Christmas movie recommendations for the 2020 holiday season

Modern and classic Christmas films to watch this winter

Shivani Madhan

“Home Alone” (1990)

A Christmas classic, “Home Alone” features 8-year-old Kevin McCallister (played by Macaulay Culkin) and his holiday adventures by himself after his family forgets him at home. While alone at home, Kevin has to protect himself and his house from the Christmas burglars Harry (Joe Pesci) and Marv (Daniel Stern). Meanwhile, Kevin’s mother, Kate (Catherine O’Hara), struggles to find a flight back home in the midst of the busy holiday season.

A defining aspect of “Home Alone” is Kevin’s creativity in warding off Harry and Marv and the never-ending excitement of predicting his next move, making the film light-hearted and engaging. The movie also has emotional elements, such as Kate realizing her neglect of Kevin and Kevin understanding how much his family loves him, even if they don’t show it all the time.  Since “Home Alone” is a kids’ movie from over three decades ago, the film invokes a sense of nostalgia in many viewers who grew up watching the film as children. Overall, as its trailer claims, “Home Alone” truly is a “family comedy, without the family.”

 

“Christmas with the Kranks” (2004)

“Christmas with the Kranks” follows Luther (Tim Lee) and Nora (Jamie Lee Curtis) Krank and the effects of their decision to not celebrate Christmas for the first time ever.  Being alone for the holidays, the Kranks see no need to throw their usual, grand Christmas party and decide to go on a tropical vacation instead. However, living in the very spirited town of Riverside, they receive great backlash from their neighbors. Their plans to abandon Christmas go down the drain when their daughter Blair (Julie Gonzalo) says she’s coming home for the holidays to attend their annual banquet. Luther and Nora must beg their neighbors for forgiveness and organize an impromptu Christmas party before their daughter returns.

The comedic aspects of this movie are highlights to look forward to — scenes, such as the one where Luther falls off the roof trying to put up Frosty the giant snowman, keep the movie entertaining. On top of that, “Christmas with the Kranks” emphasizes the importance of teamwork and how the act of coming together and enjoying one another can achieve great things 一 such as putting together an entire Christmas feast in mere hours.

 

“Angels in the Snow” (2015)

The 2015 film “Angels in the Snow” follows the dysfunctional Montgomery family’s Christmas experiences at their newly-built cabin. With parents Charles (Chris Potter) and Judith (Kristy Swanson) on the verge of divorce and siblings Alexander (Nick Purcha) and Jennifer (Lizzie Boys) constantly bickering, the youngest child, Emily (Jaeda Lily Miller), seems to be the only one intent on keeping her family from falling apart. However, when the Tuckers, who were stranded in a snowstorm, show up at their door, the Montgomerys learn important lessons and change for the better.

One key element of “Angels in the Snow” is the plot twist at the end, preceded by many instances of foreshadowing, which leaves viewers feeling emotional. While this movie portrays the wholesomeness of family, it provides a deeper message through the characters of the Montgomery family, who have unresolved issues with each other at the start of the film.  By showing their character development and including the presence of the Tuckers, “Angels in the Snow” illustrates the importance of kindness and communication, demonstrating how we can persevere together in the face of adversity. 

 

“The Christmas Project” (2016)

“The Christmas Project,” a contemporary holiday movie, describes the lives of the Buckley brothers and how their perception of the world changes due to a single Christmas situation. Throughout most of their school years, main character Matthew Buckley (Jacob Buster) and his siblings have been subject to the bullying of the menacing Finn Hagbart (Gabe White). When the Buckleys must deliver secret gifts to the Hagbarts for their annual tradition of “elving,” the brothers are outraged at the prospect of being nice to Finn. However, as the story progresses, the Buckleys come to a revelation regarding the Hagbarts’ lives at home.

“The Christmas Project” has a nice balance of family, comedy and romance, providing many different elements for viewers to enjoy. While it is a Christmas movie, this film uniquely focuses on the family’s regular lives as well; the holiday element supplements the message of the film rather than being the basis. “The Christmas Project” also spreads a message that embodies the holiday season: showing kindness to everyone, regardless of how they may act, is important.