Holiday Movie Recommendations

Image courtesy of Lauren D’Ambra

By Zachary Barry, Caroline D’Ambra, and Lauren D’Ambra

After the all too brief thanksgiving break, it’s back at it for 2 weeks before the end of the semester and the start of winter break. The two weeks between Thanksgiving break and the end of the semester are some of the most challenging weeks for students at The Colorado School of Mines. During this stressful time, don’t forget to take care of yourself and do something to take your mind off studying at least once. If you’re at a loss of what to do to put differential equations out of your head, why not curl up under a large blanket with a cup of hot chocolate and watch a Christmas Movie? Tis the season of holidays, and this issue we here at The Oredigger are feeling merry and bright, so we’ve gathered a brief list of our favorite Christmas movies, in case you need any suggestions. The Oredigger Editor in Chief, Lauren D’Ambra, recommends The Polar Express, and in the spirit of the holiday’s her sister Caroline couldn’t let White Christmas go unmentioned. Jade’s go-to Christmas movie is Elf, and I tend to lean toward How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000) or The Year Without a Santa Claus, depending on how I’m feeling.

When I think “holiday movie”, my first thought is always of The Polar Express. This movie has been my family’s Christmas Eve tradition for as long as I can remember. The holiday season just isn’t complete without my siblings and I watching it at least once (more often than not, more than once). I mean, come on, is there a better Christmas movie than this animated holiday musical? I certainly don’t think so! I know people typically don’t like this movie because it’s old and the animation is rudimentary by today’s standards, but the story of this movie is just absolutely fantastic. The magic of The Polar Express continues to enchant me every year and I genuinely look forward to watching it again every holiday season. I also look forward to my annual listening of the soundtrack because Alan Silvestri (yes, the Alan Silvestri who has done the music for other timeless movies such as The Avengers and Back to the Future) did an absolutely incredible job. I still get chills every time I listen to The Polar Express Suite!

When going home for the holidays, there is no other movie to watch while snuggled up by the fire with hot chocolate than White Christmas! It’s full of song and dance, and some memorable tunes with Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye, perfect for the holiday season and wishing for a white Christmas to come to your home town. There’s no better way to be cheerful with your siblings than singing “Sisters” with giant fans, flaring one’s arms out and spinning while singing “The Best Things Happen While You’re Dancing”, and running outside and singing “Snow” when one knows a cold front is coming that evening! White Christmas brings the festivities, classical song favorites, the best dance moves, and gives cheer to families serving in the Military. This movie highlights glorious harmonies, amazing costumes, has an impactful story line, gives warmth to the heart, and serves as a wish for family members deployed overseas to be reunited for Christmas. And trust me, when singing classics like “White Christmas” and “What Can You Do With A General” this holiday season is sure to be a special one! Who knows, If you watch White Christmas while dreaming of a vacation in Pine Tree, Vermont, and believe in the magic of song bringing loved ones closer together, you might even be gifted with snowflakes on December 25th!

Trust me, I am all for feel-good movies that leave you feeling inspired, teach you a life-changing lesson, or alter your viewpoint on the world. But, when it comes to the holiday season, I believe that as much laughter and joy as possible from movies is necessary to maintain the fabulous spirit of the holidays. There is a perfect mix between these two types of movies, and that is the masterpiece that is “Elf.” This movie contains jokes and silly moments that never get old in addition to the lovely theme of finding your place in the world. All this is tied together in a wonderful package that includes music and iconic quotes. No matter my mood, I always enjoy this film as it never fails to get me in a jolly mindset. While inspiring me to be myself, “Elf” also inspires me to go all out with Christmas decorations and embrace my fear of escalators, which is all I really need in life. Plus, I always need the constant reminder to not engage raccoons, despite how friendly they first appear, which is especially necessary at Mines as they scavenge the trash cans. Since this is everything a great film needs, “Elf” is the best holiday movie.

One of my personal favorite Christmas movies is 2000’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas, the live-action adaptation of the classic Dr. Seuss Story starring Jim Carrey. I’m not a particularly festive person when it comes to celebrating Christmas, but I find Jim Carrey’s quirky portrayal of the titular character to be entertaining. That combined with a healthy dosage of self-deprecating humor (“7:00 wrestle with my self-loathing… I’m booked!”), which I feel deeply connected to as a ChemE, and messages of inclusion and second chances strikes, in my opinion, a perfect balance of not being overly sweet while still getting me into the holiday spirit.

Despite my ‘Bah Humbug’ attitude, I have a soft spot for the classic Claymation Christmas movies, including Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer and Santa Claus is comin’ to Town. My personal favorite of the Claymation gems is The Year Without a Santa Claus. All of these movies have such a charm to them between the visuals and the sound design. While all these movies are great, I tend to like The Year Without a Santa Claus the best, in part, because Snow miser and Heat miser are such amusing characters and their respective songs make up about 40% of the Christmas songs that I like listening to.

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