Movies to bring you holiday cheer

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Movies to bring you holiday cheer

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With all the holiday movies on the market, it’s hard to know which ones to watch. But fear no more, The Californian is giving you the best holiday movies of all time. 

“Die Hard”

When most people hear “Christmas film,” they don’t immediately think of “Die Hard.” 

Unlike other Christmas classics, it’s not inextricably associated with tinsel and good cheer. Regardless, it’s undeniably the ultimate holiday action film. 

The 1988 thriller follows NYPD detective John McClane, played by Bruce Willis. He flies to LA for Christmas Eve to reconcile with his wife only to arrive at the Christmas party of her employer and realize their estrangement to be the least of his problems. 

German terrorist Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman) has taken over the Nakatomi Plaza with his team and taken party guests as hostages. McClane, as the only non-hostage, has to find a way to thwart the group’s plans while not giving himself away. 

The conflict between McClane and Gruber culminates in a nerve-wracking scene where Gruber is holding his wife hostage and forces McClane to give up his machine gun. But McClane still finds a way to save his wife. 

I enjoyed the action scenes the most, and I really liked how McClane strapped the explosives to a chair and threw it down the elevator shaft to take care of a few of the members of Gruber’s team.

The movie’s strengths also lay in its individuality. The concept of one man taking on an enemy terrorist group may seem overdone and washed out today, but “Die Hard” was responsible for establishing that standard in many ways. It’s a refreshing watch, and deserves the title of Christmas classic. – Varsha Ravi

“Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer”

“Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” is said to be the world’s most famous case of hit and run.

The Cartoon Network film from 2000 is not only an awesome Christmas movie, but it also teaches kids how corporate America works.

On the night of Christmas Eve, Grandma goes out to bring leftover baked goods to the community center. On her way out of the house, Santa’s reindeer get a whiff of Grandma’s fruitcake, and run her over in pursuit of the dessert. Later we find out that Santa takes her back to the North Pole, where she remains because of amnesia she suffers from the incident. 

A year passes since Grandma went missing, with no sign of her return. Her grandson, Jake Spankenheimer, eventually emails Santa asking about his grandma. This scene answers the highly debated question, “Does the North Pole have wifi?” One of Santa’s elves, named Quincy, sees the email, fetches Jake, and brings him to the North pole to retrieve Grandma. 

Some time and a couple hilarious songs later, Santa gets sued for sleighhicular negligence. 

The case is solved with the movie’s best line, “In the name of justice, we eat fruitcake!”

“Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer” is my favorite holiday movie because of its nostalgia factor. I watch it because it reminds me of childhood. It was a simpler time, when I didn’t understand most of what was happening in the movie, but enjoyed it nonetheless. 

Now that I am an adult, the movie is even more enjoyable because I know what is going on and realize how ridiculous it is. If there is a movie you loved as a kid but haven’t watched since, I recommend you dust off its DVD and watch it. It’s life-changing. – Ilene Morrisette

“Love Actually”

At some point every year during the holidays, I find myself curled up on the couch watching “Love Actually.”  The movie follows 10 different stories of love during one Christmas season in London. The stories include the prime minister, a rock star past his prime, and a hopelessly romantic 12 year old. There are a ton of cheesy yet iconic scenes, like when a writer (Colin Firth) falls in love with a woman even though they don’t speak the same language.

He spends the rest of the movie learning Portuguese, and in the end goes to her hometown and proposes in her language. The grand gesture is sweet, but the scene is also funny because he is awful at Portuguese.

There’s another when England’s prime minister (Hugh Grant) is listening to the radio and dances around to “Jump (For My Love)” by the Pointer Sisters. It’s always fun to imagine a well-known politician dancing around their room like a twelve year old. 

I like the opening and closing scenes, with shots of real people at London’s Heathrow Airport reconnecting with family and friends. I can see the joy they feel after seeing loved ones, and it reminds me of my own Christmas memories being with family I don’t get to see very often. “Love Actually” is my favorite holiday movie. It’s sweet and at times sad, but just humorous enough to keep it from getting too sappy. – Jenna Lyons

“The Grinch” (2018)

Everybody loves Christmas, everybody but the Grinch.  Although “The Grinch” is very predictable, it’s a perfect holiday film to watch with the family. The jokes are family friendly with a new twist at the end that will leave you in tears.

The 2000 live action film, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” tells a story of a green nasty creature that passionately hates Christmas and everything about the Christmas spirit. He decides to steal Christmas from the citizens of Whoville.  The plot is the same from the 2000 movie, but the animation brought the story to life and was very well done. The touching and heartwarming scenes made it hard not to shed a tear. Benedict Cumberbatch does a fantastic job voicing the Grinch character.

One of my favorite scenes is at the end of the 2000 film when Cindy Lou Hoo invites the Grinch over for Christmas dinner. This scene was so heartwarming because a young child accepted the mistakes of the Grinch, even if he did ruin Christmas for the town. 

In the new film, the Grinch’s problems are more realistic and relatable. It shows another side of this green “monster” that nobody knew about.  In the new and improved Grinch movie we get to see why the Grinch acts the way he does. In the end, the lesson is the same: spread love and accept one another.  – Michelle Kuperman

“The Nightmare Before Christmas”

“The Nightmare before Christmas” has been a childhood favorite ever since I first saw it on the Disney Channel back in 2006. The claymation fim captured my morbid curiosity of the weird and the macabre, and the colorful magic of Christmas while also keeping my attention to the pace of Danny Elfman’s musical score.

The perfectly imperfect protagonist, Jack Skellington, is fascinating to watch with his strange but interesting character design and aesthetic. Sally, the romantic interest, is sympathetic and probably the most intelligent person in the film. It’s shown early on that she is smarter than she appears, escaping and outsmarting her creator multiple times with the various tricks and loopholes she performs.

Oogie Boogie is the main antagonist who steals Santa but is delightfully a disgusting and whimsical character.  But it could be argued that Jack himself is his own villain. Everything that gets in Jack’s way is himself. His own dissatisfaction led him to change himself and his town into something it’s not.

After nearly blowing himself up, Jack realized in the end that he already had everything he needed. It’s a lesson we can all learn from. You can’t force change upon yourself. It’s gradual and will eventually come as you are willing to accept it. – Irene Kao

“A Christmas Story”

Most of us remember the greatest Christmas gift we ever received as a kid. For me, it was the Lego Main Street set I scored from Santa when I was nine years old.

Only one film has ever captured that feeling I had upon receiving the perfect Christmas gift: “A Christmas Story.” When I first saw the film about five years after attaining my Holy Grail of Christmas gifts, a certain nostalgia overcame me watching little Ralphie do everything is his power to get his – an official Red Ryder carbine action, two-hundred model air rifle.

In this 1983 classic, Ralphie’s quest to get his Red Ryder air rifle is rife with drama. He watches his friend Flick get his tongue frozen to a flag pole, kicks the tar out of the school bully, gets his mouth washed out with soap for saying “Oh fudgggge” (except he didn’t say fudge), learns about consumerism from his Little Orphan Annie secret decoder pin, ogles “gleaming sex in the window” after his father wins a leg lamp as a major award, and gets boot-stamped in the forehead by a sadistic Santa.

Even though Ralphie is forced to wear a pink bunny suit and looked like a deranged Easter Bunny on Christmas morning, all is right with the world when he receives his Red Ryder air rifle. Sure, he nearly shoots his eye out as everyone forewarned and steps on his glasses, but he still receives his greatest gift of all time.

Christmas for the rest of the family is a mixed bag. His little brother Randy receives a Zeppelin, Dad gets a blue bowling ball dropped on his lap (what, no tie this year?), and the turkey Mom’s preparing for dinner gets ravaged by the hillbilly neighbor’s hounds. As a result, the family goes out for dinner at a Chinese restaurant, where they watch their Christmas duck get decapitated at the table with a meat cleaver. If this movie doesn’t get you in the Christmas spirit then I don’t know what will. – Brian Barr

To read more holiday film reviews, go to The Californian website at