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The Student News Site of Lynbrook High School

Horizon

The Student News Site of Lynbrook High School

Horizon

I Watched 25 Holiday Movies in 25 Days: Here’s How It Went

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Kerry Cullen
Movie #16: Arthur Christmas

The holiday season, like so many songs say, is arguably one of the “most wonderful time[s] of the year.” Hot cocoa, bright, colorful lights, the feeling of excitement running through the air, what is not to love? The only sour part of the season is how quickly it comes and goes. Between work and school, people rarely have the time to truly appreciate the season they are in; however, as a local holiday-lover and Christmas spirit enthusiast, I took it upon myself to take on the holly jolly challenge of a lifetime: watching a holiday movie or special every single day, for 25 days.

  1. The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade (2023)

On Thursday, Nov. 23, Thanksgiving Day, the challenge kicked off in the most fitting way one could imagine: by watching the Thanksgiving Day parade! What is there to say about this parade that has not already been said? Iconic Broadway performances, recognizable and new characters in giant parade floats, Al Roker; in every way possible, the parade is nostalgic and show-stopping. The Thanksgiving Day parade never disappoints; it is a perfect way to kick off the holiday season and was a very enjoyable watch.

  1. Klaus (2019)

Having never before seen this movie, it subverted all expectations. The story follows Jesper, a young man sent out to be a postman for a miserable, secluded town with feuding citizens. Along his journey, he meets and partners up with Klaus, a toy maker in the woods. This story was unexpectedly interesting and heartwarming. Going further beyond the “origin of Christmas” story, Klaus is a film with heart, humor, and a great story. Although it does not have as much of a legacy compared to other holiday classics, Klaus is a must-watch. 

  1. The Polar Express (2004)

 Taken back to the days of hot chocolate and elementary school holiday parties, The Polar Express triggered waves of holiday nostalgia for me. The story follows a young boy, starting to lose the spirit of Christmas. On Christmas Eve, he is taken on a magical train ride to the North Pole and rediscovers the meaning and spirit of the holiday. Aside from the nostalgic memories this movie brings, it is also a very entertaining and sweet film. Yes, the animation is creepy to lots of people, but the film makes up for that in heart and story. This film does a great job of reminding people of the reason for the season, and sparks the holiday spirit effortlessly, “if you just believe,” of course. 

The Polar Express is my favorite. It’s a family tradition,” said sophomore Sophia Schoen. The Polar Express’ message of believing in magic and joy is perfect for families. 

  1. It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)

 Many would call it a classic to end all classics: It’s a Wonderful Life follows the story of George Bailey, a man questioning ending his life. Clarence Odbody, an angel, is assigned to show George what life would be like without him to get his wings. Clarence saves him and shows him an awful version of the life he is living now, giving George a reason as to why he should stay, and telling him he matters to people. In the end, George is extremely grateful for Clarence, who eventually gets his wings. This movie is iconic in every definition of the word; not only is it a beautiful story, but it displays to everyone watching that their life is worth living, and this message showcases the meaning of the holiday season better than arguably all of the films on this list. This movie is a special one and is a must-watch for the holiday season. 

  1. Prep and Landing (2009)

 This hilarious holiday special takes the overplayed ideas of Santa and his elves and somehow makes it new. Prep and Landing follows the story of Wayne and Lanny, two elves, one of which just got beat out for his big promotion. This story is funnier than expected for a children’s holiday special and can entertain any audience. It is arguably one of the more underrated holiday specials on this list, and it deserves to become a holiday staple in many homes!

  1. Love Actually (2003)

 Considering how much of a classic this is in both the Christmas and overall film scenes, this was a highly anticipated watch. Having never before seen this film, it took a good portion of the movie to understand exactly what was happening. However, when everything came together, it created something beautiful. Every single detail in this movie was meticulously thought out, and the emotional, impactful scenes went further than the usual “Merry Christmas” message spread in a lot of holiday movies (not that this message is a bad thing). This movie was a beautifully shot, beautifully made, and frankly emotionally-driven work that is not only a must-watch for the holiday season, but in general as well. 

  1. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

Many people consider this a Halloween film, but, truthfully, The Nightmare Before Christmas is perfect for every holiday. With an entertaining, funny, and heart-warming plot, excellently done Claymation, and an overall feel-good vibe, it is no surprise that this is a long-standing hit. The Nightmare Before Christmas follows the story of a skeleton named Jack (the Pumpkin King), who stumbles down a Christmas tree (literally) and finds a world of wonder and joy. Of course, he must try and bring Christmas to his friends in Halloweentown, despite his lack of Christmas knowledge. This movie is iconic, and for good reason, and should be watched both on Halloween and during Christmas. 

“My favorite movie is The Nightmare Before Christmas. It’s super entertaining, and I love the animation,” said sophomore Lara Vardar. 

 After a week of the challenge, I was feeling as spirited and holly-jolly as ever before. The week introduced me to many new classics and reminded me just how fun and exciting the holiday season can be when you focus on the right things.

  1. The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special (2022)

 Another Disney holiday special, this story follows two Marvel superheroes, Mantis and Drax, in their journey to California to bring Christmas to outer space. In theory, this special is a good idea. It had its funny moments and its heart-warming ending, but to me, it fell a bit flat. The story seemed a bit rushed, and the plot did not seem as well-grounded as usual Disney classics. This is by no means a bad special, just a better fit for Marvel fans, not holiday movie lovers. 

  1. Krampus (2015)

Everyone’s favorite holiday film! A classic, Krampus follows the story of a family who gets hunted down by European legend Krampus, as they fail to have Christmas Spirit. This movie is so bad, it is good. The cinematography, the plot, the dialogue, everything culminates in one insane movie. Not a good one, though. What Krampus lacks in quality makes up for it in the fact that it feels like watching a fever dream unfold. Horror lovers should watch this one if they want to get into the holiday spirit, maybe. In any other scenario, this is a skip.

  1. Jingle All The Way (1996)

A classic holiday comedy, Jingle All The Way follows the story of a father desperately trying to find the most popular toy of the year for his son, days before Christmas. This movie is hilarious; the concept and plot are well-planned, and all of the jokes still land years later. Arnold Schwarzenegger playing the role of a father rather than the Terminator also adds to the comedy of this movie. This film is a classic for all the right reasons and is a holiday staple for comedy lovers and holiday movie lovers alike. 

  1. Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town (1970)

 This classically-made tale is an origin story of Santa Claus. This movie was never a personal favorite of mine, but it was still nostalgic and enjoyable. Its stop-motion animation was ahead of its time and was done remarkably well. Other than that, this movie was not a standout. This is not in any way a bad film, however, it was just not as memorable as others on this list. It is worth a watch for nostalgic Christmas movie fans.

  1. Frosty the Snowman (1969)

 A classic animated tale, Frosty the Snowman is about a snowman, brought to life by a magical hat, while trying to avoid the magician it came from! Although this film is a staple, I didn’t remember much about it until I rewatched it. This film brings on a wave of nostalgia, as well as the feel-good holiday vibes any classic holiday film should have. It is a long-standing classic, arguably one that should be watched the first snow of the season every year (“especially if it’s a

Movie #20: Elf (Kerry Cullen)

Christmas first snow”).

  1. How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (1966)

 Another animated film, How the Grinch Stole Christmas! was a nostalgic, cute film. It tracks the Grinch, who has a heart three sizes too small, trying to steal Christmas (and joy) from the people of Whoville. This is a heart-warming and classic tale of what the holiday season is really about: giving love and care to everyone, especially to those who act like they do not want it. This film is a timeless staple and has earned a spot on the list of iconic Christmas films. 

“My favorite holiday movie is The Grinch. I watch it every year!” exclaimed sophomore Alexa Rutigliano. 

  1. The Year Without a Santa Claus (1974)

 Although this film is older, it is not as much of a classic as other films. The Year Without a Santa Claus accompanies two elves, Jingle and Jangle, as they try to prove the world still has Christmas Spirit to Santa, who is sick in bed with a cold. Personally, the only memorable part of this film is the Snow-Miser and Heat-Miser. Although this was a fun watch and not a bad concept, nothing stood out, and with all of the amazing holiday films out there, it tends to get lost. While it is not as much of a classic, it is still an enjoyable watch and a fun way to appreciate the holiday season.

At the two-week mark, the experience was starting to feel like more of a chore than a fun activity. While most of these films were enjoyable, having to find time in the day to watch a holiday movie proved to be more difficult as the weeks went on. I wondered if doing this was helping me appreciate the holiday season more, or making me like it just a little less; however, the next 11 days ahead were full of time-tested picks and general film juggernauts, and I could not have been more excited. I was ready to take these movies on.

  1. The Christmas Parade (2014)

Despite any opinions one may have, the holiday season would not be complete without at least one Hallmark original, and this one seemed to hit every single stereotype a Hallmark original could have. This movie followed the cliché storyline of “city girl meets country guy” combined with “city girl hates Christmas”; it was just about as good as anyone would expect it to be. This movie was not well-planned, well-written, or well-executed, but somehow, it still captivated my attention: the more I watched, the more I understood the appeal. These movies are happy and simple, and while they may not be the most well-made, at least everything works out in the end. The Christmas Parade did not change my overall opinion on Hallmark movies, but for hopeless romantics and feel-good movie lovers alike, it could be worth a watch. 

  1. Arthur Christmas (2011)

This movie is one of my personal favorites, not just from a holiday standpoint, but generally as well. This movie has a wonderful story, following the tale of a familial line of Santas. When a child is forgotten on Christmas, Santa’s youngest son and his grandfather go out on their old sled to personally deliver it before the sun rises. This movie has heart and excellent comedy for a children’s movie, all while telling a compelling and very sweet story. This is a must-watch for holiday lovers everywhere and an absolute staple regardless of how popular it is.

  1. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964)

My personal childhood favorite, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is about Rudolph, a reindeer born with a bright, red nose. He is alienated from the rest of his town and decides to run away; however, when a freak blizzard jeopardizes Christmas, Rudolph is the one reindeer Santa needs to save it. This story is a classic; from the Claymation artwork to its memorable plot, it is heart-warming and entertaining and conveys that everyone, no matter how different they are from others, matters. 

  1. Miracle on 34th Street (1947)

 One of the more storied films on this list, Miracle on 34th Street follows the story of Kris Kringle, who fills in for a very intoxicated Santa Claus during The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. He is so well-liked that he becomes Macy’s in-store Santa. However, when he insists that he is the real Santa Claus, he is sent to court, for “mental instability.” This movie is a great one logistically; however, it just was not my taste. I found myself checking how much time was left in the movie and was ultimately bored by it. This is not an issue with the movie, but rather one having to do with my personal tastes. For fans of older, classic films, this flick most likely hits every mark; it just was not my personal favorite.

  1. Home Alone (1990)

 Despite seeing parts of it for years, this was my first time watching Home Alone in full, and it was very entertaining! When Kevin McCallister gets sent to sleep in the attic for acting out, his family leaves for a holiday trip without him, forgetting him entirely. At first, he is excited, believing he has the whole house to himself, but upon discovering two men planning to rob his home, it is up to him to stop them. This is a very fun, very iconic holiday movie. From Kevin’s elaborate traps to the plot of the movie in its entirety, this film was an enjoyable joy-ride that I was happy to go on.

“My favorite Christmas movie is probably Home Alone because it’s super fun and very entertaining,” said senior Kailey Dunne. 

  1. Elf (2003)

What may be considered many people’s favorite holiday movie, Elf follows the story of Buddy the Elf, who upon finding out he is not a real elf, ventures to his birthplace: New York City. His real father, a staple figure on the Naughty List and an executive at a publishing company, wants nothing to do with Buddy. We watch Buddy explore the real world and eventually make it brighter. This movie is not only hilarious and timeless but is also a great story about the spirit of the holiday season and the power of believing. Between its magical, adorable North Pole world, and its funny, realistic New

Movie #21: National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (Kerry Cullen )

York City world, Elf covers all the bases of a classic holiday film and is a favorite among many for good reasons. 

  1. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)

Undoubtedly the funniest film on this list, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation is about the days leading up to Christmas when family comes to visit and nothing seems to go as planned. This movie is better watched than explained, maybe because of all the running jokes. These running jokes are what make this movie so special. It is not often that a holiday film is an explicit, outward comedy. Personally, I believe more holiday films should be; out of all the films on this list, this one was one of the most entertaining picks. A must-watch for comedy and holiday fans alike. 

The third week came and went, and despite my challenges during the second week, I came back stronger than ever, ready to watch some of the most iconic holiday movies out there. Only four days remain, and while I am ready to finish this challenge, I will miss having a new holiday movie to look forward to every day. The next four movies proved to be a great way to end the challenge. 

  1. The Holdovers (2023)

The newest movie on this list, The Holdovers follows the story of an instructor at a New England prep school who is forced to babysit a group of boys who had no one to pick them up for the holiday break. I had no expectations going into this movie; leaving, however, I felt a strong connection to every single character I watched. This movie tells its story so emotionally and so deeply that it is insanely difficult not to empathize with its characters. This film emphasizes how people come together both during the holidays and during hard times; it also functions as a wonderful reminder to treat everyone with kindness, for many have personal problems of their own. This was an unexpected holiday hit and should be a classic in the years to come. 

  1. The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)

Take everything you know about the Charles Dickens’ classic A Christmas Carol and answer this: Would it not be so much better if Gonzo from The Muppets was in it? The answer? Yes. This take on a classic story accompanies Ebeneezer Scrooge, who upon treating everyone in town horribly, is visited by the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future, to learn the error of his ways. There are hundreds of movie adaptations of this tale; yet, The Muppets’ version stands out. I mean, who would not want Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, and Fozzy Bear to speak in old-timey English in a story narrated by Gonzo the Great? It is an entertaining retelling of something that may not be as entertaining on its own.

  1. A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)

Out of all these holiday classics, none are as adorable as A Charlie Brown Christmas. As the Peanuts gang tries to put on a holiday play, Charlie Brown is concerned with how materialistic Christmas has become. He tries to counteract this by buying the smallest, most fragile (and natural) tree as a prop for the gang’s play. This special is such a sweet way to celebrate the holiday season. All of the characters are so recognizable and entertaining and the special itself is a feel-good story examining how the holiday season should be. It carries a message that people should be reminded of each year. 

  1. A Christmas Story (1983)

To end this movie challenge, it is only fitting to watch the movie many cable television networks play for hours on end on Christmas Eve: A Christmas Story. The film follows a young boy named Raphie as he gets through the weeks leading up to Christmas. Ralphie wants a Red Ryder BB gun more than anything else in the world, but is met with nothing but negative feedback from everyone around him. This movie is such a classic, and for good reason: it is memorable, entertaining, and was a fantastic way to end the challenge. It is no surprise that this is the subject of many movie marathons on Christmas Eve. 

This challenge, with all its ups and downs, was extremely fun. Over these 25 days, I learned  of new movies I now love, revived my affection for older classics, and, of course, have a deeper knowledge of everything holiday. However, all things considered, I would not do this again. Good things are better when savored, and I never took the time to savor the movies I watched. With no timeline, this challenge would be regular, holly-jolly fun, but for now, the best way to watch holiday movies is on one’s own time. Happy Holidays to all, and to all a good night. 

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About the Contributor
Kerry Cullen, Driftstone Editor-in-Chief
I am a member of the Class of 2024 as well as a managing editor for Horizon. I like to write, read, sing, and act. One fun fact about me is that I love funky earrings.