Ah, ’tis the season for all things vibrant (red and white, anyone?), delightful (gingerbread lovers, where you at?), and festive (everyone’s in high spirits, or at least faking it). Every Christmas, there are certain traditions, and one of those involves settling down in front of the TV for some movie magic.
- Scrooged (1988)
Scrooged takes the top spot as my favorite twist on A Christmas Carol. Forget the Dickensian era—this one’s a modern, laugh-out-loud version with Bill Murray as Frank Cross, a Scrooge-like TV executive at IBC Television. On Christmas Eve, Frank makes his employees work on a Christmas Carol broadcast while handing out cheap gifts. Classic Scrooge move, right? The Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present (the hilarious Carol Kane), and Future (Robert Hammond) have their work cut out trying to thaw Frank’s icy heart. Does the Christmas magic work its charm? Well, you’ve got to watch to find out.
- A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas (2011)
Our favorite White Castle enthusiasts, Harold and Kumar, make a comeback! A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas unfolds six years after the original, bringing the duo back together through a mysterious package that kicks off a wild holiday adventure in and around New York City. Expect light fun, cheap laughs, and the ever-present Neil Patrick Harris making a drugged-out appearance. It’s a bit out there, even slipping in a stop-motion sequence reminiscent of old Rudolph and Frosty specials.
- Bad Santa (2003)
Bad Santa is the Christmas movie for the cynics and sarcasm enthusiasts out there. It follows a con man who poses as Santa as part of an annual scam. Beneath the surface, it’s a redemption tale, exploring whether a man who exploits Christmas for his gain can find salvation. Billy Bob Thornton delivers a stellar performance, and the movie stands out for its clear-eyed take on the less savory aspects of the holiday season. For those hungry for more, there’s the sequel, Bad Santa 2.
- Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001)
Now, some may debate whether Bridget Jones’s Diary qualifies as a Christmas movie, but it kicks off and concludes with Christmas as a central theme. From Mark Darcy’s infamous Christmas sweater to the romantic, snow-filled finale, it captures the holiday spirit. Setting aside debates, this is a delightful movie to watch any time of the year. It follows the romantic escapades of a young London career woman (played by the Texan Renee Zellweger) and is the epitome of British charm, marking the start of Hugh Grant’s reign as the silver screen’s favorite scoundrel.
- Daddy’s Home 2 (2017)
After the success of Elf, one might expect Will Ferrell to grace us with a Christmas movie more often. However, it wasn’t until 2017’s Daddy’s Home 2 that Ferrell returned to the holiday film scene. Following the success of the first Daddy’s Home, Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg reprised their roles for the sequel. Brad and Dusty, now on good terms, plan a blended family Christmas. However, their festive plans take a hilarious turn with the arrival of Dusty’s tough father (Mel Gibson) and Brad’s overprotective dad (John Lithgow). The result? A comedic struggle to make it through the holidays without ruining the Christmas spirit for the family.