Best Holiday Movies

And on the twelfth day of Christmas, the Talon gave to me… a list of 12 holiday movies to watch

With Thanksgiving over, it is officially time to break out the Christmas songs and movies. These films are perfect to have on in the background while you decorate your tree or work on your gingerbread recipe. Or even just on the rare night when you do not have hours of homework and just want to relax and watch a movie. Even if you do not celebrate Christmas, these are all films that can be enjoyed by everyone. They are timeless classics that are guaranteed to put a smile on your face. So grab a mug of hot chocolate with extra marshmallows, some fuzzy socks, a cozy blanket, and settle in to the wonderful world of holiday movies.

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)

We have to start this list off with my own personal favorite Christmas movie. John Hughes perfectly captures, in my opinion at least, the chaos that is the holiday season. Everyone can relate to family drama, trouble decorating the house, and even not getting what you want for Christmas. This is one of the only films that can make me laugh out loud again and again, no matter how many times I’ve seen it. So pop this film in and enjoy the witty dialogue, cringe worthy moments, and amazing 80s style with the family. I promise that it will not disappoint.

It’s A Wonderful Life (1946)

Although many people find this film a bit sad, it carries deep messages that are important to remember and be reminded of during the holiday season. James Stewart perfectly portrays George Bailey, an overwhelmed savings and loan banker in post war America. This black and white classic, told through flashback style, follows Bailey through his journey of realizing that life is really wonderful despite the often bleak and disappointing times. If you haven’t seen this timeless tale, be sure to check it out for its long-lasting, deep messages and the iconic lasso the moon scene.

Love, Actually (2003)

Switching gears to a lighter film, Love, Actually illustrates nine interconnected stories of love during the holiday season. This love could be platonic or romantic, but each story depicts some sort of connection with others during this chaotic time. The stories are often comical, but at other times will leave you in nothing but heartache. This film perfectly depicts the different experiences we can have during the same season. Watch this film when you’re in the mood for an iconic romantic comedy with an all star cast.

A Christmas Story (1983)

If you’ve ever tuned into TBS or TNT during the holiday season, then you’re familiar with the 24 hours of A Christmas Story marathon. This tradition speaks to the love people have for this classic film. A holiday season would just not be complete without a viewing of the iconic bunny pajama scene or acknowledgement of the greatest package to ever be received: the leg lamp. Watch this film with the whole family, maybe even more than once if you end up stuck with the tv on TBS on Christmas Day like in my family.

The Holiday (2006)

Another romantic comedy for all of you romantics out there. This film follows the story of two women who decide to swap lives for the holiday season to get a new perspective on life. Although there are many deeper layers and themes present in the story line, it ultimately is just a feel good holiday film. One reason why this movie made this list is because it doesn’t deal with the traditional plot line of a family at Christmas time but rather individuals. And who doesn’t love a movie led by two stellar actresses: Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet?? This choice is perfect for everyone wanting a more modern choice and guaranteed to fill your heart with holiday love.

Home Alone (1990)

Another solid movie that John Hughes was involved in, Home Alone is one of the most iconic holiday films. This movie follows the story of Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin) when his parents accidentally leave him behind when they go to Paris for the holidays. Having the whole house to yourself is a child’s dream, until two con men target the house and plan to rob it. Kevin then must defend his home from the robbers in the most creative ways. Watch or rewatch this movie if you’re in the mood to laugh because of the action sequences and feel good when the family reunites at the end.

Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

Often debated on whether it really is a Halloween or Christmas movie, I included this film on my Christmas list because of the iconic songs and brightly colored Christmastown scenes. If you’ve never seen this movie before, it follows the journey of the Pumpkin King, Jack Skellington, as he strives to control Christmas as well. He gains a new view on life as he transitions from Halloween to Christmas, and chaos ensues as the two worlds begin to mix. This animated 90s classic is so beloved by many that it is watched during two holiday seasons of the year. Check it out if you haven’t already!

A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)

What list would be complete without A Charlie Brown Christmas? This Charlie Brown special is arguably the most popular one. I mean who could forget the Charlie Brown tree or Snoopy’s festive dog house? This movie made my list more because of the tradition of watching it rather than the content itself, but it is still a very valid holiday choice.

Marvel Superhero Adventures: Frost Fight (2015)

Keeping up with the animation trend, here is an option for all of you Marvel fans out there. This animated holiday special is even on Netflix, so it is convenient to put on whenever you’re in the mood. Although the characters in this film are not voiced by the same actors as they are in the live action Marvel movies, it is still fantastic. When I first watched it, I was immediately transported back to the days of my youth spent watching Scooby Doo: Winter Wonderdog over and over again, so this movie is perfect if you’re in a nostalgic mood. Give this animated special a chance if you’re in the mood for something a little different this holiday season.

Elf (2003)

Although Elf is not my personal favorite holiday movie, it is certainly the funniest modern holiday movie made in my opinion. When the holiday season and school get stressful, just pop this movie in for a good laugh. Will Ferrell as Buddy the Elf serves as the epitome of comedic relief and is certain to lift anyone’s spirits.

Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer (1964)

Out of all of the classic stop motion holiday films, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer is my favorite. It is another great nostalgic classic and perfect for movie nights for the whole family. This movie made my list because even if you don’t like holiday movies, everyone can at least appreciate the interesting animation style used. It is also less than an hour so it fits perfectly in the busy schedules of Magnet students. Overall, this is a perfect nostalgic choice for the holiday season.

 Die Hard (1988)

This film is not necessarily a true Christmas movie per se, but it takes place on Christmas night, and it is often watched by families during the holiday season. Kate Kuisel (12) explained that “there’s like 2 Christmas trees in the whole movie, but it’s the meaning behind it that makes it a Christmas movie.”  In my eyes, Die Hard represents the stress and craziness that is present during the holidays. For example, no matter how wild your holidays are with your family, I guarantee they won’t be as wild as they are for John McClane (Bruce Willis) in this movie. That is the best way to put it, and the only way to truly understand the greatness of this film is to watch it for yourself.

I hope you enjoy all of these classic holiday movies! After curating this list, I realized that almost all of the iconic holiday films are at least 12 years old. What does that say about the state of the film industry today? I think it’s time for someone to create a new timeless classic for the generations ahead. But until then, watch these 12 films and bask in total holiday bliss.

Happy Holidays from The Talon Staff!