‘Some Naughty, Some Nice’…
So, the Holidays got you down, eh? Tired of beating the crowd to shop for Christmas gifts that you probably can’t afford, only to get presents in return that you don’t even want (or already have)?
Bummed that the crappy economy put the kibosh on your Christmas bonus, or maybe even deep-sixed your job completely? Dreading the prospect of spending what little free downtime you have with nosy family members that you wouldn’t even bother keeping in touch with on the other 364 days of the year?
Well, fear not, my movie-loving friends!
The following list of Holiday Season classics is sure to put the zing back in your Christmas spirit. Despite some of the more obvious choices that simply cannot be ignored, not all of them are bona-fide Christmas movies in the traditional sense. But if you want “traditional,” hey, go buy a Hallmark card.
10) “Bad Santa” (2003)
Starring: Billy Bob Thornton, Bernie Mac, Tony Cox
Directed by: Terry Zwigoff
The Story: Thornton plays a miserable con man who poses as you-know-who to rip off department stores on Christmas Eve, but his ice-covered heart begins to thaw when he reluctantly befriends a troubled kid.
Why it’s a classic: This raunchy, R-rated, mean-spirited dark comedy flies in the face of everything that defines a more traditional Christmas movie, but that’s the beauty of it. And yet despite its incredibly sour tone, the heart of the movie ultimately prevails to make moviegoers feel good in unexpected ways.
9) “Scrooged” (1988)
Starring: Bill Murray, Karen Allen, John Forsythe
Directed by: Richard Donner
The Story: Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” gets a contemporary makeover, with Bill Murray playing a ruthless television executive who works his staff to the bone in an effort to increase his network’s ratings.
Why it’s a classic: Though not nearly as dark as “Bad Santa,” it’s still very funny, and Bill Murray is obviously having a blast playing a modern-day Scrooge who learns the old familiar lesson the hard way.
8) “Gremlins” (1984)
Starring: Zach Galligan, Phoebe Cates
Directed by: Joe Dante
The Story: The citizens of a picturesque small town ignore three very important rules about these cute-and-fuzzy little creatures, only to watch them turn into trouble-making monsters that destroy everything in their path.
Why it’s a classic: What starts off as an idealistic and endearing cousin to “E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial” turns into a chaotic nightmare that’s twisted, mischievous and loads of fun. And if you remember correctly, Billy (Galligan) gets Gizmo as… wait for it… a Christmas present!
7) “Die Hard” (1988)
Starring: Bruce Willis, Alan Rickman
Directed by: John McTiernan
The Story: Employees at a Christmas party in an upscale Los Angeles high-rise get taken hostage by ruthless terrorists, and it’s up to a wise-cracking off-duty New York cop to save the day.
Why it’s a classic: One of the best action movies of all time, and game-changer that created a sub-genre unto itself (“Die Hard” on a plane, “Die Hard” on a boat, etc.). “Moonlighting’s” Bruce Willis earned a then-record $5 million to star, and he earned every penny of it. Yippee-kiy-yay Motherf****r, indeed!
6) “Love Actually” (2003)
Starring: Hugh Grant, Colin Firth, Laura Linney, Emma Thompson
Directed by: Richard Curtis
The Story: More than a dozen characters around London weave in and out of each other’s lives (and hearts) over the course of one very eventful Christmas holiday.
Why it’s a classic: The ultimate romantic comedy has something for everyone – maybe a little too much, actually – but it’s so delightful and touching that it’s hard to resist.
5) “Home Alone” (1990)
Starring: Macaulay Culkin, Joe Pesci
Directed by: Chris Columbus
The Story: After accidentally being left behind when his family leaves for a vacation in France, a young boy learns to fend for himself and protect his home from two bumbling burglars.
Why it’s a classic: Think “Die Hard” for kids. The slapstick humor can be a bit much, but what young boy wouldn’t dream of getting rid of the rest of the family for a few wild and crazy nights during the Holidays?
4) “The Nightmare Before Christmas” (1993)
Directed by: Henry Selick (animated)
The Story: Halloweentown resident Jack Skellington puts a little too much “spirit” in the Christmas spirit.
Why it’s a classic: Not only does this delightful feature, produced by Tim Burton, boast incredible stop-motion animation, a Grammy-nominated soundtrack and a clever, ingenious, heartwarming story, but you can’t go wrong with a movie that covers two holidays for the price of one.
3) “Elf” (2003)
Starring: Will Ferrell, Zooey Deschanel
Directed by: Jon Favreau
The Story: A regular-sized man raised as an elf in the North Pole goes to New York City to search for his biological father.
Why it’s a classic: A smart, clever and very funny screenplay is fully realized through Jon Favreau’s assured direction and Will Ferrell’s career-defining performance as the idealistic, sweet-natured and irresistible title character.
2) “A Christmas Story” (1983)
Starring: Peter Billingsley, Darren McGavin, Melinda Dillion
Directed by: Bob Clark
The Story: A young boy tries to convince his friends, teachers and family that a toy BB gun is the ultimate Christmas gift. You’ll shoot your eye out, kid.
Why it’s a classic: It’s wry, funny, touching, nostalgic and timeless. No wonder cable TV channels run it on a continuous loop for 24 hours on the big day.
1) “It’s a Wonderful Life” (1946)
Starring: Jimmy Stewart, Donna Reed
Directed by: Frank Capra
The Story: A discouraged businessman considers suicide, until a guardian angel eager to earn his wings helps him see the light.
Why it’s a classic: Like you need to ask? Frank Capra’s classic is quite simply the “Citizen Kane” of Holiday movies – and it just keeps getting better every year.