The most wonderful time of the year is on its way!
Kick off the holiday season with 12 Christmas classics that are sure to turn your November frown into a yuletide grin. Get out your reindeer sweaters, make some peppermint hot chocolate and cuddle up with a loved one and a DVD.
1) "Love Actually" (2003)
On the first day of Christmas Richard Curtis gave to me six unrealistic expectations for love and Hugh Grant in a pear tree. Calling it a rom com in the contemporary sense almost short-changes it -- this is a truly Shakespearian romantic comedy, with a marvelously entwined ensemble cast featuring the best that Britain has to offer. Colin Firth, Hugh Grant, Emma Thompson, Alan Rickman, Liam Neeson, Martin Freeman, Rowan Atkinson and, of course, the most uplifting musical number ever flawlessly grace the screen together.
2) "Elf" (2003)
I don't think I'm alone in saying that this is Will Ferrell's best performance of his career. If "Elf" doesn't get you in the mood to sing carols, chop down your own Christmas tree and consume copious amounts of syrup, what can?
3) "Miracle on 34th Street" (1947)
Frank Capra, you beautiful soul. Natalie Wood shines in one of the best child performances ever given. It's one of those movies that changes meaning for you between when you watch it as a kid and when you watch it as an adult -- at the core of the story it's about growing up and never getting too old to believe in Santa Claus. The scene with the mailmen delivering countless bags of letters? Iconic.
4) "The Holiday" (2006)
Also known as "The Holiday from Reality," this film is a festive 136 minutes where you can live vicariously through Cameron Diaz and pretend you're spending Christmas with Jude Law.
5) "The Nightmare Before Christmas" (1993)
This movie is marvelous because it encompasses the two most important days of the year, so you can get your Halloween AND Christmas fix in one sitting. Tim Burton's trailblazing style puts a twist on Christmas that has yet to be topped.
6) "Home Alone" (1990)
I watched this frequently as a child and thought it was just a hilarious movie about every kid's fantasy. Being home by yourself, able to slide around in your socks and eat whatever your heart desires? Amazing! When I watched it as an adult I realized that it's an actually horrible premise (they FORGET about their KID!), but once we get past this it's really a delightful movie.
7) "Die Hard" (1988)
Some people don't consider this a "real" Christmas movie, but I beg to differ. His wife's name is Holly. Case closed.
8) "Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas!" (1966)
I'm a traditionalist when it comes to "The Grinch." While I do respect that Universal was able to successfully adapt a picture book into a narratively coherent feature, the TV special is just too darn cute. Boris Karloff was meant to play villains, even (or especially) if they're fuzzy and green.
9) "A Christmas Story" (1983)
Don't just be careful what you wish for; be adorably mischievous about it and you won't get in trouble.
10) "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation" (1989)
Possibly the most realistic of all of these, National Lampoon accurately portrays the less-than-merry parts of Christmas. However, despite the in-laws and familial squabbles, the Griswold clan ultimately comes together and reminds us that we love each other. This movie has everything you need to get in the holiday spirit: Chevy Chase in a Santa hat, the most overly decorated house you have ever seen and a cat electrified by a Christmas tree.
11) "A Charlie Brown Christmas" (1965)
They just don't make TV specials like they used to. Of course, now we might pick up on the not-so-subtle religious undertones, but no matter your stance on the true meaning of Christmas, you can still appreciate the antics of our beloved Melendez characters. American kids would have no idea which holidays are significant without the guidance of our prematurely balding protagonist.
12) "It's a Wonderful Life" (1946)
The Christmas movie to end all Christmas movies. There's really nothing more magical than Jimmy Stewart getting a renewed lease on life.