Movies to Watch on this Christmas 2017
The Holiday (2006)
Before there was Airbnb, there was Nancy Meyers' classic film The Holiday. Proving sometimes there’s no place like not home, Iris and Amanda swap a quaint English country house for a luxurious L.A. pad and both find in the other’s life what they were missing in their own. Because who could say no to a kiss with Jude Law underneath the mistletoe?
Love Actually (2003)
Five words: To me, you are perfect. One more word: Swoon. The moment Mark comes to the door with handwritten notecards declaring his love for Juliet, we collectively melt—every time. But that’s far from the sweetest moment in the film, which explores the interconnected lives, and love lives, of an ensemble of Brits (and one American). From Jamie’s attempt to heal a broken heart to Karen’s attempts to connect with her husband Harry, and one prime minister’s realization that it’s time to settle down, this movie captures the confusing, inspiring, and stressful time of year that is the holidays. All set to the gentle tune of Billy Mack’s smash hit “Christmas Is All Around,” of course.
Spend Christmas among the Urban Haute Bourgeoisie, or U.H.B., in Whit Stillman's debut film and preppie classic, Metropolitan. According to the title card, the film is set in "Manhattan, Christmas Vacation, not so long ago," and follows a group of well-heeled friends returning to their Fifth Avenue homes from college in time for the holiday parties (and after-parties). The wry and merciless patrician comedy was a revelation when it came out 25 years ago, and remains one today.
The Thin Man (1934)
Nick and Nora Charles know that to celebrate Christmas all you need is a house full of the usual suspects, a murder to solve, and an open tab with room service. The Thin Man stars William Powell as the dapper private detective Nick Charles and Myrna Loy as his patient wife, Nora, who's as quick with bon mots as she is at ordering cocktail refills. Their marriage (including daring dog Asta) is ultimate #relationshipgoals, and their rapid-fire repartee one-ups the Gilmore girls. Grab a cocktail shaker, a BB gun, and your finest satin dressing gown and dive into the delightful world of Nick and Nora.
Joyeux Noël (2005)
This heartwarming Christmas story set against the unlikely backdrop of World War I will surely excite any history buffs. Based on the real story of an impromptu 1914 Christmas Eve truce between British, French, and German troops, Joyeux Noël tells of a wave of holiday spirit that led soldiers to drop their weapons for the night. No telling whether the film, which stars Daniel Brühl and Diane Kruger, may inspire a post-election Christmas truce in this heated political climate, but it is inspiring.
Home Alone (1990)
In case you have somehow missed the cultural phenomenon that is John Hughes's zany Christmas caper, it stars Macaulay Culkin as a boy who is accidentally left behind when his family goes to Paris for the holiday. As his parents struggle to get back to him, he ends up having to defend his home from robbers (Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern) who are determined to make their own Christmas cheer by stealing everything in the house. Wacky hijinks of the most memorable kind.
The Shop Around the Corner (1940)
Jimmy Stewart and Margaret Sullavan have the ultimate meet-cute in Ernst Lubitsch's satisfying Christmas romance, The Shop Around the Corner. The film's action takes place in a store in Budapest, where two employees—the longtime clerk Alfred (Stewart) and newbie Klara (Sullavan)—take an instant dislike to each other. Little do they know that they've been anonymous pen pals for months, with deep feelings for each other. If the plot seems somewhat familiar, Nora Ephron took inspiration from it for You've Got Mail.
It's a Wonderful Life (1946)
Only a director as skilled as Frank Capra could make a movie about suicidal man a Christmas classic. Jimmy Stewart stars as George Bailey, who is contemplating ending it all until an angel named Clarence shows him what his life—and those of his fellow residents of Bedford Falls—would be like without him. In a story straight out of Dickens, it turns out that George has had a greater impact than he ever imagined.
The Best Man Holiday (2013)
If you're looking for a holiday tearjerker with solid performances and plenty of eye candy, cue up The Best Man Holiday, the (far superior) sequel to 1999's The Best Man. In the film, a group of friends stage a Big Chill–style reunion to celebrate Christmas together with all the trimmings: food, fights, football, and tragedy. The ensemble cast includes Morris Chestnut, Monica Calhoun, Taye Diggs, Sanaa Lathan, Regina Hall, and Terrence Howard; they make the most of the melodramatic material, turning in performances that will have you cry-laughing into your eggnog.
A Christmas Story (1983)
This movie, based on the humorous anecdotes of writer Jean Shepherd, has been a constant ingredient in TBS Christmas movie marathons for years. Set in the 1940s, the film follows young Ralphie (Peter Billingsley) as he struggles with winter, middle school bullies, endless glasses of Ovaltine, a fuming father with a colorful use of language, an all-suffering mother, and an infamous lamp in the shape of a leg. The only thing keeping him going is the dream of a Red Ryder BB gun, a burning desire that is only slightly dampened by the constant reminder that he might shoot his eye out with it. Fun fact: This family-friendly romp down memory lane was directed by Bob Clark, who also helmed the decidedly grown-up holiday slasher flick Black Christmas.
The Apartment (1960)
There's nothing like the holidays to make a love triangle feel even more bleak. In Billy Wilder's film, Jack Lemmon stars as a lonely office worker pining after elevator operator Fran Kubelik (Shirley MacLaine), who happens to be having an affair with his boss (Fred MacMurray). As the melancholy, hard-drinking fairy tale draws to its close on New Year's Eve, Lemmon must choose between his love and his job. If you're looking for a truly great film to watch this holiday, The Apartment is a bona fide, award-winning classic—it scored Oscars for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Original Screenplay.
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
While director Henry Selick claims Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas is a Halloween movie, there's no reason not to watch it at Christmas. After all, even Pumpkin King Jack Skellington knew that comfort and joy could be found in Christmastown and wanted to share the happiness that Sandy Claws brings to little boys and ghouls. Plus, it's always a good time to listen to Danny Elfman's brilliant soundtrack.