Christmastime holds a specific place in the pop-culture world. The span of time between the Thanksgiving holiday and Christmas Day is filled with the familiar music, television shows, and films we’ve come to associate with this particular time of year. My take on the top five movies is a decidedly modern (and in some cases very adult) take on this always growing sub-genre – the holiday classic . . .
5) Home Alone – This John Hughes-written, Chris Columbus-directed, 1990 family blockbuster is packed with memorable scenes and lines. Based right outside Chicago, this tale of familial neglect (seriously, they forget their child?!) is beloved by kids and parents alike, with a classic Christmas-in-the-suburbs look, great holiday music, carefully curated slapstick, and just the right amount of poignancy to hit the feels . . .
4) Elf – Before rocketing to superstar status, filmmaker Jon Favreau and star Will Ferrell created Buddy the Elf, a human raised by the elves of the North Pole who has trouble fitting in either world. The movie is fall-on-the-floor hilarious in its’ first half as Buddy travels to NYC to find his birth father after being used to the candy-colored, sweet environment he is used to. Ferrell is buoyed by gruff father-figures Bob Newhart and James Caan in this infinitely re-watchable neo-classic . . .
3) Bad Santa – Be careful who is in the room when viewing this darkly hilarious satire of the awful side of the X-Mas season. Director Terry Zwigoff absolutely and thoroughly skewers the whole idea of the commercialized nature of mall culture surrounding the holiday. Billy Bob Thornton plays the character of a drunken, loutish, pathetic, criminal in a Santa suit in a way that only he can – by the end, one is amazed to be rooting for him . . .
2) A Christmas Story – A cult classic that has been catapulted to center stage with a repeat marathon on the big day itself, this ’80s film continues to captivate viewers of all ages. Set in the 1950’s, older generations can relate to the references and spot-on sets. Current parents feel the nostalgia to their own childhoods as the film was on constant rotation this time of year on the HBO of our collective youth. Newer generations can revel in a world that appears alien, but Ralphie’s innate desire for a bb-gun is as relatable to them as whatever latest gadget is burning up eBay . . .
1) Die Hard – The granddad of the modern action film is also a perennial favorite for Christmas Eve – ning viewing. Bruce Willis’s everyman hero is subject to all sorts of ever-escalating abuse, from crawling through tight ventilation ducts and being shot at, to barefoot sprinting over broken glass and being shot at, to strained conversations with late ’80s yuppies just prior to being shot at. John McClane’s wise-cracking in the face of Euro-trash terrorism (led by the inimitable Alan Rickman), will steel your courage in facing your own estranged family members – his struggle is the ultimate example of a hero trapped in a tight space with a bunch of people he despises . . .