Films for The Holidays: Classics, Action, and Horror, Oh My!

December 23, 2021

The festive time of year has finally returned. The time where you kick back and get ready to receive guests, conk out on the couch, or spend some quality time with your inner circle of friends or close family. For some, there’s no better way to get the ball rolling than gathering ‘round the TV and putting on a Christmas classic or two. Down below, we’ll list four movie flicks that are essential, as well as two film suggestions that might pique your interest if your looking for something a little less on the nose.

Die Hard – The Action (Almost) Christmas Movie

Fun fact: the first Die Hard movie, believe it or not, is actually a Christmas movie. Ever the family man, John McClane (Bruce Willis) comes home to visit his wife and two daughters for Christmas. What could go wrong right? Well, the office party he is supposed to meet her at goes sideways and winds up being held hostage by the likes of Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman) and his band of terrorists. We put this one under the experimental category because the movie does mostly center on the action. If you’re looking for a nice change of pace and want to have some explosive fun, Die Hard is the way to go!

Krampus – A Very Scary Christmas

Speaking of a change of pace, this film is a stretch grittier than the suggestion before it. Directed by Mike Dougherty, Krampus is a horror film that sees a family terrorized by Santa Claus’ fiendish counterpart, a spirit known as Krampus. This spirit is much like Santa in that he travels about the world visiting families, but a visit from Krampus isn’t one you look forward to. Krampus only appears to families that are devoid of Christmas spirit, so instead of showering these families with presents and cheer, this being sees fit to punish them for their yuletide transgressions. Should you like to explore the “other” Santa you better watch out for, Krampus is your go-to.

It’s A Wonderful Life – The Timeless Classic

Moving on from scary things both thrilling and truly horrifying, let’s liven up the mood a bit. It’s A Wonderful Life is one of those time-honored movies that has the perfect lesson fitting of the holidays. The story follows the life of a man named George Bailey, played by James Stewart, who eventually finds himself in a pretty rough patch. Sent to aid him in his earthly struggles, an Angel named Clarence goes down to Earth to help him sort it out. It’s A Wonderful Life follows George’s journey to some dark and challenging places, which makes its truly heartwarming message of love and gratitude all the more powerful.

Home Alone – KEVIN!

Home Alone sees young Kevin (Macaulay Culkin) left behind at home as his family leaves for Christmas vacation. During this time, two burglars (Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern) attempt to break into Kevin’s house… with a few unforeseen hurdles. This family comedy is perfect for those that want to laugh their way through the holidays. After all, who wouldn’t want to see two grown men continually fail to break into a house defended by a lone child? It’s timeless and inventive comedy gold that simply has no equal.

How The Grinch Stole Christmas (1966) – Dr. Seuss for the Holidays

From the iconic soundtrack to the wonderful animation that still holds up pretty well, there’s no way you can go wrong with a viewing of How The Grinch Stole Christmas. As the title does well to explain, the titular character isn’t feeling the holiday spirit very well this year. Naturally, if the Grinch can’t enjoy Christmas, no one around him can either. So hatches the nefarious plot to steal Christmas. Another film you can watch with the kids, How The Grinch Stole Christmas teaches forgiveness and selflessness, as well as drives home what makes the holidays truly special. 

The Nightmare Before Christmas – A Modern Classic

Last but not least, we have The Nightmare Before Christmas. Feeling a lack of drive, Jack Skellington seeks something invigorating beyond the borders of Halloween Town, and in so doing discovers another holiday in Christmas Town. With fiery passion lit aflame once more, Jack plans to take over the next Christmas that comes around. This holiday film is unique, as it not only features multiple holidays throughout the story, but the messages it contains span even beyond the scope of Christmas. It’s a journey not only of discovery but of self-discovery as well. The stop motion animation is simply brilliant and awe-inspiring as well, complimenting a well-written story that comes to embody the essence of the Christmas spirit. 

The New York Film Academy wishes everyone a joyous Happy Holidays!