They’re here! The holidays that mark the end – finally – of a year few of us will look back on with any fondness. But because it’s 2020, the holidays may be harder than usual. After all, travelling to see family is definitely not recommended – and in some places may not even be possible – as Canada experiences a second wave of Covid-19 infections. So, make the best of it by loading up on your favourite holiday snacks, putting on your silliest seasonal sweater and staying in for a movie marathon. We recommend these movies that will get you through the holidays:
Almost Christmas (2016)
Almost Christmas is built around a theme that far too many people will be able to identify with this year: the first Christmas after the death of a loved one. However, this comedy-drama won’t have you gnashing your teeth. The movie tells the tale of four siblings and their families joining their recently widowed dad for the first Christmas dinner without their mom. The cast includes Danny Glover, Gabrielle Union, Mo’Nique and J.B. Smoove. Also keep your eyes peeled for a cameo by the legendary Gladys Knight. While Almost Christmas isn’t the best holiday movie in history, it’s a breath of fresh air in a world where most movies in the genre feature nearly exclusively white casts.
Happiest Season (2020)
The highly anticipated Happiest Season is the latest in a tiny, tiny handful of movies that have brought positive LGBTQ+ representation to the big screen. Starring Kristen Stewart and Mackenzie Davis, the romantic comedy tells the story of lesbian couple Abby and Harper who go to visit Harper’s family for the holidays. To Abby’s dismay, she discovers that Harper hasn’t come out to her family yet. The cast also includes Alison Brie, Aubrey Plaza, Dan Levy, Victor Garber and Mary Steenburgen.
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
If you like your holidays with just a touch of the macabre, you can’t go wrong with Tim Burton. His 1993 hit The Nightmare Before Christmas was the first animated film to be nominated for the Best Visual Effects Oscar. It tells the story of Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King of Halloween Town, who accidentally discovers Christmas Town and decides that Halloween Town will take over the holiday. The rag doll Sally warns Jack that this can only end in disaster. Is she right? Jack Skellington is voiced by Danny Elfman and Chris Sarandon and Sally is voiced by Canada’s own Catherine O’Hara.
Call Me by Your Name (2017)
When the cold and darkness outside threatens to strip you of all holiday cheer, it’s time to escape to sunnier climes: Italy, in fact. Call Me by Your Name isn’t technically a holiday movie but it features a Hannukah celebration, so it made our list. The bittersweet coming-of-age drama stars Timothée Chalamet – who recently split up with Lily-Rose Depp – and Armie Hammer as a teen and a graduate student developing a romantic relationship during a summer in Northern Italy. Call me by Your Name won a ton of awards, including the for Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar and BAFTA for James Ivory.
Love Actually (2003)
When it comes to things men think are romantic but actually aren’t, Love Actually has a lot to answer for. Still, this Christmas classic has been such a hit with audiences that it’s even inspired similar romantic comedies in Dutch, German, Japanese, Hindi, Polish and Russian. It features an ensemble cast including the likes of Hugh Grant, Emma Thompson, Alan Rickman, Colin Firth, Keira Knightley, Liam Neeson and a13-year-old Thomas Brodie-Sangster and tells a series of intertwined stories of love in its many guises: new love, old love, unrequited love, toxic love, platonic love, love gone wrong, love despite the language barrier. Everything plays out against the backdrop of the Christmas season, a weirdly nautical nativity play and 10 Downing Street. A hilarious Rowan Atkinson cameo will make you rethink the way you wrap gifts.
Home Alone (1990)
Called a “family comedy without the family”, Home Alone stars Macaulay Culkin – one of the richest child stars of all time – in his breakthrough role as 8-year-old Kevin, who is accidentally left behind when his family goes to France for the holidays.
At first, it’s a dream come true for Kevin to have the entire house for himself but things take a dark turn when he realizes a pair of burglars are targeting the place. What follows is a roller-coaster ride as Kevin thwarts the burglars and gets to know his scary neighbour. It’s the perfect movie to watch if you’re home alone for the holidays and worry about every strange sound you hear at night. It will be even more perfect if you can follow it up with the sequel.
Rent was based on a Broadway musical, which in turn was based on the opera La Bohème. Set in New York’s East Village in 1989, the movie starts with two roommates finding out on Christmas Eve that their previously waived rent is now due after all. The rest of the movie follows the roommates and their friends as they try to navigate life and love and into the nineties through issues like homelessness, protests, drug addiction, and HIV and Aids. The diverse cast includes Adam Rapp, Anthony Pascal, Rosario Dawson, Jesse L. Martin, Idina Menzel, Tracie Thoms, Taye Diggs and Sarah Silverman.
Mon Oncle Antoine (1971)
Often regarded as the best Canadian movie of all time, Mon Oncle Antoine covers the events of a Christmas Eve in a 1940s Quebec mining town. It’s not the kind of movie to watch if you want the warm-and-fuzzies over the holidays: after all, it deals with themes like death, alcohol abuse, social class and unfulfilled dreams. Still, it’s a beautifully atmospheric film that will serve you well if you want to have a good cry and let out all of 2020’s frustrations while getting a glimpse into Canada’s past. Note that Mon Oncle Antoine is in French with subtitles.
Joyeux Noël (2005)
At the end of a year filled with injustice, division and distrust, it’s good to have a reminder that even in the worst of circumstances, people have managed to find common ground for just a little while. Joyeux Noël is based on events that really happened on the Western Front in 1914. The movie tells the story of a German tenor – based on real-life tenor Walter Kirchhoff – sent to sing to German troops on the frontline on Christmas Eve. When the Scottish and French troops on the other side hear the tenor’s singing, it leads to an unofficial truce for the night, with soldiers from both sides crossing no-man’s-land to celebrate Christmas together. In English, French and German, Joyeux Noël was nominated for an Oscar, a Golden Globe, a BAFTA and several French Césars.
New Year’s Eve (2011)
Since you can’t be in New York City on New Year’s Eve this year, let romcom king Garry Marshall’s New Year’s Eve transport you there instead. Like Love Actually, New Year’s Eve tells a series of intertwined stories all taking place on – you guessed it. Among these storylines are the official in charge of letting the ball drop at midnight, a woman trying to complete a list of New Year’s resolutions before the year is out, two people stuck in an elevator, a dying man, two couples vying for a bonus offered to the family of the first baby born in the new year, and a musician trying to make up with his ex. The stellar cast includes Robert DeNiro, Halle Berry, Hilary Swank, Sarah Jessica Parker, Michelle Pfeiffer, Zac Efron, Ashton Kutcher, Ludacris, Jessica Biel, Jon Bon Jovi and the always hilarious Sofía Vergara. New York City mayor at the time, Michael Bloomberg, makes an appearance too.