Home Alone (1990): Young Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin) is left behind as his family rushes to make a flight to Paris for their winter vacation. Mayhem ensues when a couple of bumbling burglars try to break into the McCallister house, but Kevin’s booby traps prove better than any state-of-the-art alarm system.
Son-in-Law (1993): South Dakota country girl goes to big city, meets crazy California kook. Brings him home for Thanksgiving break to avoid an engagement to her small-town boyfriend. Family conquers xenophobia, falls in love with his crazy antics, sense of fashion and renegade streak.
When Harry Met Sally... (1989): The penultimate moment of this iconic rom-com occurs at a New Year’s party when Sally (Meg Ryan) realizes she misses Harry (Billy Crystal) and wants him by her side. Yes, sometimes it gets a little sappy, but it’s a love-me-tender flick that doesn’t take itself too seriously.
The Hebrew Hammer (2003): This Shaft-meets-Austin Powers Jewish blaxploitation parody pits Hanukkah and Kwanzaa versus Christmas in a battle for the right for the holidays to exist. Mordechai Jefferson Carver (Adam Goldberg) is the Hebrew Hammer, a former Israeli soldier/special agent who uses a tart style and devout faith to guide him in his private investigative firm. Damian Claus (Andy Dick) grows tired of his father’s liberal ways, so he kills him and usurps the throne to eliminate Hanukkah, the Jewish festival of lights.
Die Hard (1988): Perhaps the most classic action film of all time, Die Hard’s foil-the-terrorist plot makes it easy to forget that a Christmas Eve office party serves as the setting for Bruce Willis’ heroics.
Illinois Times film critic Chuck Koplinski offers up his very own top five holiday flicks for your enjoyment.
1. It’s a Wonderful Life (1947): James Stewart stars in what is possibly the ultimate holiday classic, in which an angel helps a compassionate but despairingly frustrated businessman by showing what life would have been like if he never existed.
2. Love Actually (2003): Richard Curtis’s new classic tale of eight Londoners at Christmastime. Some people are falling in love, some are breaking up, some desperately looking for that special someone. If you look carefully, love actually is all around.
3. Elf (2003): Will Ferrell stars as Buddy Elf, a Santa stowaway who grows up as the rare 6’3” elf, never suspecting he is actually a human. When he goes to New York to discover his true self, he brings his elfish Christmas spirit with him.
4. Three Godfathers (1948): The nativity story, western-style. Three outlaws on the run discover a dying woman and her baby. They swear to bring the infant to safety across the desert, even at the risk of their own lives.
5. Meet John Doe (1941): Another Capra winner. Gary Cooper stars as a man who needs money and agrees to impersonate a nonexistent person who said he’d be committing suicide as a protest, and begins a political movement.