Courtesy of New Line Cinema

December 24, 2018

The Five Best Holiday Movies

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Lights hang from trees along main street of your hometown, wreaths and fake snow line the windowsills of stores and a spruce, pine or fir tree towers in the plaza. The atmosphere seems wholesomely happier as work lets out and school is wrapping up, giving way for the season of packed shopping centers, gingerbread house competitions and roasted chestnuts. For many back home, getting into the holiday season is automatic, being surrounded by these tell-tale signs.

Getting into the holiday spirit is as easy as lighting a seasonal scented candle, listening to the traditional ballads that take center stage this time of year or watching a feel-good, holiday movie. These movies are of a rare breed, and if done right, one can watch them every year without ever getting tired of them.

Here are the five best holiday movies to watch with your family this year to spark a seasonal sentiment:

5. The Holiday

The Holiday is an easy start, with a narrative littered with themes familiar and engaging to us all. With recently ended relationships, the movie begins with grief, as most Cornellians’ breaks do coming off of final exams and papers. Throughout the film, however, with a focus on family, The Holiday explores newly built relationships to appeal to the general familial sentiment that surrounds us during the holidays. Be it with Amanda, Cameron Diaz, finding a family in Graham, Jude Law, and his two daughters or Iris, Kate Winslet, with a romantic interest in Jack Black, the heartbreak that begins this flick is soon lost by the relationships that take hold throughout.


4. The Grinch (The one with Jim Carrey)

Apart from family and love, holiday movies do well to appeal to our nostalgic side, offering warmth and a feel-good essence in their narratives. It’s rare that people want to see a sad ending when they sit down to watch a holiday film, and The Grinch does not disappoint. The nostalgia is established right off the bat with the familiar childhood story from Dr. Seuse. Upon realizing that Christmas is more than just gifts, The Grinch’s heart tripled in size and…we know the rest.


3. Elf

For many, Elf is a go-to holiday film that is re-watched every year. This movie is so spectacular because even after a decade and a half, cozying up under blanket to Will Ferrell in an elf costume never seems to get old. Its seasonal charm and incorporation of classic holiday folklore pairs brilliantly with its youthfully curious main character and approachable humor. Coming from the mystical north pole to a familiar New York City, Buddy the elf’s adventure makes for 97 entertaining minutes. From eating M&M’s and spaghetti for breakfast to confusing his father’s boss, Will Ferrell’s Buddy will surely go down as one of the best holiday characters ever created.


2. Love Actually

Getting down this list, the picks get much harder. A very close second goes to Love Actually, one of the most heartwarming movies of all time. This reaches the top of not only holiday movies but romantic comedies as well, as it triumphantly establishes love in countless situations. The great success of Love Actually stems from its ability to create romance over and over again in such short windows. In the time it takes for a normal movie to write a love story, Love Actually writes nine of them.


  1. Home Alone

The number one slot goes to Kevin McCallister and his clever assortment of booby traps. Apart from the obvious laughs that it inspires, Home Alone triggers the holiday sentiment in all of us. No one wants to be alone on Christmas, so our sympathy is with Kevin from the start. We only get closer to the character throughout the film as he displays his bravery and wit, taking down two burglars and protecting his house. As his family tries to get back home to him, he realizes that despite the annoyances they may cause him, being without his family is a whole lot worse than being with them. Home Alone holds the top spot because it is feel-good and entertaining throughout, but also holds onto a deeper theme that we can all relate to. As much of a headache as siblings and parents can be at times, there’s no one better to spend the holidays with than your family and closest friends.


Holiday movies provide us with clever entertainment and remind us what is truly important during the season. For that, a jolly flick is a sure-fire way to get into the holiday spirit and finally unwind after a semester at Cornell. Whichever you choose, or if it’s more than one, these movies will serve as a jumpstart into the holiday season.


AJ Stella is a sophomore in the college of Arts and Sciences. He can be reached at [email protected]