (you see what they did there?) is looking for Christmas, and the sweet little Tommy Smothers-voiced fella won't give up until he finds it. My better half stumbled upon this groovy animated gem a handful of years back, and thankfully, carried me along for the ride. I can't imagine holiday viewing without it.
Those above are absolute musts to get my festive heart a-leaping, but I do get a little cranky if I can't also see my personal trifecta of childhood sentimentality: A Charlie Brown Christmas, A Chipmunk Christmas, and Mickey's Christmas Carol (though, for my money, the 1984 George C. Scott starring version of A Christmas Carol can't be beat. Change my mind).
If you're feeling extra jazzed for options, my other yuletide favorites are A Christmas Story, Home Alone, Gremlins, and Batman Returns. Bonus: Two treasures of the Christmas horror genre are ready and waiting for you on Kanopy: 1974's trailblazing Black Christmas and Finnish oddball Rare Exports.
What are your favorite Christmas movies? Drop 'em in the comments, below, and then have yourself a merry little... Halloween.