5 Great Holiday Films for That Warm Fuzzy Feeling

December 23, 2016

Ah, the holidays! Many a childhood home will be descended upon by adult children and extended family, and many will find themselves cozied up to the TV (or computer screen) under a blanket with a steady stream of holiday movies on view. And while some of the old standby favorites like ”It’s A Wonderful Life” and “Miracle on 34th Street” will surely be making their rounds — we’ve got a handy round-up of feel-good films that’ll keep your sleigh bells ringing. 

Warning: Spoilers ahead!

1. “Home Alone” (1990)

Starring: MacCaulay Culkin, Joe Pesci, Daniel Stern

Directed By: Chris Columbus

Synopsis: The night before he’s to join his family on vacation to Paris, Kevin McCallister (Culkin) is banished to his room after a fight with his brother, where he wishes that his family would all disappear. He wakes up the next day only to discover that his wish has come true! It turns out his family had forgotten him in their mad dash out the door to vacation. But it’s not all peace and quiet: a pair of burglars (Pesci, Stern) have set their sights on the McCallister home. For the next 75 minutes we follow Kevin as he fends off the goofy yet menacing duo, all while getting to know a lonely neighbor and helping him reconnect with his estranged son. As he prepares to celebrate Christmas without the family he so flippantly wished away, Kevin realizes the value and security of love and friendship, and in a heartwarming scene (have your tissues ready), he is reunited with his mother, and finally, the whole clan.

Why It Makes Us Feel Warm and Fuzzy: What’s cuter than Macauley Culkin in footed pajamas setting elaborate booby traps to a soundtrack of classic holiday tunes like Brenda Lee’s “Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree”? And nothing says warm and fuzzy like John Candy as the “Polka King of The Midwest” cramped in the back of a crowded van reflecting on the meaning of family and relationships. This movie lays it on thick with nostalgia, all while reminding us all of what it was like being a kid. You’ll enjoy cozying up to this on your parents’ couch with leftover turkey and eggnog.

2. “Elf” (2003)

Starring: Will Ferrell, James Caan, Zooey Deschanel, Mary Steenburgen

Directed by: Jon Favreau

Synopsis: Will Ferrell is over-the-top-hilarious as the heartbreakingly naive elf, who, upon  learning of his true identity as a human, sets on a quest to find his biological parents, while  changing the hearts of hardened cynics along the way.

Why It Makes Us Feel Warm and Fuzzy: Buddy’s relentless optimism and good cheer bouncing off of Faizon Glover’s deadpan makes for some hilarious and memorable scenes. And if Will Ferrel in an elf costume trying to hug a raccoon in Central Park doesn’t make your belly ache with laughs — you’ve got a heart of coal! This movie is packed with the kind of humor we’ve come to expect from Ferrell while  still exploring the grand themes of belonging, family, and acceptance. It’s the kind of film that will deliver the magic you’re looking for, and you can watch it over and over again.

3. “A Charlie Brown Christmas” (1965)

Starring: Charlie Brown, Lucy, Linus, and Snoopy

Directed by: Bill Melendez

Synopsis: Looking for an iconic film to introduce to the nieces and nephews that’ll even Grandpa and Grandma near? Look no further than this old reliable based on Charles M Shulz’s comic strip, Peanuts. When Charlie Brown grows disenchanted with the over-commercialized version of Christmas, he embarks on a quest to discover its true meaning, facing ridicule and loneliness , in the process. While everyone from Linus to Snoopy seems to be obsessed with their own interests, Charlie seeks counsel from Lucy who recommends getting involved in a play as a cure for depression.

Why It Makes Us Feel Warm and Fuzzy: It’s animated, it’s set to an award-winning jazz soundtrack, and it includes a sobering moment where Linus delivers a monologue on the true meaning of Christmas, ending it with “And that’s the true meaning of Christmas, Charlie Brown, that will really get you into the mood. Waterworks alert: if you’ve got a single sentimental bone in your body, the scene where the gang quietly arrives to Snoopy’s doghouse and decorates the tree that Charlie Brown thinks he killed, will really get you going. It’s the kind of film that you can create new memories with every year. 

4. “A Home of Our Own” (1993)

Starring: Kathy Bates, Edward Furlong

Directed by: Tony Bill

Synopsis: In this lesser known drama, Kathy Bates stars as Frances Lacey, a single mother to six children, looking to build a home in a small-town in Idaho after deciding that Los Angeles is no place for her family. Major setbacks including a fire in their new home threaten to destabilize the family. A young Edward Furlong co-stars as a sullen teenager angry about the family’s misfortune and what he perceives to be his mother’s poor choices.

Why It Makes Us Feel Warm and Fuzzy: Through the Lacey clan’s struggles, and the involvement of their community in helping them to this film offers a good reminder of the importance of charity as the reason for the season. Though it may be hard to watch at times, it depicts the reality for many families, especially at this time of year, and should inspire the warm and fuzzy feelings of gratitude and selfless giving.

5. “The Preacher’s Wife” (1996)


Starring: Whitney Houston, Denzel Washington, Courtney B. Vance, Gregory Hines

Synopsis: A dedicated pastor (Vance) of a struggling church in a poverty-stricken neighborhood, neglects his wife Julia (Houston) and son, as he responds to the many needs of his parishioners.  Pressured to sell the church property to a real estate developer (Hines) he a desperate prayer help is answered through Dudley (Washington), an angel sent by God to help the pastor.

Why It Makes Us Feel Warm and Fuzzy: If Whitney Houston’s angelic voice singing “Who Would Imagine A King” doesn’t make you sentimental, God rest your sorry soul. While the story of a struggling Baptist minister sets the stage for a divinely inspirational, gospel music-filled score lead by the late Ms. Houston, it’s a dreamy and romantic film where you’ll find yourself willing a romance between Houston and Washington to happen. And don’t be surprised if you’re compelled to order the soundtrack. It will add a little something extra to the ambiance around the table this year.

So curl up in your snuggie, or slanket or whatever makes you comfy while you binge watch these films that are sure to make you warm and fuzzy, while filling you with holiday spirit!