Holiday Watch List
A season for streaming
WHAT: Miracle on 34th Street
WHEN: 7pm Tues., Dec. 7
WHEN: Tues., Dec. 21
WHERE: Mount Baker Theatre, 104 N. Commercial St.
Wednesday, November 24, 2021
Back in the days when watching your favorite holiday movie required a VCR and a copy of the flick, The Sound of Music was a family favorite.
At some point on Christmas day—after the presents had been opened, but before sitting around the table for dinner—the tape would go in, and even if one or more of us fell asleep during the 1965 musical about a wannabe nun who falls in love with a widowed naval captain and his seven singing offspring, it didn’t matter. We knew how the story ended.
While I’ll always equate The Sound of Music with the holidays—despite the fact that it doesn’t contain a single scene set during the “most wonderful time of the year”—I’ve since branched out, adding A Christmas Story (“You’ll shoot your eye out!”), National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, Home for the Holidays, and Bad Santa to my watch list (among others).
With the darkest days of the year ahead of us, I reached out to Facebook friends for recommendations for a weekend watch-a-thon. What were their favorite holiday movies to stream? I had a feeling I’d forgotten a lot of what was out there, and that there were likely undiscovered gems.
The movie with the most votes was Elf, the 2003 comedy starring Will Ferrell as Buddy, a human raised by Santa’s elves who discovers he was adopted and makes his way to New York City to search out his real father. It’s been at least a decade since I’ve seen it, and in addition to adding it to my list, I’m considering purchasing tickets to the “Movie Palace” viewing on the big screen Tues., Dec. 21 at the Mount Baker Theatre. (They’ll also be showing Miracle on 34th Street on Tues., Dec. 7.)
Love Actually, another Christmastime comedy that came out in 2003, also got a lot of mentions—but not all of them were complimentary. Turns out the ensemble rom.com directed by Richard Curtis has some glaring issues, including fat-shaming, a pantomimed blow job that remained even in the “family-friendly” cut, and the fact that it romanticized stalking.
“That movie is a mess,” wrote a friend known for her ability to suss out what’s right and wrong about cinematic offerings. “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is a good one,” she noted. “Scrooged is bonkers, and you can tell Bill Murray pretty much has his way with the script all the way through. Rare Exports, completely unhinged, definitely worth a watch.”
A friend with a 5-year-old had a plethora of suggestions about newer releases, among them Klaus (“animated with a star-studded cast”); Christmas Chronicles (“aka: Sexy Santa”); and Nutcracker and the Four Realms (“super awesome femme interpretation of The Nutcracker story”). Her additional suggestions included It’s a Wonderful Life, The Preacher’s Wife, A Very Murray Christmas, Muppets Christmas Carol, Emmet Otter’s Jug Band Christmas, and The Santa Clause.
Other commenters weighed in regarding movies that take place around Christmastime but aren’t technically Christmas movies, like Die Hard, When Harry met Sally, and In Bruges. A couple people also added the comedy horror film Gremlins to that list, making me want to re-watch what happens when small-but-aggressive monsters wreak Christmas Eve havoc.
“I would say Prometheus is one of the most overlooked, misunderstood Christmas movies ever made,” another friend noted, including a link to an article about a debate concerning the 2012 alien-adjacent movie directed by Ridley Scott being added to the list of non-traditional holiday films. “Good luck watching and celebrating the birth of evil!” he added.
On the other end of the spectrum, White Christmas received some love “for the music, nostalgia and dancing,” and being “the only holiday movie I’ve ever watched year-round.” Another antiquated musical, the 1944 film Meet Me In St. Louie, was in the same realm.
Animated recommendations included Burl Ives’ Rudolph, Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas, and Charlie Brown Christmas, while a movie featuring the frowning cat Tardar Sauce got a thumbs-down from the friend with the 5-year-old.
“I must also not recommend ever deciding to watch Grumpy Cat’s Worst Christmas Ever,” she said. “I’ve seen it about 20 times and I love Aubrey Plaza, but it’s real bad.”