Entertainment: What are the five best Christmas movies?
I didn't get to see SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDERVERSE this past weekend, which I'm upset about because I've heard it is fantastic, but I will be here to break down the best Christmas movies that you should be watching leading into next Tuesday's holly jolly hoedown.
First off, THE POLAR EXPRESS sucks and I will not be discussing that any further. It's not on this list for a reason.
When we think Christmas movies, we automatically jump to John McTiernan's DIE HARD. The Bruce Willis actioner has become a meme in itself around this time of the year with several folks in constant debate on if the R-rated thriller constitutes as a Christmas film or not. I even did my column last year over this debate! For the sake for argument I will not include DIE HARD here, but it is one of the best films ever made. Obviously.
5th on my list for best Christmas films is going to have to go to KRAMPUS.
This 2015 horror-comedy hails from Michael Dougherty who wrote and directed the similarly toned 2009 film TRICK R TREAT and will be directing 2019's GODZILLA: KING OF MONSTERS. KRAMPUS is, obviously, not the kind of warm and fuzzy adventure that something like, say, IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE would be. It is based off the Hungarian folklore monster Krampus or the “Dark Santa” as it could be inferred. When two completely different sides of the same family get together, the ancient horror is inadvertently summoned. It's hilarious, frightful, and has a surprisingly touching little message behind it about valuing and accepting your family and the real meaning of the season.
4th on this Yule-tide yack-a-thon I'm on would have to be 1996's JINGLE ALL THE WAY. The comedy film starts none other than Arnold Schwarzenegger (at the height of his last stretch of 1990's fame) as a hard working family man who goes on a last-minute New York odyssey to buy the highly coveted (and widely sold-out) Turbo Man action figure for his son. Along the way he runs into a disgruntled postal employee (a hilarious Sinbad), a Santa Claus fight club, and even crashes a Christmas day parade. This 90's gem is hilarious and has become a holiday staple for many.
Taking up 3rd is most definitely going to be LOVE ACTUALLY. This ensemble romcom, released in 2003, has seemingly received new life the longer time goes on and the ridiculously stacked cast get more and more famous. The film follows eight different lives through the Christmas season in London including a washed up rock-star in the middle of selling out for a Christmas single (a hilarious Bill Nighy), a grieving father (Liam Neeson), an unhappy housewife (Emma Thompson), a love-spurned writer (Colin Firth), a sex-scene stunt double (Martin Freeman), the newly elected Prime Minister (Hugh Grant), and the stand-out pairing: Andrew Lincoln and Keira Knightley as two star-crossed lovers who are destined never to be together. This movie has it all, and i'm underselling it. Yu'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll fall in love.
2nd on the list is Tim Burton's Gothic masterpiece BATMAN RETURNS. The film, set over Christmas in Gotham City, sees Michael Keaton as Bruce Wayne/Batman who is hot on the trail of the murderous Oswald Cobblepot/The Penguin (a sickening Danny DeVito) running for Gotham Mayor. Meanwhile, the manic depressive and anxiety-ridden Selina Kyle/Catwoman (A ravishing Michelle Pfieffer) is bent on revenge and crime...but Selina and Bruce happen to fall in love while Batman and The Catwoman are after The Penguin with neither of them the wiser to the other's vigilantism. BATMAN RETURNS oozes Christmas spirit in a way only Tim Burton possibly can and it is, beyond a shadow of a doubt, the greatest comic book film ever made. I love BATMAN RETURNS so much that I will physically fight anyone who disagrees with me on how amazing it is.
The mood, the romance, the dialogue...everything in the film is done to illicit a dark fairy tale, and the somber, elegant take on the Batman character is revolutionary and, shockingly, has never been replicated or recaptured as Tim Burton did in his 1992 magnum opus.
And my favorite Christmas movie? At number 1 we have National Lampoon's CHRISTMAS VACATION. This Chevy Chase comedy is one of- maybe the- most well known Christmas comedies of all time. It has everything you could ever want, and it is the kind of film that really grew on me. As a kid I missed a lot of the subtle gags and more adult jokes, but watching it every Christmas Eve with my family has really changed that for me. I don't need to go on and describe CHRISTMAS VACATION because everyone with a pulse can already picture Cousin Eddie (Randy Quaid) in his bath robe, cap, and beer in hand emptying his trailer's sewage with the deafeningly iconic “Sh*tter's full”. The Griswold's are just as much a part of everyone's family as our own “kith and kin”.
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