Best Holiday Movies for the Soul

Feel-good flicks for the holiday season.

Woman watching TV at Christmas time

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"'A Christmas Story' is one that is kind of a nice in-between one if you're not feeling quite rah-rah-rah about – or ho-ho-ho about – Christmas," Young says of the 1983 comedy about Ralphie, a kid in middle America who schemes to get a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas, and features an iconic scene in which his friend licks a freezing flagpole on a triple-dog dare and winds up stuck to it. "It's a movie that kind of lets you have it both ways. It's sweet on the one hand but a little bit satiric on the other hand."

For many people, the holidays, and holiday movies in particular, are about nostalgia. In Lemire's case, she's enjoyed rediscovering, with her 4-year-old son, the joy of "A Charlie Brown Christmas," the classic cartoon in which Charlie Brown feels depressed by the commercialization of the holiday and sets about finding its true meaning. It's a movie Lemire calls "totally timeless and will always put a smile on your face."

But if you're simply aiming for a good escape, she recommends checking out the cinematography of "The Holiday," a rom-com that involves a housing swap between two women in Los Angeles and the English countryside. Also in this genre, "Love Actually" is a beloved holiday staple. "It's ooey and gooey, and I know a lot of people have attachment to that in terms of reaffirming their ideas of romance at Christmas," she says. "It's like wrapping yourself in a warm, snuggly blanket."

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And if all else fails? See "Elf," Lemire says. Starring Will Ferrell as an overgrown "irresistibly adorable" elf, the absurdist comedy will have you giddy for an hour and a half, she says. "How do you not love Will Ferrell in 'Elf?'" It's a hypothetical question that perhaps even the Grinch couldn't contest.

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