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All We Want for Christmas is More Movies

by Sarah Soliman

The holiday season goes hand-in-hand with tradition. Decorations go up, cookies are baked, “All I Want for Christmas is You” is back in heavy rotation on Spotify, and, best of all, it’s time to rewatch your favorite Christmas movie. Here are the films The Picture House staff watch again and again as we celebrate the season.    

Home Alone PG — Francile Albright, Deputy Director & Director of Education

When I started thinking about favorite Christmas movies, Home Alone didn’t immediately come to mind. Though our family watches it at some point during December every year, I didn’t think of it as something I might recommend as a “must see” movie…until we watched it again last weekend. Sure, it’s silly fun, especially for the kids, but that scene in the church with Kevin and the elderly neighbor — “You can be a little old for a lot of things, but you’re never too old to be afraid” — is good enough to make the whole movie for me. Also, bonus points for getting to point out the great Catherine O’Hara, aka Moira Rose before she was Moira Rose, to your kid  and giggling at a young Roman Roy (Kieran Culkin’s Succession character) as Kevin’s bed-wetting cousin.

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation PG-13 — Jon Bingham, Operations & Theater Manager

All Clark wants this year is the perfect Christmas. His neighbors likely differ on what that means, but for him it’s a self-harvested tree, a juicy turkey, a fast sled, the brightest light display, and most of all, a new swimming pool for the backyard. All these wants seem born of childhood nostalgia, and it’s refreshing to witness this now middle-aged man cling to the spirit with such delusion — I mean innocence. It makes me laugh. Here’s to not getting everything we want, but maybe, hopefully sometimes.

Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer TV-G — Tim Brisson, Theater Manager

The original stop motion Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer is a classic Christmas movie that never fails to satisfy my Christmas needs. Iconic songs and character design give this movie a unique and warm feeling that few films have the ability to create. The island of misfits is always adorable, and seeing Rudolph grow throughout the story always brings a smile to my face. 

Die Hard R — Clay Bushong, Director of Programming & Business Development

“Now I have a machine gun. Ho-Ho-Ho.” While there will always be a debate on whether or not Die Hard should be categorized as a Christmas movie, there is no debate that it is one of those films that somehow manages to be almost perfect. The talent (Alan Rickman and Bruce Willis) and the characters (the police chief heel, the nerdy terrorist/bank robber, the stoic Takagi) brewed with the redemption of a down-on-his-luck cop and the brutality of the evil henchmen come together to tell a fantastic story filled with the right amount of suspense, humor, and action. A great soundtrack (Run-DMC’s “Christmas in Hollis” AND Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy”? Come on!) truly makes this perfection.

White Christmas Unrated — Laura deBuys, President & Executive Director

Although I’m quite partial to Elf, I have to go back to the first Christmas movie I ever saw — White Christmas, released in the year I was born. Ten years later, it was shown on NBC’s Saturday Night at the Movies, and I was sitting in our living room, rapt. I was already a stage-struck kid, so I was captivated by the show within the show. I also have two sisters, and for years, my sibs and I would croon (at least once with ostrich feather fans), “Lord help the mister who comes between me and my sister — and lord help the sister who comes between me and my man!”

Miracle on 34th Street (1994) PG — Andrea Pace, Director of Membership & Special Events 

More than just a movie to put you in the Christmas spirit, Miracle on 34th Street holds important life lessons. The story follows a department store Santa Claus who claims to be the real Kris Kringle, and a single mother who doesn’t want her daughter to believe in fairy tales. Her beliefs shift when Kris Kringle goes to court to prove that Santa does actually exist, and succeeds! He wins his argument not because we have legitimate proof, but because we have faith. He compares it to the faith we have in other intangible things like love, kindness, and joy. Miracle on 34th Street proves that there is good in the world. In the midst of this pandemic, filled with loss, despair, and uncertainty, this movie reminds us that you can find goodness in the world if you just believe!

While You Were Sleeping PG — Sarah Soliman, Marketing Associate  

While You Were Sleeping stars Sandra Bullock as lonely Chicago Transit Authority employee Lucy, who saves her crush, Peter Callaghan — a man she’s never spoken to but adores from afar — after he is mugged and left on the train tracks. At the hospital, Lucy is mistaken for the comatose Peter’s fiancée. Without a family of her own, she finds herself swept up in the sense of belonging that the Callaghans offer her. Things are further complicated when she meets Peter’s brother Jack, and it becomes clear that he is the one she’s meant to be with. Thanks to Sandra Bullock’s down-to-earth charm, and the chaotic, hilarious performances that make the Callaghans feel like a family you wish you were part of, the movie balances its screwball elements with a warmth that feels like a cinematic bear hug. Set between Christmas and New Year, this silly, heartfelt, romantic, truly funny film is an underrated rom-com classic that, like Lucy herself, deserves lots of love during the holiday season.  

The Polar Express G — Victoria Sunko, Controller

2004’s The Polar Express was one of the first movies I’d seen using motion capture technology for the entire movie. The movie brings you into a world of wonder, suspense, and intensity that doesn’t let you go until it ends — an end that conveys the message of the “magic” of Christmas. As I reflected on this movie, I was able to learn a bit about the technology used: “Not live action, and not totally computer-generated animation either, “Polar Express” uses motion — or performance — capture technology. This process allows a filmmaker to use actual human beings acting out their roles on an empty soundstage, and then merges them into a three-dimensional computer-generated world.” (CNN) Pretty cool, right? 

If you want to see arguably the greatest Christmas movie ever made on the big screen, you’re invited to join us on December 21 for a complimentary screening of It’s a Wonderful Life. This year, our annual tradition is made even more special because we were unable to gather together for it in 2020, and because It’s a Wonderful Life is celebrating a milestone — its 75th anniversary! Come celebrate with George Bailey!

We look forward to seeing you at the movies!