'Tis the season of cheesy Hallmark movies, claymation classics, holiday horrors, and Die Hard. Settle down with a mug of hot cocoa and embrace the holiday spirit with some of the Moviegoer staff's favorite wintertime movies.
The Santa Clause - Abeeku Bond
The Santa Clause’s plot revolves around entrepreneur Scott Calvin (Tim Allen) and his son Charlie (Eric Lloyd). Since his divorce with his wife Scott’s role as a father has been fading in his son’s Charlie’s life and he has been dodging his responsibility to focus on his work.Scott at the beginning of the film is desperate to pull Charlie away from Neil(Judge Reinhold), his stepfather who is a psychiatrist. The event that set up the conflict, the accidental murder of Santa Claus, causes Scott to begrudgingly take up this role as a paternal figure to Charlie as well as the rest of the children in the work. Scott’s transformation into “The Santa Clause” forces him to leave his world of consumerism. In the span of two hours Scott goes from a very cynical careless man to selfless one.
Tokyo Godfathers - Hannah Lazar
Nothing says “Holiday Spirit” like watching three homeless cartoon characters haphazardly run around a frigid Tokyo trying to return a lost baby to their mother, all while confronting their deepest and darkest personal demons, right? Well, it does for me, because Tokyo Godfathers, despite its absurd premise, is the most refreshing and heartwarming exploration of why the holiday’s meaningful to people I’ve seen. It does away with all the schmaltzy and saccharine tropes typically associated with holiday films, and replaces them with surreal comedy, beautiful animation, and a makeshift family’s struggles with being isolated from society. Even with its darker material, it definitely captures the holiday spirit, which, to me, only becomes more powerful when juxtaposed with the harsh realities the film explores. Check it out if you’re not one for traditional holiday movies, but still want to experience their joy.
Krampus - Shana Vaid
As a Christmas horror film, Dougherty’s Krampus is an often ridiculous portrayal of a dysfunctional family being attacked by an ancient spirit for not having enough holiday spirit. While the film is certainly flawed and struggles with pacing, it is certainly enjoyable and redeemed by the hilarity of watching a family be terrorized by evil gingerbread men and teddy bears.
The Polar Express - Emma Taylor
The Polar Express was a staple of my childhood. I don’t watch many Christmas movies, but I find myself coming back to this one. It’s about believing in the magic of Christmas and remembering the joy of childhood. It’s arguably the creepiest non-horror Christmas movie because of it’s uncanny valley animation and a number of scenes that definitely aren’t suitable for small children. But who can resist a wild train ride, complete with hot chocolate, reindeer, and literally six characters voiced by Tom Hanks? Maybe The Polar Express is a little too weird to become a classic, but I think that’s what makes me watch it again every year. Or maybe, like all the best parts of the holidays, it’s tradition. If you get the chance, rewatch the classic (or experience the strangeness for the first time) this holiday season.
Elf - Hayley Sussman
There's nothing more iconic than Will Ferrell dressed up as an elf declaring the four main food groups as candy, candy canes, candy corn, and maple syrup. Elf follows Buddy, a human mistakenly raised by North Pole elves, on his journey to Manhattan to reunite with his birth father Walter. But Walter, a hot shot publisher with a mean streak, is reluctant to accept this apparent man child as his son. What ensues is a hilarious, heartfelt tale about finding joy and love through embracing the unknown. Buddy's exuberant, boyish charm makes its mark on the Big Apple: Walter learns to open up and reinvest in his family, and love interest Jovie gains confidence in her voice. Watching Elf has been a holiday tradition of my family for years, and I highly recommend it if you're a fan of silly, unfettered joy. Just like candy corn, a viewing of Elf is a staple of any balanced holiday diet.
Die Hard - Serena Gandhi
Despite much debate, Die Hard is a Christmas movie. It’s the Christmas movie that reminds us that some people (a lot of people) don’t get the day off for Christmas. For those of us who loathe the cheesy, the overly-sweet, and the too-predictable, Die Hard will keep you on your toes. This movie in which NYC Policeman John McClane (Bruce Willis) (who then had hair!) fights off a terrorist to free his wife, her coworkers, and, yes, to save Christmas. Your heart will race, and you will laugh. Die Hard a pre-9/11 American pride film that is a must-see if you are the kind to snooze as the family watches Frozen on loop.