The holiday season is synonymous with many things – twinkling lights, carol singers, the delicious aroma of baked goods, and, of course, curling up with a good movie or three. As temperatures drop, the idea of snuggling under a blanket with a cup of hot chocolate and a cinematic adventure becomes increasingly inviting. Whether you're planning a solo movie night or gathering the family for a festive binge, here's your guide to creating the ultimate holiday movie marathon.
1. Setting the Scene for the Marathon
Before we dive into movie recommendations, let's talk about ambiance. String up some fairy lights, light a few scented candles (think cinnamon or pine, or if you can find it: gingerbread), and gather an assortment of snacks. Popcorn is a given, but for a festive twist, consider cookies, chocolate-covered pretzels, or even a cheese board.
2. Kickstart with Classics
Begin your marathon with movies that define the holiday spirit and season for countless people across multiple generations.
-"It's a Wonderful Life" (1946): This heartwarming tale about the importance of individual lives sets the perfect tone. I mean, it’s obviously a classic if so many holiday specials have done their own version of this story.
- "Miracle on 34th Street" (1947): Doubt and belief clash in this classic that reminds us of the magic of Christmas. While obviously you can go with the 1994 version (that’s my favourite), the sentiment remains the same!
3. Inject Some Comedy
Balance the sentimentality with a few laughs.
- "Home Alone" (1990): Join Kevin McCallister in his ingenious (and hilarious) mission to defend his home from burglars with ridiculous booby-traps and wise cracking antics. Home Alone has essentially become an anthology at this point, but nothing beats the original (except for Home Alone 3 which in my mind is the best in the franchise - and no I will not be taking questions at this time).
- "Elf" (2003): Buddy the Elf's antics in New York City will have you laughing and singing along. While there are scenes inspired by the Rankin/Bass Productions stop motion holiday classics, Elf stands on its own as one of the best holiday classics.
4. Modern Holiday Magic
Contemporary holiday films have carved their own niche, becoming staples in their own right.
- "The Polar Express" (2004): A visually stunning (or horrifying - depending on how you look at it) journey that emphasises the power of belief. The film features characters played by Tom Hanks, Tom Hanks and I can’t leave out Tom Hanks!
- "Love Actually" (2003): Multiple love stories intertwine in this modern holiday favourite, showcasing the many facets of love. Just don’t watch this one for the first time with your mother like I did…sorry mom.
5. Animated Adventures for All Ages
No movie marathon is complete without a touch of animation.
- "The Nightmare Before Christmas" (1993): Is it a Halloween movie or a Christmas movie? Commonly debated, I tend to put it in the “November movies” category, but many people disagree and call this a holiday classic.
- "Frozen" (2013): This one was hard for me to put on the list. While not strictly a Christmas movie, its icy setting and themes of family make it a fitting choice for those who are able to ignore the plot. I mean, the movie takes place in the summer. If the movie took place during the winter, everything being frozen wouldn’t be a problem, right? Right. But for some reason many people and radio stations love to call this a holiday movie and I am begrudgingly adding Frozen (my favourite modern Disney animated movie) to this list.
Oh, you thought I missed it…didn’t you?
- Die Hard (1988): Die Hard is a Christmas movie, and a fantastic Christmas movie at that! A story about a man trying to put his family back together and in turn needs to save his wife and defeat the bad guys? That sounds like the perfect conclusion to your holiday marathon!
Crafting the perfect holiday movie marathon isn't just about the movies; it's about the memories you create. This year, lose yourself in cinematic escapades that span decades, genres, and emotions. Here's to laughter, tears, and the magic of cinema!