The finest, festive films for your holidays

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20th Century Fox/1990

There’s no better time to plan yourself a merry little marathon than with winter break nearly nipping at your nose. And sure, you could go traditional with A Christmas Story or Eight Crazy Nights, but the following features (while perhaps radical) are the surest way to truly soak up the season.

Misery (1990): Far too many people make the mistake of contracting holly-jolly-itis long before the holidays. So instead, try snuggling up in your favorite flannel to the tune of this classic Stephen King thriller. There will be snow, there will be blood, and—thanks to the splendid Kathy Bates—there will also be plenty of misery.

Edward Scissorhands (1990): This carefully constructed fantasy, rendered by the ever-twisted Tim Burton, speaks to viewers of love, acceptance and a lack thereof. Its protagonist, Edward (here played by Johnny Depp), is the strapping, sensitive and nearly complete creation of a now dead inventor. But when brought out of isolation by a tenacious suburbanite, he must learn how to function in “modern” society.

How The Grinch Stole Christmas (2000): A live-action rendition of the Dr. Suess tale, this film is hilarious, festive and utterly odd. An orphaned creature, played by the incredibly animated Jim Carey, plots to destroy the town and season that ruined his childhood. Throw in a bit of song and a pre-sewer grunge Taylor Momsen, and you’ve got this sensational, season piece.

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005): Based on C.S. Lewis’s famous novel, this movie follows four children who have been evacuated from their war-torn home. While in hiding, the children discover a portal to a fantasy land which, while absolutely wonderful, is just as dangerous as the country from which they’d fled. It’s cinematically gorgeous, chock-full of painfully gorgeous effects, and, above all, does great justice to its eponymous source novel.

Pride and Prejudice (2005): While this film may have literally nothing to do with the holidays and, in fact, might not even contain any snow, it’s still a seasonal cinema essential. Why? Because there’s literally nothing better than worming your way into a mound of blankets and watching a monumentally glorious romance unfold. It’s the ultimate will-they-won’t-they, with the added bonus of period costuming.

Harry Potter and the…etc. (2001–2011): If you have a lot of time, a lot of snacks and magic on your mind, this film set could be a lovely from-me-to-me gift. There are feasts, beasts, friendship—and a plethora of heartfelt holiday scenes.

The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993): I’m probably not qualified to declare this as the best movie of all time, but I would say it’s fairly safe to call it the most satisfying Halloween and Christmas mashup movie in existence. This claymation marvel, also produced by Tim Burton, follows the dead-life crisis of Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King of Halloween Town. And beyond being one of few animated holiday features to leave you feeling sane, it’s family-friendly, musically marvelous and guaranteed to creep its way into your spooky little heart.

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