1. Die Hard (1988)
How it’s Christmas: It’s Christmas Eve at Nakatomi Plaza and Bruce Willis’ John McClane just wants to spend some time with his wife. But noooooo! Alan “Stop calling me Snape” Rickman has to come and ruin it. He probably hates eggnog, too.
Best Scene: The whole thing is great, but nothing beats when Rickman’s Hans Gruber receives the, “Now I have a machine gun. Ho-Ho-Ho,” message from McClane. Yippee-ki-yay, Merry Christmas-ers!
2. Lethal Weapon (1987)
How it’s Christmas: It’s Christmas time in Los Angeles and Mel Gibson’s Martin Riggs is sad and crazy, and the only cure for him is in the form of fellow officer Roger “Too old for this shit” Murtaugh (Danny Glover). This movie is basically the template for every buddy cop movie thereafter. Plus, it’s nice to remember a time before Mel let his anti-semite flag fly.
Best Scene: When batshit Riggs makes a potential jumper actually jump by jumping with him.
3. Gremlins (1984)
How it’s Christmas: A dad gets his adult-looking son a Mogwai as a Christmas Present, because why not. However, when the adult-looking son doesn’t quite follow the rules of proper Mogwai maintenance, gremlins are made.
Best Scene: When Phoebe Cates tells the story of how her dad died. JK! That was super sad and morbid and scarred me as a child. The best scene is when Gizmo the Mogwai sings because it is cute and not scary.
4. Trading Places (1983)
How it’s Christmas: Nothing says “Christmas” better than a comedy that tackles the financial and racial inequality of early ’80s Philadelphia. Trust me, if you haven’t seen it do so right now and thank me later.
Best Scene: Where to begin? Really, any time Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy cross paths is fantastic, but Aykroyd drunk in a Santa suit truly takes the cake.
5. Die Hard 2 (1990)
How it’s Christmas: Again, it’s Christmas Eve and all John McClane wants to do is pick his wife up from the airport and probably have Christmas Eve sex/watch TV. But noooooo! Terrorists take over the airport, and blah blah blah action stuff. Things go boom.
Best Scene: When McClane escapes a plane that’s about to explode and is all, “WHY MEEEEEEE?”
6. Batman Returns (1992)
How it’s Christmas: A Christmas bedecked Gotham is getting ready for the holiday season when BAM! POW! — The Penguin, aka Oswald Cobblepot, aka Danny DeVito shows up and starts turning shit topsy-turvy. The film, although sort of dark, is still awesome and further proof that Michael Keaton was the best Batman.
Best Scene: So many, but I have to give it to Michelle Pfeiffer’s Selina Kyle, aka Catwoman, having a breakdown while kissing Keaton’s Bruce Wayne under the mistletoe. Meow-y Christmas!
7. The Ref (1994)
How it’s Christmas: This is a criminally underrated comedy AND Christmas movie. The entire cast is on top of their game, especially Denis Leary as a robber who unwittingly becomes a de facto marriage counselor to the couple he has taken hostage on Christmas Eve.
Best Scene: Whenever Gus gets frustrated by Kevin Spacey and Judy Davis as the bickering couple.
9. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)
How it’s Christmas: So, this Shane Black written/directed film noir comedy is notable because it not only is an awesome movie with great performances by Robert Downey, Jr. and Val Kilmer, but is also the second film on this list written by Black that revolves around Christmastime, the first being Lethal Weapon. But is it the last…?
Best Scene: Anytime Downey, Jr. and Kilmer banter, which is a lot.
10. Crash (2004)
How it’s Christmas: This lighthearted ensemble film takes place during the Christmas season, showcasing how the spirit of ole Saint Nick brings us all closer together through mysterious ways. J/K LOLOL! It’s a pretentious movie about race relations that was way overrated when it came out, but it makes the list because, well, Christmas.
Best Scene: When Ludacris and Larenz Tate carjack Brendan Fraser’s SUV because when remember when Brendan Fraser was in stuff?
11. Frozen River (2008)
How it’s Christmas: So it may not be a super upbeat film, or upbeat at all, but it does revolve around Christmas and two mothers doing what they have to do to take care of their families. So that is sort of holiday spirit-y, right? Even if that means smuggling illegal immigrants from Canada into the U.S. through a Native American reservation.
Best Scene: When they smuggle in the Pakistani couple. Ugh.
12. Iron Man 3 (2013)
How it’s Christmas: Shane Black and Christmas again! That makes three films he has written (or co-written, like this) that involve the Yuletide spirit. He really needs to write a movie called Merry Christmas! Now Die! starring Jason Statham and Idris Elba.
Best Scene: Duh, the whole movie is great, especially when we meet The Mandarin.