Movies to Watch this Holiday Season

Movies to Watch this Holiday Season

The holidays can not come any sooner, so here are some recommendations of specials, movies, and episodes of popular tv shows that could be worth a watch to get you ready. For this list I tried to include anything that was fun to watch from beginning to end, and gave the holiday cheer that we could all use right now. This explains the absence of the strange stop motion classics like Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer (1964), The Year Without a Santa Claus (1974), and dispiriting “holiday classics” like Jack Frost (1998), and Love Actually (2003). That being said, enjoy these twelve movies in the days leading up to Winter Break! 

Holiday Movies 
Polar Express AMC This movie should have Tom Hanks’ name in the title. Playing not one, not two, not three, not four, but five whole characters in the duration of the movie, Tom Hanks gives memorable performances in this motion capture adventure. Based on the book of the same name, Robert Zemeckis pioneered motion capture technology to create “The Polar Express.”  “The Polar Express” follows the journey of an unnamed boy who is awoken on Christmas Eve to board a train to the North Pole. On the way he makes friends, breaks some rules, and eventually gets to meet Santa on his sleigh. While my oversimplification of the plot does not do the movie justice, one viewing of it definitely will. Complete with a memorable soundtrack, the movie will have you believing in holiday magic and wanting some hot chocolate! 
It’s a Wonderful Life Amazon Prime  One of the few movies on this list to have been nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards, “It’s a Wonderful Life” is an incredible movie. It also just so happens to be set during Christmas, and while it deals with heavy topics, it earns itself a spot on this list because of the great things it stands for, and the holiday cheer it gives. The emotionally fulfilling tale of George Bailey, a man on the verge of giving up on life but is shown that there is alway something to live for, is great for anyone who needs a feel-good movie this time of year. 
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation AMC Whether you watch the censored television version of this farce comedy or the original, the perils of the Griswold’s Christmas vacation at home are a must watch every season. Where most holiday movies focus on families getting along, “Christmas Vacation” captures the Griswold’s annoyance and anxiety of meeting extended family during the holidays amidst their own plans. While some of the scenes and jokes don’t hold the same water today, this movie relies on nostalgia and its memorable quotes to stay relevant. Chevy Chase was at his best when this movie came out and if anything is worth remembering, it’s his angry hate filled rant as Clark Griswold. So grab your eggnog and favorite ugly sweater for a “Christmas Vacation” with the Griswolds! 
Elf AMC While Will Ferrell usually stars in unfunny “comedies” filled with gross out gags and cringe inducing interactions, his role as the titular character Buddy the Elf stands out as great in this genuinely fun Christmas movie. “Elf” follows the story of Buddy the Elf, a human who grows up in the North Pole after crawling in Santa’s Sack. As he grows into a man, he sets out to meet his father in New York City. Buddy’s journey to the city comes complete with reconnecting with his family, falling in love, intense snowball fights, and saving Christmas. “Elf” has everything it needs to keep itself among the best Christmas movies of all time.   
Home Alone series AMC, aired on TV As children, we enjoyed seeing Marv and Harry be beaten to a pulp by Kevin’s ingenious traps and tricks. Year after year, the first two films of the “Home Alone” movies still deliver on holiday fun, with enough laughs and heartwarming moments to keep us coming back to them each year. If you were unable to grow up with the “Home Alone” movies, these belong at the top of your list. Join Kevin McCallister, a child left home alone by his family during their holiday vacation as he fights to keep himself and his house safe from two scheming thieves played by the hilarious Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern. The “Home Alone” series is great for fans of slapstick humor, and is sure to make anyone smile. 
The Muppet Christmas Carol Disney+ No holiday season is complete without a visit from the muppets. In a zany and memorable retelling of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” the Muppets return to the big screen to bring their music and charm to bring new life into the classic story. This adaptation of the story of Ebenezer Scrooge being visited by three ghosts to change for the better is certainly a “heart-FELT” one, and would be a shame to miss. With appearances from everyone’s favorites like Kermit, Miss Piggy and Fozzy Bear, you definitely don’t want to “waka-wakaway” from this one. 
The Santa Clause Trilogy AMC, Freeform For many kids, the man who gave the voice for Buzz Lightyear was also the face and embodiment of Santa Claus. Scott Calvin, a recently divorced father and toy company employee, experiences a life-changing experience when he and his son murder Santa Claus and take his place delivering presents. The first film starts by bringing Santa Claus into the real world, trapping Scott Calvin into the “Santa Clause,” which states that Calvin must put on the red suit and fill good old Saint Nick’s role, which plays out in the funniest of ways. While the “Santa Clause” movies get wackier by the sequel, each film still has enough presents, cookies, and North Pole magic to keep their spots on annual airings on television. If you never got a chance to watch these holiday essentials, these modern classics are the best place to start. 
Jingle All the Way Aired on TV Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sinbad star in a holiday movie where the movie ends in a showdown on a Christmas parade. Need I say more? Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger as a father desperate to get his son a Turbo Man, the latest and greatest action figure of the year, “Jingle All the Way” is over the top and crazy from beginning to end in the best of ways.  
How the Grinch Stole Christmas Netflix Mixing Dr. Seuss’ own whimsical art style and endearing rhymes with the most wonderful time of the year was a stroke of genius. Understandably, there are three adaptations of Dr. Seuss’ classic book “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” and each comes with its own unique medium. With a 2D animated film from 1966, a Live action film from 2000, and the most recent 3D animated film from 2018, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” is a staple for holiday movies regardless of the version. An easy watch for any family, the story of the Grinch never fails to bring home the idea that above all else, the holidays are simply about spending time with the ones you love. 
Holiday Inn Aired on TCM, AMC Featuring the 1942 Academy Award winning song “White Christmas,” Holiday Inn is as classic of a holiday movie as you can get, complete with show tunes, fancy costumes, and controversies due to insensitivities of 1940s Hollywood. With censored versions airing on AMC, this holiday movie can still delight viewers with Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire’s on-screen charm alone.  
White Christmas Netflix Thankfully less controversial than the movie which gives it its name, “White Christmas” features Bing Crosby once again, alongside Rosemary Clooney, Danny Kaye and Vera Allen. Along with another rendition of the classic tune “White Christmas,” this movie packs enough music and winter themed set design to delight an audience of any age. 
Serendipity Starz One of two romantic films on this list, “Serendipity” is guaranteed to bring some holiday magic to anyone who watches it. Chronicling the years following a chance encounter while shopping for Christmas gifts, Kate Beckinsale and John Cusack star in this over the top, cheesy, but fulfilling holiday watch. Serendipity packs enough cheesy dialogue and cliches to pair perfectly with its holiday setting to give everyone a bit of that warm and fuzzy feeling. 

About The Author

Prem Naik

Naik (Electrical Engineering '21) is a member of the Vector writing team. "It's not every day as an engineering student that you get the chance to write, especially about pop culture, and that's why I love being a part of The Vector! I am also a member of the NJIT Honors College and Honors Ambassadors, and I like to learn as much as I can about new movies, tv shows and music!"

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