This is the time of year for highbrow films — the important biopics, historical dramas and epic journeys that earn actors lots of Oscar nominations. But it’s also a time for cozy nostalgia. A time to lounge around with family and friends, stay in pajamas all day and watch a comforting holiday movie, whether it’s “Miracle on 34th Street” or “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”
With that in mind, we asked a variety of San Diegans to share their go-to holiday movies. Here’s what they’ll be watching this season. (Unless otherwise noted, these titles are available to buy or rent on iTunes, Amazon and YouTube.)
Co-host of the “Cantore Show” on 100.7 San Diego
My favorite holiday movie that I have on repeat each year is “A Christmas Story,” but not for the reasons you may think. Beyond the holiday festiveness and family antics, what I really love and keep going back for are the Bumpus Hounds! As a bloodhound lover, I know how hard it is to train them and really get them to do anything unless they want to do it, and the scene where they eat the turkey and run away on cue is hilarious and relatable as something that my hounds have done to me. In full disclosure, I’m not the biggest movie lover out there (subtext: I can barely sit still for five minutes of any movie). But throw in some gorgeous bloodhounds acting up and you’ve got a fan! (TBS brings back its annual “A Christmas Story” marathon starting at 8 p.m. Dec. 24.)
Artistic director at Pacific Arts Movement
Holiday movies are usually defined by family togetherness, warm feelings or miracles of the spiritual order. But sometimes they’re about visual splendor — that immersion of lights and night skies that bleed together everyday lives with fantastical worlds. Tom Lin’s “Starry Starry Night” adapts a famous Taiwanese graphic novel about two kids slipping into a wondrous forest. Unfolding like a dream of carols, old toys and grandparents’ wisdom, the film is like waking up bleary-eyed on Christmas morning, the world sparkling anew. (DVD available for purchase on Amazon.)
Director at Allied Global Marketing
It is not Christmas until we are all bundled up on the couch with a fire going, drinking hot cocoa and watching “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” (Jim Carrey version). And I think this particular version is the best example of true holiday spirit that kids can understand — the joy of Christmas comes from giving, kindness and loving each other. (Streaming on Netflix.)
Curator at Digital Gym Cinema
I spend my holiday breaks indulging in film-watching marathons featuring beloved classics and brand new discoveries. In keeping with this tradition, I’ll be viewing my personal favorite films from the late, great Agnès Varda. “Varda by Agnès,” Vardas’ final documentary, offers a self-reflective journey through the multidecade career of this indefatigable and revolutionary French artist, making it the perfect holiday gift for all cinephiles. (Screens at Digital Gym Cinema starting Dec. 20.)
After lighting the Hanukkah candles, every year my family and I love to watch “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.” It makes us laugh every time, and is one of the only movies to keep my dad’s attention the whole way through. We can practically recite the whole script by now!
Actor in “Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” at the Old Globe
A favorite holiday film for me is Tim Burton’s “The Nightmare Before Christmas.” It’s an absolutely gorgeous musical, be it in your ear or on a screen. I’m a Jack Skellington type of guy, always trying to celebrate life every day. This film reminds me to have the fullest heart and most joyful intentions, from Halloween to Christmas, as well as every other day of the year!
KPBS arts reporter and film critic
My son and I have a tradition on Christmas of watching action films set during the holidays and you’d be surprised how many there are. The go-to choice is always the first “Die Hard” film: Bruce Willis in top form, an irresistible Alan Rickman as the villain and plenty of bloody Christmas cheer. But we usually like to also throw in a Shane Black film because he seems to set every film of his at Christmas so you can choose from “Lethal Weapon,” “Long Kiss Goodnight” or “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.” We sometimes throw in “I Come in Peace” since my son loves Dolph Lundgren. Sometimes we stay up all night watching these. It’s some nice mother-son bonding time. I even started to write an action movie version of “The 12 Days of Christmas” song … but that might not be for everyone. Here’s the opening line, “On the first day of Christmas Shane Black sent to me, the first ‘Lethal Weapon’ movie.”