10 Favorite Movies To Watch at Christmas Time

There are certain movies that become family tradition around Christmas… from classics like White Christmas, It’s A Wonderful Life to more contemporary fare like Scrooged, Home Alone, Elf, and of course, the ‘honorary’ Christmas action flick of all time, Die Hard. Some people might opt for the plethora of Christmas rom-coms, which if you are one the you are in luck as Netflix has a bazillion of them that rival even the Hallmark channel!

I have to admit, I did watch three Christmas rom-coms in early December – Jingle, Jangle: A Christmas Journey (which I’ve blogged about here), The Holiday Calendar (meh!) and Last Christmas. That last one is not perfect but given it’s written by Emma Thompson and I grew up loving George Michael’s songs, the movie has its charm and I ended up enjoying it quite a bit. I might even do a Music Break post at some point.

Now, I’ve written about some of the movies on this list, but hey, they’re still my faves so I’m including them again here. Some of them on this list aren’t exactly Christmas movies per se, but there are some memorable scenes that you associate with the season that gets you in the holiday spirit.

LOVE, ACTUALLY

I love many Richard Curtis’ movies and this one is chock full of my favorite British actors so naturally it’s one of my go-tos around the holidays. The sappy cards-on-the-doorstep bit is everyone’s favorites, but I have to say Emma Thompson is the scene stealer here and her storyline as a dutiful wife who suspects her husband (played by the venerable Alan Rickman) is cheating on her with his hot co-worker never fails to bring tears to my eyes.

YOU’VE GOT MAIL

I’ve mentioned this movie oh-so-many-times on this blog for obvious reasons. NYC is particularly festive and lovely during Christmas season with all the sparkling lights. But it’s the quiet moments that always gets me… Katherine misses her mother as she decorates the Christmas tree at the store her late mom had built. We all miss our loved ones during the holidays, and this year is particularly tough as we can’t even spend time with our family/friends because of the lockdown.

THE HOLIDAY

Ok so this movie has issues and I have to say I have a hard time watching Cameron Diaz’s character at times. But the Kate Winslet’s storyline is much more intriguing of the two. I sure can relate to her falling hopelessly in love with a hot-but-caddish co-worker at a Christmas party… and I love her reaction when she found out just how amazing Diaz’s LA house is.

Speaking of house, Jude Law’s home is one of the dreamiest Christmas homes that actually looked believably lived-in. It’s got that warm + cozy feeling right from the entry hall.

According to this article, apparently this enchanting Mill House is located in Wonersh, Surrey. Another reason I can’t wait to go visit the UK again once this pandemic is all over!

JOYEUX NOËL

Based on a true story of an unofficial Christmas truce in December 1914, this film truly conveys the real meaning of Christmas. Such a wonderful film that shows an uplifting lesson in humanity, though the truce is such a brief one and the troops from three countries had to pay the price for their disobedience.

I highly recommend this one if you haven’t already. Here’s a clip of the singing scene.

Per IMDb, the character of the opera singer is based on that of German tenor Walter Kirchhoff (1879-1951), who travelled to the front in order to perform for the troops. His performance was met by cheers from the French lines, where upon he decided to climb on to no-mans-land to see who was cheering.

BRIDGET JONES’S DIARY

I actually just bought the blu-ray of this one. I figured I’d get a lot of watch out of it that it’s better to buy it instead of renting. Helen Fielding created such a fun, relatable character in Bridget and the movie still made me laugh after all these years. Fielding wrote the screenplay along with two of my fave British writers, Andrew Davies (responsible for a bunch of Jane Austen adaptations) and Richard Curtis (natch!). Texas-born Renée Zellweger is simply marvelous as Bridget, which proves she’s quite a versatile actress who made the iconic British character her own. It’s quite fun seeing Hugh Grant playing a cad, too, which I think is closer to his own persona than the goody-two-shoes roles of his other rom-coms.

KLAUS

This Oscar-nominated animated movie is such a wonder. Per IMDb, director Sergio Pablos had wanted to do a traditionally animated feature film, so the studio used CGI lighting techniques with hand-drawn animation to create a unique animation style for the story. The visuals are simply amazing to behold, but it’s the story that warms your heart. An imaginative take of a classic about a postman who befriends toymaker Klaus, whose friendship ends up changing the lives of the people in two feuding towns. The quintessential feel-good family movie that’ll make you laugh and cry… I know I’ll be watching this for years to come.

THE FAMILY MAN

I saw this quite a while ago and despite it being a mash-up of Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life and Dicken’s A Christmas Carol, it’s still got its charms. Nic Cage is basically Scrooge, a successful, narcissistic business man who thinks he’s got it all. Then he meets Don Cheadle one fateful night and he’s given a glimpse of an alternate universe of what might’ve been if he hadn’t leave his college girlfriend and married her instead. Funny and heartwarming, it’s the kind of movie that makes you reflect on your own life and figure out just what’s really important to you.

ELF

I just watched Netflix’s The Holiday Movies That Made Us documentary series which shows the real stories behind these iconic Christmas blockbusters, thanks to insider interviews and behind-the-scenes peeks. The ELF episode is especially fascinating for me who’s struggling striving to make a feature film, as it shows just how challenging it is to make a movie. Everything had to align just right and even so, there’s no guarantee the movie would be a hit.

It seems Will Ferrell was born to play the Elf who travels from North Pole to NYC to locate his father after discovering he is a human. Beautifully written by David Berenbaum, who made this as an homage to his own father, this movie has the crucial ingredient for a Christmas classic: a big, huge heart. I forgot that Jon Favreau directed this, which further proves he’s one of the most talented and versatile filmmakers working in Hollywood today.

VICAR OF DIBLEY – CHRISTMAS SPECIAL 2006

I actually just watched this a couple of days ago and though it’s not a movie, I simply had to include it on this list. This popular British sit-com is yet another one of Richard Curtis‘ creations and it’s so brilliantly funny and irreverent. Dawn French is hilarious as the boisterous female minister (vicar) Geraldine Granger who serves in an eccentrically-conservative small town’s church.

This Christmas episode is actually the final season, consisting of just two episode where Geraldine gets swept off her feet by a handsome stranger (Richard Armitage) and finally becomes the bride after officiating thousands of weddings. I love that Geraldine also loves Sense and Sensibility, she’s in fact shown to be watching the Ang Lee version on the show! Interestingly, James Fleet, who plays Hugo Horton in the series, played John Dashwood in the Jane Austen movie.

I found some excerpts of this episode in Vimeo, so enjoy!

 

IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE

I saw this a decade ago for the first time and I haven’t re-watched it since, so some details were quite hazy to me. Well, I’m glad I rewatched this two days before I wrote this list, as I’ve come to appreciate this Christmas classic even more!

I love James Stewart‘s moving performance as George Bailey, despite the character being originally developed at another studio with Cary Grant in mind. Apparently this was Donna Reed’s first starring role as she’s wonderful as Bailey’s love interest Mary, who I think is as much a savior in Bailey’s life as Clarence the angel. Frank Capra cited this as one of his favorite films and it’s certainly has stood the test of time. Yes it’s melodramatic at times and some of the scenes are a product of its time, but the uplifting and inspiring message is one that generations to come would still enjoy and relate to. Given the pandemic and many of us feeling down and perhaps even desolate, this story resonates even more.

This is the most iconic scenes in the film and perhaps ranks as the most indelible one in all classic films. Even though I had seen this before and it’s one of the most shared clips/gifs, I still can’t help feeling really emotional watching this. Bailey’s problems of being $8,000 short still remains, but his outlook on life has drastically changed. The part when he wished the evil Mr. Potter a Merry Christmas through his office window is both funny and touching.

Per IMDb, the set for Bedford Falls was constructed in two months and was one of the longest sets that had ever been made for an American movie.

Despite being set around Christmas, the film was filmed during a heat wave, in fact this exact scene was actually filmed on a scorching July day. It got to be so hot that director Frank Capra gave everyone a day off to recuperate.


In the spirit of Christmas AND his love for Star Wars, my hubby made this mash-up arrangement. Hope you enjoy it! 🙂


Here’s wishing all of you

a BLESSED & JOYFUL CHRISTMAS…

Stay safe + healthy!


Merry Christmas! FlixChatter Team’s Favorite Christmas Movies

Merry Christmas everyone! It’s Ruth here and it’s Christmas Day here in the Twin Cities where our blog team and I live. It’s actually an unusually brown Christmas with just a few leftover snow on the ground, nary a flurry in sight!

I’ve made a ton of Christmas posts over the years, such us the one from 2016 highlighting favorite Christmas movie moments. The last holiday-related post I did was this relay race to list 10 Best Christmas Movies where I picked this 2005 WWII drama Joyeux Noël.

Well, I thought this year I’d invite my blogging team to tell us their favorite Christmas movies, or the go-to movie(s) they’d watch often during the holiday season. So read on below and see if you share some favorite Christmas movies!


Laura Schaubschlager

Choosing one “go-to” Christmas movie is tough; it’s one of my favorite times of the year, and I have several movies I have to watch for nostalgia’s sake. If I absolutely have to pick one, though, I’ll go with Home Alone. Sure, the plot doesn’t necessarily hold up today (with current home security systems, smart phones, and today’s airport check-in procedures, I don’t think the story would progress past the first 15 minutes now), but it’s still a classic.

The cast is fantastic, with Macaulay Culkin securing his place as the child actor of the early 90’s (and my first celebrity crush) as Kevin McCallister, Catherine O’Hara and John Heard successfully striking a balance of infuriatingly clueless and genuinely loving as his parents, Kate and Peter, and, of course, Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern hamming it up as the hilarious “Wet Bandits,” Harry and Marv.

The movie is full of memorable scenes and dialogue that are still parodied and referenced even after nearly 30 years, and it’s rich with Chrismas imagery, but the soundtrack is what makes it most enduring to me. In addition to classics like Brenda Lee’s Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree and The Drifters’ White Christmas (songs that, to this day, I can’t hear without associating them with specific scenes from this film), the score includes music from iconic composer John Williams, and if you don’t get a little choked up hearing Somewhere in my Memory, his big theme for the film, you might be a bit of a Grinch.


Ted Saydalavong

I tend to watch Home Alone and Die Hard often during the Christmas season. Throughout my teens Home Alone was a staple during the holidays with my parents and siblings. It’s the first film we watched together around Christmas many years ago. For those old enough to remember, studios tend to leave successful films in theaters for a long time and Home Alone was a massive hit back in the holiday season of 1990. So, it didn’t come out on video until the next holiday season and that’s when I first saw the film with my family.

I couldn’t remember exactly when I saw Die Hard but it wasn’t during Christmas season but somehow I’ve watched at least once a year before Christmas. I think the film wasn’t considered by some as a Christmas film probably a decade after its release in theaters. For a while people just think it’s a great action film but throughout the years, it somehow became known more as a Christmas film. Of course they are some who would argue that’s it’s not a Christmas film. To me it’s a great action film that happens to take place during Christmas time, I don’t really care if it’s an official Christmas film or not.

Another film I tend to watch during the holidays is The Long Kiss Goodnight. A big budget action/adventure with a female lead that I thought was way ahead of its time. Unfortunately, it was a box office dud but I think it has sort of a cult following.


Vitali Gueron

My first favorite Christmas movie is Home Alone (1990), directed by Chris Columbus and starring Macaulay Culkin as Kevin McCallister. Kevin is a bratty but smart 8-year-old boy who’s mistakenly left behind by his his family when they fly away to Paris for Christmas vacation. Kevin at first absolutely loves being home alone, especially away from his bullying big brother Buzz (Devin Ratray) but soon he has to defend his family home from two unsuspecting burglars, Harry and Marv (played respectively by Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern). Since Kevin convinces himself that he is not afraid to be home alone, he decides to defend his family home from the burglars and rigs the house with booby traps to take on the bandits. This is where all the fun ensues, and when Harry and Marv break in, Kevin spring the traps and they suffer various minor injuries. Kevin also learns a lesson when he befriends Old Man Marley (Roberts Blossom), his neighbor who Kevin previously misjudged as being a serial killer who murdered his family. What Kevin learns is that forgiveness is a very important character trait, no matter how late it comes. I think it brings a nice message of love and forgiveness that anyone watching can relate to. The film was also nominated for two Academy Awards: Best Original Score (written by John Williams) and Best Original Song for “Somewhere in My Memory” (again by John Williams). I try to watch this movie at least once during the holidays.

My second favorite Christmas movie is Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992), directed by Chris Columbus and with Macaulay Culkin reprising his role as Kevin McCallister. This time, Kevin is little order, a little smarter but also a whole lot more likely to get lost by his family.

This time, Kevin and his family decide to take a trip to Florida, but because of a power outage, their alarm clocks don’t wake them up in the morning which makes them late for their flight. In all of the rush and confusion, Kevin ends up taking the wrong plane and instead of Florida, he ends up in New York City. Once there, instead of freaking out, Kevin decides to make the most of it and to tour the city. Meanwhile, the “Wet Bandits”, Harry and Marv (Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern reprising their roles), have traveled to New York City after escaping during a prison riot and have a new name for themselves: the “Sticky Bandits”. Kevin goes to Central Park and meets a homeless woman (Brenda Fricker) feeding the pigeons, but gets scared because she doesn’t talk and has birds all over her. He then goes to the Plaza Hotel, where he uses his dad Peter’s credit card to check in. One of the most poignant but heartwarming parts of the movie comes when on Christmas Eve, Kevin visits a toy store where he meets its philanthropic owner, Mr. E.F. Duncan (Eddie Bracken). Kevin learns that the proceeds from the store’s Christmas sales will be donated to a children’s hospital, and provides a donation.

As a token of appreciation, Mr. Duncan offers Kevin a pair of ceramic turtledoves as a gift, instructing him to give one to another person as a sign of eternal friendship. Kevin goes back to Central Park to apologize to the Pigeon Lady, and give her his other half of the pair of ceramic turtledoves. Of course, he “coincidentally” bumps into the Wet Bandits, who remember him, and then another round of booby traps are set in an abandoned house that use to belong to Kevin’s uncle. The best part of the movie comes at the end when Kevin reunites with his mother at the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree after he wishes for no presents for Christmas but rather a fast reunion with his family. I love watching this movie back to back with the first Home Alone.


Holly Peterson

There is nothing better than sitting down with a cup of warm, homemade eggnog and a favorite Christmas movie. My two favorites, perhaps predictably, are polar opposites. I’m nothing if not inconsistent. 😉

A viewing of Die Hard (everyone’s favorite is it or isn’t it this year: spoilers, it is) followed by a viewing of Love Actually always get me into the Christmas spirit.

Wishing all of our readers a Happy Holiday season, filled with a family that looks out for you and a love story that is worth telling year after year. Yippee Kai Yay!


Ruth Maramis

For me, my go-to Christmas movies have remain the same over the years and it’s one I can watch any time of the year. I’m a self-professed Anglophile and a huge fan of Richard Curtis’ work (Four Weddings and a Funeral, Bridget Jones’s Diary, Notting Hill and Love Actually). In fact, one of my all time favorite Christmas-themed episode in a TV series is The Vicar of Dibley’s Christmas Special that I’ve highlighted in this post.

This is also a good episode to ogle the the handsome stranger, Richard Armitage (ehm)

So it’s no surprise that Love, Actually is one I can watch time and again, especially during the holiday season. I love that Curtis’ able to balance pathos, irony and absurd humor so perfectly in this scene set in a shopping centre during the hustle and bustle of the Christmas holiday. Absolute classic.

Now, You’ve Got Mail isn’t exactly a Christmas movie per se, but it has several significant Christmas scenes that I’d like think of it as such. Whenever I’m feeling nostalgic and a tad sentimental during the holidays, I’m usually in the mood to watch this Nora Ephron classic. This scene in particular often gets me teared up… I love the setting itself of a winter day in NYC with the sparkling and festive Christmas tree, but it also captures the sentiment of feeling lonely and missing the one you love so perfectly. It’s a beautifully-emotional scene that shall always remains timeless.


So friends, now that we’ve shared ours…

… tell us your favorite or go-to Christmas movie(s)!

FlixChatter Spotlight: Vicar of Dibley Christmas Special

It’s what our local newspaper call a very Messy Christmas today with nonstop icky snow and sleet outside. There’s already at least a foot of snow already on the ground, our grill and plastic chairs on the deck are buried in snow, and so are most cars parked outside.

Some of you are spending time with family/friends or watching classic Christmas movies. I have yet to catch most of them on this list, but one I can watch any day of the year is the Christmas Special finale of BBC’s The Vicar of Dibley. I bought the DVD a few years ago and it’s certainly got a lot of play in my house.

Created by English writer/producer/director Richard Curtis, the man behind British rom-coms, such as Four Weddings and a Funeral, Bridget Jones’s Diary, Notting Hill, and Love Actually, as well as the hit sitcom Mr. Bean, The Vicar of Dibley starrs Dawn French as Geraldine ‘Gerry’ Granger, the Vicar of the rural parish of Dibley. It’s filled with typical British zany humor, largely due to the comic skills of the lead actress, but the supporting cast are equally great. You’ve seen some of them in other Curtis’ films, i.e. James Fleet (Tom in Four Weddings and a Funeral, Emma Chambers who played Hugh Grant’s oddball sister in Notting Hill). I LOVE everyone in the cast, they’re all such a hoot!

VicarOfDibley_DawnFrenchRichardArmitage

In the two-hour long Christmas Special called A Holy Wholly Happy Ending, the vicar who complained that she’s ‘always the vicar, but never the bride’ finally gets her man. Oh, and what a man indeed. The handsome stranger who swept Gerry off her feet is played by hunky Richard Armitage (star of BBC’s Spooks and Robin Hood series’ Guy of Gisbourne). You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, but one thing for sure you’ll fall in love with the mischievously endearing Vicar. Here’s a clip from the unexpected-proposal episode I can watch over and over again:

You have got to check out the hilarious rehearsal as well with Hugh Boneville‘s hilarious cameo as a fellow vicar who bears a longtime crush on Gerry. What a brilliant ending to such a witty and funny series!


Here’s hoping you all have a wonderful Christmas, wherever you are!