Christmas Movies We Love, Actually

Christmas Movies We Love, Actually

The holiday season brings a lot of things we love — glowing trees, tacky sweaters, endless amounts of cookies — but what we love most about this time of year is the movies.

We love movies. We love movies so much we founded a traveling student film festival because we want to see MORE MOVIES. We fancy ourselves film critics. The #flicks Slack channel at IU is part water cooler, part think tank, part flat-out war.

The initial idea for this post was to share our *expert* opinions about the best holiday movies of all time. After a poll of the entire company (always a risky and incredibly entertaining venture), we realized that our favorite holiday movies aren’t about thought-provoking scripts, groundbreaking techniques, or epic cinematography. We love these movies because of the way they make us feel: nostalgic, hopeful, joyous, and downright warm & fuzzy. And when you really think about it, isn’t that what filmmaking is all about?

We hope you agree with us, and if you don’t, we’ll be more than happy to tell you why you’re wrong.

#1 It’s a Wonderful Life

No surprise here. This holiday classic manages to warm our cold, dark hearts every time we watch it.

“The characters and their lives are so touching that even though I know all the lines, I still cry every time. You end up feeling like you know each character personally. Coming from a small town myself, I appreciate the importance of community spirit. I watch it without fail every year.  It’s just so wholesome, how can you not love it?”  – Julia Howard, Marketing Coordinator, Campus Movie Fest

“It’s a beautiful movie. We all think about what life would be like if we had never been born, and this illustrates the small and positive ways we make an impact on our family and our community. It’s just a good reminder to be grateful for what you have, and that in times of need your family and friends are there for you.” – Jess Reynoso, Director of Events

“Growing up, my brothers and I would watch It’s a Wonderful Life together drinking bourbon hot chocolates, hanging out, laughing — not fighting, not being rude — just having quality time. It also reminds me of my crazy family and the tomfoolery that occurred, and still occurs, every year when we all get together.” – Ashley Childs, Project Management

“It makes me bawl every time.” – Evan Padgett, Director of Projects

#2 Die Hard

Part action movie, part holiday flick, all cinematic gold.

“I am a bigger Die Hard fan than anyone else who already gave this answer. My wife had never seen Die Hard before and she didn’t believe me that it was a Christmas movie. I was finally able to convince her to watch it, and when we reached the part where Alan Rickman says, ‘Now I have a machine gun. Ho-ho-ho,’ she exclaimed, ‘it is a Christmas movie!’ That was one of my favorite movie-watching moments of all time. It was perfect.” – Andy Leverett, Director of Post Production

“Why is it my favorite? I’m sorry, I don’t understand the question.”  – Jason Makar, Creative & Production

Because Snape is a German terrorist, Carl Winslow is a bumbling cop who saves the day, and Yippie-Ki-Yay, Motherf***er!”  – Vijay Makar, VP & Co-Founder

#3 A Christmas Story

You’re going to watch this movie every Christmas, whether you like it or not, thanks to the traditional TBS/TNT marathon. For some of us, that marathon has become a crucial part of our holiday celebrations.

“Christmas Eve is a big deal in my family. Every year, after the family activity winds down, my sister and I go down to the basement of our parents’ house and steal a bottle from my dad’s ‘good wine’ stash. We stay up late wrapping all of the last minute presents, getting silly drunk, and watching A Christmas Story. It’s my favorite Christmas tradition.”  – Krista Carothers, Creative & Production

There is something extremely nostalgic about this movie. It came out before I was even born, but it somehow reminds me of my childhood with its dark humor and relatable family.”  – Torrian Robertson, Account Management

“Repetition has conditioned me to enjoy it. There are no other Christmas movies. Only what TBS benevolently provides. Don’t make me question my beliefs.”  – Vikas Shah, Creative Director

“It’s just a fun film.” – Brandon Chong, VP, Campus Movie Fest

#4 Home Alone

If you grew up in the 90s, this movie was everything. Who among us hasn’t placed our hands our face and screamed in the mirror, or dreamed of having a whole cheese pizza all to ourselves?

“I am literally incapable of hearing the phrase ‘keep the change’ without immediately thinking ‘you filthy animal!’” – Raven Bradley, Director of Production

“It’s awesome. Macaulay Culkin is adorable, it’s frickin hilarious, and come on, John Williams composed all of the music. It’s gold.” – Ashton May, Operations Manager, We Make

“This movie doesn’t get enough attention. Wet Bandits for life!” – Jimmy Sanders, Truck Driver

#5 National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

It’s hard to be a comedy classic AND a holiday hit — unless you have Chevy Chase at his bumbling best, with a side of Randy Quaid in his underwear.

“It’s an incredible script with incredible performances all around. It’s also a part of my family’s tradition to watch it together every Christmas Eve.”  – Matt Scruggs, Producer

“It is endlessly quotable.”  – Vijay Makar, VP & Co-Founder

Honorable Mentions

Trading Places

“I feel like this question is below this movie.”  – Adam Blaylock, Operations Coordinator, Campus Movie Fest


“Because the four main food groups truly are candy, candy canes, candy corns and syrup.” – Chris Hale, Account Management


“I love horror movies and Gremlins does a great job of adding horror to the holidays. Plus lots of laughs!” – Cherry Delrosario, Creative & Production

Toy Story

Because it’s fun and clever to infinity… and beyond!” – David Roemer, CEO & Co-founder

The Wizard of Oz

“I grew up watching it around the holidays and have always associated it with Christmas. My dad told us these great stories about how the Wizard of Oz would air in color every year on Christmas Eve. It was the late 50’s/early ‘60s, and this was a big deal for him. I always imagined my dad as a little boy, all cuddled up with his family, watching this movie, and just being awed by the fact that it was in color…on their TV. It seems like an ideal, simple moment. And, I mean, it’s Wizard of Oz…what could be a more magical movie to watch?”  -Julie Braunstein, Creative Director

8 Crazy Nights

“Just kidding, it’s awful.” – Mike Karsch, Project Management