Hey guys, I hope you all had the most wonderful Thanksgiving holiday filled with loads of food, drinks, and quality time with the ones you love most. I sure know my Thanksgiving was eventful and so fun.
Okay, but let’s get serious and begin to look ahead to — you guessed it — HOLIDAY SEASON! So I’m taking a break from watching the Mandalorian on Disney+ to compile a list of my favorite movies to watch during the holidays to turn myself from a certified Grinch to a Grade-A Buddy the Elf clone.
A quick disclaimer: You needn’t worry; those cheesy Hallmark & Lifetime Christmas movies are not going to appear anywhere near this list. My film degree will only back up the fact that I am, indeed, a film snob (and I’m proud of that, I’d like to add). Now, I’m not on Marty Scorsese or Francis Ford Coppola level of film snob. But, one thing I pride myself on is my taste in film and my film recommendation skills.
Now that the film snob disclaimer is out of the way, let’s get into the list.
1. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)
Director: Jeremiah Chechick
Writer: John Hughes
Summary: This is the third in the “National Lampoon” series about the Griswold family. In this sequel, the Griswolds must deal with a holiday with their in-laws. — Rotten Tomatoes
I love this movie so much, especially because it’s right up my alley when it comes to comedy. It’s that perfect level of relatable scenarios mixed with the huge amounts of dumb humor that riddles the entire National Lampoon franchise.
2. The Holiday (2006)
Director: Nancy Meyers
Writer: Nancy Meyers
Summary: Two women troubled with guy-problems swap homes in each other’s countries, where they each meet a local guy and fall in love. — IMDb
When it comes to Christmas Rom-Coms, the immediate first thought/go-to is usually Love Actually. But, The Holiday is an underrated gem with stellar performances from the main cast members and the story is so sweet (and well-written).
3. Elf (2003)
Director: Jon Favreau
Writer: David Berenbaum
Summary: After discovering he is a human, a man raised as an elf at the North Pole decides to travel to New York City to locate his real father. — IMDb
No list would be complete without Elf. It’s one of the most quotable Christmas movies out there! Will Ferrell gives it 100% as Buddy the Elf. The theme for this whole movie is spreading christmas cheer and wholeheartedly embracing the holidays. What more could you ask for?
4. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)
Director: Shane Black
Writer: Shane Black
Summary: “A murder mystery brings together a private eye, a struggling actress, and a thief masquerading as an actor.” — Rotten Tomatoes
Dare I say it? Shane Black might be the modern king of Christmas movies. Anyone with at least one finger on the pulse of the film industry will hear the name Shane Black and immediately associate his name with the iconic Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. It’s such a fun watch and Shane Black’s direction and writing are so unique that it’s definitely an out of left field pick, but will definitely get you feeling the festive mood of the holidays.
5. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
Director: Henry Selick
Writer: Tim Burton, Michael McDowell
Summary: “Jack Skellington, king of Halloween Town, discovers Christmas Town, but his attempts to bring Christmas to his home causes confusion.” — IMDb
Is it a Halloween movie, or is it a Christmas movie? Um… it’s both. Duh. This tale is a classic and has developed almost a cult-like appeal. The music, the animation, and the iconic characters make this movie worthwhile to add to both your Halloween movie arsenal and your Christmas Movie rotation.
6. A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)
Director: Bill Melendez and Phil Roman
Writer: Charles M. Shulz
Summary: Depressed at the commercialism he sees around him, Charlie Brown tries to find a deeper meaning to Christmas. — IMDb
This is definitely the quintessential Peanuts flick. A Charlie Brown Christmas is, at least, my first thought when someone brings up Peanuts movies. The story is so relatable and I think we can all say we’ve been in the same shoes as Charlie Brown at least once during this time of year. That introspection, weirdly enough, helps me get into the holiday spirit.
7. How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)
Director: Ron Howard
Writers: Dr. Seuss (source material), Jeffrey Price (screenplay)
Summary: The curmudgeonly recluse Grinch, who hates Christmas, becomes annoyed with the out-of-control Christmas festivities in Whoville, the town lying below his cave dwelling on Mt. Crumpit. But after the Grinch conspires to deprive the Who’s of their favorite holiday by sneaking into town on Christmas eve to steal everything associated with the holiday, he learns that the spirit of Christmas goes much deeper than tinsel and toys. — Rotten Tomatoes
Jim Carrey is SO GOOD as the Grinch in this iteration. I know some will argue that the cartoon from the 60’s is better, but there’s something nostalgic about this version to me. (I was 8 when this one came out).
8. Die Hard (1988)
Director: John McTiernan
Writers: Jeb Stuart, Steven E. de Souza
Summary: An NYPD officer tries to save his wife and several others taken hostage by German terrorists during a Christmas party at the Nakatomi Plaza in Los Angeles. — IMDb
Okay, so if you think that Die Hard *isn’t* a Christmas movie, you’re wrong. Sorry that I had to be the one to break it to you. But it’s true, Die Hard is most definitely a Christmas movie and this wouldn’t be a Carli-Approved list of movies to get you in the festive mood if it DIDN’T include Die Hard. Just, trust me on this.
This is where I throw it back to you, what movies get you pumped for Christmas? Are you one of those people that tunes into the 24-hour stream/replay of A Christmas Story after opening your presents? Or are you into the classics like Miracle on 34th Street or It’s A Wonderful Life? Let me know!
I hope you all are as jazzed about the holiday season as I am.