Saturday, December 9, 2023

Top 5 Holiday Movies Selected By a Cranky Film Critic

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Having spent my Christmas working in a movie theatre hellscape with swarms of customers streaming into the theatres nonstop from door opening to time of close (mainly to see Spider-Man: No Way Home), I am a tired old man who just wants to sleep. As a result, this top holiday films list is coming in slightly late, but there’s still plenty of time to cram some of these in before New Year’s Day. So here you go.

A Muppet Family Christmas

1. A Muppet Family Christmas (1987) – Understandably The Muppet’s Christmas Carol gets a lot of love this time of year. But this television holiday special is brimming with the holiday spirit, Muppet whimsy; and with the guest appearance of the Fraggles, it’s a multiverse event that should make modern little heads explode. Watch out for the icy patch and just a warm and fuzzy good time.

Black Christmas

2. Black Christmas (2019) – The second remake of the 1974 horror classic. Sophia Takal uses the bleak wintery atmosphere mixed with the expectation of togetherness of the holidays and creates a tense moody thriller about the existential terror of misogyny. Far from bright and cheerful, however, it does end on a notion of hope that redefines the “Final Girl” trope and in so doing opens up new possibilities for the genre.


3. Shazam! (2019) – Watching the April-released DC movie was a head-scratcher if only because releasing it at Christmastime seemed like such an easy lay-up. Yeah, it would have been competing with the MCU’s Infinity War but I come from a time when movies actually went head to head and competing. All that is beside the point, because at its heart David F. Sandberg’s Shazam! is about togetherness and love within yourself and those around you. It’s hard to be more Christmas-centric than that.

Last Christmas

4. Last Christmas (2019) – Paul Feig’s fairy tale rom-com starring Emilia Clarke and Henry Golding is touching, timely, and a tad bonkers. Clarke is great and infinitely charming as the grouch who finds herself falling for the mysterious Golding. The twist at the end raises the movie to another level.

(L-R): Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld) and Hawkeye/Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner) in Marvel Studios’ HAWKEYE, exclusively on Disney+. Photo by Chuck Zlotnick. ©Marvel Studios 2021. All Rights Reserved.

5. Hawkeye (2021) – Technically this is an MCU miniseries, but this is my list so I can do what I want. Much like Shazam! or Shane Black’s Iron Man 3, Hawkeye is set at Christmas but uses the holidays for more than just backdrop or settings. The music and iconography are used to make Hawkeye unique in feel and look, and we’re presented a buddy comedy scenario with cleverly utilized Christmas hijinks throughout.

Images courtesy of Warner Bros., Marvel Studios, Universal Pictures, and Jim Henson Productions

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  • Jeremiah

    Jeremiah lives in Los Angeles and divides his time between living in a movie theatre and writing mysteries. There might also be some ghostbusting being performed in his spare time.

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