The Movie Guru: Mix up your Christmas movie collection

Jenniffer Wardell
The Movie Guru
"Arthur Christmas" stars James McAvoy as the titular Arthur, who must help his father, Santa, played by Jim Broadbent, handle an unresolved Christmas crisis.
Image courtesy of Aardman Animation

It just doesn’t seem like Christmas without certain movies, whether it’s “A Wonderful Life,” “Elf,” or “A Christmas Story.”

The problem is, holiday movie cravings can hit at pretty much any point throughout the month of December, and no matter how much we love certain holiday classics, there’s only so many times you can watch “A Charlie Brown Christmas” before even that loses its magic. If you’re looking to expand your Christmas movie itinerary this year, here are a few films that might be worth adding to the list.

‘While You Were Sleeping’

Though many people already think of this Sandra Bullock movie as a rom-com classic, a lot of people don’t remember that it’s set during the holidays. It’s sweet but not too saccharine, and some of the best scenes have a Christmas angle. If you like romances, and haven’t watched the movie for a while, December might be the perfect time to watch it again.

‘The Preacher’s Wife’ and ‘The Bishop’s Wife’

Support Local Journalism

If you like your Christmas season to have more of an angelic touch, turn to either the Cary Grant-helmed “The Bishop’s Wife” or the Denzel Washington-helmed remake. Come for the charming and attractive leading man, stay for a family rediscovering their faith and love for each other. Both movies have a touch of melancholy to them, but for some people a few tears makes happiness that much sweeter.

‘Arthur Christmas’

Though it’s never achieved the popularity of other family Christmas movies, “Arthur Christmas” is charming enough to keep both children and adults entertained. In the movie, Santa’s slightly awkward youngest son goes on an adventure to bring gifts to the one child his Dad accidentally forgot. The resulting story has both plenty of laughs and heart, and shows that the best families require all different personality types.

‘Trading Places’

This 1983 Dan Akroyd- and Eddie Murphy-starring comedy has even more of a wish-fulfillment quality in the age of Jeff Bezos. Set during the holidays, this modern take on “The Prince and the Pauper” has two fantastic comedians, John Landis’ fantastic directing, and the kind of smart social satire that helped it win several Golden Globe nominations. I won’t spoil the ending, but it definitely has its own kind of holiday cheer.

‘Lethal Weapon’

If you’re one of those people who see “Die Hard” as a Christmas classic, consider adding this one to your list. Though not nearly as perfectly constructed as “Die Hard,” the banter between Danny Glover and a before-we-knew-the-truth Mel Gibson is as pleasant and soothing as a cup of hot cocoa. There’s also a spoonful of sentimentality as Riggs finally realizes he doesn’t have to spend Christmas alone.

Jenniffer Wardell is an award-winning movie critic and member of the Denver Film Critics Society. Find her on Twitter at @wardellwriter or drop her a line at

Support Local Journalism