10. Die Hard (1988)

It takes place around Christmas, but I’m not sure this is a Holiday movie. But how can I exclude a movie with the line (clear your throat and do your best evil, German terrorist accent), “Now, I have a machine gun. Ho, ho ho.” This note is taped to a dead terrorist John McClane has just wasted and sent as a present to the leader of the gang he is trying to stop. Die Hard ushered in the modern action film  and the idea of ‘high concept,’ which means a movie idea you can explain in about a sentence.  That and its Christmas time setting necessitates its presence on this list.

9.  The Bishop’s Wife (1947)

Remade as The Preacher’s Wife with Denzel Washington in 1996, this charming tale of an angel who comes to help a bishop get his priorities in order stars Cary Grant, Loretta Young, and David Niven. A solid troika of actors and an enduring Christmas-time tale.

8. Home Alone (1990)

I continue to marvel at how story logic seems more and more absent in mainstream movies these days, but Home Alone, though entirely improbable, makes perfect sense: in other words, it works! It has just the right tone to make the unbelievable believable, and it does it with heart. As with other movies where the child actor can make or break the entire film, Macaulay Culkin is brilliant as Kevin, who is accidentally left behind by his family during the Christmas Holiday and must defend his house from two inept burglars. Home Alone strikes all the right notes, not only as a Holiday movie, but also as a coming of age film.

7.  Trading Places (1983)

Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd were on real runs in the 1980s. Besides Trading Places, the two starred in 48 Hrs., Beverly Hills Cop, and Coming to America and The Blues Brothers, Ghostbusters, and Spies Like Us, respectively. Trading Places paired these first-rate comedy talents alongside stalwarts Ralph Bellamy and Don Amece, as well as the excellent Jamie Lee Curtis. The movie played on the old ‘prince and the pauper’ meme, re-envisioning it in the high finance worlds of Philadelphia and New York. And all of this against the backdrop of Christmas and New Year’s. As Coleman the butler says triumphantly in one scene: “Egg nog, anyone!?!”

6.  White Christmas (1954)

Bing Crosby twice appears on this list. First with Holiday Inn and now for White Christmas, which is also the superior movie—in fact, one of the greatest musicals of all time. Irving Berlin, who also scored Holiday Inn, does it again here. The song ‘White Christmas’ is universally recognizable, and this movie has all the hallmarks of the classic musical. Romantic misunderstandings. A straight man, a funny man. Two couples. And, as is our concern here, a Holiday theme and backdrop. A top ten-er for sure.

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About The Author

Randy Steinberg has been a Blast film critic since 2011. He has a Master's Degree in Film/Screenwriting from Boston University. He taught screenwriting at BU from 1999-2010. In 2020, he joined the Boston Online Critics Film Association (BOFCA). Randy can be contacted at his website: www.RandySteinbergWriting.com

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