The week between Christmas and New Year’s is a No Man’s Land, a forgotten time-lapse filled with returns, leftovers, and for many, the last gasp of unused PTO. Of course, after 10 months of pandemic lockdown, everyday kind of feels like, oh, I don’t know, December 28th? But if you’re feeling the post-Christmas, pre-New Year’s blues here’s a bunch of movies to help you fill the vortex of this lost week.
Christmas (and Christmas adjacent) movies
Who says you can’t watch a Christmas movie just because it’s not Christmas anymore? Take that eggnog hangover, which sounds disgusting and very viscus, plop your cute little butt down and watch some of these less-immediately considered Christmas movies.
Unlike Die Hard, Batman Returns is less a Christmas movie, and more a Christmas adjacent movie: the events of the film take place during around Christmas, not because of it. But literally, LOL, it could not possibly matter less. Anyway, watch the best Batman movie. Despite being somewhat dark, it works for the whole family. Michelle Pfeiffer’s Catwoman acts as a sexual awakening for literally everyone.
This one is dicey. I used to love this pitch-black comedy about a cat burglar, holding two disgruntled marrieds captive as they host their awful family, including early-Christine Baranski. However, the Kevin Spacey of it all has kept me away from re-watching, as well as, the question of how well this movie has aged beyond the inclusion of any sexual predators. If I’m being honest, I put this movie on the list so someone would watch it and report back to me.
Better Watch Out
Better Watch Out comes for that Krampus crown as the definitive Christmas Horror-Comedy. The movie, about a kid and his babysitter during Christmas time, has too many twists and turns to spoil, but let’s just say there’s a spin on one of the most iconic Christmas movie scenes that blew my mind. Truly haunting stuff. When this film goes dark, it goes coal black.
Long Kiss Goodnight
Over the years, this bat-shit crazy Shane Black-written, Renny Harlin-directed movie about an amnesiac Geena Davis who may or may not be an assassin has become forgotten. We’ve got to fix that. Yes, some of it is pretty mid-90’s dated (This was two years before Will & Grace, so like, everyone is saying the f-word). But Samuel L. Jackson is giving great sidekick, the movie has 10 endings, including one where Geena Davis tells Craig Bierko to suck her dick, and the most iconic vodka shot scene in cinema history.
Really just watch that one scene where the ladies celebrate Christmas for Jennifer Lopez dressed in all white Santa Regalia. But then watch this whole movie because it’s brilliant.
Not New Year’s Movies
I can’t in good conscious recommend Garry Marshall’s New Year’s Eve, and I have, somewhat inexplicably, never seen horror classic New Year’s Evil, so if you’re sick of re-watching the season 2 New Year’s Eve episode of The O.C., here are a few flicks where New Year’s plays a pivotal role.
When Harry Met Sally…
Canonically, I’d categorize When Harry Met as a fall movie, which is based on a feeling. And ::extreme Matt Rogers on Las Culturistas voice:: feelings can be facts, sometimes. However the pivotal scene of When Harry Met Sally’s occurs at a New Year’s Eve party with one of the very best cinematic declarations of love. A perfect film.
I just watched this movie for the first time thanks to the This Had Oscar Buzz podcast. Shocking because, well, Rachel McAdams. Domhnall Gleeson’s time-travel prone Tim meets future-wife McAdams’s Mary at a New Year’s Eve party that pops up again (and again) throughout the film. It’s from the same director as Love, Actually, so if you’re jonesing for some more borderline-creepy-in-the-name-of-love behavior from lanky, pale, British men, About Time is totally for you.
Waiting to Exhale
A year in the lives of characters played by Angela Bassett, Whitney Houston, Lela Rochon, and Loretta Devine is punctuated by New Year’s. Come for the complicated, profound friendships and Babyface produced Shoop-spawning soundtrack. Stay for what should’ve been Angela Bassett’s third Oscar nomination. And, of course, the scene.
The Poseidon Adventure
This disaster movie actually does take place on New Year’s Eve. There are few pleasures more pure than watching wayward reverend Gene Hackman attempt to get his dwindling flock of survivors to safety on an overturned, sinking cruise ship. One of those members is the incomparable Shelley Winters, who was Oscar-nominated for her role as the gang’s most unexpected deep-sea diver.
While You Were Sleeping
While You Were Sleeping should be more canonically appreciated as both a cozy holiday film and a top-tier romcom. While the movie is def more Christmas vibes, my favorite scene takes place on New Year’s Eve. It’s the saddest, most forlorn moment in an otherwise frothy romp, speaking directly to my soul.
Bridget Jones’s Diary
Another movie book-ended by New Year’s, but in this one, Renee Zellweger lip syncs to All By Myself with such fervor, such Judy-esque zeal she falls off the couch. 10/10 would recommend.
Get cozy for the week with these freezing cold movies.
I’ve already one on record for my love of another snowy Stephen King adaption, so you can read all about my feelings on Misery here. The Shining is about going mad after being trapped with your family for months on end. I don’t know, maybe some of you can relate to this topic?
Do something I never could: watch this movie. Unlike me, you’ll be thrust into the frozen tundra and see Leonardo DiCaprio’s Oscar-winning performance. I just can’t do it, you guys. I saw the trailer; I saw the Oscar clip. I get it.
There’s no real proof that this is a winter movie, but there are so many scarves and fireplaces and, Chris Evans inventing cable-knit sweaters. And it’s so, so good. Watch it.
I would absolutely consider a kidnapping/murder scheme if I knew for sure that Marge Gunderson would be the one chasing me through the titular snowy city in North Dakota. I’m not saying I’d woodchip someone, but I mean, for Marge Gunderson? Who knows! The Coen Brothers Oscar breakthrough and potential third-time Best Actress winner Frances McDormand’s first Academy Award were both well-earned in this absolute banger of a dark comedy thriller.
If you have kids under the age of eight, you’ve probably thrown your phone/tablet/laptop out the window at the mere suggestion of watching this movie. If you don’t, it’s a pretty fun, icy movie about female empowerment and also fuck boys who will tell you exactly what you want to hear just so they can steal your kingdom. I’m fine. It’s fine.
The War of the Roses
I think some of this movie does, in fact, take place in winter and/or the holiday season, but mostly this is on the list because dammmmmmmmmn these folks are ice cold.
I don’t know what it is about the holidays, but they make me want to sing and dance and cry and also put on musicals that will make me forget about any kind of reality. The time between Christmas and New Year’s is prime time for this kind of escapism.
(You should also watch Postcards from the Edge, my own personal New Year’s tradition, which has musical elements but is not a musical)
Tired of being cooped up at home? Transport yourself to 1900 Paris to watch impossibly beautiful Nicole Kidman, and Ewan McGregor tragically falling in love, anachronistically scored by The Policeand Elton John. I promise it’s good for what ails you. Unless what ails you is consumption. Then you’re fucked.
Is Chicago the most imminently rewatchable movie of all-time? Maybe. It’s also one of the best-ever Best Picture winners, so you could do a lot worse than spending 2 hours with murderous Velma Kelly and Roxie Hart (yeah, that’s the billing I went with) and tap-dancing lawyer Billy Flynn. It also takes place in the city of duh, Chicago, which always feels like winter.
It’s the first anniversary of the paw-ful cat-astrophic meow-sical which spawned a million different puns. I can’t recommend it enough. If you have a digestif (An edible; I’m talking about edibles, everyone), pop it and watch the beautiful disaster that is Cats. Do it for me, do it for Jason DeRulo’s CGI-erased bulge. Do it for the human hands and Judi Dench’s wedding ring. My third Rowdy screening of Cats was probably my last social engagement last year, so make it your last fever dream of 2020.
Speaking of James Corden ruining movies, Ryan Murphy’s adaptation of The Prom dropped on Netflix a few weeks ago. The film is about a gang of self-centered Broadway stars descending on a small Indiana town that has banned a teen lesbian from taking her girlfriend to the titular big dance. It’s also about the damage James Corden can inflict, Meryl Streep’s limitations as a singer, and Nicole Kidman’s zazz. It is fairly bad. But I’ve also watched it three times. So maybe I’m bad? Both things can be true.
Rocky Horror Picture Show
Because there is literally no bad time to watch Rocky Horror Picture Show.
Epics & Film Series
If you’re off work during the week between Christmas and New Year, your time might normally be filled with seeing friends, planning or traveling for New Year’s, and returning gifts because “these sweatpants are all that fit me right now.” This year, however, you have plenty of time on your hands, babe. You’re not going anywhere. You saved up all that PTO for what? A trip to Couchville. So why not watch something that takes longer than an episode of The Wilds (PSA: Watch The Wilds on Amazon Prime):
The Godfather Trilogy
The Godfather ever hear of it? The first two are stone-cold three-hour classics so hunker down. Plus, Part II’s most famous scene happens to be a kiss at a New Year’s party. Unfortunately, that kiss is one of death between Michael and his brother, Fredo. Plus, Frances Ford Coppola has released something called The Godfather Coda, which purportedly fixes the many problems in the third film’s initial cut. There’s no better time to keep up with the Corleones.
The Lord of the Rings Trilogy
From Fredo to Frodo. You’ve got the time to take a trip to Middle Earth to watch your favorite elves, dwarfs, hobbits, and men (so many men) on a seemingly endless journey to restore capital-G Good in the world. If you’re a gay missing Mykonos, Puerta Vallarta, or Palm Springs for New Year’s, just know this whole 10-hour film series is one, long homoerotic romp through cruising areas to fight a problematic butthole in the sky by destroying a piece of ugly jewelry.
(Recommendation: Watch this – and the next entry – alongside Lauren Lapkus and Nicole Byers’s Newcomers podcast. You won’t be sorry.)
I just re-watched all these movies, so here it goes:
- Return of the Jedi
- The Empire Strikes Back
- The Last Jedi
- A New Hope
- Force Awakens
- Revenge of the Sith
- Phantom Menace
- Rise of Skywalker
- Attack of the Clones
Watch them and fight me! But also don’t because I don’t really care about the Star Wars movies.
The Hunger Games
It’s shocking how little we talk about The Hunger Games, considering they were all we talked about for, like, five years. Are these movies still good? Were they ever good? Someone let me know!
Time Loop Movies
These past few months – and the week starting December 26th – can feel a bit like a time-warp. Here are some movies with characters experiencing something very much the same as you reorganizing your pantry for the 11th time or staring at the ceiling of your childhood bedroom for hours on end.
Wanna end the season by watching a movie about another, equally important holiday? Groundhog Day is Bill Murray’s finest performance as a self-absorbed weatherman trapped on February 2nd until he can learn to stop being a dick.
Edge of Tomorrow
the movie that really should’ve earned Emily Blunt her first Oscar nomination. Tom Cruise is a spineless military bureaucrat who gets trapped in an endless war with aliens, dying and resetting to fight another day, much to his chagrin. Blunt is the kick-ass soldier who is the real hero. The best Tom Cruise movie of the last 15 years.
Happy Death Day
I need someone to sign a legally binding document stating that Jessica Rothe will start popping up in more things. She is star-making in this horror-comedy about a sorority girl reliving her murder over and over again until she can solve it. By December 30th, that might seem like a dream come true.
Last January, when we fully expected to have a functioning society in 2020, Palm Springs became the biggest Sundance acquisition of all-time by (tee-hee) .69 cents. And you can see how it could’ve been a sleeper summer hit for NEON with its charming leads and genuinely funny take on the old we’re stuck in a time-loop formula. So, if you’re looking for a film that speaks to your boredom and has JK Simmons hunting Andy Samberg with a bow and arrow, catch-up on one of the best films of the year.
Speaking of catch-up, yeah, you could also use this time to finally watch many of this year’s most lauded films (this is Awards Watch, after all): Mank, Let Them All Talk, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Da 5 Bloods, Ammonite, Another Round, The Assistant, Never Rarely Sometimes Always, First Cow, I’m Thinking of Ending Things, The Nest, Shirley, Small Axe, Hamilton or Soul are all streaming. But you have such precious little on this Earth and/or away from work – do you really want to spend it watching The Trial of the Chicago 7?