Staff picks for Christmas films and shows this holiday season


Courtesy of Trusted Review

“Elf” is one of The Californian staff’s picks for top holiday movies or show to watch this break.

There’s nothing better than curling up with a Christmas movie and a hot chocolate when it’s cold outside. These are The Californian’s staff recommendations for doing just that.

“Die Hard” is a Christmas movie by Features Editor Nimisa Panda

Now, before anyone dares to disagree, “Die Hard” IS a Christmas movie. 

Sure, the movie isn’t the most family-friendly film to watch during the holidays. Sure, it’s rated R. Sure, the movie is filled with gore and violence. However, it’s still a Christmas movie. After all, when was the last time it snowed in Los Angeles? Even gory movies need a little holiday cheer.

Die Hard, starring Bruce Willis, was released in 1988 and became the first in a series of “Die Hard” movies. When it was released, the film skyrocketed to stardom, becoming the highest-grossing action film of the year. 

If you have not watched the film yet, the movie follows NYPD officer John McClane (Willis) as he travels to Los Angeles to meet his estranged wife and his children for the holidays. He joins his wife at an office party at the headquarters of the Japanese business that she works for.

This happened to be a great party, filled with important people. But the celebrations are rudely interrupted when a group of German terrorists take all the party-goers hostage, and it is up to McClane to save them all. This may seem like any run-of-the-mill action movie, but this is the best Christmas movie of all time.

The movie is jam packed with instantly recognizable scenes and quotes. If you were to pick any scene from the movie, chances are it has the perfect combination of one-liners, thrilling action, and perfect visuals to match the mood. Everyone knows the “Come out to the coast” scene where McClane crawls through a ventilation shaft. Even if you haven’t seen the movie, you’lll know what scene I’m talking about.  It’s a 10 out of 10 on the quotable lines. 

Then there are the variety of characters. From the antagonist Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman) to Argyle, the limo driver, everyone in the movie is chock full of life (except the terrorists). Each and every character is well-rounded, which captures the viewer’s attention, and that is a mark of a great movie. 

Finally, the movie is packed perfectly. Some movies are a slow burn, and others leave you with a bad case of whiplash. “Die Hard”, on the other hand, starts off nice and slow, and only picks up the pace when absolutely necessary, leaving the reader with a sense of fulfillment. 

“Die Hard” is the perfect Christmas movie. The fact that the main character is the quintessential action hero sets “Die Hard” apart from itś fluffy counterparts in the genre of holiday movies. The fact that the sheer goodness of this movie made it snow in Los Angeles, where the sun always shines, has to count for something. If you have nothing to do over the break and need your fix of perfect movie-making, “Die Hard” is the movie for you. 

“Ever After High: Epic Winter” won’t snow on your parade  by Staff
Writer Hallie Chong

The TV show “Ever After High” has definitely been a part of my childhood. Since the second grade, I have been a die hard fan of the show. 

The show follows the stories of the kids of main characters in many fairy tales. When I first found out that “Ever After High” brought their own snowy take with an epic winter, I was pleasantly surprised. Although there’s no true Christmas theme within the four episodes released, I can say for myself and others that the thought of snow immediately brings a Christmas feel, makingEver After High: Epic Winter” a Christmas special series overall. 

This winter special brings in a new character, Crystal, the Snow Queen’s daughter. Instead of following the usual main characters of the whole series, such as Apple (daughter of Snow White), Raven (daughter of the Evil Queen), and Madeline (daughter of the Mad Hatter), the special shows a lot more of the side characters that viewers don’t get to see often. 

The season follows Crystal´s race against time to “unevilize” her dad and undo the eternal winter that was ravaging Ever After High. I watched the winter special again to feel the nostalgia and remembering how huge of a fan I was of this particular series. 

The winter special is one of my favorites because of the characters. I think that childhood shows are always going to be a favorite to watch during the holidays, particularly to remember old memories. The show would be good to experience our own snowy day, which is great if you live in a place like California, where we don’t get an inch of snow. 

This special would be fun to watch if you have a sibling who is willing to watch with you or if you are binge watching childhood shows. Apart from the nostalgia, the aesthetics of the show was still as vibrant and eye-catching as ever. The screen was constantly filled with bright colors and beautiful animations. I remember why eight year old me was obsessed with this show. 

If you are ever in need of a fresh wave of nostalgia or an eye-pleasing, albeit corny, show to watch over the upcoming break, “Ever After High: Epic Winter” is the show for you.

“Saturday Night Live Christmas Special” by Staff Writer Jordan Vereen

While many would watch family-friendly classics such as “Home Alone”, “Elf” and “A Charlie Brown Christmas”, my family has a tradition to watch a more, say, crude show, to fill us with Christmas cheer. Instead, we watch “The Saturday Night Live Christmas Special”.

This holiday special features the best that the classic American comedy show offers, including several memorable skits, monologues, and songs such as “A Holiday Wish,” “Santa’s Workshop,” and John Malkovich’s Monologue, which tells a not-so-nice version of the story of “The Night Before Christmas.”

Although I’d enjoy going into detail with all the skits, for the sake of brevity, I’ll only describe my favorite skit; “Hanukkah Harry.” This skit was unfortunately removed from the yearly special in the 2000s, most likely due to modern sensitivities around ethnicity.

The skit follows the story of Hanukkah Harry (Jon Lovitz) filling in for a sick Santa Claus during Christmas. Flying through the air on his magical cart, pulled by his three trusty donkeys Moische, Herschel, and Schlomo, Hanukkah Harry visits the homes of all the gentile boys and girls, including Scott (Mike Myers) and Christine (Victoria Jackson.) 

Despite Hanukkah Harry’s less spectacular, yet practical, gifts, the Christmas joy of Scott and Christine, and Christine’s revelation that the true meaning of Christmas is that Jews and Christians are pretty much the same, cure Santa of his stomach flu and relieve Hanukkah Harry of his duties. 

“Hanukkah Harry” is a hilarious and masterful piece of skit comedy that makes me excited to revisit Harry’s workshop on Mount Sinai each year. It is also a great example of how to deliver ethnic humor – laughing about certain aspects of a group, yet not devolving into gratuitous slurs or relying on tired stereotypes. And, as an ethnic Jew myself, I find it to be perfect representation of my ancestry.

The best part? That is only one of the many great skits this special offers! So, if you have a free hour on the Saturday before Christmas, I recommend you enjoy “The Saturday Night Live

Forget the Elf on the Shelf; this “Elf” will make you laugh by
StaffWriter Parwaan Virk

When you think of Christmas movies, chances are one of the first ones that come to mind is “Elf”. Released in 2003, this winter classic starring Will Ferrell as a man-child elf has now become an important part of many families’ holiday movie lineup across the world. 

The story begins with Papa Elf (Bob Newhart) as narrator, introducing everything that has happened up to this point with the help of a book.  Papa Elf has really wanted a kid for a long time, and this movie shows how his wish comes true 

Thirty years before Elf takes place, an unidentified baby escapes from his crib in an orphanage and crawls into Santa’s sack. Santa is oblivious to what has happened, and he returns to the North Pole to start the next line of presents to the children around the world. This is when the baby makes his debut into the North Pole, and to everyone’s shock, is the first human in the workshop.

Santa decides to keep the baby in the North Pole and over the years, we see Buddy growing up under Papa Elf’s care. Though all of the elves know Buddy’s true species, Buddy himself thinks that he’s an elf. Newhart as Papa Elf nails the part in struggling to raise a human as an elf himself. 

When we return to the “present” day, (haha sorry not sorry), we now see the grown Buddy (Farrell) making toys (albeit at a much slower speed) until he learns he’s not really an elf. With the permission of Santa, Buddy travels to New York to meet his real father.

The problem? Buddy learns that his real dad is on the naughty list. Buddy’s dad, Walter Hobbs (James Caan ) is extraordinary in his role and has the right look and dialogue of a businessman who seems to take pleasure in his naughty acts, such as confiscating books donated to a local orphanage. 

Thankfully, once Buddy meets his dad he’s able to change him while taking enjoyment of simple human activities, such as going on a date to preparing for a surprise visit from Santa in a department store. Buddy’s heart-warming nature rubs off on his dad, who makes a wonderful turnaround from a sleek businessman who cared about nothing but money into a caring father of both of his sons. 

Toward the end of the movie, Buddy and the Hobbs family help Santa save Christmas after he crashes his sleigh into Central Park.

I still remember watching “Elf” for the first time: the dry humor, the well-executed characters, and the capturing plot. Farrel’s portrayal of Buddy is definitely the highlight as he’s very convincing playing the role of a man-child elf. The entire cast is hired perfectly and the all around perfectness of this movie is understated. I rate it a solid 10/10.

The classic movie is still remembered today, and if you are in the mood for a lighthearted Christmas movie. It’s definitely a movie to check out.

Live action Grinch is a blast from the past by Staff Writer Katya Vial

Dr. Seuss´ “How The Grinch Stole Christmas” (2000) is a live action film, starring Jim Carrey, based on the classic 1957 book, “How The Grinch Stole Christmas” by Dr. Seuss. 

The film is an iconic Christmas fantasy-comedy, which has been watched and re-watched by families every year during the holidays. When the movie was first released, it was to film for four weeks.

The movie takes place in the town of Whoville, where all but one of the residents enjoy celebrating Christmas. The Grinch, played by Jim Carrey, is a green misanthropist who lives in a cave on the highest mountain in Whoville. He hates Christmas and everything associated with it. There are many suspected reasons for this, from his shoes being too tight to his heart being half the size it should be. 

Bottom line: the Grinch hates the holidays with every fiber of his being. 

At this point, the other main character is introduced. Enter Cindy Lou, a 6 year old girl from Whoville. Cindy is the epitome of Christmas joy: bubbly, doe-eyed and bushy tailed. When Cindy finds out that the Grinch is all alone during the holiday season, she embarks on a mission to get the Grinch to like Christmas. 

Despite Cindy Lou Who’s attempts to bring holiday spirit to the Grinch, he goes on a rampage, attempting to steal Christmas from the Whos. This attempt falls flat, because the Whos radiate positivity and they see the Grinch as one of their own. 

At the end of the movie, the Grinch realizes where he went wrong. He is now a transformed creature, and after he apologizes to the residents of Whoville, the Grinch’s heart swells in size, making him a better Grinch.

“How The Grinch Stole Christmas”  is an absolute blast from the past. The visuals, the characters, and the aesthetic of the film is nostalgic. The bright colors and eye-catching art work is a welcome reminder of the good ol’ days.  Everyone remembers making Grinch themed crafts in grade school, and laughing at Cindy Lou’s upturned nose. I particularly enjoy the film because of the warm fuzzy feeling it gives me. There is nothing like watching a classic Christmas movie while curling up with a hot cup of cocoa. 

“How The Grinch Stole Christmas’ ‘ is one of the most iconic holiday films of this day and age. The film demonstrates the Christmas Spirit, and also serves to show an important moral. If you are in the mood for a movie to put you in the holiday mood, “ How The Grinch Stole Christmas” is perfect for you.