A vacation is a great time to find a new favorite holiday movie or album. Whether you're curled up in front of a TV or sitting in the car heading over some river and through random woods, a film or set of tunes always helps. And we've got some good ones for you.
If you're not feeling the holidays right now, or just don't want to watch Christmas movies or listen to holiday tunes, no worries. We've got plenty of other good stuff for you at the link below.
The Nightmare Before Christmas
Recommended by Jez Corden, gaming editor
If you're feeling Christmassy but you're also wondering how Halloween came and went so quickly, maybe this is the movie for you!
Nightmare before Christmas is a classic Halloween-Christmas mashup cartoon directed by Tim Burton. Stop motion animation meets incredible music to create what is arguably one of the best movies ever made. If you haven't seen it, 'tis the season.
Recommended by Rich Edmonds, staff reviewer
Did you know Kevin Bacon and Phil Collins starred in a movie loosely based on real events? Produced by Spielberg's animation studio, Balto follows the adventures of a wolf-dog hybrid of the same name who resides on the outskirts of Nome and is shunned by dogs and humans alike.
Many children are suddenly struck by diphtheria and medicine is unavailable via traditional routes, leading to a competition to see which dogs are the fastest to get the contract. Balto competes but is disqualified by Steele, an Alaskan Malamute. The dogs on said team enter difficulties on the way back, leading to Balto risking his life to venture out to locate them.
National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation
Recommended by Cale Hunt, staff writer
This classic movie seems to have become an essential part of my family's holiday tradition, no doubt due to the Griswolds exhibiting so many traits in common with regular people everywhere. The stress of money, the wacky visiting relates, the lightshow to compete with the rest of the neighborhood, and, of course, the good times had by all are heartwarming in their own way, and I don't remember a year that's gone by without at least catching most of this movie.
A Christmas Story
This one is a holiday classic, and I don't think I've gone a year without watching it in at least a decade. I've even got the movie's iconic leg lamp as a Christmas ornament on my tree.
A Christmas Story follows a boy named Ralphie and his quest to receive his one Christmas wish: a Red Ryder BB gun. But it's so much more than that. Full of lovable comedy, this movie has so many classic moments, ranging from one of Ralphie's friends getting his tongue stuck to a metal pole, to the sight of a surly mall santa and his elves callously pushing Ralphie down a slide after he gets tongue-tied and forgets what he wanted to ask for.
I assume everyone has seen this flick at least once, but if you haven't, it's definitely one worth checking out as Christmas approaches.
The Night Before
Recommended by Al Sacco, managing editor
Every year, I have a set of Christmas 'classics' I start watching again just after Thanksgiving. I use the term classics lightly because most folks would hardly consider my picks worthy of that classification. But I love each and every one of them, including The Night Before.
It's the story of a group of friends who grow up, and grow away from each other, but who still make it a point to get together and celebrate every Christmas. And every year, they hunt down the location of the illustrious and elusive 'Nutcracker Ball,' a crazy and excessive party that's super-secret and legendary. When they accidentally find a few tickets to the party, they also find themselves in for a Christmas that's crazier than ever before.
The film is Apatowian in its humor, and it features regular Apatow contributor Seth Rogen, along with Joseph Gordon-Levitt. It's nothing deep by any means, but it's quite funny, and definitely worth a watch if you haven't seen it — or even if you, like me, have seen many times.
Christmas with Weezer — Weezer
Recommended by Al Sacco, managing editor
Weezer probably isn't the band you think of when you think of Christmas music. And that's exactly why this album is great. It features some unique, '90s-alternative takes on the classics. And it's genuinely excellent. I like some of Weezer's take better than the originals. For example, I can barely even listen to the original version of soupy-sappy religious-oriented Christmas tunes, such as 'O Come All Ye Faithful.' But for some reason, Weezer makes them much more palatable. Some Christmas albums by well-known bands are just awkward, and, well … not good. This is a rare exception, and it's established itself as a mainstay in my holiday playlist each year. Check it out. Do it.
Christmas Songs - Bad Religion
Recommended by Richard Devine, reviews editor
Our Managing Editor Al Sacco recommended this already last week. But it's so good, I'm recommending it again.
Christmas carols are cool and all, but you know what makes a festive sing-a-long even better? Punk rock. Every Christmas without fail I break out Bad Religion's take on some of the top carols, because guitars make everything sound 1000% better. Even (one of) my kids love it.
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