Staff Holiday Movie Selections

Last October, I had the staff pick out their favorite horror films for the Halloween season.  I made a similar request this holiday season, but only asked for one film each to keep it succinct and with as few posts on the subject as possible.  The question?  Which holiday film to you make it a point to watch every year?

Nate Capp — The Muppet Christmas Carol
I’ll start with myself.  I would love to put something cool like Black Christmas here (which I do watch every year), but there is only one answer for me: The Muppet Christmas Carol.  It’s been a family staple for years.  We watch it Thanksgiving night, listen to the soundtrack on the way to get our tree the next day, and watch it on Christmas Eve and occasionally, in between.  I can sing all the songs (even those that didn’t make the final cut) and I think I’ve finally caught all of the funny little sight gags (keep an eye on the street corner choir at 1:55 in the below clip).  My family even agrees the song “The Love Is Gone” is a must skip, something my DVD did on its own this year.  This movie is holiday perfection (and while we’re at it, you may as well listen to the John Denver & The Muppets, “A Christmas Together”).

Dan Halsted — Silent Night, Deadly Night
My holiday pick is Silent Night, Deadly Night (I’m showing a 35mm print of it Wednesday night at 9:30).  My favorite scene in the movie is when crazy Grandpa terrifies the little boy by telling him about Santa Claus punishing naughty children on Christmas Eve.  A few years ago, I was at the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin TX, and Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino acted out that scene with Rodriguez playing the role of Grandpa.  He said he used to act it out on the set of Spy Kids to freak out the little kids.  Here’s the scene:

Rachel Stone — Love Actually
Roll your eyes now and get it out of the way. Yes, I’m recommending Love Actually. Love Actually is maybe the chickiest chick movie ever made and as a chick, I’m almost embarrassed to pick this. I trust that in the spirit of the season you will at least hear me out.

This movie is an exercise in the manipulation of the heartstrings. It wouldn’t know the meaning of subtlety if it was whacked across the face with it. This isn’t about real love though, it’s about ‘movie-love’, and the combination of cliche’s, swelling strings, and grand romantic gestures succeed in being genuinely charming and funny. Screenwriter Richard Curtis used to write for ‘Blackadder’ and ‘Mr. Bean’, and he infuses the movie with irresistible holiday spirit. Plus the cast includes Colin Firth, Emma Thompson, and Alan Rickman. Thaw your heart of stone and enjoy!

Richard Beer — The Pee Wee Herman Christmas Special

There’s the two great movies SET at Christmas that are not ABOUT Christmas (DIE HARD, A MIDNIGHT CLEAR).
There’s the two best movies about Christmas that ARE about Christmas (THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS, ELF).
And I just watched the best movie that makes you want to STOP celebrating Christmas (RARE EXPORTS: A CHRISTMAS TALE.
But the one that is a tradition in my house isn’t really a movie, it’s the 48 minute THE PEE WEE HERMAN CHRISTMAS special from 1988.

Of course it has Pee Wee and all the Playhouse regulars, but also features Charro, Cher, Whoopi Goldberg, Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello, Magic Johnson, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Diana Shore, Little Richard and the second best version of The Little Drummer Boy (the David Bowie/Bing Crosby one still gives me goosebumps) by Grace Jones. It is strange and demented and funny…and well…so Pee Wee.

Cailin Bell — White Christmas
White Christmas, every time!  I’m a sucker for old movies…

Jason Diaz — Black Christmas
The original 1974 version.



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