Welcome to the W Movie Club, a series in which W magazine’s editors pick iconic films to watch while in staying safe at home. This week, the staff shares their holiday favorites, from the classic, to-be-expected Christmas flicks, to the unexpected ones that, at first glance, might not seem like holiday movies—but deserve a closer look.
Every year, there is an unnecessary amount of online chatter picking apart whether or not certain films count as Christmas movies. Well, we’re here to say, anything can be a holiday movie if you watch it—you guessed it—during the holidays. You do not necessarily have to get in the festive spirit to characterize a film as a holiday movie if it’s something you just like to watch during the month of December. But there are, of course, some explicitly holiday-themed movies that we can’t get enough of each year. Below, the W magazine staff makes the case for their favorite holiday movies, from the Christmas classics to the unexpected festive fare.
The Holiday is just such a classic feel-good Christmas rom-com. Who doesn’t love a double meet-cute with Jude Law and, of course, Jack Black? —Hannah Westbrook, Assistant Visuals Editor
The Godfather Part II
There’s no better time to watch a nearly three-and-a-half-hourlong Francis Ford Coppola film than during the holidays. Cooking a marathon Christmas dinner? Throw on Robert DeNiro as a young Michael Corleone to play in the background. Avoiding an awkward conversation that veers into anti-vax territory with your cousin’s cousin’s random boyfriend? Turn up Al Pacino hissing, “I know it was you, Fredo!,” and let The Godfather Part II—my personal favorite of the trilogy—drown out any far-flung conspiracy theories. —Maxine Wally, Senior Digital Editor
I tend to rewatch things when my brain is fried (or, more often than not, skip around them, as is the case with my favorite episodes of Mad Men). The exception to this rule is Michael Clayton. Once you’ve had the opportunity to devote your full attention to Tony Gilroy’s 2007 masterpiece—and the luxury of time to watch it start to finish, which is why it’s become my holiday staple—there’s simply no going back. George Clooney stars as the titular fixer, though his character is the first to admit he’s more like a “janitor” in his current gig cleaning up a white-shoe law firm’s dirty work. At the behest of a corporate villain played by an excellent Tilda Swinton (who won an Oscar for the role), he goes after a litigator-turned-whistleblower named Arthur Edens (played by the equally excellent Tom Wilkinson). The trouble is, Edens soon has a mental breakdown—and you may never forget the image of him attempting to furtively carry more than a dozen baguettes under his arm while in the thick of it. —Stephanie Eckardt, Staff Writer
I’m not one to rewatch a movie every year. Growing up, my Christmases were traditionally Jewish, made up of dinner at a Chinese restaurant and then a trip to the movies to see whatever film had the most Oscar buzz that year. Still, at the risk of sounding extremely unhinged, if there is one movie I feel the urge to rewatch around this time of year, it may have to be American Psycho. What can I say—I’m a Christian Bale fan, a true crime head, and I love a good thriller. For me, the movie is the epitome of dark humor and an incredible commentary on the New York elite. Plus, there is a Christmas party scene featuring Reese Witherspoon carrying a pig in a Santa hat—what’s more festive than that? —Carolyn Twersky, Staff Writer
Sex and The City: The Movie
Carrie Bradshaw invented New Years. But really, the New Year’s Eve scene in the Sex and the City movie gets me every time. It’s also worth noting that this is the rare film acknowledging three different holidays during its 2 hour and 25 minute run time. An incredible feat, if you ask me. —Faith Brown, Social Media Manager
It’s that time of year again! I know this film is neither feel-good nor comforting, but it is a reminder of the harrowing times we’re living in. At the risk of sounding like a holiday masochist, I recommend you watch this six feet away from your loved ones. —F.B.
I’ve found myself rattling off so much pseudo-intellectual bullshit about Batman Returns (it’s an anti-capitalist, cop-critical fable! A feminist blockbuster touchstone! A deconstruction of the superhero film before superhero films were even truly a thing!) that I’m sort of bored by any Die Hard-esque “But does it count as a Christmas film?” discourse. Technically it happens during Christmas time and does include one of (well, technically two of) the most iconic mistletoe scenes in all of pop culture history (“Mistletoe can be deadly if you eat it…but a kiss can be even deadlier if you mean it” …sorry, but so hot!). But the Christmas flair is just one of several stylistic logos Tim Burton heaped onto the aesthetic bonfire of this film. The truth is, Batman Returns is the first PG-13 film I was allowed to see, and clearly it’s had a deep, lasting impact on my psyche. And isn’t that what Christmastime is really all about—temporarily reliving all the strange, dark little things you experienced in your childhood that made you you? —Kyle Munzenrieder, Senior News Editor
How the Grinch Stole Christmas
How the Grinch Stole Christmas is my go-to, but the 1966, 30-minute cartoon version. None of that new stuff. —Jenna Wojciechowski, Senior Fashion Market Editor
Frosty the Snowman
I’ve been watching this movie (the animated version from 1969) on VHS my entire life and it never gets old. If you haven’t watched this wholesome cartoon, you’re truly missing out. —Tori López, Lead Fashion Assistant
As is the case with any ‘90s classic, it’s easy—enjoyable, even—to point out how much is wrong with this tearjerker. In it, Marisa Tomei plays Caroline, a waitress who is saved from sexual assault by the restaurant’s oddball busboy Adam, played by Christian Slater during his peak heartthrob era. When Caroline discovers Adam’s habit of following her home from work late at night—presumably to ensure her safety—well, she can’t help but swoon. In hindsight, the whole thing is pretty creepy. But if you’d told my younger self that Adam sneaking into Caroline’s house while she was sleeping to set up a fully decorated Christmas tree wasn’t the most romantic gesture of all time, I would have spit in your eggnog. Despite all of the cringe, there is much to enjoy. The cast is great with Rosie Perez doing the most and Willie Garson (RIP) making an appearance. Plus it’s set in a snowy Minneapolis, lending it the feel of a particularly cursed holiday fairytale. —Katie Connor, Executive Digital Director
One of my all-time favorite movies. Joanna and Sam at the airport makes me cry every single time! —Christina Holevas, Senior Accessories & Jewelry Editor
A Christmas Story
I’ve gotta say, this 1980s classic tugs at all of the heartstrings in my family’s household each year. The film follows nine-year-old Ralphie and his dream to receive the perfect Christmas gift. What holiday movie would be complete without a few bumps and hiccups along the way—like fighting off bullies or having the neighbors’ dogs ruin Christmas dinner? From quotable lines like, “You’ll shoot your eye out,” and “I triple-dog-dare-ya!” and the ever-iconic Leg Lamp that was “F-R-A-G-I-L-E, must be Italian,” this movie has everything you look for in a holiday film. Plus, the use of the omnipresent narrator creates an extra layer of holiday nostalgia that cannot be beat. So how about hitting up your local Chinese restaurant to celebrate Christmas the way the Parker family did? Maybe you’ll be lucky enough to get your very own Official Red Ryder carbine action two-hundred shot range model air rifle BB gun! —Amir La Sure, Lead Accessories Assistant
Is Dreamgirls a Christmas movie? I say, yes it is. It really hits if you watch around the holidays—and I have no idea why, other than maybe because I first saw it in a packed theater (miss those days) on Christmas Day in 2006 with my entire family. Usually, not everyone is pleased with the movie choice for Christmas, but I think this showing of Dreamgirls was one of the last times the general consensus was: this movie is excellent. Of course, we already owned the film’s soundtrack and had been playing it in the car nonstop since Thanksgiving (we also already had high expectations due to being fans of the original stage production as well—most of my family is from Detroit, so the Motown element was obviously a big draw). Just get into this Oscar-winning performance from Jennifer Hudson already, okay? And if musicals aren’t your thing, you could go the route of watching another famously dysfunctional family holiday film, a personal favorite of mine: The Family Stone. —Brooke Marine, Culture Editor
I re-watched this Whit Stillman classic the other night and was reminded just how much I love his razor-sharp writing. The film follows a crew of wealthy Upper East Side teenagers—and one Upper West Side interloper—as they mostly lounge around each other’s living rooms after attending a slew of debutante balls during Christmas break in the late 1980s. Puffy sleeves, pink lipstick, devastating one-liners, lingering shots of New York City in all its holiday glory, and extreme class anxiety abound. Consider it the blueprint for Gossip Girl in its ability to both humanize and skewer the monied set. In short, to crib a line from the film, “I guess you could say it’s extremely vulgar. I like it a lot.” —Andrea Whittle, Features Director