Only three days left until Christmas. There’s only so much time left to watch your favorite holiday classics, your go-to feel-good movies this time of year. With the holidays now winding down, we’re offering up a few recommendations to watch or revisit over Christmas time with your family, spouse, roommates, or if you’re staying safe during the pandemic, by yourself.
The Sony animated movie is one of the most underrated Christmas films from the last few years. It’s a legit charmer. Arthur Christmas is about Santa’s son (voiced by James McAvoy) saving Christmas. It’s a cute movie with a playful sense of humor that doesn’t pander to kids. It’s a pleasant holiday crowd-pleaser for kids and adults.
A Christmas Carol (FX)
FX’s A Christmas Carol is not a story with holiday cheer. It is a near pitch-black retelling. It’s also one of the best adaptations of the classic story, too. This is far from paint-by-numbers and not the same story we’ve seen told many times before. Creator Steven Knight’s A Christmas Carol is a more devastating interpretation, in which drama and horror reign supreme. Guy Pearce is fantastic as a devilishly cruel Scrooge.
Can’t ever go wrong with Elf. Jon Favreau’s comedy gets funnier and funnier as times goes on, thanks to one of Will Ferrell’s best performances and a long list of clever, family-friendly gags. It’s such an immensely enjoyable holiday movie for both children and adults. Favreau’s comedy is light-hearted, kind, and strikes the perfect feel-good tone for the holidays.
Clea DuVall’s Hulu Christmas movie remains a highly talked about film this year. People are still debating the characters, their choices, and motivations. Based on the passionate reaction, DuVall made a movie that will continue to resonate with people. It’s a charming Christmas tale with some real pain and a good sense of humor, including all the hijinks expected from a studio Christmas movie. Happiest Season is available on Hulu, but it was originally going to theaters, where it probably would’ve scored some big laughs and a few teas. Happiest Season is a rock solid Christmas film with a studio aesthetic and an independent spirit.
We’re not talking about the Michael Keaton horror classic, a family movie gone wrong with horrific results. We’re talking about the real Jack Frost horror movie, in which a serial killer becomes a deadly snowman and tears apart a town. Michael Cooney’s 1997 horror-comedy isn’t exactly a classic, but it’s one mean-spirited, entertaining piece of comedy with blood and guts. If you’re looking for dark laughs, funny sights, and some very outdated scenes, go with Jack Frost.
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
Shane Black’s movies are more about the spirit of Christmas than the day itself. The writer behind The Long Kiss Goodnight and Lethal Weapon uses the holiday often in his stories. It’s a reflective time of year Black depicts to show real growth in his shaggy, flawed but loveable characters. With his directorial debut, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, he made the definitive Los Angeles Christmas movie. Black knows the city well. It’s a strange time in LA during the holidays. Sometimes even surreal, which Black captures in his detective movie full of dynamite quips, real stakes, and oozing with charisma, thanks to Robert Downey Jr., Val Kilmer, and Michelle Monaghan.
Richard Curtis’ romantic comedy is a love-it-or-hate-it holiday movie. It’s a busy ensemble movie that is a little too overstuffed with characters and storylines. Some characters are more engaging than others, too, as that tends to be the case with ensemble movies. With that said, Love Actually still has loads of charm to go along with the heartbreak. Warts and all, there are a lot of laughs to be had with the divisive rom-com. It’s a refreshingly adult, sometimes fluffy holiday movie.
Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale
A horror-comedy set in Finland with Santa Claus as the big bad. Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale is like an R-rated Amblin movie with kids facing off against an evil Santa Claus, after discovering his tomb. It’s a quick, 85-minute blast with quality chills, performances, and holiday misery. It’s one of the more quality Christmas horror movies to come out this century.
Honorable mention: Krampus.
Rise of the Guardians
The Dreamworks movie isn’t about Christmas. However, it does have the holiday spirit and holiday icons. Sandman (voiced by Jude Law) is battling Santa Claus (voiced by Alec Baldwin), Jack Frost (Chris Pine), and other holiday legends. It’s one of Dreamworks’ better movies. The world is fully-realized, there are zero pop culture references, and the action is thrilling. Peter Ramsay, who also co-directed Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, made an exceptional adventure movie here. Ramsay has a great eye for action as well as heart and warmth.
Another Scrooge Tale with real bite. Scrooged is such a strange, mean-spirited take on the iconic tale, with Bill Murray delivering a fantastic performance. Even when Scrooged is close to going off the rails, Murray keeps the movie on track, lands big laughs, and nails the transformation at the end. Richard Donner’s comedy holds up exceptionally well and is always a fun one to revisit during the holidays.
Sound off in the comments about your favorite Christmas movies.