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It’s the perfect time of year to snuggle up and watch a whole bunch of movies. Whether you’ve watched the movies on this list 5,000 times or have never heard of them, they’re sure to entertain you at the holidays!
Best Classic: It’s a Wonderful Life (Frank Capra, 1946)
Was there any doubt this would be on the list?
This holiday classic has been referenced a billion times in other movies, but the original never fails to impress. It’s the story of George Bailey, a well-meaning guy who, despite doing everything “right,” has never achieved any of his real dreams. George, in a fit of despair, decides to kill himself – until he’s visited by an angel who shows him how different the world would be if he had never lived.
If George’s revelation about his own worth doesn’t bring tears to your eyes, just wait until the heart-warming final scene.
Memorable line: Zuzu: “Every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings.”
Best Comedy: A Christmas Story (Bob Clark, 1983)
This movie is so beloved that it spawned a Broadway musical (loaded with leg lamps.) Set in the 1940s, A Christmas Story tells the tale of young Ralphie, who desperately wants a Red Ryder B.B. Gun for Christmas. Unfortunately, the adults in his life don’t agree that this is a great gift…
Memorable line: Almost everyone at some point: “You’ll shoot your eye out.”
Best Action: Die Hard (John McTiernan, 1988)
Put aside the holiday aspect, and this is a great action movie. Include it – and it’s an action movie that’s also something of a holiday classic. The story of an office holiday party being held hostage, with only one employee’s estranged husband to save the day, makes for a high-octane thrill ride.
Memorable line: John McClane: “Yippee kai-yay, %&^@%*&^@#$.”
Best Rom-com: Love Actually (Richard Curtis, 2003)
The holiday movie that encouraged a slew of other holiday movies (Valentine’s Day, New Year’s Eve) to try and copy its format (unsuccessfully), this is the quintessential flick for pulling off multiple storylines with a slew of big-name actors. Centered around the Christmas holiday, the 8 totally different but interlocking stories have one thing in common: they all portray what love really is… actually.
Memorable line: “All I want for Christmas is you.”
Best for Kids: Home Alone (Chris Columbus, 1990)
There are more holiday movies for kids than there are pine needles on a wreath, but after much debate, the crown goes to Home Alone. This movie wasn’t just a feel-good holiday flick when it released: it became a phenomenon. You’ll never see a child more transfixed than while watching the young, temporarily abandoned Kevin McAllister brutalize the wet bandits.
For this reason, we’ll try to ignore the fact that the premise centers around parents who are ditzy enough to fly to Paris and forget their 8-year-old son.
Memorable line: Kevin: “Ahhhhhhh!”
Best Alternative: Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas (Henry Selick, 1993)
This movie takes “cult following” to a new level. The cult is so large by now, it’s pretty much mainstream. While the story is somewhat straightforward – the King of Halloween longs to try something different, and so takes over the Christmas holiday – the gothic Claymation, dark characters, and gleefully macabre bouts of bodily harm make this a favorite with anyone who enjoys their holidays with just a hint of horror.
Memorable line: Santa: “Haven’t you heard of peace on Earth and goodwill to men?”
Lock, Stock, & Barrel: “NO!!!”
Have a favorite holiday flick you don’t see on the list? Tell us about it in the comments!
By Digital Film Academy Blog Manager Sara McDermott Jain