Xmas

This story is part of our Home Page Days of Christmas, where we hope to inject some new ideas and traditions into this unusual holiday season as well as shine some light on how locals are celebrating.

With the temperature dropping, ice cream flavors shifting toward holiday twists and Christmas music invading your Spotify playlists, it means that it's time to gather 'round the glowing screen and watch your favorite festive films. 

I know what you want to watch; I do. I know it calls you. I know Buddy beckons. I get it. You want to watch Elf. But please, I beg of you, watch something else. Buddy the Elf doesn't need you anymore. 

But neither does Ebenezer Scrooge (unless it's with The Muppets) or The Polar Express. Ralphie already got his BB gun; Kevin already got left home alone. We've already had like 50 miracles on 34th Street. The Grinch has well stolen Christmas and returned it by now. 

One of the easiest mistakes to fall into around Christmas time is to stick with the movies you know and refuse to try anything else. It's like eating the same food when you live in a city of unexpected cuisine. 

Don't do it! There are plenty of promising Christmas films out there that don't star Bing Crosby, Tim Allen, Clark Griswold (yes...sorry) or Jack Skellington. Here are just a few. 

Die Hard 

Yes, yes, our first title is a bonafide masterpiece and a movie you've probably seen multiple times. The conversation around whether this is a Christmas movie or not, however, is cloying and hackneyed. Of course this is a Christmas movie! There is absolutely no reason to think otherwise. This is as Christmas as popcorn strung on a bright Christmas tree. 

John McClane's heroic journey into the annals of Nakatomi Plaza to save his wife from the evil Hans Gruber and his band of derelict bandits. The key to accepting Die Hard as a Christmas movie comes from soaking in the festive spirit of watching Bruce Willis smack talk Alan Rickman on a walkie talkie, or Willis punching the stuffing out of random henchmen. You've seen Die Hard before, yes, but have you ever dimmed the lights, wrapped up in your favorite Christmas blanket on the couch and watched John McClane cowboy his way to stop these nefarious terrorists from ruining the holidays (and stealing money). Give Die Hard a fresh spin this year; it's the most joyous Christmas film of all! 

STREAMING: HBO Max, HBO Now via Amazon, DirecTV (also available for rental on various platforms) 

Last Christmas 

This sadly overlooked 2019 very, very loose adaptation of the George Michaels song featured a deliriously entertaining Emilia Clarke ditching the dragons and finding a great balance of humor and heart in a self-improvement journey. Henry Golding plays an immensely likeable foil as he and Clark build an irresistible romance together. You believe it in a way that feels organic; it's the same spark that made Golding's Crazy Rich Asians such a hit. I'd dare say this one gets close to that. 

Christmas romantics comedies are a dime a dozen; finding one with this fleet a tone and genuine catharsis in its screenplay and its performances. Paul Feig (Bridesmaids, Spy) is the master of crafting an appealing studio comedy, and this one should get more plaudits over the years once people who revisit it get over the inherent cheesiness of its true premise and can revel in the sunny disposition of Clarke and Golding's chemistry and Emma Thompson's wiser-than-expected script. It'll become a Christmas tradition for you, and you'll get to tell folks you liked it before it was cool. 

STREAMING: HBO Max, HBO Now via Amazon, DirecTV (also available for rental on various platforms) 

Klaus 

Hand-drawn animation is an oasis in a CGI-led desert, and Netflix has been strangely one of its biggest benefactors in the last few years. Klaus, Disney vet Sergio Pablos' directorial debut, captures an ingenious backstory for the Santa Claus story, following a prickish mailman who gets sent to a remote village, replete with cranky citizens, to deliver their mail. Lo and behold, a mysterious woodsman enters the frame and the two begin to strike an unlikely friendship and spread cheer in this community so bent on the opposite. 

It's another film that hasn't quite caught on in the Christmas film conversation, and what a shame it hasn't. It's breathtakingly animated and features a heck of a call for kindness in a world where it's in short supply. It's one of the better imaginings of the Claus back story, maybe the best account put to animation since Rankin/Bass' masterwork Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town. It's easy to find on Netflix and it's immensely rewarding to dive into how animation and Christmas stories should be done. 

STREAMING: Netflix 

These are just three films that you can toss on this holiday season, three films you might not normally think about when you're tossing on the classics.

Now, we were being hard on Buddy. There's nothing wrong with spending time with Rudolph or singing with Frosty the Snowman. We love The Year Without a Santa Claus! The classics are just that — beloved films everyone knows and loves. But these three may not be on your radar, and we can't recommend them enough (well, you know what Die Hard is, but y'know, in its proper context). 

Enjoy your Christmas around the television, and give one of these movies a chance! And, yes, enjoy Elf, too. 

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