Tis the season to cozy up with something warm to drink (maybe pomegranate mulled wine—see page eleven) and binge-watch all your favorite holiday movies. Here are some favorites from the Weekly’s editorial staff—see if yours made our list!
Nicole Bond – stage & screen editor
The story takes place during the holiday season, which qualifies it for me as an official holiday movie, though the story would be just as funny set at any time of year. Billy Ray Valentine (Eddie Murphy), a poor street hustler, and Louis Winthorpe III (Dan Aykroyd), an upper-crust commodities broker, have their lives swapped by brothers Randolph and Mortimer Duke (Ralph Bellamy and Don Ameche), affluent owners of the brokerage firm where Winthorpe works, to try and answer the nature vs. nurture question—all over a one dollar bet. I live for Eddie Murphy’s deadpan look into the camera when the Duke brothers explain the relevance of bacon in the commodities market to Valentine. In the end, all of the players get their comeuppance. Funny AF. 1983, rated R.
Adam Przybyl – outgoing editor-in-chief
Next year will mark thirty years since Home Alone was released, and to this day it remains a classic. Set in nearby Winnetka, the story follows Kevin McAllister (Macaulay Culkin), who is accidentally left behind when his family goes on a Christmas vacation. He must then fend off two burglars, Harry Lyme and Marv Merchants (Joe Pesci and Daniel Stearn), who have been staking out the houses in the neighborhood. Kevin’s knack for turning a variety of household items into ingenious booby traps was an endless source of inspiration for me as a kid (though my attempts to ward off my siblings were not so successful). Amid all the fun and thrill of rooting for Kevin to escape the burglars, there’s real emotional payoff as Kevin realizes he misses his family after all. I recently learned that Home Alone was the highest-grossing live-action comedy for more than twenty years. Well-deserved! 1990, rated PG.
Michelle Anderson – education co-editor
At twenty-one years old this past July, “Yippee-ki-yay [expletive]!” is probably one of my favorite phrases at any time of the year. Set in LA, John McClane (Bruce Willis) is a cop estranged from his wife (Bonnie Bedelia) and their kids. The family is attempting to reunite for the Christmas holiday when pesky terrorists seize the building where McClane’s wife works, taking everyone hostage. What are the odds that McClane, as a lone cop, will be able to shut down the twelve terrorists? As someone with strong feelings regarding the over-policing of poor, Black and Brown neighborhoods, I am content to watch an action film where the police work happens in a more exclusive neighborhood. I must not be the only one who feels this way (albeit for different reasons), as Die Hard has been named one of the best action and Christmas-themed movies ever made. 1988, rated R.
The Long Kiss Goodnight
Jim Daley – politics editor
Before Jason Bourne made the assassin-with-amnesia narrative a blockbuster, there was Charly Baltimore. Geena Davis stars as Samantha Caine/Charly, a bubbly suburban mom who can’t remember who she is but has an uncanny ability to throw chef’s knives with deadly accuracy. As Samantha, she is haunted by nightmares that suggest her past may soon catch up to her, and she enlists the help of unscrupulous private eye Mitch Henessey (Samuel L. Jackson) to find out who she really is. The film is full of spy-vs-spy machismo that Charly never hesitates to call out, whether she’s lambasting Mitch for leering at a female jogger or shooting a torturer in the face. Mitch, who has been disastrously betrayed by white partners in the past, also pushes back at Charly for treating him as the help, sexualizing him, and wantonly placing him in extreme physical danger. Brian Cox gives a small but memorable appearance that foreshadows his roles in The Bourne Identity and Succession. 1996, rated R.
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Movie
Olivia Stovicek – senior editor
This is not about the stop-motion movie—never seen it. I grew up with a different telling of the Rudolph story: an animated musical featuring dancing Arctic foxes, problems with North Pole infrastructure, and, most importantly, a bizarrely star-studded cast crowned by Whoopi Goldberg as the voice of Stormella the Evil Ice Queen. At first, the movie seems like a classic take on the tale, as cute baby Rudolph (Kathleen Barr) is mocked but comforted by his parents, Blitzen (Garry Chalk) and Debbie Reynolds. Things pick up when Christmas Town’s least competent elves, Boone and Doggle, get into a sleigh accident and smash up the sculpture garden of the evil Stormella, who happens to own the only bridge over the appropriately named Grand Chasm. When Santa (John Goodman) refuses to hand over his elves to her brand of justice, Stormella closes the bridge, threatening to create a blizzard that will stop Santa from delivering presents if anyone uses it. Years later, Rudolph, still bullied and afraid of being rejected by his family, runs away. When his crush crosses the bridge to search for him, all hell breaks loose—hell, in this case, consisting of Eric Idle and Bob Newhart as more talking Arctic animals, a diva number for Stormella complete with a magical costume change, and the opportunity for Rudolph to save the day. I can’t say that this is a good movie, but the cheesy songs have been stuck in my head for a couple decades. 1998, rated G.
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: Animated
Mell Montezuma – deputy visuals editor
When I think of movies that make me feel like the holidays are, in fact, upon us, my mind wanders to the 1964 stop-motion animated Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. It’s aged well and with me, and it’s still fun to watch even after all these years! The textures in this movie are a big part of what captivates me, from the soft felt fur of Rudolph to the coarse, snow-dusted beard of Yukon Cornelius. It’s a warm classic, with songs, like “Misfits,” that don’t feel like overplayed, commercialized Christmas carols. 1964, rated G.
Arnold’s Christmas (Hey Arnold!)
Joshua Falk – contributing editor
Growing up, I was never much of a fan of Christmas specials. They didn’t speak to my religious tradition or my experience. But something about the Hey Arnold! Christmas special was different. The beautifully animated episode managed to cover serious topics in a way that was accessible for me as a child without being condescending, and it did so with Hey Arnold’s characteristic sense of comedy. “Arnold’s Christmas” hit upon topics as varied as loss, consumerism, the Vietnam War, sacrifice, and human connection. The episode ends with a heartwarming reminder that we have the power to make miracles, if only we choose to. 1996.
The Nightmare Before Christmas
Jackie Serrato – new editor-in-chief
This movie celebrates both Christmas and Halloween. It’s a sweet and scary dance between good and evil. Sci-fi animation meets the spirit of the season, with something for every palate. It’s marketed for children, but don’t get it twisted—this is a grown-up movie that will have you leaving a little scotch for Santa with his cookies. 1993, rated PG for pretty ghoulish.