AFS Must-See Holiday Watch List: Staff and Fan Picks

It’s that time of the season to grab a warm drink, cozy up, and watch holiday classics with your loved ones. We asked the AFS staff what their go-to holiday films are for this season. Read on below to hear what they had to say. In addition to our staff, we polled our Instagram followers for their favorites, too. Did your favorite not make the list? Be sure to tell us on Facebook or Instagram what’s missing!
Join us at the AFS Cinema for our holiday film series, Home for the Holidays, December 22-31. This year’s film selections include FANNY AND ALEXANDER, THE APARTMENT, MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS, and the quintessential classic IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE.
Looking for the perfect holiday gift for your favorite film fan? Give them the gift of an AFS membership and you’ll receive a Golden Ticket!

And here they are…

Yolanda Gamble, Youth Media Specialist

  • NATIONAL LAMPOON CHRISTMAS VACATION: This movies brings back so many nostalgic memories for me. As a kid, my family would watch it all together and laugh at the same parts. This film captures so beautifully the joy, insanity, and warmth of the holiday season.
  • ELF: For me, it’s a holiday classic. The film is so simple and innocent. There is such a genuine purity in Buddy the Elf and he reminds us all of the kid inside us!
  • SCROOGED: This showcases the ’80s so well. I love the ostentatiousness of this movie. It’s an over-the-top Christmas movie filled with the bitterness and loneliness that can come with the holidays. Both the film and Bill Murray are great.

Graham Young, Equipment Specialist

  • EYES WIDE SHUT: Stanley Kubrick could film Christmas lights like nobody’s business.  Stunningly beautiful film. My favorite “bleak” Christmas movie.
  • FANNY & ALEXANDER: One day I hope to host a Christmas party that’s half as good as the Ekdahl family. What a night!
  • SCROOGE: Alastair Sim’s portrayal of Ebeneezer Scrooge is my favorite. The film’s cinematography and optical effects are out of this world.

Lars Nilsen, Lead Film Programmer

  • IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE: Everyone knows about IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE, but I sometimes wonder if I am seeing it through a different lens than many others, who call it “sentimental,” a “tear jerker, ” etc. I think it’s a really dark, really emotionally honest film, and the pain that many Americans were feeling at the end of WWII (including James Stewart, a highly decorated flyer and bomber commander), gives it a resonance that we still feel today.
  • DONOVAN’S REEF: I am not sure how many people have seen the late John Ford film DONOVAN’S REEF, which takes place over the holidays on a tropical island. It is sort of a last reunion for many of Ford’s stock company and everyone is having a good time. It is also a film about overcoming racial prejudice and uniting families. A couple of moments fly in out of nowhere to choke me up, especially the Christmas service in a decrepit chapel. Ford’s poetic eye for staging never deserted him.

Ellie Kotapish, Development Manager

  • WHITE CHRISTMAS: This movie is very nostalgic for me. I grew up watching with my family, and we continue to do so every holiday season!

Shannon Kors, Sales Manager

  • THE FAMILY STONE: Amazing writing. Great cast. Heartfelt story.
  • THE HOLIDAY: This is one of the best/worst holiday movies. Cameron Diaz is not at the top of her acting game, but this is an easy-to-watch Nancy Meyers film where everyone ends up happy.
  • EMMET OTTER’S JUGBAND CHRISTMAS: It has such a nostalgic aspect to it since it was constantly on HBO when I was growing up. The puppetry alone is incredible!

Instagram Followers

We took it to Instagram to ask our followers which films they love to watch around the holidays. Below you’ll find a solid list of classics, little-known holiday films, and some that are sentimental non-holiday watches.

  • 2046
  • A CHRISTMAS STORY
  • ALIEN
  • BLACK CHRISTMAS
  • BLAST OF SILENCE
  • BRAZIL
  • CAROL
  • CHRISTMAS IN CONNECTICUT
  • CHRISTMAS VACATION
  • CHRISTMAS, AGAIN
  • CITY OF LOST CHILDREN
  • DIE HARD
  • EDWARD SCISSORHANDS
  • ELF
  • EMMITT OTTER’S JUGBAND CHRISTMAS
  • ERNEST SAVES CHRISTMAS
  • EYES WIDE SHUT
  • FAMILY STONE
  • FANNY AND ALEXANDER
  • FUNNY GAMES
  • GREMLINS
  • HARRY POTTER SERIES
  • HOME ALONE
  • HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS
  • IN BRUGES
  • IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE
  • JINGLE ALL THE WAY
  • KRAMPUS
  • LITTLE WOMEN
  • LOVE ACTUALLY
  • MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS
  • MIXED NUTS
  • PLANES, TRAINS AND AUTOMOBILES
  • PRANCER
  • RARE EXPORTS
  • ROCKY
  • ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW
  • RUDOLPH THE RED NOSED REINDEER
  • SCROOGED
  • SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT
  • SISTERS
  • SURF NAZIS MUST DIE
  • THE APARTMENT
  • THE BISHOP’S WIFE
  • THE HEBREW HAMMER
  • THE MAGIC CHRISTMAS TREE
  • THE MAN WHO CAME TO DINNER
  • THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS
  • THE THIN MAN
  • TRADING PLACES
  • WHITE CHRISTMAS

Let us know what your favorite holiday films are on Facebook and Instagram!

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