It's that time of year. You know. Of course you know. You couldn't possibly not know. Right? Yes, it's almost December 25th, and with that you have carols, Christmas trees, and a full slate of epic NBA showdowns to look forward to (kidding. There's only one good game this year).
Some of us got into the groove early on. As soon as November hit, like so many department stores, we trundled down to the basement or up into the attic, and we broke out all of the holiday spirit we could get our hands on.
Anything from music, wreaths, fake trees, boxes of wrapped ornaments, garland, tinsel, menorahs-- anything and everything, no matter how dusty.
But if it isn't music or freshly baked cookies, the first thing to get us going (aside from the desperate hopes of snow), is the good ol' Christmas movie-- and not just the classics.
The canon is shifting. It's never fixed on one place in time. Where there were once a handful of classic movies (White Christmas, Miracle on 34th Street, It's a Wonderful Life), our lives are heading into the direction of what movies we want our kids to watch as religiously as we have.
Sure, our parents may have raised us on the classics, but since the late 80s there have been an abundance of freshly minted holiday classics. Whether it's a blockbuster affair like Elf, or something we catch every December on an AMC marathon, the canon of holiday classics knows no bounds.
Read on. These are 8 of our favorite movies to watch every December.
1. Jackie - The Santa Clause
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My family used to watch this movie every single year from the time it came out. To me, it wasn’t really Christmas until we watched it.
Unfortunately, my family got so sick of watching it that they even settled for skipping it and starting with the second and third ones (ugh). To this day, whenever I recommend watching it, my dad groans and says, “Anything but that Tim Allen movie again.”
But it’s just way too cute not to want to watch it! I seriously wanted to be a part of the E.L.F.S. or (Effective Liberating Flight Squad). Those little elves were dope.
So I watched this movie so much (even in the summertime) that I actually thought that the title was the correct spelling for the fat man himself until last year, and I still write,“Santa Clause” for the most part.
For as many times I watched it, I never put two and two together to understand that they were actually referring to a “clause,” and that Santa’s last name was actually “Claus...”
Really, I’m an intelligent human being, just a bit dim sometimes.
2. MJ - Die Hard
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Hans Gruber is second only to Shooter McGavin as far as best villains of all time, and John McClane is a better protagonist than Jesus.
There's something about a dead terrorist with "Now I have a machine gun Ho-Ho-Ho" written on his chest that really gets me in the Christmas spirit.
3. Jamison - The Godfather
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Every year it seems, AMC's got The Godfather marathon on lock. That's one of the smartest moves in programming, especially when you consider what AMC was before they did this, and where they are now.
It's now a network with two of the top five greatest dramas of all time (Mad Men and Breaking Bad), and one of the most watched TV shows that's taken over popular culture at large (The Walking Dead).
Before any of that happened, there was The Godfather. It's the perfect Christmas movie because at some point in the day you're going to get bored. The NBA games have turned into lopsided affairs, and the kids are out riding new bikes, playing in snow, or at least somewhere out of earshot of the rated-R movie.
What AMC made me love is the fact that you can turn it there at any point in the day, pick up the movie from where it is, and watch without needing to rewind. It's the perfect TV marathon movie, and on a day where there's plenty of dysfunction, you can always count on the Corleone Family to lift your spirits.
4. Liz - Trading Places
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People often forget this is technically a holiday movie, and that’s probably because it’s just one of the best movies of all time. There’s really no arguing it. Where do you even begin?
There’s a strung out Dan Aykroyd slamming smoked salmon from his previous company’s holiday party in a santa suit, and who can forget the New Year’s Even train ride during which a disguised Eddie Murphy, and a slutty, Swedish version of Jamie Lee Curtis act insane enough to gain access to the crop report to corner the New York Stock Exchange market?
Trading Places is the true meaning behind giving and receiving. Two unlikely friends bond together to give two old men what they deserve after receiving a life-altering blow for a one dollar bet.
5. Catherine - National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation
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My dad recorded this movie onto a VHS tape when it made its network premiere in 1994, and my family and I have watched this same recording every single Christmas season since (to my mom's dismay).
The best part is all of the absurdly 90s commercials that were recorded along with the movie. We choose to not fast forward through them not only because they're hilarious, but because by this point they have become just as crucial to our viewing experience as the film itself.
As I got older, I realized how wildly inappropriate of a movie this was for my sister and I to be watching as young kids, but most of the stuff went over our heads anyway.
As an adult, I have of course come to appreciate Chevy Chase's brilliance in the role of Clark Griswold, and am also thankful that as a society we have evolved from 90s fashion.
6. Sara - Love Actually
topshop_au Christmas movie of the night: Love Actually. What's your favourite?
I’m obsessed with Love Actually. I draw on it in plenty of life situations, but I always try to watch it around the holidays.
Why am I so obsessed?
It’s because at the movie’s core, it’s love that matters. There are people in hard spots: a guy’s in love with his best friend’s wife, a woman finds out her husband wants to cheat, another woman is in a new country and can’t understand the man she’s working for.
Yet, in all these hard spots, it’s love that prevails. The message sounds cheesy, overdone, cliché, but these aren’t cliché moments. These are hard, human moments, and in every single one, the person in between resentment and love sides with love.
I guess I love it so much because I wish the world were like that, and because I want to err on the side of love in every decision, and because I think the movie’s right: love, actually, is everywhere. You just have to look for it.
7. Lauren - Elf
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Um... Elf. Hands down. Why, you ask?
Because it’s HILARIOUS. Sometimes silly humor is the way to go, and Will Ferrell nails it every time. There are very few movies I can watch over and over, and this is definitely one of them.
When he chugs the entire 2-liter bottle of Coke and burps the longest burp ever at the dinner table? Pure gold. Gets me every time.
The holidays should be a jolly, cheerful time...so why not watch something that makes me laugh out loud. After all, smiling’s my favorite.
8. Isaiah - Home Alone
Hands down, my favorite is Home Alone. When I first saw it I thought Kevin was the coolest kid to ever walk the face of the Earth.
Especially growing up in the projects of NYC, having a massive house entirely empty from parents and rules yet knowing how to fend for yourself, while also serving up some seriously ingenious forms of punishment to idiot thugs, was the first example of badassery that I still can’t shake from my system to this day.
He kind of became (and still is) my role model for living life.
Over the course my younger years, I designed blueprints and made real-life models of my own “traps” (at least what I could orchestrate in a small Queens apartment), often to the chagrin of my parents.
One of my best was a room alarm I designed with a system of hangers, twine and packing tape that would “ring” if someone was by my bedroom door and when they opened it, they’d get a faceful of wet toilet paper.
So more than just for its sheer entertainment, the movie inspired me at a young age to be creative, independent, brave and, most of all, a smart ass.
Check out 7 Reasons Why We Miss the NYC Cold in December.[Feature Image Courtesy Instagram]