The Redux Holiday Movie Guide

By C. Glen Bellamy and Aaron Zundel

Yes, the holidays are just around the corner and admit it, you’re still looking for that perfect Christmas movie to quell the inevitable droll and anger that ensues following a bout of forced Yuletide cheer.

Well, Redux has you covered: We’ve compiled a list of veritable holiday movie treats that are perfect for everyone. So, whether you’re a do-gooding, no nonsense, suicidal businessman (“It’s a Wonderful Life”) or gun-toting badass mo-fo (“Die Hard”), we have the movies you’ll need.

Eggnog not included.

FOR THE SAP IN ALL OF US

“It’s a Wonderful Life,” directed by Frank Capra

It’s a cliché. It’s a sacred cow. You want to get sick of it, but when it comes to NBC on that special Sunday night, you’ll watch it anyway.

Mainly because it has earned its place in film history as one of the all-time classics. Watching it again — especially in the cynical 21st Century — it’s remarkable how delicate a balancing act it is. It could easily slip into manipulative dreck, but Capra and Stewart manage to keep us fully engrossed in the terrible plight of our protagonist.

What some people forget — since this is so well-known as an uplifting movie — is how dark it is, pretty much from start to finish. This isn’t about things working out in the end or the magical light of the Christmas spirit. It’s an in-depth exploration of a man in crisis at his most utterly hopeless. The happy resolution isn’t just formula — it’s a much-needed catharsis.

C.B.

FOR THE ANGRY LOST SOUL WHO CANNOT BE LOVED

“Bad Santa,” directed by Terry Zwigoff

Do you think George Bailey would have been better off if he’d gotten slobbering drunk, held up a liquor store with a sawed-off shotgun, went to a nudie bar to take out some sexual aggression left by his torpid wife, then went on a violent, bloody rampage, found that crook Mr. Potter and gone all Patrick Bateman on his ass, before throwing himself into a lake?

If so, then Billy Bob Thornton’s drunk, crooked department-store Santa is your guy — not Jimmy Stewart. “Bad Santa” is one of the most uproarious comedies of recent years, an astounding demonstration of conviction on the part of director Terry Zwigoff. No one learns an important lesson at the end. Characters don’t turn their lives around. Willie (Thornton) isn’t really a great guy underneath. How refreshing, when we’re force-fed the same sentimental crap every year, that a movie has the guts to savagely attack everything merry and hopeful in favor of a middle-aged alcoholic who beats up kids, drinks on the job, embezzles money and nearly gets raped by a homeless man in a department-store parking lot before proceeding to nail a woman with a Santa fetish.

Oh, and you also get to hear the late John Ritter say “F*** stick.”

C.B.

FOR THE MISANTHROPE

“The Ice Harvest,” directed by Harold Ramis

As if “Bad Santa” weren’t misanthropic and mean-spirited enough, right?

Depressed around the holidays? Isolated from your four-parent family, dwindling career prospects and the cold, oppressive darkness of another harsh winter in the Midwest?

Hate the commercialization of Christmas? See the holidays as just another way for Big Christmas, that wicked mafia, to take your hard-earned dime and run with it? Then you’ll understand why Charlie (John Cusack) wants to steal a load of cash and get out of town. “The Ice Harvest” is a dark comedy at its heart but is surprisingly poignant in its bleak portrait of a lost American dream.

C.B.

FOR THE QUIET TEENAGER WHO’S SUDDENLY STARTED WEARING MAKEUP AND DRESSING ALL IN BLACK, BUT IS PROBABLY JUST GOING THROUGH A PHASE

“The Nightmare Before Christmas,” directed by Henry Selick

It’s debatable whether this is a Halloween movie or a Christmas movie and it seems to get re-released every year now, and it’s become frustratingly trendy all of a sudden — but “The Nightmare Before Christmas” remains one of the most vibrant and creative concoctions of Tim Burton’s career — and that’s saying something.

C.B.

FOR THE PRISON INMATE IN YOUR LIFE

“Stalag 17,” directed by Billy Wilder

Not commonly associated with the Christmas crowd because, you know, prison isn’t really all that uplifting, Billy Wilder’s masterpiece “Stalag 17” is set around the holiday season in a German POW camp during World War II.

Instead of being at home with their families or out fighting the good fight, the American protagonists are stuck in prison — and fighting amongst themselves as they try to uncover the identity of a Nazi spy in their midst. The always-insightful Wilder finds humanity in the warmth of small moments and great performances from the likes of William Holden and Otto Preminger.

C.B.

FOR THE INNER CHILD

“A Christmas Story,” directed by Bob Clark

Everybody remembers at least one Christmas when they spent the entire month of December hoping and praying for that special Christmas toy. If you didn’t, you’re either a) from a home where Christmas trees were replaced by Menorahs or b) a spoiled little bitch.

Mine was Christmas 1988. I wanted an 8-bit Nintendo. I didn’t get it, and I’m still bitter. You hear that, Ma? STILL BITTER! Enough about me.

Sans a yellow-eyed Scott Farkus, an Ovaltine decoder ring and a sexy plastic leg lamp, Ralphie’s Christmas quest for his legendary Red Ryder BB Gun (with a compass in the stock!) rings true for the inner child in all of us.

Then again, maybe the reason to watch “A Christmas Story” has less to do with unfulfilled childhood fantasies and more to do with sextastic plastic lamps. Really, who doesn’t love net stockings?

A.Z.

FOR THE PARANOID NON-CONFORMIST

“Brazil,” directed by Terry Gilliam

This is probably the biggest stretch on the entire list — but Christmas does play a part…if only Harry Buttle were still alive to celebrate with his wife and kids.

Of course, Gilliam’s now-legendary “Brazil” isn’t a Christmas fable at all, but a scathing satire on bureaucratic society and an absurdist look at plastic surgery, authoritarian rule and paperwork.

Oh, and Christmas, too.

C.B.

FOR THE ALPHA MALE

“Jingle All the Way,” directed by Brian Levant

Because Arnold Schwarzenegger will kick your scrawny ass and save the world, that’s why. I find it healthy to think about Arnie at least twice a day. Keeps me manly. You should do the same.

If nothing else, this film is a lesson we should all never forget: If you want a toy for Christmas, no matter how expensive, no matter how popular, no matter how sold-out, no matter how hard-to-get, Schwarzenegger will get it for you!

Why? Because he’s a damn good father, that’s why. And a damn fine American.

C.B.

FOR THE DISENCHANTED YOUNG PROFESSIONAL AND/OR TARANTINO WANNABE AND/OR PEOPLE NICKNAMED THE GRENADE

“Go,” directed by Doug Liman

It starts on Christmas Eve and, in Tarantino-esque form, tells three parallel narratives all centered around a doomed drug deal. “Go” is unabashedly too hip for its own good but an underrated gem all the same. It features one of the most brilliant surprise payoffs I’ve ever seen in a movie scene.

C.B.

FOR THE WEEKEND WARRIOR

“Die Hard,” directed by John McTiernan

On the surface, “Die Hard” might not seem like the type of movie to be viewed on the day commemorating our Savior’s birth — but au contraire, you narrow-minded, holly-hanging sissy. “Die Hard” has everything a movie needs to place it firmly into the annals of Christmas canon. It’s got machine guns, Christmas carols, explosions, a Santa hat and eggnog.

Wreck the halls, motherf*****.

A.Z.

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