By: Nick Gambino
Christmas is the one holiday a year that has more movies dedicated to it than any other, and it’s not even a close second. Thanksgiving has, if I’m being generous, five movies you can name off the top of your head. With so many Christmas movies to weed through it’s beyond overwhelming to choose which ones are going to be enjoyable enough to earn a spot on December 25th. And what with all those controversial quasi-Christmas movies like Gremlins and Die Hard, the choice only gets harder. Andrew and Trevor covered some of those more “are they/aren’t they” Christmas flicks in the most recent episode of NewsWatch. So you can check that out for more suggestions. Here are a few of my favorites that’ll help you cruise into December 26th.
The Bill Murray comedy directed by Lethal Weapon helmer Richard Donner (RIP) is essentially an update to the classic Christmas Carol tale. Murray plays Frank Cross, a TV executive who has lost his way, choosing greed and selfishness over love and generosity. With a great roster of supporting characters and Murray at his best comedically, you can’t go wrong with this one.
THE FAMILY STONE (2005)
Photo: Twentieth Century Fox
I discovered this little gem only a couple of years ago and it now has a permanent place in my Christmas movie rotation. Starring an ensemble cast that includes Diane Keaton, Craig T. Nelson, Sarah Jessica Parker, Dermot Mulroney, Claire Danes, and more, this hysterical and emotional gut punch delivers everything you’d want from a Christmas movie. While the plot isn’t anything new (son brings his uptight girlfriend home to meet the family for Christmas), it’s the performances that really sell it.
TRAPPED IN PARADISE (1994)
It’s criminal how few people have seen or even heard of this movie. It stars Nicolas Cage and SNL greats Dana Carvey and Jon Lovitz as three brothers who decide to rob a bank on Christmas Eve in the sweetest town that ever existed – Paradise, Pennsylvania. A snowstorm traps them in Paradise (hence the title) and who should come to their rescue? The friendly family who owns the bank. This one won’t disappoint if you’re looking for a funny Christmas movie that you probably haven’t seen.
DIE HARD 2: DIE HARDER (1990)
Photo: 20TH CENTURY STUDIOS
Everyone’s always fixated on debating whether Die Hard is a Christmas movie or not, they forget that the direct sequel also takes place on Christmas Eve. Switching out Nakatomi Plaza for the Dulles Airport in Washington, DC, home-grown terrorists commandeer the traffic control system and so have every plane and passenger in the sky as their hostage. It just so happens one of those passengers is Holly Gennero…errrr…McClane. Her husband, NYC cop John McClane, races against the clock to stop the bad guys and save his wife and everyone else from crashing into the runway. The movie borrows a lot of beats from the first Die Hard, but it definitely stands on its own.
8-BIT CHRISTMAS (2021)
Photo: HBO Max
Ok, I had to add a newer movie to the list for those crazies out there who can’t stand “older” flicks. 8-Bit Christmas is an HBO Max original that just hit the platform a couple of months ago. It’s about a father, played by Neil Patrick Harris, who tells the wild story of how he got his first NES in 1987. The majority of the movie takes place in the 80s, providing plenty of fun and nostalgia. While I wouldn’t call it an instant Christmas classic, it’s a great time and even delivers on the emotion at the end. Yes, I cried.
Those should serve you well on Christmas Day. While it’s not a complete list, I’m sure there’s one or two you haven’t seen.