It’s the most wonderful time of the year – a month of finality to break out A Christmas Carol, A Christmas Story, Miracle on 34th Street, Rudolph, The Grinch – the list goes ever on. Once spent – or if considered too maudlin or overplayed – obvious alternatives can take the place of this period’s common classics. There’s Die Hard, Home Alone and then garbage like Love Actually if you can stomach something so sickly. But some films, and a few masterpieces, have found a way to apply Christmas to a singular purpose – it becomes a detail meant to signify more than rosy cheeks and goodwill toward men, not that there’s anything wrong with that. For solid cinematic substitutes to the traditional holiday viewings you do every year, here is the list of the top Christmas party options for merry movie nights.
10. Black Christmas
If you’ve seen Gremlins too many times and Krampus rubbed you the wrong way, the search for a reasonable holiday-horror crossover promptly leads you to Black Christmas. It’s a safe bet for a dreary wintertime watch if cheery isn’t your thing. Borrowing from Italian giallo films and serving as a prototype for Halloween and slasher movies years before the genre’s popularization, the film’s maddening murder mystery is worth getting wrapped up in. Just make sure to avoid the laughable 2006 remake.
9. When Harry Met Sally
Though this is perhaps the film on this listwith the least to do with Christmas, the most meaningful moments of Rob Reiner’s renowned romantic comedy are situated in a seasonal setting. When Harry Met Sally… owes just a little to Woody Allen but between Nora Ephron’s outstanding script and career-defining performances by Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan, the movie goes down like hot cocoa. It’s most iconic lines and funniest gags still have a way of imposing involuntary merriment nearly 30 years removed, and the film’s contemporary view on love is freshly sealed in timelessness.