WORTH WATCHING

Five Holiday Favorites & Other Films on Netflix Instant Right Now

by
December 24, 2014

Netflix

Starting this evening, a whole slew of films are hitting movie theaters including Disney's musical Into the Woods, Angelina Jolie's World War II drama Unbroken, the controversial comedy The Interview (check out the full list of theaters playing the film here) and Mark Wahlberg's The Gambler. There's also limited releases of the civil rights drama Selma, Clint Eastwood's contemporary war drama American Sniper, and Tim Burton's Big Eyes. But if you'd rather stay home and curl up on the couch with your loved ones, here's a small list of holiday favorites and a few other choice films that you should watch on Netflix Instant now.

The Muppet Christmas Carol
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If you need to kick things off with some wholesome family fun, this is the perfect holiday staple featuring Jim Henson's signature creations. There's Michael Caine as Scrooge and the whole crew of Muppets to help bring this classic tale to life, complete with some great musical numbers. And if you just can't get enough of the Muppets, nearly the entire film library is on Netflix Instant as well, including The Muppet Movie, The Great Muppet Caper, The Muppets Take Manhattan and Muppet Treasure Island. So have a very Muppet Christmas, everyone!

Love Actually
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This one's certainly more for the adults, mostly due to the language and nudity, but it's the perfect holiday romantic comedy. Is it cheesy? Absolutely. Is it funny? Definitely. Does it have some of the best British talent in a single film? Definitely. Where else can you see Professor Trelawney (Emma Thompson) and Professor Snape (Alan Rickman) endure a struggling marriage? There's some weird hate for this movie, especially around Christmas, but it's a harmless, fun little romantic comedy that's worth watching every year.

Bad Santa
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All right, if Love Actually has some iffy content for younger members of the family, then you'll want to make sure the kids are in bed before revisiting this raunchy holiday comedy starring Billy Bob Thornton (who also happens to appear in Love Actually). There's been a sequel in development for years now, but who knows if it will ever get off the ground. So in the meantime, just get some adult laughs from dirty old Saint Nick. It's a little bittersweet now that Bernie Mac has passed away, but he would want us to keep laughing at his work like this, especially around Christmas.

The Nightmare Before Christmas
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It's a shame that Hot Topic has turned this into a merchandise machine for goth and emo kids, because The Nightmare Before Christmas is a truly wonderful holiday musical from director Henry Selick (yes, Tim Burton only produced this film) There's some dissension as to whether this is a Halloween movie or a Christmas movie, but let's just accept it as both so we can watch it multiple times this year. This was the first fully stop-motion animated feature film, and it's still stunning to this day, complete with some of the best original music any family film has ever seen. Thanks, Danny Elfman!

Scrooged
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Everyone can always use a little Bill Murray, and thankfully, Groundhog Day isn't the only holiday that allows us to enjoy the iconic comedian each year. Scrooged is one of the more creative adaptation of A Christmas Carol, set in the then-contemporary time of 1988, Murray is in perfect form as a dickish version of Scrooge as a television executive producing a despicable TV adaptation of Charles Dickens' classic tale. It's very meta, hilarious and always welcome every holiday season.

Nick Offerman: American Ham
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The final season of "Parks & Recreation" will arrive in January and end all too quickly, but before we get there, why not enjoy this one-man show by the man who plays Ron Swanson. The man with one of the most masculine mustaches in history delivers this feature that isn't exactly stand-up, but is nonetheless hilarious and chock full of life advice. This played at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival and was directed by The Kings of Summer helmer Jordan Vogt-Roberts for some added style.

Oculus
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This is surely one of the most underrated releases of 2014. It's a psychological horror trip starring Karen Gillan (Guardians of the Galaxy) and Brenton Thwaites (The Giver) and it will numb your brain in the best way possible. One of the coolest features of this horror flick is the use of an active lead female character who isn't a damsel in distress, but is determined to stop the curse that drives its victims insane, creating visions in their mind that they don't know are not real. It might even be a bigger mindfuck than Inception. Give this one a chance with your fellow horror fans.

Almost Famous
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It's hard to believe that this Cameron Crowe movie is 14 years old, and it's still one of my favorite films of all-time. If you've never taken the time to watch this story inspired by the director's real younger life spent writing for Rolling Stone and touring with Black Sabbath, then you need to fix that right now. With an incredible ensemble cast that includes Patrick Fugit, Frances McDormand, Billy Crudup, Jason Lee, Zooey Deschanel, Noah Taylor, Jimmy Fallon, Jay Baruchel and some other surprising faces, this is an amazing journey through rock and roll and a stellar coming-of-age story.

Medora
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If melodramatic, inspiring sports dramas from Disney just aren't getting the job done, then you might want to check out this equally endearing sports documentary. If you like Hoosiers, then you'll want to check out this Midwest grown chronicle of four high school basketball players from rural Medora, Indiana, who struggle to end their team's losing streak. In small towns like this, sometimes the sports teams are all the citizens have to distract them from real life, and the support for these players is uncanny, making this even more of spectacular sports tale.

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues
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Let's just all agree that Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues was never going to live up to the expectations of fans of the original Will Ferrell comedy after 10 years of endlessly quoting the Adam McKay directed movie. Once you accept that and just enjoy this sequel for what it is, I promise you'll still have some big laughs. Anchorman 2 deserves tons of credit just for getting made, especially with the absolutely insane ending that simply shouldn't exist in a mainstream comedy today. And the good news is that once you watch it, there's also the super-sized, alternate cut that replaces nearly all of the jokes in the original cut.

So those are our brief suggestions for what to watch this Christmas with various members of your family. If you need some more inspiration, you can still check out our feast of films from Netflix Instant that we rounded up for Thanksgiving last month. Otherwise, enjoy the holidays and have a Merry Christmas!

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  • Ryan
    oh boy, oculus. kill me
  • DAVIDPD
    BAD SANTA. One of the biggest surprises I can remember.

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