COLUMN: 5 Christmas movies to watch before the holiday season ends

Photo credit: Grady Ellsworth

The most wonderful time of the year is upon us once again. Exuberant lights of red, green and white illuminate the city streets and a steaming cup of hot chocolate with marshmallows sounds more irresistible than ever. The only thing that could possibly make Christmastime better is cuddling up in a blanket next to a toasty, crackling fire with a holiday-themed movie. Before Dec. 25 rolls around, be sure to check out these movies to get in the spirit of Christmas.

1. Elf

One of the more comedic Christmas movies, “Elf” follows the story of Buddy the Elf, a human raised in the North Pole by elves. Upon growing up, he finally realizes that he is bigger than everyone else and he simply doesn’t fit in to the culture or the beds. On a quest to find his real father, Buddy travels to New York City where he finds that not as many people believe in Santa as he had imagined. This movie is one to remember. While it certainly has its moments of hilarity, it isn’t overdone like most slapstick comedies. “Elf” has a balance of laugh-out-loud moments along with sweet, and charming ones. Everyone is sure to end the movie saying, “the best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.”

2. A Christmas Carol

More serious than the previously mentioned movie, “A Christmas Carol” has been one of the most beloved Christmas classics for over 50 years. Written by Charles Dickens in 1843 and adapted as a film in 1938, this movie tells the story of Ebenezer Scrooge, a cold-hearted, selfish miser who can’t fathom the idea of Christmas. Three spirits visit Scrooge and try to persuade him to change his ways and participate in the joy of Christmas and humankind. With nearly 20 live-action film adaptations in the past century, “A Christmas Carol” is a must-see for anyone looking to get into the Christmas spirit.

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3. Love, Actually

Featuring a star-studded cast including Colin Firth, Emma Thompson, Alan Rickman and several others, “Love, Actually” tells several different, but intertwined love stories. Taking place during Christmas time, this romantic comedy delves into the struggles of shopping, attending office parties and hosting family during the holidays all while juggling the complexities of finding, falling and staying in love. It strays from most traditional Christmas movie archetypes and focuses on a variety of protagonists rather than one central character. “Love, Actually” is a film that pivots itself on romance during the holidays and is sure to warm the hearts of all.

4. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

On a lighter note, “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” is a perfect example of Captain Edward Murphy’s Law, which states, “anything that can go wrong will go wrong.” Clark Griswold, the movie’s protagonist wants nothing more than for his family to have a fun, old-fashioned Christmas. From picking out the perfect tree to planning the most delicious Christmas dinner possible, everything finds a way to go awry in the worst way imaginable. Extended family unexpectedly shows up, the Christmas lights don’t work and his yuppie neighbors don’t improve the situation by any means. If you need some good laughs, don’t pass this one up.

5. It’s a Wonderful Life

Released in 1946, “It’s a Wonderful Life” is one of the few Christmas movies that won’t show Santa flying high with his reindeer. This is not a Christmas movie in the sense that it contains the typical tropes and traditions of Christmas, but it showcases the true meaning behind the holiday season. The main character, George Bailey, has the worst day he can possibly imagine and as a result decides to end it all. Moments before attempting to throw himself off a bridge, his guardian angel appears and shows him all the beautiful things and good deeds he accomplished throughout his life. He also sees how things would have turned out had he not been around. A movie fit for anyone, “It’s a Wonderful Life” will make all viewers reflect on how one bad day could never destroy a lifetime of goodness.

Christmas is a time of giving and showing gratitude. Despite forks in the road and inconveniences, loving one’s neighbor and having a positive attitude are what make the Christmas season such a joyous time. There are several great movies apart from this list that celebrate the holiday season. Yet, these films accurately encompass the joy and nostalgia of Christmastime unlike any others.