Bloggers like to post their top Christmas movies. The problem is their lists are always the same: A Christmas Story, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, It’s a Wonderful Life, Home Alone etc etc puke. Well, I thought it was time to give you a list of real Christmas movies. The kind that are festive, and really get you into the holiday spirit. These movies can be enjoyed by family and friends, and should be mandatory viewing annually. Let’s make a new Awesomely Shitty tradition. Watch and love these movies every year, or you can’t be my friend anymore.
12.) RED – Bruce Willis loves the holidays. You can really tell. With RED, as well as two Die Hard movies and The Last Boy Scout, he’s a guy that really embodies the Christmas spirit. This movie in particular tells us it’s never too late to get excited for the holidays. Although the main characters are all retired from their work as assassins, they get together for one last hurrah. Even though you may be an old grouchy Scrooge, you can get festive once again. It’s a positive message like that which makes this such a heartwarming film. A group of old friends reunite to kill people and blow shit up one more time. This movie gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling inside.
11.) Lethal Weapon – Kind of like Bruce Willis, screenwriter Shane Black must really love Christmas. So many of his movies take place during the holidays. This time around we get to see Mel Gibson playing a suicidal cop, as he battles with the villainous Gary Busey, who seems to be playing himself. There is plenty of mayhem as L.A. is ripped to shreds. It ends with a Christmas celebration. I suppose the entire movie (the murders and shootouts and near suicide attempts) is a metaphor for the insanity of the build up to Christmas. This movie is really deep like that.
10.) The Last Boy Scout – I can’t think of anything more Christmasy than two of the season’s biggest fans, Bruce Willis and writer Shane Black, teaming up for a festive holiday romp. At the time it was made, the studio paid a record high price for the script. That’s just how much the studio loved the Yuletide cheer in this film. Damon Wayans and Bruce Willis work together as a classic action/comedy duo. There’s a lot to love here with Halle Berry as a stripper, gambling, extortion, violence, and a helicopter decapitation. And don’t miss the reference to everyone’s favorite guy in the big red suit, Satan Claws!
9.) Ronin – This movie gives us Christmas with a European flavor. We are treated to wonderful imagery of the streets of Nice and Paris. The Christmas lights seem brighter when illuminated by the radiant glow of a fireball from a bazooka. Robert DeNiro and Jean Reno send out season’s greetings to the Russian mafia and Irish Republican Army with reckless car chases and a storm of bullets. Allegiances shift and no one can be trusted, just like any typical family Christmas get-together. If there is one thing your family can agree on, it will be this movie. Watch it together and you’ll be in the mood to deck the halls.
8.) Kiss Kiss Bang Bang – Another entry from Christmas-loving writer/director Shane Black. Robert Downey Jr. plays a thief whose accomplice is killed during a botched robbery. To escape from the police, he ducks into a casting audition. The producers are impressed, thinking he’s a method actor (producers are dumbasses like that), and fly him out to Hollywood for a screen test. From then on, he gets involved with a kidnapping and murder conspiracy case, aided by Val Kilmer, who plays a fat, gay detective. The movie has a lot of tongue-in-cheek humor, a decent amount of action, quite a few holiday decorations in the background, and a groovy Christmas soundtrack. This is one for the whole family to enjoy!
7.) Brazil – Certainly a bizarre movie, this satirical look at bureaucracy leads to all sorts of hilarity. People get into the Christmas spirit with kidnappings, paperwork, terrorism, shoddy appliance repairs, more paperwork, ridiculous amounts of plastic surgery, brainwashing, torture, and even more paperwork. Terry Gilliam’s comical nightmare of a dystopian future is certainly a place I’d love to live in and celebrate Christmas. A little girl in the beginning of the movie asks how Santa will visit if they don’t have a chimney. Her answer becomes apparent moments later when a crack team of bureaucrats drops through the ceiling to arrest her father. Happy Christmas to all and to all a good night!
6.) The Long Kiss Goodnight - Nothing speaks to the love a family shares around the holidays like this movie. Geena Davis plays an amnesiac assassin (is there any other kind?), and she goes on a killing spree to save her loved ones. Written by Christmas fanatic Shane Black, this movie contains great lines like a little girl saying, “Mommy, am I gonna die?” only to be answered by Davis, “Oh, no, baby, no. You’re not going to die. They are. Cover your ears. Hey, should we get a dog?” The movie has explosions, shootouts, immolation, strangulation, and death death death. Certainly, this is a fun and funny holiday adventure. Kids will enjoy the love expressed between Davis and her daughter. Adults will love the witty repartee provided by the always excellent Samuel L. Jackson with lines like, “That’s a duck, not a dick.” Truly, the underlying message here is “Peace on Earth, Good Will Toward Men.”
5.) American Psycho – Few movies capture the Christmas spirit like American Psycho. It takes place in the 1980s, and serves to encapsulate the corporate greed, drug use, fashion sense, and yuppie culture which dominated that period of American life. It also hews close to Christmas traditions with its portrayals of prostitution, murder, torture, and rape. Perhaps the most delightful scene is when one of Christian Bale’s victims flees down a stairwell, and Bale drops a running chainsaw on him. The color of blood really brings out the festive reds and greens of the holiday.
4.) Eastern Promises – This Christmas movie is a bit more somber than some of the others on the list. It takes place in snowy England just before the big holiday. It depicts the story of a baby (perhaps a Christ figure) who is orphaned when her 14-year old Russian slave-prostitute mother dies. Naomi Watts’ character tries to figure out what happened, and gets involved with the Russian mob. Things get crazy when the mob’s best hitman, Viggo Mortensen, starts acting badass. Viggo always plays a badass, it’s what he does best. The culmination of the film is a knife-fight in a steamroom, with Viggo Mortensen completely naked and showing off his wang. A Christmas miracle!
3.) L.A. Confidential - A lot of Christmas movies showcase family affairs. A lot of Christmas movies showcase Santa Claus. A lot of Christmas movies showcase a group of misfits who have to save Christmas. There are few movies other than L.A. Confidential that showcase a Christmas work party realistically. During the Christmas celebration at the L.A.P.D. jail, a group of drunk, rowdy cops beat the living crap out of some prisoners. Things get out of hand from there with murder, kidnapping, torture, drugs, prostitution, and a crazy-ass conspiracy. All the kinds of things that would be found at anyone’s typical Christmas work party. Bonus points for realism. Extra bonus points for introducing the world to Russell Crowe’s brand of belligerent douchebaggery. Minus points for Kim Basinger winning an Academy Award for a mediocre performance. Oh well, it can’t be perfect, but it lets the Yuletide ring!
2.) Die Hard – I wrote a little song about this movie:
You’d better watch out, You’d better not try, To take hostages, I’m tellin’ you why, John McClane is comin’ to town.
He’s makin’ a list, And checkin’ it twice, Of terrorists to kill tonight, John McClane is comin’ to town.
Now he’s got a machine gun, And he’s got lots of C-4 too, Even though his feet are cut by glass, He’s gonna kill in inventive ways.
Oh! You’d better watch out, You’d better not try, To take hostages, Or you terrorists will die, John McClane is comin’ to town!
Die Hard is a fantastic holiday movie. Just like Santa, John McClane comes to town to kick some terrorist ass. And with terrific performances by Bruce Willis and Alan Rickman, how could you not love this festive holiday classic?
1.) First Blood – A little known film from 1982, starring a little known actor named Sylvester Stallone. You might be surprised to hear that this movie spawned three sequels. All four movies feature the central character named Rambo. I know, you’ve probably never heard of him. He’s a Vietnam vet, ex-Special Forces, and all around badass. Apparently in the subsequent three movies, he racks up quite a body count. Not in First Blood, though. The reason I put this movie at the top of the list, is that, more so than any other film here, it tackles real issues. Like how the U.S. public treated the Vietnam vets like shit when they got home. It also deals with the ramifications of PTSD, torture, humiliation, and survivor guilt. Rambo cracks under the pressure of being treated like crap by the people he fought for, which is horrible ESPECIALLY SINCE IT TAKES PLACE DURING CHRISTMAS-TIME! Anyway, Rambo spreads some holiday cheer to a sleepy town with a big-ass machine gun. The movie handles difficult themes very well, and doesn’t beat you over the head with its moral. But it does say, “We treated the Vietnam vets like crap, and look at how well that turned out.” Stallone turns in a good performance as the haunted central character. Rambo became the archetype for the typical action character, but when this movie was made, he was something quite different. It is a thoughtful movie, and does have cool action scenes scattered throughout.
Well, that’s it. I hope you’ve watched all of these movies. You will no doubt agree that this comprises the best that Christmas movies have to offer. You may have noticed that there are 12 movies on this list, one for each of the Twelve Days of Christmas. I’m a thoughtful guy like that. I have a tendency to really get into the holiday spirit.