A Muppet Family Christmas
There’s no Michael Caine in this one, but there’s a whole lot else: the original Muppets; the Sesame Street crew; Fraggles, and even Maureen the Mink. It’s truly not the Christmas season until I’ve watched a number of Muppets repeatedly slip and fall over an icy patch at Fozzie’s mom’s house. While this movie is often overshadowed by that other Muppet Christmas special, it is still a solid inclusion in the Christmas movie canon. The movie tells the tale of Fozzie’s good-intended (but ill-planned) attempt to surprise his mother for Christmas — and the ensuing hijinks that blew in with the worst blizzard in half a century. First released in 1987, “A Muppet Family Christmas” has aged like a fine wine, and still makes me chuckle in 2021. (Barometers are falling sharply!) At just under 48 minutes, it’s the perfect length movie for when you need a little Christmas, but don’t want to settle down for over an hour — or if you need something to do while cookies are in the oven. Available on YouTube. Look out for the icy patch! (Rated TV-PG)
— Christine Rousselle, Washington, D.C. Correspondent
It's a Wonderful Life
Unappreciated when it first came out in the 1940s, but gaining status as one of the most perennially rewatched Christmas movies of all time, “It's a Wonderful Life” really does live up to the descriptor in its title. If, somehow, you've managed to never see it, it's the story of a smart and ambitious small town guy, George Bailey, who for a variety of reasons never manages to escape his provincial life and travel the world like he had always planned. When a seemingly insurmountable disaster besets George on Christmas Eve, he wishes he had never been born — a wish that, thanks to a friendly angel named Clarence, suddenly comes true. Try not to shed a tear during the final scene. I dare you. Available on Amazon Prime and YouTube. (Rated PG)
— Jonah McKeown, Producer/Writer
A Charlie Brown Christmas
When I was growing up, we watched this Peanuts classic every year to kick off the Christmas season. Now, as an adult, it's part of my own Christmas traditions. The movie is a great reminder of the real meaning of Christmas, with the Nativity story embedded into the script. I find that each time I watch it, I'm invited to a deeper realization that Christmas is really about the coming of Christ, and not the material or commercial things we get wrapped up in (pun intended) this time of the year. Available on Apple TV+ for subscribers. (Not Rated)
— Autumn Jones, Staff Writer
The Polar Express
This 2004 animated film is about a group of young children who take a mystical train ride to the North Pole on Christmas Eve. The movie focuses on the struggle of two boys to believe in Santa Claus, because they have never seen him. But once they arrive at the North Pole, they are entrenched in an adventure like never before, culminating in (spoilers!) meeting the big man himself. The movie, which features the voice of Tom Hanks, was nominated for three Academy Awards. Available on HBO, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, and Netflix. (Rated G)
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— Joe Bukuras, Staff Writer
This 1990 classic tells a Christmas story that the whole family can enjoy: What happens when an 8-year-old is left to his own devices to protect his home, alone, against a pair of burglars? Kevin McCallister’s family accidentally leaves him behind in Chicago as they venture on a family vacation abroad. Kevin (played by Macaulay Culkin) takes charge and rigs his home with booby traps. On Christmas Eve, he treks through the snow and comes to a halt as he spies an outdoor nativity scene and hears strains of “O Holy Night” escaping the nearby church. He enters and encounters two saviors: Jesus, and an elderly man he learns not to judge. Home Alone is a story about family, friendship, and the difference that one person — even a small one — can make. Available on Amazon Prime, Disney+, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu, and YouTube. (Rated PG)
— Katie Yoder, Washington, D.C. Correspondent
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