For the next few weeks, the IU Cinema will be dark as we spend time with our loved ones for the holidays. It’s a time for us all to take a breather as we reflect on the past year and look forward to the new one. While the Cinema’s spring schedule has not yet been completely released, there are quite a few films we think you should definitely check out as you celebrate the holidays with your own families and friends.
Below, you’ll find the movies that staff members, volunteers, and the regular blogging team hold near and dear during this time of the year. But don’t let us be the only ones sharing our favorites! Please tell us what holiday flicks you enjoy via any (or all!) of our social media accounts: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.
The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek (1944) | favorite of Jessica Davis Tagg, Events and Operations Manager
“While Preston Sturges’s The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek is often classified as a WWII comedy, the spirit of this Christmastime ‘miracle’ and its journey reminds me of all the love, hope, forgiveness, and fun of the holiday season. The film is pure zaniness, with both slapstick comedy and biting wit, as well as being a bit of escapism (who in 1944’s America did not wish for a miracle that would frustrate all the dictators of the WWII-era world!). This is a charming film I have loved for years, and it remains as funny and meaningful as ever.”
[Warning: trailer may contain some disturbing images]
Black Christmas (1974) | favorite of Austin Faulds, Volunteer Usher
“John Carpenter saw this movie and thought, ‘Hmm, a holiday movie centered around an unknown killer? Interesting.’ The rest is history. I watch this movie every Christmas day and enjoy it more and more each time. Every slasher trope you know was birthed here first, and it brings only more to the table: creative kills, three-dimensional female protagonists, pro-choice undertones, and an unforgettable soundtrack. It’s essentially a perfect film for both the holidays and for horror.”
“Stanley Kubrick’s brilliant use of Christmas iconography helps to make his last film an unlikely holiday favorite. New Yorkers can marvel at how accurately he captures the Upper West Side without ever filming there. It’s one of my favorite December films.”
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) | favorite of Laura Ivins, A Place for Film Contributor
“The Nightmare Before Christmas (Henry Selick, 1993) is one of my favorite animated films, almost as much for the craft as for the triumph of Christmas over its delightfully perverse appropriation by Halloweentown. The production and design crew took great care in crafting the world of Nightmare Before Christmas, and while it definitely feels like a Burton film, it retains enough distinctness from Beetlejuice (Tim Burton, 1988) and Edward Scissorhands (Burton, 1990) to not feel like a cliché.”
“These two films, as well as Frosty the Snowman (which I always liked the least), remind me of my childhood—as I’m sure they do for many others. As I’ve grown older and my love of film history has grown I’ve learned to appreciate these stop-motion animated films (originally television specials) for much more than their attached holiday memories.”
Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence (1983) | favorite of Yeeseon Chae, Volunteer Usher
“Not only is David Bowie beautiful and amazing in the film, it’s also a strange but memorable movie about regret and humanity. It makes me feel sharply nostalgic even though none of the events actually happened in my own life. There’s something new every time I watch it and the ending scene will always make me cry.”
Note: trailer can be found here.
Batman Returns (1992) | favorite of David Carter, A Place for Film Contributor
“I’m less and less enthused about holidays that don’t end in ‘-ween’ as I get older so I tend to flock to more melancholy, cynical or Christmas-adjacent movies during this time of year. However, I do enjoy fun so I humbly present to you Tim Burton’s tights and fights masterpiece Batman Returns, a movie that’s brimming with pop-y gothic production design, great casting (DeVito and Pffeifer kill in this movie), and the director’s unfiltered, um…id (it’s a very thirsty Batman movie). Also it’s sub-textually about orphans and outcasts looking for kinship and connection on the holidays. That I can relate to.”
Meet Me in St. Louis (1944) | favorite of Nathaniel Sexton, A Place for Film Contributor and Volunteer Usher
“Judy Garland and supporting cast are perfect in this 1944 classic Vincente Minnelli yuletide (and other tides) familial drama, low-key musical, bittersweet meditation on the love of one’s home, and an endlessly rewarding time capsule and holiday myth-making machine. The song ‘Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,’ now an established Christmas classic, was first introduced in Minnelli’s movie, sung by a wistful Judy Garland, leaning into the sill of a snowy window. It’s a beautiful song and a painfully beautiful moment, set toward the end of a truly remarkable Hollywood holiday movie. Lots of feeling, lots of meticulously designed mise-en-scène, and a movie I saw for the first time, unforgettably, at the IU Cinema near Christmastime, 2013!”
Bachelor Mother (1939) | favorite of Michaela Owens, A Place for Film Editor and Volunteer Usher
“If you think Ginger Rogers’s career started and ended with her partnership with Fred Astaire, a film like Bachelor Mother is proof of how wrong you are. Ginger absolutely shines as shop girl Polly Parrish, who is mistaken for the mother of an abandoned baby she found. While Polly deals with sudden parenthood, she also finds herself falling for her boss, a hilariously clueless David Niven. Although it can be frustrating to watch all of the male characters foist their idealization of motherhood on Polly, it’s thrilling to see her thriving in her own way with her sharp wit and sparkling humor intact. I’d also wager that Bachelor Mother has one of the best New Year’s Eve sequences you’ll ever see.”