Friendsgiving is past, and we’re in the the throes of holiday madness.
Sometimes you need to take a break from the hustle and bustle of the holidays season. You need some time off from the shopping and the partying and the family get-togethers. At those times, what you want to do is watch other people engage in the shopping and the partying and the family get-togethers via fictional characters that are better dressed than anyone you know IRL. And at those times, we’ve got you covered with our picks for best holiday movies.
Here are some new favorites and classic Christmas movies to help you pass a lazy afternoon this holiday season:
It’s Will Ferrell doing what Will Ferrell does best — portraying a very grown man with the childlike innocence and wonder of a child. With songs and snowball fights and the best Ed Asner as Santa Claus on film, “Elf” is a funny romp for the holidays that reminds us of everything we love about the holiday season — family, what it means to believe against the odds and maple syrup on spaghetti.
2. The Family Stone
Do you love big families and snow? Do you appreciate family drama that is not unfolding in your living room? Do you nurture a secret crush on Craig T. Nelson? Do you like to cry? Answering “yes” to just one of those questions means that you need a little of “The Family Stone” in your life. In this 2005 classic, Dermot Mulroney has brought his rather terrible soon-to-be-fiance Sarah Jessica Parker home to meet the ‘rents and his four siblings for Christmas. For better or worse, Sarah Jessica Parker spends more time with brother Luke Wilson than the determined Dermot Mulroney. Come for the way-too-attractive family antics. Stay for the heartbreaking performances by Rachel McAdams and Diane Keaton.
3. Love Actually
2003 was a good year for holiday movies. In addition to “Elf,” we got “Love Actually.” In this delightful British film, we get to experience the full range of emotions that go along with this crazy ride called life — love, loss, passion, betrayal, the funny feeling we get on the inside when we hear “All I Want For Christmas Is You.” “Love Actually” is a beautiful collage of characters coming together at Christmas. And should you fall into that unfortunate camp of people who don’t appreciate “Love Actually” (or Hugh Grant’s dancing), well then, in the immortal words of Taylor Swift, “Haters gonna hate.”
4. Four Christmases
Speaking of those different holiday traditions, “Four Christmases” brings a romantic comedy take to the blended family. Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon are a modern couple with a very modern family — complete with two sets of divorced and remarried parents that result in the titular “Four Christmases.” With their travel plans canceled, these two find a may to make it work at the holidays. You’ll feel better about your own busy schedules as a result.
5. Home Alone
If you haven’t watched this one since you were a kid, you’re missing out. In addition to some of the best real estate porn on screen, “Home Alone” is a fun tale of hijinks and family bonding. John Candy gives a thoroughly underrated performance, and there’s nothing like a scary old neighbor guy to remind you of childhood. Give it a go, you filthy animal.
6. Little Fockers
We don’t all celebrate Christmas. Others of us know the unique challenges of blending different traditions at the holidays. To that end, enter “Little Fockers,” a movie that reminds us what it takes to bring everyone together. Bob Stiller and Robert Deniro navigate the tricky terrain of different religious upbringings with lots and lots of comedy.
7. While You Were Sleeping
Want to take an even deeper dive into the history of romantic comedies? Give “While You Were Sleeping” a try. Sandra Bullock saves Peter Gallagher’s life on Christmas Day by pulling him off the subway tracks. (She works for the metro, and with no family of her own, she ends up pulling the short straw to work on December 25.) Peter Gallagher ends up in a coma, and when Sandra goes to check on him at the hospital, she somehow ends up perpetuating a little ruse that she’s engaged to the unconscious man. This might work out if Sandra hadn’t made the whole thing up and developed a nagging attraction for the dude’s brother, played by Bill Pullman. It’s a sweet tale that will brighten any day.
Check back with us next week for Part Two.