Probably only rivaled by Halloween and Valentine’s Day, never has a picture been painted by the combined holiday season of Christmas and the New Year’s been clearer. Gently falling snow outside a suburban home belong to a well-to-do family, where an adorned Christmas tree sits comfortably near the fireplace. Underneath the tree are wrapped presents, and the smell of hot cocoa (or eggnog, whatever you prefer) wafts in the air. This is coziness. This is the holiday season.
In tropical countries such as ours, the picture may not be exactly the same, but we still seek the same comfort without having to look for a fireplace to stoke or a snow day to watch (we are special snowflakes anyway). This is where the holiday movie comes in―movies that you watch between Christmas (where you are feasting on noche buena leftovers) and New Year’s (where you quietly observe your nephew and nieces practice their leaps and jumps before the clock strikes twelve). The holiday movie is where all the imagery comes anyway, so why not make a return just to capture that elusive holiday spirit?
We give you a list of films that are as diverse as they are different, and will hope to give you a bigger picture of the year-ender holidays in all its nuance.
#1 A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)
Given the jazz music, the absence of a laugh track, and its storied production done on a tight budget and an even tighter deadline, you wouldn’t think that this movie would be a Christmas classic. But it is, and for good reason: the film is amusing and it’s also very quietly endearing. A must-watch for those who don’t get or have forgotten the Christmas spirit.
#2 The Ref (1994)
Kevin Spacey and Judy Davis play a couple whose marriage is on the brink of a divorce when a burglar (played by Denis Leary―remember him?) points a gun to their head on their way home from marriage counseling on Christmas Eve. It’s a film with a pretty contrived plot lifted by the actors’ performances, and it’s pretty underrated as much as Christmas comedies go. Call it an anti-Christmas film, and a very funny, very good one at that.
#3 When Harry Met Sally… (1989)
You’ve most likely seen the title of this film beside other great romantic comedies, but aside from being a great study on the navigation of modern relationships, When Harry Met Sally… is also a film that has a lot to do with New Year’s Eve. There’s a distinct aftertaste the thought of a new year brings to a person that this film catches, and if that’s not enough to tide you over, maybe the restaurant scene (you’ll know it when you watch it) will etch this film into your brain. “I’ll have what she’s having”―comedic gold.
#4 Die Hard (1988)
I know what you’re thinking: “Why is this movie in a list about endearing holiday movies?” Bruce Willis plays John McClane, who fights a terrorist threat in a Los Angeles skyscraper where his wife is held hostage, among many others. There’s no definite answer why this movie comes up in so many Christmas movie lists, but if you’re looking for a reason why to watch it this holiday with your family, it’s the late Alan Rickman playing a better Christmas grinch than the Grinch himself. Yipee ki-yay.
#5 Trading Places (1983)
If you’re clamoring for just one movie to watch this holiday season, let this classic starred by Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy be it. Straight from a Mark Twain novel, a street-dwelling hustler and a gentleman broker trade places during the holiday season, and the hijinks ensue. When you finish this movie, you’ll be left emotionally satisfied―the best feeling to have just as the year closes.
Tangerine (2015):A West Coast comedy-drama odyssey featuring a transexual sex worker set during Christmas Eve.
A Long Way Down (2014): Four strangers with plans for suicide on a roof in London on New Year’s Eve. Very endearing, somehow.
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989): A middle-American father attempts to give his family an “old-fashioned Christmas.” Watch it for the laughs.