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10 holiday movies, shows, and songs to welcome a winter wonderland

<h6>José Pablo Fernández García / The Daily Princetonian</h6>
José Pablo Fernández García / The Daily Princetonian

Happy Ho-Ho-Holidays! We can all agree that there is an abundance of seasonal festive movies, television specials, and music to inject some joy into 3 p.m. sunsets. On some long winter nights, all you need is to turn your brain off, turn on the TV, and sip some hot chocolate. Let me help you out with some recommendations. 

1. “Klaus”

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Netflix’s 2019 release is an underrated piece of gorgeous animation that uses an enigmatic and forward-looking 2D-3D hybrid style and is packed with loads of holiday joy. It is an origin story for Santa Claus that’ll convince even the most cynical Santa-deniers among you.

2. “Die Hard”

Is it a Christmas movie? Is it not? It’s an age-old debate that has engaged religious scholars and Bruce Willis fans alike, but who cares! Let’s not box ourselves in. It is a fantastic action movie with some of the most quotable one-liners of all time, and it is definitely set during the holidays, so I’m including it.

3. “Arthur Christmas”

This 2015 animated movie from British studio Aardman (of “Wallace and Gromit” fame) is so profoundly creative and so inexplicably funny. It takes a modern twist on Santa’s Christmas operation while remaining, at its core, a heartwarming story about sons and brothers. A must watch.

4. “Tokyo Godfathers”

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Satoshi Kon is one of Japan’s most revered filmmakers, and his work “Paprika” and “Perfect Blue” have left an indelible mark on anime and contemporary American cinema alike. However, most people unfortunately overlook the exceptional “Tokyo Godfathers” — a phenomenal holiday movie about three homeless people in Tokyo who stumble upon an abandoned baby.

5. “The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special”

Marvel’s latest television special is such a perfect holiday treat. It’s light on its feet — self-aware, funny, and truly touching. It’s a must watch for any Marvel fans looking for a quick reminder why the Guardians of the Galaxy are the best family in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. 

6. “Falling for Christmas”

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As a child of the early-2000’s, it is my sworn duty to at least check out any new Lindsay Lohan projects. Her recent Netflix film is corniness incarnate, buying into all of the Hallmark Christmas movie tropes. If you want to truly turn your brain off and look at pretty Christmas lights, “Falling for Christmas” is ideal. 

7. “It’s a Wonderful Life”

This is one of the most purely iconic and wholesome movies that takes an imaginative and inspired look at mental health. Anchored by Princeton alumnus Jimmy Stewart ’32, the film has true heart. 

8. “Christmas Tree Farm” by Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift! Everyone knows her, some people (including “ME!”) love her. Luckily for us, in 2021, she released an ode to the Christmas tree farm she grew up on that is, conveniently, also a jubilant holiday anthem. 

9. “‘tis the damn season” by Taylor Swift

You might have thought you could escape Taylor Swift after the last entry, but you’d be wrong. In fact, she has not one, but two amazing holiday songs that you should check out this season. This one, which comes from her 2020 album “evermore,” is actually rather mellow, but my goodness is it lovely. Swift sings about homecoming and “the road not taken” with such authenticity and emotion that you can’t help but be swept up in it. 

10. “come out and play” by Billie Eilish (song and music video)

This is a required audio-visual experience, which you can find on YouTube. Eilish contributed this song to a beautifully whimsical Apple advertisement that will make you want to run out into the flurries and dance around under the twinkling warmth of the Palmer Square Christmas tree lights.

Tyler Wilson is a contributing writer for The Prospect and Humor at the ‘Prince.’ He can be reached at tyler.wilson@princeton.edu, or on Instagram at @tylertwilson.

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