10 Movies to See on Christmas Day

The old conventional wisdom that people who don’t celebrate Christmas eat Chinese food and go to the movies on December 25 isn’t true anymore. According to my anecdotal research, everyone—even those who unwrapped Santa’s presents hours before—hits the multiplex on Christmas. But what should you see, and who should go with you? Here, our culture editor offers her (subjective) guide to this year’s Christmas movies.

1) For locovores:

The Wolf of Wall Street

Were your holiday party guests all bragging about how they supported local agriculture and economy in some way with their potluck dishes? Don’t let them have all the bragging rights. You can bring that spirit to your movie choice, too. Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street filmed all over the County last year—you can see a shot of the village of Ardsley in the trailer for a split-second, when they show the exterior of an auto-body shop—making it the number-one choice of locals. Although, to be honest, it looks completely awesome and it’d be my most anticipated Christmas movie even if they’d filmed it in Guam. 

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2) For those who want to keep it classy over New Year’s Eve:

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues

Ron Burgundy, oh how we’ve missed you. Pretty much anything Will Ferrell says or does cracks me up on its own, and he’s got Kristen Wiig, Sacha Baron Cohen, Tina Fey, and Amy Poehler in the cast for his Anchorman sequel (in addition to Paul Rudd, Steve Carell, David Koechner, and Christina Applegate returning from the first one)—it’s almost too many comedians for one movie. 

3) For the kids:

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There are a few movies competing for your kids’ attention (see also: Walking with Dinosaurs), but Disney outdoes itself once again with a grand spectacle that packs both action-oriented heroes and plucky princesses into one wintry tale. I don’t automatically advocate for seeing movies in 3D, but Frozen‘s 3D is worth the extra money (especially during the animated short they show before the movie, which makes very clever use of the 3D). 

4) For the ex-hippies and current hipsters in your family:

Inside Llewyn Davis

It’s the Greenwich Village folk music scene as only the Coen Brothers can present it. NPR reports that this movie’s title character was inspired by Dave Van Ronk and his autobiography, The Mayor of MacDougal Street. But the Coen Brothers (Fargo, The Big Lebowski) are rarely that cut-and-dried, and they’re sure to put their own spin on the scene. Bonus: You might want to buy the stuff a folk fan’s stocking with the movie’s soundtrack—featuring Marcus Mumford, the Punch Brothers, and Justin Timberlake—which is poised to be big the way the Coens’ O Brother Where Art Thou? soundtrack was.  

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5) For the teens:

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Assuming your teens have already seen The Hunger Games: Catching Fire—maybe multiple times?—over Thanksgiving, show them the precursor to all the epic YA fantasy they can’t get enough of. This is the middle installment of Peter Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy, and it’s got all the elves, dwarves, and wizards a teen could ask for (plus a Hobbit and some orcs thrown in for good measure). Benedict Cumberbatch, everyone’s favorite Sherlock Holmes, did motion-capture to become Smaug, the dragon.  

6) For those who are still talking about Silver Linings Playbook:

American Hustle

Silver Linings Playbook stars Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence re-team with Playbook director David O. Russell for a movie based on the FBI Abscam case that took place during the ’70s and ’80s. (I really can’t get over the ’70s outfits in this trailer.) Rooting for Russell is also rooting for the home team, since he grew up here and went to Mamaroneck High School. 

7) For your returning college English majors:

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

Sure, Ben Stiller’s adaptation of James Thurber’s short story won’t help your returning college students write any papers—he’s taken too many artistic liberties for that—but maybe it’ll inspire them to crack open the books while they’re on break. Or, after they see some of the gorgeous images Stiller was able to dream up, they might just switch their majors to film.

8) For the family member who couldn’t put the iPhone away during dinner:


Written and directed by Spike Jonze, director of Adaptation and Being John Malkovich, Her tells the tale of a man (Joaquin Phoneix), who falls in love with a virtual operating system. Sound like anyone you know? Then again, when the OS has a voice that sounds like Scarlett Johansson, how can you not be charmed? 

9) For the grandparents:

Saving Mr. Banks

Who knew that the author of Mary Poppins was so prickly? Apparently, the adaptation of the book into the Julie Andrews classic we all know and love was a fraught process. But even the coldest heart is no match for Mr. Walt Disney—played by most-trusted-man-in-America Tom Hanks, with an awesome mustache—and chances are your grandparents will be charmed, too. 

10) For those who are sick of holiday cheer:

August: Osage County

Warning: I have seen the stage play of August: Osage County, and it is not the family comedy that the trailer makes it out to be. It’s actually brutally bleak. It’s possible they softened it up a little for the movie, but that would be like putting a pink bow on a pit bull and calling it a lap dog. But if you’re looking for the anti-It’s a Wonderful Life, this is probably it.


The Wolf of Wall Street photo (c) 2013 Paramount Pictures. All Rights Reserved.

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