The stretch between Thanksgiving and Christmas is a special one in our house, as we make it a priority to slow things down and focus on time with our family. Aside from all the gifts to be bought, the stockings to be hung, and the lights to be wrestled with, we make it a point to sit and enjoy our favorite holiday films. This list has been truncated over the years as not everything made for the holidays requires a yearly re-visit (see the Hallmark Channel), but the ones that have stuck around deserve their place. Is our list for everyone? Probably not. Do we care? Definitely not. We just figured everyone else has words on the matter, so why not us? If it helps, we’re consistently on the big man’s nice list, so our choices are not to be taken lightly. Either way, time to light that fireplace, spike the eggnog, and embrace our own holiday classics.
Shop Around the Corner (1940)
RJ: Looking back, I cannot believe the amount of convincing my wife needed to do before I would watch this film. My hesitancy was based in the fact the film was in black and white, and also a romantic comedy. Thankfully, I found my spot on the couch and enjoyed the undeniable likeability of Jimmy Stewart, and his chemistry with co-star Margaret Sullivan. Even the story was deeper than two people looking for love, but rather a complex look at the interpersonal relationships of co-workers. This is a great film to watch with the fireplace on, a bottle of wine, and the person you love next to you.
Ashley: I find something so comforting about Jimmy Stewart’s voice, so it’s no wonder this is the first of two Jimmy entries on this list. Listen in to find out why I think you’ll love this one as much as I do.
Arthur Christmas (2011)
RJ: This film was a wonderful surprise, as the first time we watched it was simply because we had watched everything else in our holiday rotation. I was absolutely floored by the animation style and the stellar voice-cast. The story is absolutely charming as well, plenty to keep parents and children alike entertained. The ending alone is enough bring out the kid in all of us.
Ashley: I love Arthur Christmas. From the voice cast to the heartwarming script, this holiday film about Santa’s second son is a must-watch every Christmas.
The Holiday (2006)
RJ: My mother and I went to see this in late December 2006. I was home from college and she was my usual movie date as my dad typically picked films as the ideal place for a nap. Now, neither of us are fans of Cameron Diaz, nothing personal, perhaps it’s genetic, but it didn’t change are outlook on how much we enjoyed this film. Years later, and it’s now one I can share with my wife. My love for it really lies with the pairing of Kate Winslet and Jack Black, but I think Jude Law does a promising job of balancing out my outlook on Diaz. Another one to sit down, laugh, and split a bottle a wine with the one you love.
Ashley: This film was a grower for me. I don’t remember loving it in 2006 or feeling compelled to watch it yearly in the early 2010’s. Now, this film occupies a nostalgic piece of my heart. Either that, or I’m vicariously living through Cameron Diaz as she spends her winter holiday snowed in at a cozy English cottage. There’s so much to love about this low-stakes Christmas romantic comedy, earning it a coveted spot on my yearly re-watch list.
Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)
RJ: There are so many reasons I love this film, and I will overlook the biggest one, as it was the one playing the same day our son was born, but let me give you the other two. First, Michael Caine is a phenomenal scrooge, who plays the whole thing as a serious actor, even when he’s speaking to someone who can only say “Meep Meep Meep.” That is the true tale of talent. Secondly, Steve Whitmere is my Kermit and his role of Rizzo the rat is irreplaceable. I accept no substitute. This is the definitive version of The Christmas Carol.
Ashley: I’ll echo RJ’s earlier statements; this is the best version of The Christmas Carol. From the music to the casting of Sir Michael Caine, everything about this movie makes it feel like Christmas to me. Also, this has one of the few cinematic outings of my favorite Muppet, Bean Bunny.
It’s A Wonderful Life (1946)
RJ: Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed. I am lucky to have a wife like Mary Bailey because everyone needs someone who is there to love and support you through everything life has to throw at you. George should have realized from the beginning, that the best thing to ever happen to him was finding her, but then that would be a much shorter film. Either way, this is the definitive film to watch to get into the holiday spirit.
Ashley: It’s a Wonderful Life is not just my favorite Christmas movie, it’s one of my favorite films ever made. I’ve watched this Frank Capra classic every year for as long as I can remember. It just feels entwined with the holidays for me and with the person I’ve become.