Craig’s Top 15 Holiday Films

It’s the most magical time of the year.  Yeah, thats right, it’s Christmas time!  The time when mailing anything becomes impossible, suicides shoot to an all time high and Dad switches from straight-up scotch to egg nog because its “more festive, dammit.”  If that statement didn’t make it clear, I kind of hate Christmas.  The music, the crowds, the general nonsense, all of it.  I hate that I can’t find a parking space at the theater.  I hate that Target becomes a black hole of despair.  I hate that every single network feels the need to spend a month beating us over the head with a non-stop onslaught of holiday cheer.  The presents are cool, but even those are usually somewhat disappointing.  Hell, the only good thing about Christmas is the excuse to visit some of my favorite holiday classics.  And thats why I, The Fandom Menace’s resident Grinch, have put together my list of the Top Fifteen Holiday Movies just for you!  So lets get this started, yeah?!

15.  The Nightmare Before Christmas

I know, I know.  The Nightmare Before Christmas has become kind of a trendy thing in the last decade or so.  But say what you will, it is still a great stop motion love-fest for all of us with a twisted take on the holidays.  Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King of Halloween, tries to take over Christmas and, through his failure, learns the real meaning of the holiday.  With catchy tunes from Oingo Boingo’s Danny Elfman, The Nightmare Before Christmas is a modern Christmas classic and one of the few things that Hot Topic had every right to put on a pedestal.

14.  Elf

Will Ferrell plays Buddy the Elf, a human raised by Santa’s little helpers at the North Pole.  After wreaking all sorts of size-related havoc, Buddy sets out for New York City in search of his biological father in order to teach him a thing or two about the Christmas Spirit.  On the surface, Elf is a family friendly comedy about giving yourself over to the spirit of the season, and it is.  But its also a movie full of great physical comedy, alcohol, angry midgets and Zooey Deschanel looking damn hot and singing a lot.  It’s like Bad Santa, but you can show watch it with kids around and not have to deal with Child Protective Services knocking on your door.

13.  Santa’s Slay

Wait, wait, wait.  So you’re telling me you’ve never heard of Santa’s Slay?  No joke, this thing is a real movie and absolutely worth your time.  Professional wrestler Bill Goldberg plays Santa, the anti-Christ, who lost a bet with an angel 1,000 years ago.  As a result, he has spent the last millennia being nice.  But now his time is up and Santa can go back to destroying everyone and everything he comes in contact with.  All that stands in his way is Nicholas Yuleson (played brilliantly by my buddy Douglas Smith) and his girlfriend Mary Mackenzie (LOST‘s crazy squirrel mom, Emilie de Ravin).  From start to finish, Santa’s Slay is a non-stop ride in fun and murderous absurdity.  With lines like “I don’t mean to be offensive, but are you fucking retarded” and “I’m Santa Claus, not fucking Dracula,” how can you not love this movie?!

12.  Brazil

In a distopian future that makes 1984 look like a trip to Six Flags, lowly government employee Sam Lowry (Jonathan Price) has recurring dreams of saving a beautiful woman.  After being tasked with rectifying the execution of an innocent man due to a clerical error, Sam accidentally finds the literal woman of his dreams who just happens to be a terrorist, fighting against the bureaucracy.  With the aid of Jill (Kim Greist) and a mysterious super heroic air-conditioner repairman named Harry Tuttle (Robert De Niro), Sam decides to stand up for a better future and struggle against the oppression that holds such a strong grip on society.  Brazil is easily one of Terry Gilliam‘s most brilliant and mind-bending films, but what does any of this have to do with Christmas?  It all takes place at Christmas time and thats enough for me.

11.  Lethal Weapon

Yeah, yeah, it seems like Im spiraling away from the whole Christmas theme here, but Lethal Weapon is DEFINITELY a Christmas movie.  The film opens with Jingle Bell Rock, dammit!  Sure, its an action film, but at its core, Lethal Weapon is the story of two lonely men finding the value of friendship during the holidays.  In fact, of all the movies on this list, Lethal Weapon contains the most touching present of all of them.  In a particularly poignant scene, Riggs (Mel Gibson) gives Murtaugh (Danny Glover) the bullet he had planned to commit suicide with.  Nothing says “I love you, dude” like physical proof that you gave them something to live for.

10.  Home Alone

Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin), after being forgotten at home by his vacationing family, must defend the homestead from two bumbling burglars (Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern).  Through the weird circumstances and Tom & Jerry-esque violence, Kevin learns a valuable lesson of It’s a Wonderful Life proportions about the value of love and family during the holidays.  Nothing makes a kid feel quite as warm and fuzzy as watching another kid hit two guys in the face with paint cans and then uttering a line straight from the pen of John Hughes.  Home Alone has been on my list since its release in 1990.

09.  National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

Another John Hughes stroke of genius, Chevy Chase stars in this Christmas classic about Clark W. Griswold’s attempt to provide his family with the perfect Christmas Vacation.  But between his shitty neighbors, his annoying in laws and a squirrel in the damn tree, Clark’s perfect Christmas quickly descends into a mad-capped exercise in Murphy’s Law.  Christmas Vacation has managed to stand tall as an everlasting Christmas classic despite all the films that have tried to take its place over the last two decades.

08.  Gremlins

What says holiday cheer and family togetherness more then a father getting his son a new pet for Christmas?  Nothing, thats what.  Unless that pet happens to be a Mogwai.  And you happen to get it wet which causes it to to spawn more Mogwai’s out of its back.  And then you happen to feed those little bastards after midnight turning them into horrible green beasts.  Joe Dante‘s epic masterpiece, Gremlins,  is one of the most enduring monster movies of the 80’s and one of the greatest films about Christmas mayhem EVER.

07.  Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

As an LA native, its pretty rare to see a Christmas movie that resembles anything I really grew up with.  Sure, I associate snow and warm fires with the holidays like everyone else, but thats mostly because of movies.  But then, Shane Black came along with Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, the modern-day film noir about a theif-turned actor (Robert Downey Jr.) and his gay-private-eye partner (Val Kilmer) trying to solve a Christmas time murder in Los Angeles.  Plus, how can you deny the hotness of Michelle Monaghan in a little red and white number?

06.  How The Grinch Stole Christmas

How do you make the Christmas cartoon to end all Christmas cartoons?  Enlist an all star team the likes of which have never been seen.  From a story by Dr. SeussHow The Grinch Stole Christmas was directed by legendary animator Chuck Jones, the father of the Looney Tunes and Tom & Jerry.  Narrating is classic movie monster actor Boris Karloff.  The man behind the music was Albert Hague, the lovable music teacher from Fame.  Singing the songs?  Thats Thurl Ravenscroft, the voice of Tony the Tiger and that rad vacuum from The Brave Little Toaster.    I don’t even think I have to explain this one as it has been around since 1966 and shows no signs of going anywhere.

05.  Scrooged

Its hard to do a Christmas movie list without some variation on Charles Dickens’ classic, A Christmas Carol.  And really, there is no better version then Bill Murray‘s 1988 comedy Scrooged.  In this modern retelling, Ebeneezer is replaced with Murray’s sarcastic Frank Cross, a television executive who plans to rape the corpse of Christmas for monetary gain.  Its only when three disturbing ghosts visit him to show him his past (Buster Poindexter) , present (Carol Kane) and future does Frank realize the values of a good woman (Karen Allen), loving family, and Bobcat Goldthwait.  Plus, Robert Goulet is there.  WIN!

04.  A Very Sunny Christmas

Leave it to the dysfunctional gang of Its Always Sunny in Philadelphia to make one of the darkest Christmas specials of all time.  While Charlie (Charlie Day) and Mac (Rob McElhenney) grab their OmniBot and go out in search of the Christmas spirit, Dennis (Glenn Howerton) and Dee (Kaitlin Olson) try to show Frank (Danny DeVito) what a miserable bastard he has been to them every Christmas since they were kids.  What results is an insane and twisted journey into the mind of madness and includes (but is, by no means, limited to) Christmas whores, Santa Attacks, throwing rocks at trains and one very fucked up stop-motion segment about torture and murder.  Since first seeing this two years ago, Its Always Sunny in Philadelphia: A Very Sunny Christmas has been one of my favorite go-to watches for the holiday season.

03.  Jingle All the Way

Jingle All the Way is a movie most people brush off without a second thought, but I adore this movie.  What speaks more to the annoyances of the season then the story of a man (played by Arnold Schwarzenegger) trying to find the must-have toy of the year?  As he rushes from place to place fighting thieves, alcoholic Santas (led by James Belushi), wife-stealing Phil Hartman and a bastard mailman in the form of Sinbad, all Arnold really learns is that punching a reindeer then getting hammered with it as a sure way to cure the Christmas blues.  This movie puts all of the things I hate about Christmas at the forefront and turns them into an enjoyable road-trip style movie.  I’m still waiting for a god damned Turboman doll.

02.  A Christmas Story

Every Christmas morning, I rush into the living room and, instead of going directly for presents, go directly for TBS where every American is given the gift a 24 hour marathon of A Christmas Story.  Although things start warm and fuzzy, the repeating anthem of “you’ll shoot your eye out” makes my brother pissy, the vein in my mom’s head pop out and pushes my dad to his annual 10 am beer, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.  This gem is the story of Raphie (Peter Billingsly) and his obsession with getting a Red Rider BB Gun for Christmas and all of the obstacles that stand in his way.  Any little girl who wanted a horse or any little boy who wanted…well….a gun, knows how he feels and this film, with its chaptered structure and kid-centric point of view, was the forefather of other great films like The Sandlot.  What can be better then that?  Well….

01.  Die Hard

Not only is Die Hard the greatest action film EVER, but its also a damn fine Christmas movie.  When Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman) and his team of terrorists hold Nakatomi Plaza hostage during a Christmas party, its up to John McClane (Bruce Willis) to save the day.  With the aid of Carl Winslow, John walks across broken glass, jumps off a roof tied to a fire hose and takes down bad guys with a smirk on his face and a Christmas carol in his heart.  Nothing fills me with Christmas cheer as much as John McClane filling krauts full of lead.

Merry Christmas everybody!

~ by Andrew Craig on December 8, 2011.

One Response to “Craig’s Top 15 Holiday Films”

  1. Awesome list dude. Plus, these are all CHRISTMAS MOVIES!!!

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