Is it just me, or was this semester especially draining? Now that we’re nearing the finish line, I’m ready to unwind by doing what I do best: watching movies.
As you finish up finals, try watching one of these five films to put you in the ultimate holiday mood. Obviously, we can find comfort in classics like “Elf” and “Home Alone,” but I encourage you to branch out with one of these less conventional selections.
“Die Hard” (1988) by dir. John McTiernan
The debate over the legitimacy of “Die Hard” as a Christmas film reignites every holiday season. No matter where you stand on the matter, it’s undeniable that it’s one of the best action films of the twentieth century.
The brilliance of “Die Hard” lies in its technical perfection. From the editing to the score to the visual effects, every element is flawlessly executed. John McClane — played by Bruce Willis — is the ultimate action hero, gifting us iconic lines like “welcome to the party, pal” and “now I have a machine gun — ho, ho, ho.”
“The Shop Around the Corner” (1940) by dir. Ernst Lubitsch
Based on the 1937 Hungarian play “Parfumerie,” this classic romantic comedy originated one of the most popular romantic tropes in media: enemies to lovers. Don’t be deterred by the film’s release year — I know some people neglect older films because they don’t seem relatable or their humor seems outdated.
Set in the days leading up to Christmas, the film follows two department store employees — played by Margaret Sullavan and James Stewart — who despise each other. Unbeknownst to them, they’re slowly falling in love through anonymous correspondence. Sullavan and Stewart have electric chemistry, and they play off each other with rapid- fire wit.
“Unaccompanied Minors” (2006) by dir. Paul Feig
We all have that one holiday film we cherish from our childhood. Most of the time, these films are somewhat obscure and offbeat. Very rarely do they have any real cinematic value, and yet we love them regardless. Well, my holiday favorite is none other than “Unaccompanied Minors.”
The plot is absurd. A group of unaccompanied minors get snowed in at an airport on Christmas Eve and decide to roam the place, wreaking havoc on the Christmas-hating airport supervisor. Every time I rewatch the film, not only am I baffled by what these little gremlins get away with, I’m also filled with nostalgia and memories of Christmas’ past.
“Krampus” (2015) by dir. Michael Dougherty
A modern holiday horror classic, “Krampus” has it all: a slow-motion montage of crazed Christmas shoppers set to the tune of “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas,” Toni Colette as a mom on the brink of a nervous breakdown and incredible creature design.
Most people don’t give “Krampus” enough credit. Sure, it’s not groundbreaking, but it feels unfair to dismiss the film as another throwaway PG-13 horror flick. “Krampus” is deeply cynical — more so than its counterparts. The demonic fairytale creatures — namely the knife-wielding gingerbread men and the jack in the box — are haunting, but most of the horror comes from the madness of having a dysfunctional family.
“Violent Night” (2022) by dir. Tommy Wirkola
“Violent Night” delivers exactly what its premise promises. If you want to see David Harbor beat up a bunch of people with a sledgehammer in a blood-spattered cross between “Home Alone” and “John Wick,” then catch this film while it’s still in theaters.
The actual story leaves more to be desired, but the action sequences are glorious. "Violent Night” is silly, mindless fun, even if the writing is overwhelmingly cheesy at times. Whoever cast Harbor as Santa Claus deserves a Nobel Prize.