The Mustang’s Top 7 Christmas Movies: As Chosen by the Students

It’s Christmas! With many of us spending the season with our families and loved ones, many traditions are observed around this time of year. One tradition that seems pretty common amongst most people is the annual viewing of Christmas movies and television specials. A number of students gave their input on what they felt were the absolute best movies to watch around the holidays. The movies that best capture the feelings of Christmas. Here are their choices, in order of how many students mentioned these movies.

    Honorable Mention: “Movie Marathons”

Who doesn’t love spending 16 hours watching movies?

This one was a bit of a given. Often the long breaks for the holidays allow for families to engage in movie marathons that can sometimes lead to them being tied to the Christmas season. Many students agreed that the Harry Potter films were something that they viewed around the holidays, with most of the movies having scenes set around Christmas time. The Director of the Communication Minor also mentioned that James Bond and Star Wars marathons were a common occurrence on his Christmas vacations.

Lastly, a certain newspaper editor typically watches the Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit movies around this time of year, particularly since each of them opened in theaters not long after his Christmas breaks. For some reason, The Hobbit movies bring warm memories of not having to worry about homework for a few weeks.

Whether it involves Hobbits and House-Elves or Bond girls and lightsabers, the holidays are always a great time for a movie marathon.

  1. Die Hard
Twentieth Century Fox. (1988)

Bruce Willis stars in his iconic role of John McClane, a New York cop visiting his estranged wife on Christmas. Things go awry when a terrorist group, led by the late Alan Rickman, invades his wife’s annual Christmas party and take everyone but McClane hostage. McClane must brave, air vents, floors littered with broken glass and Swedish terrorists with machine guns if he hopes to save his wife and children in a tale that promises 40 stories of sheer adventure!

This movie is only tangentially related to Christmas, being set on the holiday. Still, there is an ever-present theme of family as McClane struggles to save his, both literally and figuratively, against overwhelming odds. Plus it’s just a kick-ass action movie.

  1. Love Actually
I’m sorry, huh? Universal Pictures. (2003)

At the other end of the spectrum we have Love Actually, a romantic comedy. Now, The Mustang editing staff (a.k.a that guy with the monster beanie) has never actually seen this movie, so Marissa Aguirre, who writes in our Entertainment section, will handle this one, along with her roommate, Dayana Baez.

Marissa calls the film:

“A classic holiday movie with multiple storylines, Love Actually is the quintessential British romantic comedy that has plenty of big screen favorites, such as Hugh Grant, Liam Neeson, and the late Alan Rickman. While it goes through the many different scenarios that we all can experience and relate to, the message of this movie is that no matter what bad happens from a situation, love is the best thing to happen to everyone, and we can all find it in each other, one way or another. Also, since this movie came out 13 years ago, there’s a great nostalgia factor when you watch it.”

Dayana has a different opinion on the film, rejecting it as both a love story and as a Christmas movie, stating:

“Yes, I’ll agree all these people truly did amaze me and I was surprised to find that, beyond Harry Potter and Taken, these actors were actually very good in this movie. As a first time viewer, the multiple plot lines were hard to follow. Regardless, there are only two moments in the movie where I actually saw love. The main one was between a 12 year old boy and a girl where he says, ‘Let’s go get the shit kicked out of us by love.’ I mean a 12 year old kid is doing what many 20 year olds or even older folks wouldn’t do: he’s taking a risk.

“While this is a Christmas movie, I had a hard time seeing it that way, considering that there’s some cheating that happens in this movie. It’s a good movie, don’t get me wrong, I just wouldn’t label it ‘Christmas Movie.’ Also, I’m not bitter, but if the word ‘love’ is in the title, then it should be more about love.”

Well, there you go. Check it out, folks, and see what you think!

  1. Elf
New Line Cinema (2003)

Another popular pick was this 2003 Will Ferrell comedy. Ferrell plays Buddy, an orphaned human who was raised by Santa’s elves. When Buddy learns that he is in fact not an elf, he sets out on a hilarious quest to find his real parents. The film was directed by future Iron Man director John Favreau and also features performances from sitcom legend Bob Newhart, a blonde Zooey Deschanel, and a small role for Game of Thrones actor Peter Dinklage. The film is widely loved as a modern Christmas classic for the whole family and has inspired both a 2010 Broadway adaptation and a 2014 stop-motion TV special.

  1. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
Despite being called “Vacation,” the Griswold’s don’t actually go anywhere. Warner Bros. (1989)

This is the third movie in the long-running Vacation series starring Chevy Chase as Clark Griswold and Beverly D’Angelo as his wife, Ellen. In this film, Johnny Galeki of The Big Bang Theory and indie movie darling Juliette Lewis play their children, Rusty and Audrey. Other notable cast members include Doris Roberts, who plays an over-bearing mother several years before she did so on Everybody Loves Raymond, and Seinfeld and Veep actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus as a snobby next-door neighbor.

Watching the underdog Clark struggle to give his family the perfect, traditional Christmas against all odds is inspiring. Whether he’s showing compassion by offering to help the down-on-his-luck Cousin Eddie buy his children Christmas presents, or his fierce determination to have the best Christmas ever. Even as he weaves through highway traffic with a massive pine tree strapped to his car and knocks the city power out with his Christmas decorations, you can’t help but root for the endearing patriarch of the Griswold family.

  1. The Santa Clause
Walt Disney Pictures. (1994)

Tim Allen has played Santa Claus three times in Disney’s trilogy, but the original 1994 movie will always be the best. Allen plays a character named Scott Calvin who awakens one night to find Santa Claus on the roof of his home. When Scott accidentally startles Santa, leading to Father Christmas fatally tumbling from the rooftop, it is up to Scott and his son to finish Santa’s Christmas rounds.

However, because Scott put on the outfit and drove the sleigh, he is now contractually obligated to become Santa Claus. Thus the titular pun. The plot is ridiculous, but that’s part of what makes it such a fun holiday movie. If you’re looking for something that will get you into the holiday spirit, there are few things better than Disney’s The Santa Clause.

  1. Home Alone
He’s screaming because he saw how his career turned out…. Twentieth Century Fox. (1990)

Like Die Hard, this film involves a lone hero in his pajamas, trapped inside massive building, and facing hardened criminals with nothing but his wits and ingenuity. Somehow, this formula for a Christmas movie just seems to work. In the film, the McCallister family is on their way to Paris for the holidays. Somehow, despite having nine children and a massive house, the McCallister’s can still afford to fly overseas for Christmas. Unfortunately young Kevin McCallister is lost in the shuffle and finds himself left…. home alone.

This doesn’t last long however, as a pair of low rent burglars named Marv and Harry attempt to break into Kevin’s house and rob the place. Hilarity and slapstick violence quickly ensues. Macaulay Culkin reprised his role in the film’s first sequel Home Alone II: Lost in New York, which also featured an appearance from the current President-Elect, Donald Trump.

  1. A Christmas Story
Encouraging gun safety since 1983. Warner Bros. (1983)

This is it. This was the movie mentioned the most by students at WNMU. In truth, there probably is no other movie that captures a family Christmas better than this 1983 classic. While many holiday movies tend to be based either in the realm of fantasy, such as Elf or The Santa Clause or in some heightened, comedic reality like Christmas Vacation, Bob Clark’s A Christmas Story is chillingly real.

Based off the biographical short stories of Jean Shepard, the film tells the story of young Ralphie Parker and his misadventures with bullies, a mean-spirited Mall Santa and a garish pink bunny onsie. Whether it’s the absurd family fights, such “the Old Man” and Ralphie’s mother arguing over a provocative lamp, or a furnace that refuses to work, to the point of almost mocking it’s owner or little Ralphie’s struggle to finally get that BB gun he wants for Christmas, there is something in this movie that everyone can identify with.

Perhaps this is why 24-hour marathons of the film continue to run on basic cable every year. While other Christmas movies are loaded with Santa, Elves and home invasions, A Christmas Story is the simple tale of a holiday with family through the eyes of a nine-year old boy.

So there you have it. Do you agree with this list? What are some holiday favorites among your family? Let us know what you think on our Facebook page.

Happy Holidays, Everyone!

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