Five Movies to Watch This Holiday and Fives To Avoid

For the upcoming holidays, we have compiled a list of the best holiday movies, that you need to add to your watchlist and some of the worst ones that you may just want to skip. The list includes our top picks from a wide range of genres, from jolly animated movies to action movies to gawk at and of course, pure wholesome family movies. If watching movies is part of your holiday plan, then this list might have some good suggestions for you. Keep in mind that these lists are in no specific order

Best Ones

The Polar Express (2004)

The Polar Express poster

Directed by Robert Zemeckis, this animated movie features Tom Hanks, Eddie Deezen and Josh Hutcherson in motion-captured animation. The premise of the movie features a young boy, who is skeptical of the existence of Santa Claus. The adventure begins when a steam train called Polar Express heading to the North Pole arrives outside the young boy’s home in the middle of the night while he struggles to sleep. Initially, he refuses to board but is pulled away by the train. Later, from the adventurous trip, the sweet little boy eventually finds the jingle bell ringing for him. With incredible life-like animation and a pure, heartwarming story this film is ideal for the whole family, especially with children. 

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Home Alone (1990)

Home Alone cast

Home Alone is a classic Christmas comedy movie. When a mischievous 8 years old boy, Kevin McCallister is accidentally left home alone by his family during a Christmas vacation, it makes him think that his wish to be free from the family had come true. But, the bratty kid’s excitement sours when he has to fend off two burglars from his neighbor, who are on the prowl. With his mischievous mind, Kevin soon finds funny yet clever ways to set traps and discourage the burglars from entering his home. The movie wraps up with Kevin reuniting with his family on Christmas day. Starring Macaulay Culkin, this John Hughes directed movie is a great comedy movie to enjoy during the Christmas season.

Die Hard (1988)

Bruce Willis swinging on a water pipe

Die Hard is often revered as one of the greatest action movies of all time and for good reason. On Christmas Eve, New York City police officer John McClane is visiting his estranged wife and two daughters in Los Angeles. John visits his wife in Nakatomi Plaza, a high rise building where his wife is in a workplace party. Soon after, the festivities are destroyed by terrorists, who take over everything and everyone. John realizes that he is the only one who can save the hostages. In a movie full of great action set pieces, plot twists and thrills, Bruce Willis perfectly nailed his portrayal of John McClane fighting against a German mastermind Hans Gruber (played by Alan Rickman) and his group of terrorists. Directed by John McTernian, Die Hard is a great Christmas movie for the family.

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It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)

One of It’s a Wonderful Life scene

Widely considered to be one of the best Holiday movies of all time, It’s a Wonderful Life follows George Bailey, a man who is contemplating suicide on Christmas Eve. Surrounded by so many problems, George believes he has nothing to live for. His predicament brings about divine intervention and Angel Clarence Odbody stops him from giving up. Clarence then proceeds to show George all his good deeds over the years that have changed the lives of so many and makes him realize how the community would have been if George had never been born. Powerful, humorous and wholesome, this classic movie directed by Frank Capra, stars James Stewart as George Bailey.

The Bishop’s Wife (1947)

Movie scene from The Bishop's Wife

This fantasy romance movie follows Bishop Henry Broughman, who is obsessed with raising money to construct a cathedral. He prays for heavenly guidance. However, he doesn’t realize that he is becoming increasingly detached from his family. He is then visited by Dudley, who claims to be an angel. In an effort provide the spiritual guide to Henry, Dudley becomes involved in his daily and personal affairs. Dudley charms everyone around him, except Henry who becomes infuriated with him when he realizes Dudley has garnered the attention of his wife. Henry then sets out on an epic struggle to challenge divine intervention itself. The film was directed by the late Henry Koster and stars Cary Grant as Dudley, Loretta Young as the Bishop’s wife and David Niven as the Bishop. The movie reinforces the value of family and is a worthy Christmas romance movie.

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Worst Ones

Home Alone: The Holiday Heist (2012)

Home Alone: The Holiday Heist (2012)

It is the fifth and final movie in the Home Alone franchise. It follows the Baxter family who moves from California to Maine during the holiday season. 10 years old Finn Baxter played by Christian Martyn is left paranoid after the legend of a smothered gangster ghost haunts their new house. Inside the house, they now live in, is a secret room with a priceless painting. Unaware of this treasure and the shady folks it could bring, Finn’s parents leave Finn and his sister for Christmas shopping and are later stuck at a party. By a series of unfortunate events, Finn’s sister, Alexis gets trapped inside the secret room they just found. Finn goes to buy some hardware supplies to break her out wherein he overhears burglars discussing plans to break inside his home and steal the painting. In a predictable sequence of events, Finn sets booby traps around the house to dissuade the burglars. This movie does nothing new or fresh. It is an overused formula that went stale far too long ago and is a dismal holiday cash-grab. It was critically panned and a commercial flop.

Jack Frost (1998)

Jack Frost (1998)

Jack Frost is an old rocker who has clung to nostalgia for far too long. Driven by his dreams of stardom, the aging musician finds less and less time for his wife and son. When Jack is killed in a tragic car accident on Christmas Day, he leaves his son Charlie and his wife all alone. A year later, Charlie is playing a mournful tune on his father’s harmonica when it magically brings Jack back to life as a snowman. Considering it as a second chance, Jack seeks to make things right. As wacky as it sounds, this movie fails to deliver anything. It is lazy, unoriginal and once again feels like a cheap cash grab. Despite starring some big names like Michael Keaton and Kelly Preston, it was a critical and commercial flop.

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Trapped in Paradise (1994)

Trapped in Paradise (1994)

Trapped in Paradise stars Nicholas Cage as a man pulled into a life of crime by his brothers, who have just come out of prison. They plan and launch a bank heist, which goes south quickly. But the siblings’ foolproof bank heist become increasingly chaotic when Alvin gets lost in the getaway car and then the robbers get trapped in the snowbound burg of Paradise, Pennsylvania, on Christmas Eve with a bag full of stolen cash. With suspicious police on one side and hospitable townsfolk on the other, they start to have a change of heart. The movie was a critical flop. It has a nonsensical plot that fails to capture any tension. The plot twists are forced and the performances of the actors were less than satisfying. Ultimately it became just another mediocre holiday movie.

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Hanging Up (2000)

Hanging Up (2000) poster

Hanging Up starred Lisa Kudrow, Meg Ryan and Diane Keaton. The film had a combined star power of some of the most popular 90s stars but surprisingly bombed at the box office. The plot revolved around three successful sisters who are brought together while their 79 years old father is hospitalized for a long time. They eventually mourn the death of their stubborn, distant father, while flashbacks show him having great times with his three daughters. The movie lacks any depth and the meaning that is meant to convey is lost somewhere in a pile of disjointed flashbacks. The movie was a critical and commercial failure.

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Surviving Christmas (2004)

Ben Affleck holding a burning paper and his co actor running behind him with a shovel

Ben Affleck stars in this romantic Christmas film as Drew Latham, a wealthy man who visits his childhood home after his girlfriend feels insecure about their relationship realizing that he had never introduced her to his family. Drew, who has no close relationships, feels nostalgic after visiting his childhood home. He pays $250 thousand to the Valco family, currently living in his childhood home to pretend like they are his parents. Things get tense when the family’s daughter arrives. Despite having a talented cast of actors, Surviving Christmas was a poor performer, full of cheap humor and crass jokes. This Mike Mitchell directed romantic comedy was centered around Christmas, yet forgot to bring the festive spirit. The movie tanked, making back only a third of its production budget at the box office.

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