When I was a child, one of my favorite times of year was that magical time—right around Thanksgiving—when my father would pull a box labeled "XMAS TAPES" off its perch, high in the back of our coat closet, and my brother and I would jump on it, anxious to get at the VHS treasury contained within. You see, this was the early 1990s, a time before Netflix and Hulu+ and torrenting sites. When we wanted to watch a movie, we had to sort through a big pile of haphazardly labeled tapes—most of which had been recorded from our TV and had commercials we had to fast forward through—and sit there, waiting for them to rewind, for what seemed like HOURS because we would never rewind them after viewing. And, while I was a child, no movies were more prized than our holiday ones. We only took that box down on Thanksgiving and put it back every New Year's Day, so those movies became part of our holiday landscape and still inform who I am as a person today. Because even though holidays are a time of togetherness and everything, they are also the perfect time to watch a bunch of movies. Whether you're spending hours on a plane and need something good to download on your iPad or trying to avoid talking to your crazy great-aunt by turning on the TV, there is never a bad time for a good holiday movie. So, I thought I would ask around and see what some of the all-time favorites are here at the Brooklyn Magazine/L Magazine offices. I recommend watching while eating a lot of popcorn and occasionally reaching over and giving your brother a wet willie. At least, that's what I'll be doing.
I gotta go with Love Actually...
Every year I watch it while wrapping presents, and every year it gets just a touch cheesier and I love it just a tiny bit more. The scene where the guy brings cue cards to Keira Knightley's house — no, her flat! — telling her that she's perfect and she kisses him on the cheek? I annually consider moving to London for about 15 minutes after that, assuming that all British people behave in similar fashion around the holidays.
Home Alone 2
Cartoonish violence and 90's consumerist excess aside, it's really the perfect holiday movie. Worth it for the Tim Curry-to-Grinch cutaway alone.
my favorite holiday movie is definitely elf. i am not a will ferrell fan by any means, but buddy is such a departure from the characters that he usually plays. he's sweet and sensitive, and it's really fun to watch him experience new york city for the first time—skulking through the holland tunnel, watching him eat gum off the sidewalk, pressing all the buttons in the elevator at the eimpire state building. plus, i'm loathe to admit it, but that scene where he sings "baby it's cold outside" with an weirdly blonde, pre-superfame zooey deschanel is like, way cute.
I like Gremlins—it's about how our materialism will destroy us, about how imported Chinese goods wreck the US economy and turn the nice suburbs into an inner city. It's an impeccably crafted end of America parable.
That's adapted from a Twitter post I wrote like two years ago.
Hannah and Her Sisters
Also Henry Stewart:
Are there any other Thanksgiving movies? If there are, they aren't this good. I like how a film professor once convinced me that the happy ending actually isn't happy at all. And I like how it's about cheating on your wife with someone in your family—basically a pre-confession to what Woody would later do. I like how dark and sad it is. Just like holidays, winter, and life.
Fanny and Alexander
Hands fucking down. Because of the magic lantern scene, the uncle farting scene, and how its vision of childhood is darkly honest.
A Muppet Christmas Carol
It still has the same magic as when I was a kid. I also love Michael Caine and musicals.
I choose Scrooged. Or Groundhog's Day if it counts because of Bill Murray.
National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation; The Royal Tenenbaums; Christmas Eve on Sesame Street
Three things come to mind:
1) National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, because I'm American.
2) Royal Tennenbaums, which isn't a Christmas movie but for some reason always reminds me of the Holidays. Something about BIll Murray's blazers and turtlenecks, and Gene Hackman's suit. And I guess Gwyneth's fur coat thing.
3) Christmas Eve on Sesame Street, which is a special that ran in the early-80s at some point. My family watched it every Christmas Eve, a tradition I maintained into my adult life, even before having a kid.
Yes, this is a real Christmas movie. It is not, as Jonny Diamond asked me, "a waking dream you had in Barstow three-days into a bender." Fluppy Dogs was a one-hour TV pilot for a series that was never made because the pilot was only watched by one person (me) in the entire United States of America. And it is a national treasure of cinema. It is about the canus fluppidogius —and their leader, a Fluppy named Stanley—and the hunt for a secret door that leads to the Fluppies home dimension and how the Fluppies and their human friends—Jamie and Claire—are almost thwarted by an evil miser named Wagstaff. It is like the My So-Called Life or Freaks and Geeks of Christmas TV movies. If you have a chance, watch it. And then watch it again.
Follow Kristin Iversen on twitter @kmiversen