BY MAT BATTS
Christmas is no doubt America’s most celebrated holiday, in terms of both enthusiasm and sheer length. We spend a month or more decorating our houses, listening to seasonal songs and yes, dusting off our favorite Christmas movies.
Think of another holiday that demands this amount of attention. Sure, Halloween has a few titles in its corner, but its celebration pales in comparison to the Christmas season—look no further than Freeform’s 13 Nights of Halloween and its 25 Days of Christmas (almost double the airtime!).
For me, the Christmas season is a chance to endlessly binge-watch my favorite Christmas movies—guilty pleasures and seasonal stalwarts alike. Here are seven of my favorite Christmas movies:
Christmas with the Kranks (guilty pleasure): A lighthearted starter, good for the first week after Thanksgiving, Christmas with the Kranks is an enjoyable adaptation of the John Grisham novel Skipping Christmas. Tim Allen and Jamie Lee Curtis plan to leave town before their annual neighborhood celebration after becoming empty nesters. Christmas with the Kranks can be the perfect late-night movie to fall asleep to or a reliable “background noise” option as you decorate your tree.
Elf (seasonal stalwart): I’ll admit I’m not as crazy about Elf as many are. But I can recognize it as one of the most popular modern Christmas movies around. In fact, Elf is so watchable and repeatable that many never bother to put it away at the turn of the New Year, instead enjoying it all year long. Will Ferrell manages to balance humor and sincerity as a life-sized elf in New York City. A classic for a reason, just not my go-to during those ever-precious Christmas movie watching hours.
Love Actually (guilty pleasure): I don’t know that I can point to any one reason why I like this movie so much, other than it just simply exudes those feel-good Christmas emotions. Nine unique character stories come together in this London-based comedy/romance/Christmas/uplifting movie. As with most of my guilty pleasure Christmas movies, Love Actually doesn’t require you to sit and watch it in its entirety (it is almost 2 and ½ hours long, after all). Instead, it can play on repeat enhancing the mood of any Christmas party, decorating session or family gathering.
The Santa Clause (seasonal stalwart): An absolute favorite of mine. The Santa Clause provides so many memorable scenes during Tim Allen’s transformation from absent father to…well, Santa Clause. It’s nostalgic and exciting at the same time and is one of the true classics that can play throughout the entire Christmas season without growing old.
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (seasonal stalwart): In my family, we watch this movie exactly one time every year. After Thanksgiving dinner is complete and everyone is settled, Christmas Vacation provides the perfect transition from fall and turkey and pre-Christmas angst to the season of joy and laughter and all things Santa Clause. Almost 30 years old, Christmas Vacation is a classic that may never fade.
Miracle on 34th Street, 1994 (seasonal stalwart): I know, I know, the original is better, the remake is watered down. I’ve heard it all before, but there’s something about the 1994 version of Miracle on 34th Street that completes the Christmas season for me. With iconic scenes like the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade at the film’s outset to Santa’s triumphant victory in court, “Case dismissed! Santa Clause wins!” Miracle on 34th Street, just two decades old, has become an iconic pillar of the season.
Fred Clause (guilty pleasure): The guiltiest of pleasures. But Fred Clause is the epitome of a feel-good Christmas movie. Even with a faulty storyline and very little emotional attachment, I love Fred Clause for what it is: an upbeat, late-night Christmas movie that can be watched more than a dozen times throughout the month of December without getting old. A favorite of the cable television networks, I can almost guarantee you won’t make it through this Christmas season without coming across this diamond in the rough.