With the holidays right around the corner, it’s time to start preparing your winter watch-list. There are so many amazing movies set around Christmas, choosing which ones to watch is never easy. The holidays have different meanings for different people, but whatever they mean to you, there’s a movie for you to watch!
While You Were Sleeping (dir. Jon Turteltaub, 1995)
This film is perfect for those who want a cute movie to watch with loved ones that has Christmas spirit without hitting you over the head with Christmas cheer. In the grand tradition of classic Christmas films Die Hard and Home Alone, this charming romantic comedy takes place at Christmastime, but isn’t really about Christmas.
Lucy Moderatz, played by an adorable Sandra Bullock in one of her first roles, is a fare token collector for Chicago Transit Authority (Chicago’s version of the subway) with no family and a massive crush on a commuter. Her watching him from afar ends, however, on Christmas Day, when he is mugged and pushed onto the train tracks. Though she saves him, the commuter — Peter — is in a coma and, due to a misunderstanding at the hospital, his worried family believes Lucy is his fiancée. As Lucy gets to know and falls in love with Peter’s family, it becomes more and more difficult to reveal the truth — and things only become more complicated when she meets Peter’s brother Jack, played to down-to-earth perfection by Bill Pullman, and the two begin to fall in love.
Despite the slightly problematic premise (though fairly tame as far as 90s rom-coms go), this film is funny and sweet with a great soundtrack. It makes for a thoroughly enjoyable winter evening.
The Muppets Christmas Carol (dir. Brian Henson, 1992)
Any version of A Christmas Carol is an excellent option for the holidays, but if you have children to entertain or just want a funnier version of the classic tale, The Muppets Christmas Carol is a delight.
Featuring two-time Oscar winner Michael Caine playing Ebeneezer Scrooge as if his co-stars aren’t Muppets, the traditional tale unfolds with Kermit the Frog as Bob Cratchit; Miss Piggy as his wife; Fozzie Bear as “Mr. Fozzi-wig”; Gonzo the Great as the film’s narrator, Charles Dickens; and Rizzo the Rat as himself. Despite the silliness of the Muppets, the story is told with remarkable accuracy and features many excellent, and sometimes strangely moving, songs. If you love the Muppets or just want something lighthearted and silly to watch, this film is for you.
Little Women (dir. Greta Gerwig, 2019)
Though this film can, and should, be enjoyed year-round, some of its central action occurs at Christmas, and it serves as an excellent “Christmas-lite” option if you want something that features Christmas but isn’t necessarily a “Christmas movie.”
Based on the classic 1868 novel by Louisa May Alcott, Little Women follows the lives of the March sisters — young, artistic Amy (Florence Pugh); beautiful Meg (Emma Watson); kind, shy Beth (Eliza Scanlon); and tomboyish writer Jo (Saoirse Ronan). Throughout the film, the sisters navigate the absence of their father, who is a chaplain in the Union Army, their relationship with their neighbor Laurie (Timothée Chalamet), their relationships with each other, and the complexities of growing up.
Though some viewers struggle with the non-linear structure writer and director Greta Gerwig uses — and the 1994 version with Winona Ryder is better if you want a warm and fuzzy tone — Little Women (2019) perfectly encapsulates the struggle of balancing personal relationships with professional growth, while also containing all the funny and moving moments that made the original novel so popular. Even if this film doesn’t make it onto your roster of holiday films, it should absolutely be on your “To-Watch” list, thanks to its talented, stunning cast and moving story.
The Holiday (dir. Nancy Meyers, 2006)
While you can enjoy a Nancy Meyers rom-com anytime during the year, The Holiday, in particular, remains a Christmas must-watch.
Iris Simpkins (Kate Winslet) from London and Amanda Woods (Cameron Diaz) from LA decide to exchange houses for the Christmas break, after each facing heartbreak at home. Trying to get away from their daily lives, they find love across the pond.
An iconic inspirational moment in this film is when Eli Wallach’s Arthur Abbott reminds Iris that she is the leading lady of her life, proving that Meyers came up with “main character energy” long before anyone else.
As we move closer to the holidays, there is no better movie to watch if you’re looking for that happy, cozy feeling this winter.
Love Actually (dir. Richard Curtis, 2006)
Love Actually is a Christmas rom-com that revolutionised the genre and is a staple of the holiday season. It follows the lives of about 20 characters across 10 interwoven stories, exploring the different facets and complexities of love.
Every story and every major character is so well fleshed out that, in just over two hours, the audience is able to feel for them all. The only exception is the storyline that culminates in the iconic cards on the doorstep scene, which, frankly, is a little uncomfortable, but the rest of the movie more than makes up for it. Most storylines are fairly predictable but in a way that reminds you of the comfort of familiarity.
Christmas would be incomplete without this movie. If you haven’t seen it, you should definitely check it out and if you have, watch it again!