The top 12 non-Christmas movies that happen during Christmas, mention Christmas, or have some portrayal of Christmas. Watch one movie per day until Christmas. You might have to double-up on a few to finish them all in 2011. These are presented in "top 12" order.
Day 1: Edward Scissorhands - not many people knew what to think of this movie when it came out, my parents included. Hence I didn't see it until I went to college. Still one of Johnny Depp's best roles.
Day 2: Ghostbusters II - The much-lessor of the Ghostbusters movie, this one is kind of fun with a good message.
Day 3: Any of the "Harry Potter" movies - They all have a Christmas scene. Watch one of them and you're covered. Watching all of them is not required, unless you are on Christmas break with nothing better to do.
Day 4: Nightmare Before Christmas - Gotta love a Halloween movie about Christmas. We watch this one just about every year. And then I have to put up with a week of my kids singing the Oogie-Boogie song.
Day 5: Trading Places - One of my favorite comedies of all time. Works on the question of nurture vs. nature with comedic results.
Day 6: Lethal Weapon - Gotta love an action flick with Christmas in it.
Day 7: The Family Man - Arguably the most ultra-pro-family movie EVER. Yes, I cried the first time I saw it. And the second. Very well written and acted. Best Nicolas Cage movie by a long shot. An interesting take on the "It's a Wonderful Life" formula, but with life choices.
Day 8: Die Hard, Die Hard 2 - Explosions, guns, Alan Rickman, and Christmas. How can you top that?
Day 9: Red - This is how you beat Die Hard. To the amazing Bruce Willis you add Morgan Freeman, Helen Mirren, John Malkovich, and Karl Urban. Even Ernest Borgnine gets into the act. Amazing.
Day 10: Gremlins - The first nightmare I ever remember having was about this movie. It still holds up after all these years, except for the special effects. The book has the best chapter ever, only 2 words long: "Billy forgot."
Day 11: Catch Me If You Can - One of my favorite movies of all time. The Christmas scenes are quite touching and emotional, showing how isolated and alone each of the main characters really are.
Day 12: The Star Wars Holiday Special - One night when I was young my parents let us stay up late to watch a show that had "Star Wars" in the title. After a few minutes my folks lost interest and left me and my sisters to finish the entire show. We were blown away as only pre-8 year olds can be with Han, Leia, and Luke. The following morning my parents thought we were insane when we told them about the rest of the show (song/dance numbers, a cartoon with Boba Fet, Chewbacca's home world). My father continued in disbelief for decades until I found a boot-leg copy at a flee market and showed it to him. Now we have the interwebs to help us remember what Anthony Daniels joking calls, "The horrible Holiday Special that nobody talks about."
These will work in a pinch but I can't totally recommend them for various reasons...
Sleepless in Seattle - What some people call the ultimate chick-flick. It has some charming moments but you won't see me running out to watch it again.
While You Were Sleeping - Hmmm, another movie with Bill Pullman? Yet another chick flick but with a very pro-family message. Worth a watch if you haven't seen it.
Steel Magnolias - The movie my wife quotes the most. What does she quote the most? Tom Skerrit's line, "I have to get rid of about a zillion birds before Shelby’s reception this afternoon, or I will have to deal with my wife. And I make it a point never to deal with my wife!"
Home Alone - I remember watching this in the theater as a teenager and having a good laugh. Years later it doesn't hold up that well but I'll eventually show it to my kids.
Bad choices - Some folks like these movies but I cannot recommend them.
Batman Returns - Wow. Like so many other Batman films, it had so much potential but was squandered in the end.
Bridget Jones Diary - Not going to dignify this one with a link or trailer.
Now go out and celebrate Life Day!
er, I mean Christmas!