Following the news since 1972

The North Star

Following the news since 1972

The North Star

Following the news since 1972

The North Star

4 Holiday Movies to Watch This Christmas


Right up there with Christmas Eve Dinner and mass consumerism, Christmas movies are one of modern culture’s most sacred holiday traditions. Everyone has their favorites (and least favorites, for that matter), but if you’re struggling to figure out what to watch with your family this Christmastime, here are four movies, in no particular order, to get you started. 

  1. Elf

Elf, celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, is perhaps the only canonical Christmas classic from the 21st century. Will Ferrell plays Buddy the elf, who, as a baby, managed to sneak into Santa’s gift bag as he visited the orphanage where he lived. Without parents, it is decided that he’ll be raised as an elf. 30 years later, Buddy discovers that he’s a human, and sets out to connect with his real father, along the way meeting Jovie, a retail worker disillusioned with the holiday season. Given that Buddy’s general attitude is, to put it kindly, childish, you would assume that he would quickly become impossibly grating, especially given his penchant for screaming. Ferrell certainly toes the line, but he injects enough sincerity and genuine naivety into his performance that it becomes endearing rather than obnoxious. As he moves in with his father’s family and grows closer with Jovie, he manages to reawaken a long-dormant spirit of Christmas. Even his father, business-minded and cold-hearted, puts aside his job for his family. Though it isn’t exactly reinventing the wheel, the movie still delivers an uplifting message, along with comedy that manages to hold up, even 20 years later

2. Home Alone

Of the “mischievous child” genre that plagued the 90s (i:e Dennis the Menace, The Little Rascals, the rest of the Home Alone franchise), Home Alone sets itself apart with a genuine heart as well as genuine laughs. Kevin, played by Macaulay Culkin, is left home alone after a mix-up on a family vacation to Paris, and now must defend his house from burglars Harry and Marv, played by Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern respectively. Pesci and Stern’s performances completely make the slapstick, with exaggerated comedic reactions and an entertaining chemistry between them both, along with Culkin, who is a surprisingly good actor. The scene in the church, as Kevin and Marley, played by Roberts Blossom and whom Kevin has been scared of for the entire movie, open up to each other about their respective relationships with their families genuinely tugs on the heartstrings. The film’s message, about appreciating your family and overcoming your fears, resonates with both children and adults. With all this, it’s no wonder why Home Alone has become a Christmas classic.

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3. The Year Without A Santa Claus

Though certainly not the most famous Rankin-Bass Christmas special, (that honor goes to Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, or perhaps Frosty the Snowman), it’s a personal favorite of mine, and it’s my list, so go write your own if you’re so mad about it. As Santa falls ill with a cold, he realizes that people just don’t have the Christmas spirit anymore, and decides that Christmas is canceled. Resolving to change his mind, Mrs. Claus and two elves, Jingle and Jangle, venture to a small town in the American south, Southtown, to find evidence that people still believe. Of course, the most memorable thing about this special are the brothers Snow Miser and Heat Miser, who both deliver a wonderfully hammy song and dance number. But personally, I find the animation to be the best part of the special. A combination of both the character designs and slightly choppy stop motion just works to bring up warm feelings. It makes me think about being a little kid again, excited for Christmas, and really, isn’t that what every good Christmas movie should do?

4. It’s a Wonderful Life

For the ur-classic of all the classic Christmas movies, it’s certainly a surprise to find out that It’s a Wonderful Life was not a success when first released. In fact, it was a bomb that received mixed reviews. However, when the copyright lapsed in 1974 and it entered the public domain, TV stations began to broadcast it, leading to a critical reevaluation and its high esteem today. Really, what else is there to say that hasn’t been said about this movie that hasn’t been said? As George Bailey contemplates suicide, a guardian angel shows him how different the people in his life would be without him, and all the things he has to be thankful for. It’s a timeless tale of all the joys life has to offer that inspires Christmas spirit in both the young and old. 


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