Throughout December, several theaters in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens show classic and contemporary holiday movies, perfect to get you in the holiday spirit after a long day of shopping or tree-trimming. Here’s the best of what’s playing. By Jessica Allen.
“You’ll shoot your eye out” is but one of the many refrains of A Christmas Story that have entered the American lexicon. Nitehawk is screening this contemporary classic for one night only: Wednesday, December 11, as part of its special “Film Feasts” events. For $75, you get a multicourse meal, including bacon-wrapped meatloaf, braised cabbage, roasted duck breast, and a coconut snowball cake. Drink pairings range from an “Ovaltini” to “Oh Fuuudddggggeee” chocolate stout to hot mulled win.
There are a lot of horrifying things about Christmas: puffy sweaters, eggnog, regifted presents, spending all that time with your extended family. Silent Night Deadly Night exploits the holiday’s occasional horribleness in the story of an orphan who loses his parents to a psycho Santa on Christmas Eve. Unsurprisingly, he grows up to be a wee bit unbalanced. Bow Tie Cinemas in Chelsea screens the cult classic on Wednesday, December 11. Be there, and be scared.
Each year IFC Center shows It’s a Wonderful Life on the big screen—this year, it plays from December 13 to 26. If you recall the movie as being all sticky sweet and sentimental, you’ll be surprised at just how dark and bleak it really is. Sure, Clarence gets his wings, but there’s no denying the movie’s moral: life is hard, and you have to compromise what you want to fulfill your obligations to other people. Frank Capra’s 1946 masterpiece definitely stands as one of the greatest, and saddest, of all holiday movies.
The Southwest Porch, an outdoor area in Bryant Park complete with swings, chairs, and a fire pit, is screening holiday movies all month long, including Miracle on 34th Street on Monday, December 16. There’s truly no place like New York City during the holidays, as this movie about the search for Santa Claus proves (even as the main characters ultimately decide to decamp for the suburbs). Speaking of suburbs, for slightly less sappy fare, see Home Alone on Thursday, December 19.
Landmark Sunshine, on Houston, screens Elf on Friday, December 20, and Saturday, December 21, “round midnight.” Will Ferrell charms, captivates, and cajoles all he meets in this movie as Buddy, an elf who doesn’t quite belong in the North Pole. He leaves in search of his dad in New York City only to discover that said dad is firmly ensconced on the Naughty list. But, with the help of a lovely young lady and his huge smile, Buddy sets out to teach everyone what Christmas really means.
This 1978 television special features the magic of Jim Henson, perfect for the kid in your life or your heart. Based on the eponymous children’s book, Emmet Otter’s Jug Band Christmas tells the tale of Ma Otter and her son Emmet, who each enter a talent contest to win money to buy the other one a Christmas present. As part of this screening on Saturday, December 21, the Museum of the Moving Image will show Kermit the Frog’s segments, rarely seen outtakes, and behind-the-scenes footage. Sing along if you still can.