new christmas classics

Welcome to the end of 2015 and, more specifically, welcome to the end of the 2015 holiday season. Starting tomorrow, seasonal decorations will officially start to come down, Christmas songs will vanish from the radio, and the usual holiday movies will be packed away until next year.

And maybe we should leave them packed for a little while. Much like how it’s nearly impossible to pen a new Christmas song that gains any traction alongside the tried-and-true classics, a handful of movies grip the final weeks of every year with an iron fist. Many of these movies are legitimate classics that have earned their status, but let’s face it – it’s time for a change. It’s time to shake up the Christmas movie canon. We have an entire year to prepare, so let’s take a moment and induct a few new movies into our annual rotation. Let’s end this holiday season by ensuring that we have something fresh and new to watch next year.

Welcome to the New Holiday Canon, a collection of newer films and lost gems that deserve to be in the conversation every December.

The Go-To, Nonstop Holiday Movie: Elf (2003)

What It Should Replace: A Christmas Story

Why It’s a New Classic: Jon Favreau‘s 2003 family comedy about a human raised by elves was warmly received upon release, but it’s spent the past 12 years steadily growing into an annual tradition for families, as well as the go-to “holiday movie to have on a loop” in the department store of your choice. It’s hung around for a reason: Elf is charming and sweet and just irreverent enough to get the older kids to gather around the television with their younger families.

Like A Christmas Story, it manages to blend innocence and cynicism in equal measure, acknowledging the hypocrisies of the holiday season while ultimately embracing the traditional and admittedly saccharine elements of other holiday favorites. If there has to be a movie that everyone finds themselves watching ad nauseam each December, you can do far worse than this.

The Christmas Action Classic: Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang (2005)

What It Should Replace: Die Hard

Why It’s a New Classic: Let’s not have the “Is Die Hard a Christmas movie?” debate. We’ve had that one before. Too many times. People are always going to watch John McTiernan’s action masterpiece when the holidays roll around thanks to its seasonal setting and holiday-flavored dialogue (“Now I have a machine gun; ho ho ho”). But if you’re going to deliberately go against the grain and watch something gnarly and bloody in lieu of something sweet and family-friendly, why not shake things up and go with Shane Black‘s Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang?

Set during Christmas and filled with holiday imagery, this is the kind of movie that uses “the most wonderful time of the year” as a background for noir-tinged plotting, filthy jokes, violent gun battles, and hilarious “buddy cop” antics from Robert Downey Jr. and Val Kilmer. Like Die Hard, it’s barely a Christmas movie, but its festive theming is the perfect excuse to make a movie this fun a tradition.

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