So, it's Christmastime in New Orleans…while some other places in the world may consider themselves fortunate to experience the picturesque, traditional yuletide holiday complete with falling snow, crackling fireplaces, and abundant carolers, here in the Crescent City, we will brave the (possibly) cooler temperatures and continue to celebrate Santa's impending arrival the only way we know how.
Gather in front of a large, flatscreen TV (or streaming device of your choice) with a bottomless cup of spirit-preserved eggnog and check out the Where Y'at staff's picks for our favorite holiday movies!
Christmas in Connecticut (1945) -
Pretending to be someone else from behind a keyboard did not arise in the social media era, as this post-WWII classic proves to us. America's favorite literary "housewife" Elizabeth Lane (played by screen legend Barbara Stanwyck) is forced by her publisher (the ever-irascible Sydney Greenstreet) into cooking a fabulous Christmas dinner for a returning war hero (Dennis Morgan) at her beautiful, New England farmhouse. The truth? City-dweller Lane has never cooked or kept a home one day in her life! The words of the film's trailer lay out the ens uing farce perfectly: "When Santa Claus brings a bachelor girl…a sweetheart, a husband, and two babies for Christmas!" A huge box office hit upon release; this delightful "screwball" comedy was just what America needed in time for the holidays after four long years of war. (Jeff Boudreaux)
It's a Wonderful Life (1946) - I've seen this film many times and Clarence the Guardian Angel's final inscription to George Bailey of "no man is a failure who has friends" still gives me the chills. It's one of the kindest, most empathetic films ever made. Also Eyes Wide Shut (1999) gets an honorable mention here because Stanley Kubrick's tale of sexual jealousy and marital strife is the most awkward Christmas movie you could watch with your family on Christmas Day, and the thought of that makes me laugh so I'm including it. (Fritz Esker)
We're No Angels (1955) - This Christmas flick is one of Humphrey Bogart's rare comedic turns—and a brilliant dark comedy, it is! Bogie is one of three convicts (along with Peter Ustinov and Aldo Ray) who break out of prison on Devil's Island in French Guiana right before the holidays. It's not giving anything away to say that the humor and sentimentality expected in a Christmas film leads to their antagonists being vanquished (with the help of the convicts' pet viper), but not before they make a positive difference in the lives of a family for which they develop a deep affection. The criminals discover an unrealized humanity in themselves, ultimately doing the "right thing" just in time for the New Year. With biting wit, double entendres, and uniting Bogart and Basil Rathbone as foils, this classic film makes for a fun, albeit dark-humored, romp, until the halos pop up in the finale. (Robert Witkowski)
Die Hard (1988) - Welcome to the party, pal! Is it really Christmas time without witnessing John McClane take back Nakatomi Plaza from Hans Gruber and his band of German radical terrorists? McClane (Bruce Willis) methodically thwarts Gruber's men time and again on Christmas Eve, trying to save the hostages, including his estranged wife, and get back home to his children to celebrate Christmas. It's a story of courage, family, and beautifully delivered one-liners. By the end of this holiday thrill-ride, all you can do is stand up and shout, "Yippee-Ki-Yay!" (Andrew Alexander)
Batman Returns (1992) - Ever since die-hard Die Hard fans petitioned to have the 80s classic christened a holiday film, debates have raged over the criteria for Christmas-movie categorization. Tim Burton's dark, fairy-tale take on the Dark Knight meets all the yuletide pre-requisites: 1) Gotham City is coated in snow and holiday flare. 2) Batman and Catwoman constantly connect under the mistletoe. 3) Greedy businessman Max Shrek is an Ebenezer Scrooge clone, while Penguin, an outcast who robs families on Christmas eve, copies the Grinch. 4) The film closes with Bruce Wayne and Alfred wishing each other a Merry Christmas. (Greg Roques)
Love Actually (2003) - The premise: flustered Londoners navigate love in the time of Christmas as their lives intertwine in hilarious and meaningful ways. The presents: it's saccharine. It's a rom-com. But it's fun. And none of the copycat, holiday-themed rom-coms can compare. The soundtrack is amazing, including an excellent usage of Mariah Carey's "All I Want for Christmas Is You." The ensemble cast of famous Brits and the surprise cameos are dazzling, including Alan Rickman (RIP). The ending: there are different kinds of love. Actually. (Andrew Marin)
Tokyo Godfathers (2003) - An animated Japanese film by the late auteur Satoshi Kon, Tokyo Godfathers follows three homeless individuals in Tokyo during Christmas Eve who, after finding an abandoned baby in a garbage heap, decide to set off on a journey to reunite it with its parents. This movie has a unique mix of comedy, tragedy, and adventure, all set against a Christmas backdrop. But what makes this movie are the lead characters. They all have such unique personalities, and you feel for them when they have to confront their personal demons throughout the story. It really is a heartwarming movie that's perfect for the holiday season. (Burke Bischoff)
…And what about all those cheesy made-for-TV Christmas movies? Through all of November and December, Lifetime plays these films around the clock. And Hallmark and hot chocolate is the holiday version of Netflix and chill. These movies are predictable and obnoxiously cutesy—warmer and fuzzier than a reindeer's belly. Their storyline never changes: it's always some Christmas-ed up variation of your usual boy-meets-girl story. Like, boy meets girl, and they hook up after drinking too much eggnog. Or attractive mall Santa meets mistletoe farmer's daughter at a gingerbread bake-off. They're all sappy romances sprinkled with Christmas cookies and holiday cheer. And I'm addicted. (Kathy Bradshaw)