My Top Ten Winter and Holiday Movies!

Severus Snape

by REBECCA, December 17, 2012

Despite global climate change wreaking havoc, this week it is officially winter! Last week was Chanukah and next week is Christmas and that means that even if there’s no snow on the ground it is still time to snuggle in and watch movies and eat things! So, in the hopes of assisting with your snuggling, here is a list of my top ten wintry movies, most of which also feature at least one wintry holiday (and three Claire Danes appearances!). So, break out the blankets and kitties, and let’s watch some movies!

Harry  Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

ANY Harry Potter movie!

Ok, I know this is kind of a gimme, but the Harry Potter movies are straight-up freaking magical and they have so many good holiday moments. My sister and I may or may not have recently watched many of the Harry Potter movies in a row just to enjoy their delicious wintryness and holidayness: snowball fights on the Hogwarts grounds, mugs of warm butterbeer in the Three Broomsticks, toasting bread in the fire of Gryffindor Common Room, feasts in the Great Hall for Thanksgiving and Christmas (apparently Christmas is the only holiday in the wizarding world), and magical presents like a cloak of invisibility (best present ever)! Just the magical mood of the Harry Potter world feels like that fizzy feeling of the day before winter break in school.

The Nightmare Before Christmas

Nightmare Before Christmas

The King of Halloweentown, Jack Skellington, discovers Christmastown and falls in love with the cheer, the gifts, and the sparkle of lights. Bonus: this delightful genre mashup is a musical! The scenes where Jack is trying to figure out the chemical and mathematical equations for Christmas cheer are a Dr. Frankensteinian delight.

The Family Stone

The Family Stone

While I’m not generally a fan of the whole bring-your-date-to-meet-the-family-at-Christmas genre, The Family Stone is pretty delightful. Everett (a typically flat Durmot Mulroney) brings his uptight and conservative girlfriend Meredith (Sarah Jessica Parker) home to meet his large and close-knit family, who all hate her . . . except for his brother, who falls for her. Rachel McAdams is perfect as the honest sister who hates Meredith, and Diane Keaton is perfect as the fierce mama lion who thinks Everett is making a big mistake. Claire Danes appearance #1.

The Ref

The Ref

Denis Leary is a cat burglar; when a heist goes wrong, he has to hold a fighting couple hostage in their own home during an excruciating Christmas with their families. Kevin Spacey and Judy Davis are perfect as Caroline and Lloyd, the couple who hate each other, and Denis Leary is, as usual, pretty goshdarn funny.

Caroline: How can we both be in the marriage and I’m miserable and you’re content?

Lloyd: Luck?”

Edward Scissorhands

Edward Scissorhands

Tim Burton + Johnny Depp + Scissor hands + black leather + Mary Kay representative + pastels + topiaries + Frankenstein-esque + Vincent Price + Diane Wiest + suburbs + gothic = awesome!



Set over one twenty-four hour period in wintry New York City, Heights follows its characters as their paths intertwine. There’s Glenn Close, who plays a famous Broadway actor, Elizabeth Banks as her daughter, a photographer who is engaged to James Marsden, who is torn between her and another. And then there’s John Light, a journalist from London who has come to New York to track down the previous lovers of his famous photographer lover, which puts him directly in the path of everyone else. No actual holidays here, but a huge bonus: my favorite musician, Rufus Wainwright, makes a small cameo!

Home for the Holidays

Home For the Holidays

Holly Hunter has made out with her boss, lost her job, and dropped her teenage daughter (Claire Danes appearance #2!) off at her grabby boyfriend’s house for Thanksgiving as she goes home to her parents’ for Thanksgiving and Christmas with her wacky and screwed-up family. Robert Downey Jr. is awesomepants as Holly Hunter’s brother and Anne Bancroft is dynamite as her troubled and dramatic mother. The sibling chemistry between Robert Downey Jr. and Holly Hunter is so good! Lovelovelove.

A Midnight Clear

A Midnight Clear

Based on William Wharton’s excellent novel, A Midnight Clear is set in 1944 France where a young group of American soldiers are stationed. On Christmas eve, they come across a troop of German soldiers who wish to surrender rather than fight. Starring Ethan Hawke, Kevin Dillon, Gary Sinise, Frank Whaley, and Peter Berg, this is a dramatic portrait of young men under immense pressure who try and set aside their differences.

The Thing

The Thing

Ok, so it’s set in the Antarctic, but still, it’s snowy and wintry and snowy, and who doesn’t love a horror movie over the holidays?! Starring Kurt Russell, The Thing is the story of a shape-shifting alien that can take on the form of people it kills and can only be killed (this is the best part:) with an enormous blow-torch. A total classic, and one of the few horror movies that takes place in wintry whiteness. Did I mention the blow torches?

Little Women

Little Women

I love this contemporary remake of Little Women: Winona Ryder actually not sucking in a period piece, bratty Kirsten Dunst, baby Christian Bale, the always-awesome Susan Sarandon, and Claire Danes appearance #3. Sisters, writing, singing, ice skating on a frozen pond (probably Walden), many descriptions of scrumptious food, in a classic coming of age tale. The 1933 and 1949 versions aren’t too shabby either.

So, grab your blankets and your cat, compose your cheese plates and your nachos, and meet me on the couch for an epic of wintry watching! What are your winter favorites? Tell me in the comments.

Leave a comment


  1. Margalit

     /  December 18, 2012

    Nothing says “Happy Holidays” like the imperious stare of Severus Snape!

  2. Porkchop

     /  December 17, 2012

    THE ICE STORM! Ang Lee… Nixon-era Connecticut suburbs, Joan Allen, Kevin Kline, Christina Ricci, Sigourney Weaver, Tobey Maguire, Katie Holmes. And a keys party.

    Also THE SHOP AROUND THE CORNER. (You’ve Got Mail, but 60 years earlier and with Jimmy Stewart.Oh, yes…)

  3. I’ve never seen Home for the Holidays! Will have to check it out. I adore Nightmare Before Christmas, Little Women, Edward Scissorhands, The Family Stone, and of course Harry Potter. I’d have to add Elf, (so quotable!), Home Alone, and Prancer–which no one else likes but was a family staple in my house. We always watch this animated silent short, The Snowman, every year.

  4. Though Home Alone and the Muppets Christmas Carol are really the pinnacle of holiday movie viewing, sometimes I allow myself to wallow in the Nora Ephron rom-com oeuvre, since Sleepless in Seattle and You’ve Got Mail have some great Christmas scenes. Who needs an excuse to watch Nora Ephron films, really?

  5. weheartya

     /  December 17, 2012

    Ooo, we had Harry Potter and Little Women on our list of holiday reads, too! (Link – Funny how things that are not technically ABOUT the holidays can put you in the spirit anyway.🙂

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