It’s The Second Most Wonderful Time Of The Year For Movies

It should be pretty obvious by now that I put 110% into my October watch-list for Halloween. All spooky movies, all the time. Nothing else. So, you think I’d go all out for the December holidays as well. Apparently not. I love Christmas, just not as much as Halloween. Besides, whereas Halloween and horror movies are my thing, Christmas and holiday movies are Mark’s specialty. I might casually watch some Christmas movies some years, but not always. By comparison, Mark has a list. He watches the exact same shows and movies every year, occasionally adding new things to the lineup. At the beginning of the month, I tell Mark which of the films from his list that I want to watch with him, and he works his viewing schedule around that. Whereas Halloween is a time to watch movies I’ve never seen before, Christmas is when I return to old favourites; although I did try out some new films this year. And, since Mark is mostly in charge of the tv around this time of year, most of my favourites have been plucked from his holiday watch list.

It was Finn and Bubs’ first Christmas with us this year!

Anna and the Apocalypse (2017): This is, hands down, one of my favourite holiday films. I’ve watched it before and I will watch it again. And again, and again. Not only does it combine horror with Christmas, but it’s a musical! This zombie flick combines gore with all of the classic tropes of a holiday film: spending time with and appreciating loved ones, helping those less fortunate, and self discovery and personal growth. It’s also got a healthy amount of comedy that doesn’t distract from the more heartfelt and emotional moments of the film. Plus, the songs are incredibly catchy. I could listen to this soundtrack any day of the year, over and over.

Alien Xmas (2020): When Mark and I saw a preview for this on Netflix, we were sure it would become the newest addition to our favourites list. Its a stop motion animation film with aliens – what’s not to love? Unfortunately, this was a little too juvenile for our tastes. Although we were fully expecting a kids movie, and there were some funny moments, the story was far too simple and childish for us. We had hoped that because of the style of the film that this would have been geared towards a slightly older age group. This one barely held our attention but it might be pretty fun for younger kids.

An Unremarkable Christmas (2020): I was pleasantly surprised with this Spanish language tv movie. I didn’t realize that it is a prequel to a tv series on Netflix; and since I enjoyed the movie, I’ve added the tv show to my to-watch list. This film certainly isn’t unremarkable, but one word I would use to describe it is “cluttered”. There are three different dysfunctional families at the heart of this film, all with friends, coworkers, and more coming in and out of their lives. Plus, there is a lot to look at – the set decorators certainly went overboard. But this movie was lots of fun and gave me more than a few giggles. My only real complaint is that the narration done by the cat was not prominent enough. I loved that the cat was the narrator, but those moments often felt a bit like an afterthought.

Since the boys were born in November 2019, this was truly their first real holiday experience.

Christmas Crossfire (2020): This was a major letdown. Based on the description on Netflix, I was expecting a lot out of this German Christmas action film. Unfortunately, the plot was extremely weak and there seemed to be some plot holes. Plus, there wasn’t enough character development (or any, really) for me to actually like the characters. It was also hard to figure out if this was supposed to be a comedy or not. I really didn’t find the movie funny at all, and yet there were scenes that seemed as if they should have been funny. And the Christmas component of the film really wasn’t all that crucial to the plot and was only just barely acknowledged. This story really could have taken place at any time of year. Overall, I just found it really boring.

Disney Specials: This time of year, Netflix releases lists on social media of the holiday episodes of some popular series. Mark and I discovered that Disney+ handles this differently. There was an entire menu for holiday specials, short films, and tv episodes. Whenever Mark and I were in the mood for something quick and easy to watch, we scrolled through this section of Disney+. We watched old Mickey Mouse shorts that came out from before either of us was even born, and we watched shorts from the universes of Frozen and Ice Age. It’s a really good idea that Disney+ set that up.

A Garfield Christmas Special (1987): This is one of Mark’s holiday staples that makes it onto the list every year. And almost every year that we’ve been together, I’ve requested to add this one to my Christmas watch list. In fact, I think there’s only one year that I didn’t watch it over the holidays with Mark. This tv special is also a musical, and it’s adorable from start to finish. And each time I watch it, I become more and more convinced that I am turning in to John’s grandmother. She has strong opinions about food and cooking, and she prefers to spend time with the cat as opposed to the people. Yes, I am definitely the grandmother.

Whereas Finn liked to play with the tree itself, Bubs liked to sleep near it or among the presents.

The Grinch (2018): In an era of remakes and reboots, a full-length animated version of this holiday classic was inevitable. I knew before I watched it that it would never be able to top the original animated short film, but I was still interested to see how it would measure up. The only other full-length version of the film is the one starring Jim Carrey, which many people consider to be a classic, so this newest remake had a lot to live up to. I was actually pleasantly surprised with this one. The core of the story matched the original animated film perfectly. The lines and the narration were exactly the same. And then the additional story and dialogue were simply built around it. It was a wonderful homage to the original, while still being its own film. Plus, I enjoyed Benedict Cumberbatch’s performance more than I thought I would. The Grinch never truly came across as a mean-spirited person; he was simply someone who had been deeply hurt and didn’t know how to heal.

The Holiday Movies That Made Us (2020): I love these kinds of behind-the-scenes looks at classic films. I was especially pleased to see that one of my all-time favourites, The Nightmare Before Christmas, was featured. I loved seeing how the movie came together, and I even learned knew facts that I had not known before. The other film to be featured in this series was Elf. I remember seeing it in theatres when it came out, but I was never really a big fan of it. I have only watched the film start to finish the one time, but I’ve caught snippets of it here and there when other people have been watching it. Although I appreciated the film’s pop culture significance and memorable quotes, it was never the kind of movie I felt the need to watch again. However, after seeing all of the behind-the-scenes work that went into it, I now have a newfound appreciation for the film. Maybe next year I’ll give it another try and watch it start to finish.

He was like a little dragon, guarding his treasure.

Home Alone (1990): This is one of those films that I am appalled I have not watched until now. I think even Mark was pretty shocked. I saw commercials for this movie on several VHS tapes of movies I owned as a kid. I’ve seen the iconic scenes played over and over, I’ve heard the iconic lines, I’ve seen the pop culture references, I know the story… But I had never actually sat down to watch it. This year, we fixed that. Mark put this on while he and I decorated our Christmas tree and drank eggnog. It was the perfect holiday evening. Not only did I enjoy the film, but I have so much respect for the stunt people.

Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey (2020): I was really excited to see this film because I honestly can’t think of any other Christmas movies that feature a predominantly BIPOC cast. That alone made this movie feel like something special. Plus, it’s a musical! I was a little concerned for the first couple of musical numbers because it felt like the dubbing hadn’t been quite properly synched, so some of the lip movements were off in those songs. But it wasn’t too long before the problem seemed to be resolved. Overall, the musical numbers were fantastic! Between the style of music and the choreography, it felt a lot like the kind of musical you would see in a Broadway show. In fact, I would certainly not complain if someone were to turn this into a live Broadway musical. I also adored the visual style of the film, from the sets to the costumes. Especially the costumes. Obviously, Journey’s knit outfits were my favourites. This movie also gets bonus points for making math a magical power. I never expected that math could ever look that cool in a Christmas film.

Justice League: Comfort and Joy (2003): This episode from the Justice League cartoon is another one of the must-watch holiday specials on Mark’s list. Although I used to watch this cartoon when it first came out, I don’t ever remember seeing it on tv. However, ever since Mark insisted we watch it during our first Christmas together, it has become one of my top favs on the watch list. The episode follows the festive adventures of The Flash, Green Lantern and Hawkgirl, and Superman and Martian Manhunter as they take part in the holidays and share what this time of year means to them. Although I love all three of the stories in this episode, the one I love the most is when Clark and J’onn spend Christmas with the Kents. That storyline just has some of my favourite moments.

Seriously, he really loves the Christmas tree.

A Muppet Family Christmas (1987): I’ve watched Muppet films and shows before, but I had never heard of this one until Mark told me that it was part of his Christmas watch list. This is another one that I request to watch every year. It’s hard not to love the Muppets. Plus, I think one of the things I love so much about it is that it’s a musical! I’m noticing a trend here… Apparently, I really like holiday musicals. In terms of plot, there really isn’t a whole lot to the story, but there doesn’t need to be. This tv movie is mostly just about all of the Muppets gathering to spend Christmas together. And there’s nothing better than spending Christmas with the people most important to you. It also features characters from Sesame Street and Fraggle Rock, so there’s a pretty impressive cast of wacky characters.

Nailed it! Holiday! (2018-2020): Before this month, I had never watched any of the Nailed it! shows, but Mark had the holiday specials on one day, just as something festive to have on in the background, and I found it hilarious. Next thing I knew, I was diving into the deep end of a Nailed it! marathon. It didn’t take long for me to finish all of the holiday seasons and regular seasons. A show like this was exactly what I needed over the holidays. This year has been tough for so many reasons, so it was nice to be able to just put on a show that made me laugh. It was also nice to have this on in the background while I did my Christmas baking because it made me feel a lot better about my baking skills.

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989): My favourite pick from Mark’s festive watch list. I had never seen this film before spending Christmas with him, and I find myself wondering how I ever could have spent Christmas without it. Not only do I find it funny, but the notion of spending a chaotic Christmas with relatives is certainly something I can relate to. Each time I watch it, I enjoy it just as much as the first time, and I find myself quoting it more and more each year. This year, my gift to Mark was even partially Christmas Vacation themed as Maker House had some fantastic finds that used the movie as inspiration. This movie is just so silly and fun, and I like the idea of a chaotic Christmas much more than the perfect, sugary sweet Christmases you get in some other holiday movies. I will continue to watch this one every single holiday season.

But one of the gifts was missing on Christmas Day! One of the boys stole it from under the tree and hid it. (It took a while to find and it had bite marks in it.)

Watcher: Are You Scared? Puppet History and Too Many Spirits (2020): As a fan of Puppet History, I was excited that a new episode had been released just in time for Christmas. Obviously, the history lesson was about Santa Claus himself. And, lucky me, there were extra musical numbers! Once I tore through that episode, I noticed that Watcher had some other holiday themed shows on YouTube. The only Watcher series I’ve ever watched is Puppet History, so I thought I would give the other shows a try. First, I watched the entire holiday themed season of Too Many Spirits in which Ryan and Shane read each other stories about spooky spirits while drinking alcoholic beverages with spirits. I sure do love a good play on words. And this series was great for a a laugh. Next, I watched the holiday episode of Are You Scared? and loved that vampire story with a twist so much that I am no binge watching all of the other episodes in the season. There were some solid holiday shows from Watcher this year. I can’t wait to keep watching.

So that’s it! Nowhere near as many festive themed movies as I would watch for Halloween, but I crossed some decent Christmas movies off my list this year. Hope everyone else enjoyed their holidays!

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