There is a difference between a guide to holiday movies and holiday movie guide. The former is simply a tour of cloying Christmas-time flicks you know by heart and the latter is a battle plan, a plan of action, a roadmap to maximizing your entertainment during whatever vacation you have managed to squirrel away for these winter days. Let’s consider various scenarios to ensure you maximize your movie merriment.

Scenario A: Two (week) ticket to paradise

First off, if you are a member of this elite group, congratulations. Chances are you are either an educator of some kind or have planned for December better than a Mayan calendar maker. You’ve got two-weeks (plus) to chill out, and nothing says “Bro, I am so totally chilled out” than a movie marathon. In my house, we use this as an opportunity to watch the Lord of the Rings trilogy, the extended versions, which means we start around December 16 and finish on December 15 of the following year. So strike up a series like Harry Potter or Star Trek (only the even numbered ones, of course) if you’d like, but  here are some creative marathons to consider this holiday season:

  •  The Paul Newman experience – Pop in The Hustler, Cool Hand Luke, The Color of Money, The Sting, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and Harper and remember the blue-eyed acting God for more than his delicious salad dressing.
  • The ha-ha-ha brouhaha – Consider making a list of your funniest films and then forcing them to battle one to the death! Pit The Jerk, Anchorman, The Big Lebowski, Airplane, Borat and Superbad and make them kill each other with laughs, “Hunger Games” style.
  • Choose your own adventure – Pick a theme like “zombies,” okay they’re technically not a theme so much as reanimated corpses but you get the idea. Make your own trilogy like combining Shaun of the Dead, 28 Days Later and Night of the Living Dead or building a time-travel trilogy out of Primer, Back to the Future and Twelve Monkeys. The possibilities are limitless.

Scenario B: This weekend counts to four

The stars have aligned, shortly before Quetzalcoatl is set to knock them all down. If you have a job that grants you Christmas Eve and Christmas Day off, that means you get a weekend on steroids, a weekend that took Extenze, a weekend with obesity! Four days! Not enough to warrant a marathon, but certainly enough to have some film fun.

  • Stop lying – Consider watching a classic film that you always claim to have seen. Get rid of the shame you feel when you nod every time someone mentions The Godfather or Citizen Kane. Prevent your nose from growing at every mention of Casablanca or Chinatown. There’s a reason classics are classics, and you won’t have to feel guilty anymore!
  • Nostalgia-rama – Tour your all-time favorites! Build a tradition out of rewatching something from your youth, like Goonies or ET or if you were born some time prior to that, whatever the guy who was Steven Speilberg before Steven Speilberg was Steven Speilberg did. Classic cartoons still hold up, like Snow White or Fantasia. The holidays are a time for family, so dig up some old family favorites. The holidays are also a time for drinking, so that leads me to my next suggestion.
  • Movies are for drinking – If I told you that there were drinking games out there for The Shining, Reservoir Dogs, Star Wars, Die Hard and Dirty Dancing, wouldn’t that make you far more likely to give them another watch, especially with a few extra days to sober up? Holi-dazed and confused anyone?

Scenario C: Like a DeLorean’s license plate, you’re outatime

Woe to you, suffering worker forced to toil and tussle whilst we likely enjoy the spoils of your labor. If you have no time, I have but one suggestion for you: watch a Christmas movie that makes you feel good inside. It will help you prolong the feeling or instill it in the first place. For the first time anywhere, here’s my top 10 Christmas movies (as in movies with Christmas prominently featured in them). And happy holidays to you and yours, no matter your scenario.

  • 10.) Elf
  • 9.) Miracle on 34th Street (original)
  • 8.) It’s a Wonderful Life
  • 7.) Go
  • 6.) Scrooged
  • 5.) The Ref
  • 4.) Gremlins
  • 3.) Love Actually
  • 2.) Die Hard
  • 1.) The Muppet Christmas Carol

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