Monday, December 17, 2018

All right, once and for all, are these Christmas movies or not?

JENN McKINLAY: Every year a debate looms large in my house over certain movies and whether they are actually Christmas movies. Admittedly, I am a soft touch. If there are some holiday lights and carols being sung, I'm gonna say it's a Christmas movie. There are others in my house who are bigger sticklers. So, let's hash it out. Here are the five most debated movies in no particular order. Reds, do you consider them Christmas movies or no?




1. DIE HARD
2. GREMLINS

3. LOVE ACTUALLY

4. HOME ALONE


5. TRADING PLACES





Let the heated arguments and popcorn throwing commence!











HALLIE EHRON: I am embarrassed to say, I have only seen one of these. LOVE ACTUALLY. Which I love, actually, and is for me the perfect deliciously silly Christmas movie. I'd add A CHRISTMAS STORY, with its “Little Orphan Annie” decoder ring, a triple-dog dare on the schoolyard and the Red Ryder Carbine Action 200-shot Range Model air rifle... and the leg lamp. 

RHYS BOWEN: I've seen them all, except for Die Hard, for which you'd have to tie me to a chair and gag me to make me watch it. Home Alone was a Christmas movie but not my cup of tea. I personalize too much when children are in bad situations. But I do love LOVE ACTUALLY. I watch it every year. There are so many poignant threads going through it. It is true and real and touching. (apart from Hugh Grant trying to dance).

JENN: I like Hugh's dancing. Don't judge me!

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: I've never seen Home Alone--well, wait, I guess I've seen parts of it, which have the kid outwitting dumb burglars and it's all very prat-fally. I keep thinking, why would he be home alone? I know there's some reason, but meh.  Gremlins and Trading Places, I have not seen one frame of them. Am I completely out of it? Die Hard--LOVE. Love that movie, It has everything: party, family, bad guys, suspense, hostages. Everything you need for the holidays. Love it. And Love actually? LOVE. Love! When he says: You learned English? And she says: Just in cases? Awwww.

DEBORAH CROMBIE
1. Die Hard, definitely! Rhys, you might like it better than you think.
2.Gremlins, have to admit I've never seen it. Even the ads gave me the creeps.
3.Trading Places, yes, and love this movie. I'd never seen it until a couple of years ago, when Rick MADE me watch it. Now it's on my yearly list.
4.Love Actually, well, duh. Best Christmas movie ever. Is it time to watch it yet?
5.Home Alone, another one I have to admit I've never seen. I just couldn't get around the kid being left in the house. Should I reconsider?

LUCY BURDETTE: You're forcing me to rethink watching the first three, which I've never seen. LOVE ACTUALLY, definitely, no one would argue any differently. I haven't seen HOME ALONE for maybe 25 years. But it was one of our son's favorites so we saw it more than once back in those days. He had all the parts memorized and would parrot them back to us. I still use this line from time to time: "There has to be a way to find twenty-thousand dollars!"

Well, how about it, Readers? What do you think of the most debated holiday movies? Yea or nay?

93 comments:

  1. A definite “Yes” to both “Love Actually” and “Home Alone” . . . but I have a very soft spot in my heart for “Miracle on 34th Street” . . . .

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  2. I've seen all five, and Love Actually is my favorite of them. Of course, Love Actually is one of my favorite movies ever. I would say all five can be considered Christmas movies, but Gremlins is not on my list to watch. But, here's something I don't understand. If Die Hard can be considered a Christmas movie, and I have no problem with that, why isn't The Long Kiss Goodnight (Geena Davis and Samuel L. Jackson) considered one. Yes, it's violent, but so is Die Hard. It's one of Geena Davis' best movies, and it's a great performance by Samuel L. Jackson as well. I would be most interested to see if anyone else appreciates this movie as I do and thinks it should take its place along Die Hard as a Christmas movie for the bada** crowd. And, just to show that I have a soft side, my favorite Christmas movie is The Muppet Christmas Carol.

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    1. Kathy, I have seen "The Long Kiss Goodnight" and it is one of my favorites! I would go so far as to say that I would put it on the list before I would consider "Die Hard".

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    2. Big Geena Davis fan ((Earth Girls Are Easy!) so putting The Long Kiss Goodnight on my watch list. Thanks, Kathy.

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    3. Love her! But I’ve never seen that one… On the list !

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    4. Lyda, I agree with you that it should go on list before Die Hard. Hallie and Hank, I'm a big Geena Davis fan, too, and this is my favorite movie of hers. She and Samuel L. Jackson are fantastic together.

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    5. Adding to my list! I’ve never seen it. Love Geena Davis!

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    6. The Long Kiss Goodnight is one of those films that fall under the "It's a very good bad movie" category. I love it. I'm not positive but I think I saw it when it came out in the theaters.

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  3. I've only seen two, Die Hard and Home Alone, so I can't comment on the others.

    Personally, I can see the argument for Die Hard being a Christmas movie, but I'm looking for more of the peace on Earth, good will to men aspect of things. And, honestly, if you take Christmas out, it doesn't change much of the movie. They could be having any other type of party to set things up. I did enjoy it.

    Home Alone - what is the argue for it not being a Christmas movie. Christmas plays a big part in the movie from start to finish, and it has the gooey, mushy stuff I enjoy in a Christmas movie.

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    1. I think you nailed the dilemma, which is the same for Love Actually. Xmas is just the backdrop - you could have the same stories take place any time of year.

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    2. Yes, but I don't think the stories would be as sentimental.

      Mary/Liz

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  4. I have never seen Gremlins. Just for some reason it has never been a movie I wanted to see.
    My SIL is a HUGE Die Hard fan and to him it is most definitely a Christmas must! No one challenges this around him!
    Trading Places is a oldie but goodie, not that it is on my Christmas must watch list.
    Home Alone is my nightmare movie! I know that any one of my girls could have survived by themselves if they were temporarily alone, but I would not have! I do hope I would have noticed they were not with me at the airport!
    Love Actually...sigh. What a movie! It warms my heart! So many of my favourite actors in it. Most definitely a Christmas must for me! I had to YouTube Hugh dancing just now, which then led to watching Bill record the song, which then made me realize I needed to watch the whole movie tonight! I just love it!

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  5. I think movies have to be ABOUT Christmas if they are truly to be considered Christmas movies.

    I haven't seen Gremlins since it was first in theaters so I really can't remember much about it. Trading Places isn't really about the holiday either.

    Home Alone is both set at Xmas and about it (when Kevin isn't contemplating "Saw" movie ways to torture Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern).


    Die Hard is set at Christmas but really isn't all that much about the holiday. It's a straight up great action movie and the holiday setting is just happenstance. I love the movie and pretty much watch it no matter what time of year it is for me.


    Love Actually is a Christmas movie, period. Oh and that scene with Alan Rickman and Rowan Atkinson at the jewelry counter...pure comedy gold. I actually have to watch that scene four or five times through before letting the movie play on to the end.

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    1. I think you nailed it, Jay. Christmas movies have to be about Christmas. And you're absolutely right about the scene at the jewelry counter: two consummate professionals battle it out for comedy gold.

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    2. I agree but Love Actually could be set against a different season and the stories would still unfold - so is it Xmas? Hmmm. I think so but as I said I’m pretty easy on holiday rankings.

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    3. You could set all five of the movies at any time of the year really Jenn. I think it is more HOW they incorporate Christmas, whether it is threaded throughout the plot or just a piece of furniture that gets some lip service paid to it once in a while.

      Gigi, Rickman has a number of great scenes like that in Galaxy Quest as well.

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    4. Jay, I'm speaking as a person who has been to far too many SF conventions in my time. Galaxy Quest is just about perfect on every level.

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    5. Gigi, I've been to a number of them as well and I agree.

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  6. I watch Love Actually every year, mostly for the Christmas play with the lobster. The Lion in Winter is a terrific Christmas movie. My kids loved Home Alone, but we haven't watched it in a while. My fav movie for the holidays is Pirate Radio, plus all the Oceans movies. This year we'll watch Oceans 8 and compare it to 11-12-13.

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    1. Oh, the lion in winter! I cannot watch that anymore… Too sad.

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    2. Love the lobster. And Emma Thompson makes me weep.

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  7. I pretty much agree with Jay. I've seen all the above, and we rewatched Love Actually a couple of weeks ago. But last night we started a tradition in this house, watching a completely feel good movie, one that we plan to repeat yearly, and it has absolutely nothing to do with Christmas.

    We watched the original Mary Poppins! We sang all the songs, marveled at Julie Andrews and Dick VanDyke, adored the children, hissed at the bankers, and generally enjoyed ourselves. It was made in 1964, so much of in on green screen, but without computer generated crap.

    And sometime the end of this week, we will go see Emily Blunt in Mary Poppins Redux. She is a marvelous actress. I will try very hard not to compare her with the incomparable Dame Julie.

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    1. We do this with The Sound of Music! My brother started it on Xmas Eve a few years ago!

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    2. Yaay, someone agrees with me! LOL

      While there are Xmas movies that I watch each year, I don't know that I would consider it a "tradition" as in it has to happen or it isn't Xmas.

      However, I do have to watch the entire Firefly TV series and follow up movie Serenity each year or the year doesn't count.

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  8. Never saw Love Actually - I'm thinking Amazon Prime is in future tonight. Not a Home Alone fan. As others have said, the thought of a child in jeopardy, couldn't get past it to see the comedy so I didn't try. Love Trading Places. Jamie Lee Curtis is such a hoot, and Eddie Murphy - genius. Denholm Elliot is the perfect foil. Head hanging in shame here - I've not seen Die Hard either, might be a two Prime night. Binge on the weekend? Hum.

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    1. What what what? You have never seen it? Oh, lucky you! Can we all come over and watch you watch it for the first time?

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    2. I love Jamie Lee Curtis. Love. Her.

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  9. I have to admit, there is no rhyme or reason to what I consider a Christmas movie. Of those listed here, I definitely consider Die Hard a Christmas movie in spite of all the violence, and I really, really like it. Love Actually is a modern classic which I love. (And Hank, you quoted my very favorite line from it!!!) Trading Places I have seen and enjoyed, but didn't even remember that it was set at Christmas time. And Gremlins and Home Alone I have not seen so cannot comment on. But I am a sucker for the old, schmaltzy Christmas movies. It's A Wonderful Life is my absolute favorite; I love the original Miracle on 34th Street; and there are a few versions of A Christmas Carol that I love. I grew up on the George C. Scott version, so it has sentimental attachment, and I really like the ghosts in it. But in recent years, the Patrick Stewart version is pretty amazing, too!

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    1. IAWL is my tip top, too!!!! You’re my people!

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    2. Susan, I love the George C. Scott version too!

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  10. I've never seen Gremlins nor Trading Places so I can't say but those others definitely are Christmas movies. Of course I too love Love, Actually and plan to watch it soon. Another favorite is While You Were Sleeping.

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    1. Oh, that’s a good on, too. Sandra Bullock always delivers!

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  11. I don't have an opinion on any of them except "Love, Actually" and yes, it is absolutely a Christmas movie and I dare anyone to argue otherwise.

    The Girl and I need to watch it, maybe tonight. She admitted that the scene where Colin Firth says, "The best part of my day is driving you home" and the girl says, "The saddest part of my day is leaving you" makes her cry.

    Has anyone else seen the new "The Christmas Chronicles" on Netflix with Kurt Russell as Santa?

    Mary/Liz

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    1. I have not yet watched it, but my goddaughter (who usually has excellent taste in books and movies) seemed to like it.

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    2. I have not but I’ve heard buzz about it!

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    3. I've seen it twice. Kurt Russell is a hoot as Santa.

      Mary/Liz

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  12. Thumbs up for Love Actually, and I'm going to give Die Hard a shot this year because I didn't realize until recently that Alan Rickman played Hans Gruber in the movie--ANYTHING with Alan Rickman is already great, in my book! And our tradition is A Christmas Story "Daddy's gonna kill Ralphie" is one of my favorite scenes/lines.

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    1. Mine is “Except I didn’t say fudge.” LOL! Love that movie! A true classic!

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  13. The New York Times ran a list over the weekend of ten films that have become Christmas classics that none of the critics saw coming. All these films are on the list, as well as "It's a Wonderful Life" and "A Christmas Story."

    "Home Alone" is definitely about Christmas. Kevin, the little kid, is the picked-on baby brother in a large family. He wants to be loved but his brother bullies him and he just keeps getting lost in the shuffle. When his family forgets him in the rush to get to the airport, he gets his wish that they would all just go away and leave him alone. All the comedic self-defense stuff aside, the mushy heart of the movie is how his family comes to realize they overlook him, and he comes to realize his family is the most important thing to have. Plus, it's got a really lovely John Williams score. At no point in all the shenanigans do you ever feel that he's at real risk, so all you tenderhearted mothers, take a chance. Watch it. It's okay.

    Debs has convinced me that I must watch "Die Hard," if only for Alan Rickman's double-breasted suit. "Love Actually" is totally a Christmas movie, lobster and all. "The Holiday" is another of my seasonal favorites. Five days out from Winter Solstice, I'm going to wish all the Reds and Readers the best of holidays, no matter what you're watching.

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    1. Alan Rickman as Hans Gruber is the perfect way to illustrate the term Eurotrash from the 1980s.

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  14. I am the only person in the universe who hasn't seen Love Actually - and I'm going to remedy that this weekend!

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    1. it's an anthology, so some parts, to be honest, are weak and some are just enduringly wonderful and some will break your heart. Pretty terrific overall. (Yes, I own a copy. Perfect for lying on the couch with bronchitis days) Enjoy.

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    2. Watch the unedited version though. In the edited version, one storyline is just about completely undone.

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    3. I haven't seen it either.

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    4. I haven't seen it, but you all may have convinced me.

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  15. Yes to "Love Actually". "Home Alone" is Christmas however it's not in my Christmas rotation. I like "Die Hard" but also not in the rotation. I haven't seen the other two and, if I haven't seen them yet, I probably won't get around to them any time soon.

    So that brings me to one of my favorite Christmas movies. "The Family Stone". Has anyone else seen this? Gigi, did it make the NYT list? Great cast, well written, all about family, filmed in the snow and takes place at Christmas!

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    1. Honestly? I hated Family Stone. I thought everyone was thoroughly mean-sprited.A somewhat similar moive - not Christmas - that I liked much better is Dan in RealLife.

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    2. Oh, I liked the Family Stone - mostly, the part where Luke Wilson tells Sarah Jessica Parker “to wave her freak flag”. Sage advice.

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    3. I had forgotten Dan in Real Life. I did enjoy it a lot as well.

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    4. I don't think "The Family Stone" made the NYT list.

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  16. For those who have seen Love Actually, which story line is your fave? Mine is Colin Firth’s. When his manuscript blows into the water and they’re fishing it out! Love Love Love!

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    1. Yes, that is a great one! Also, when she learns English, just in cases. And when the little girls make Hugh Grant and his driver sing.

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    2. And when the Scottish driver turns out to have an amazing baritone voice!

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    3. I always thought Gavin, the driver, was Welsh, not that it matters. Emma Thompson just breaks my heart in that movie, but I adore Kris Marshall/Collin Frissell for his boundless optimism, if nothing else.

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    4. Colin Firth's storyline is the best one, followed by Hugh Grant's. But Rickman's scene with Rowan Atkinson is the single best scene in the entire movie. Also, look at the number of actors in the movie that you'll recognize from so many other roles.

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    5. I wouldn't dare presume to tell you which storyline is the best because they all appeal to different people for different reasons, and I can't even answer your question, Jenn, about which one is my favorite. With both Bill Nighy and Alan Rickman in the same film, followed closely in my heart by Hugh Grant, Colin Firth, Andrew Lincoln, Emma Thompson, Laura Linney, Martin Freeman, and really all the others, it's impossible to pick. However, I will say that Bill Nighy's rascally behavior was pure fun, without the apparent heartbreak of the other stories. Even when I try to think of a best scene, I get in trouble deciding. The one with Rowan Atkinson and Alan Rickman is a treasure, but I also love the one in the bar with Kris Marshall and Abdul Salis, and the one with Bill Nighy fulfilling his Christmas promise on the TV while the kid (Thomas Brodie-Sangs) runs through the airport, and the one with Colin Firth is in the restaurant with Lucia Moniz, and the heartbreaking scene where Emma Thompson discovers the Christmas gift, and the one where Andrew Lincoln expresses his feelings on cards, and the school play. I don't think any of those descriptions would be spoilers, but there are so many great scenes. Guess what I'm going to watch tonight? Hahaha!

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  17. Is anyone actually going to a movie theatre this holiday?? I want to go see the animated Spiderman. But the new Mary Poppins is probably more what we'll end up at with a 3-year-old and a 5-year-old in tow. They know every line of the original. Wondering when there'll be another remake of The Wizard of Oz, which is the movie that I remember always being on the TV Christmas eve.

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    1. We're going to see the Van Gogh movie this week.

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    2. I really, really want to see the Mary Poppins movie, but can't get anyone to go with me. I might have to see it alone, by golly.

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    3. We are definitely going to go see it this weekend, and we have no kids to use for an excuse b

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    4. New Spiderman is awesome! I can’t wait for Aquaman! And I do want to see Mary Poppins but will wait until it’s on cable. I’m over small children in theaters - for now.

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    5. I might be going on Xmas day to see Aquaman if the theater that I got gift cards for as an Xmas gift is open.

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    6. I'm hoping to take the grandgirls to see Mary Poppins.

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  18. Okay, since we're restricted to those 5, I can make this response about 10% the length of what it might be.

    Die Hard. Uh...well, I dunno. Never saw it. Never will.
    Gremlins. I saw it when it first came out. I don't recall anything about Christmas or winter in it.
    Home Alone: Tried to watch it once, for about 15 minutes. Everyone was so self-centred and entitled and nasty.
    Trading Places. So dated, but so much fun. Christmas AND New Year's.
    Love Actually. Lately I've heard people questioning its Christmasness. Huh??? It's wall to wall Christmas. The grand finale is Christmas Eve, with...

    SPOILER ALERT

    ....all those stories winding up, for better or for worse. Billy Mack wins the Christmas song contest and performs naked on TV, giving Sam a chance to break through security at the airport (okay, fairy tale) and say goodbye to the only girl he'll ever love. The PM and Natalie find true love on stage at the children's Holiday concert, with Lobster.
    (P.S. I fast forward through the Colin story and watch the outtakes on the DVD, which contain the only gay love story.)

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    1. SO agree. It's Christmas, for gosh sake. The Christmas PAGEANT and when Hugh Grant and the driver sing God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.

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  19. Die Hard is one of my go-to Christmas movies, as is Black Christmas (the original, not the remake). Love Actually makes my list, too, but some years it's just too much to handle, so that's when I reach for Die Hard and the like.

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  20. I adore Love Actually and we watch it every year. But, we also watch Die Hard. Have watched the others but they’re not part of our regular Christmas rotation. Essentially, the closer it gets to Christmas the sappier the movie. We usually watch White Christmas and/or a Christmas Carol on Christmas Eve.

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  21. We love Love Actually so much that my husband finally bought us a copy so we can see it whenever we want. The Holiday is good because it is gorgeous scenery and the people are good-looking too.
    Haven't seen Die Hard in years and have never seen the others. I would probably see anything with Alan Rickman over and over again.

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  22. Sorry to miss the conversation! Last Knights I see rain knocked out our power. The power is back on, but I still have no internet. I'm doing this on my phone, which means I'm trying to type on a keyboard that is 10 times too small for me.

    At any rate I just wanted to weigh in and say my family watches Die Hard every Christmas Eve. Yes, we do it before or after going to church. I find it cuts the treacly sentimentality that tends to overwhelm at this time of year. Plus it's arguably one of the 10 best action movies ever made.

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    1. We watched it on Friday night, Julia. I'm amazed at how well it's held up. Love Bruce but Alan Rickman steals the movie.

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    2. My favorite part of Die Hard is when McClane tells Deputy Chief Dwayne T. Robinson that McClane isn't the one who just got (expletive deleted) on national TV. I saw this in the theater and the entire theater just LOST it laughing in response.

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  23. That should have been "last night icy rain" Voice to text and predictive text are not my friends.

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    1. Right. Because one is SO much more likely to say "Last Knights" in a message than "Last night...."

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    2. Hmmmm . . . I don't know about your nights, Susan . . .

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  24. Jenn, I loved the movie Love Actually. I consider it a Christmas movie. I also loved the movie The Holiday with Jude Law and Jack Black. I also watch lots of Hallmark Christmas movies on both of the Hallmark channels. And I read a lot of books during the Christmas season. I love that Icelandic tradition of giving books as gifts on Christmas Eve.

    Diana

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  25. I keep erasing my half-written post, so apologies if several versions suddenly show up! Briefly- Love Actually of course is a Christmas movie! As all comments here show. (And I have to agree about The Holiday, too. Believable? Nope. Funny,, sweet, charming? Absolutely) Die Hard? Yikes! Yes, Rhys, I watched it more or less tied up and forced.I don't remember the Christmas parts at all. Home Alone? While I normally hate and refuse kid jeop in all forms, this was more like a Road Runner cartoon. And very funny. I don't remember a Christmasy feel though - it's been a lot of years. Same with Trading Places, which I do remember as a brilliant comedy. (May be time for some video renting) Thanks for the fun discussion!

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  26. The only ones I've seen are Love Actually and Home Alone. Both are definitely Christmas movies, and classic ones at that.

    I actually don't think White Christmas is much of a Christmas movie, by the way. It happens in winter, and they wear Santa costumes, but it's more of a "let's put on a show" movie, in my opinion. Don't tell my oldest daughter I said that. It's her favorite movie.

    We just watched Love Actually, and there is so much cinematic gold in that film, it would be really hard to choose one bit over the rest. But I love when Bill Nigh tells his manager he turns out to be the love of his life. And when Laura Linney goes around the corner to have a moment--priceless. Having Liam Neeson end up with "Carol" who looks just like his idol Claudia Schiffer was a stroke of genius, too.

    In the end, that movie is a Christmas gift to us all, don't you think?

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    1. As for the rest: I'm a live-and-let-live kind of gal. If you think Die Hard is a Christmas movie, you go on with your bad self. It doesn't make any difference to me, and changes not one thing about the world for you to think so.

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    2. Oh, yes, Laura Linney celebrating! But the rest of hers is too sad/complicated/poignant. xx

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    3. Absolutely! I wanted to smack her up the side of her head! Too stupid to live!!!
      The original Scrooge movie.
      Libby Dodd

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  27. Later I thought of this - that lethal Weapon is also a Christmas movie!

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  28. Nope. In a Christmas movie, the focus should be the holiday. So Christmas Story, Christmas Vacation, The Bishop's Wife, Christmas in Connecticut, etc. But Die Hard, and the others? No.

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    1. I agree. Joining you in the minority. I'd add Holiday Inn, and I haven't seen The Holiday with Kate Winslet yet. Worth it?

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  29. The only one of these movies I’ve seen is Home Alone, and the child’s family really annoyed me! I haven’t seen it again.

    I’m one of the people who wants to see Christmas movies that are all about Christmas.

    DebRo

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  30. Side note: I think the Hooligans learned to hooligan from Home Alone - it was a fave for a long while.

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