As the holidays approach, many people make watching certain movies a tradition, from classics to blockbusters to comedies. Below are some of the best Christmas movies and specials to watch this season.
It’s A Wonderful Life: This 1946 Frank Capra movie stars Jimmy Stewart as George Bailey, an incredibly generous man who finds himself in a financial and personal crisis at Christmastime. The movie features amazing performances and a timeless story about the burdens and ultimate benefits of living a selfless life. Initial reviews of the movie were mixed, with The New York Times criticizing its sentimentality, but it has since become a widely beloved classic. Despite only a relatively small portion of the movie taking place around Christmas, the movie’s heartwarming message has made it one of the most longstanding Christmas favorites.
A Charlie Brown Christmas: The 30-minute Peanuts special, originally commissioned by Coca-Cola, features a remarkably thoughtful and funny story about the frustrations of the Christmas season, and the meaning behind the holiday. The special also focuses on the commercialization of Christmas. Its wonderful Vince Guaraldi soundtrack adds to its charm. While the animation and story are simple – its budget was only $96,000 – the special is touching and memorable.
The Muppet Christmas Carol: The Muppets’ take on Charles Dickens’ classic Christmas story is both one of the story’s best film adaptations and one of the best Muppets movies. It was released in 1992 as the first Muppets movie following Jim Henson’s death. With Kermit the Frog as Bob Cratchit, Mrs. Piggy as Mrs. Cratchit, and Michael Caine as Ebenezer Scrooge (who gives a performance so committed the viewer forgets his costars are Muppets), this version of the story brings comedy and memorable music while remaining faithful to the spirit of the source material.
Elf: This 2003 comedy has become a modern Christmas classic for its sweet story and hilarious jokes. The movie focuses on Buddy, a human raised by Santa’s elves to believe he is an elf. When he learns the truth, he journeys to New York City to meet his cynical father. The movie’s best feature is Will Ferrell’s lead performance, which is filled with childlike enthusiasm and innocence.
Die Hard: While its Christmas movie status is debatable, this thriller about a New York City cop caught in a hostage situation in Los Angeles has remained a favorite for both its action and its memorable dialogue. Its Christmastime setting is mostly tangential to the movie’s plot, but it still features Christmas-themed quips and a few carols, making it a worthwhile seasonal watch.