Better Watch Out: Best, Worst, Most Deranged Holiday Films

BY Jeremy Kinser

December 19 2011 5:00 AM ET

Sure, we've all curled up on the sofa to watch Jimmy Stewart find redemption in It's a Wonderful Life and Natalie Wood become a believer in Miracle on 34th Street each holiday season, but Tom Cruise at an orgy in Eyes Wide Shut? In his book  Have Yourself a Movie Little Christmas, film critic (and former Advocate A&E editor) Alonso Duralde explains why Stanley Kubrick's dark drama is perennial viewing for some this time of year. The author, whose 101 Must-See Movies For Gay Men should also be required reading, says he's still waiting for the great queer holiday film but notes that plenty of LGBT people enjoy a variety of Christmas-set movies, from Die Hard to Meet Me In St. Louis. Duralde tells the Advocate which holiday films are nice, naughty, and just plain nutty.

 The Advocate: What would you say is considered the most quintessential holiday film?
Alonso Duralde: I think the answer differs from generation to generation — I grew up in the 1970s, when It’s a Wonderful Life was in the public domain and just blanketed television for the entire month of December, so I think of it as the ultimate Christmas movie. But for people younger than I am, they might say A Christmas Story or even Home Alone.

Which do you consider the best holiday film?
Depends on what mood you catch me in; if I want something sentimental, I might go with It’s a Wonderful Life or the 1970 musical Scrooge with Albert Finney, but then if I want some laughs, I might go for The Ref or a French film called La Bûche. One of the great things about writing the book was finding so many different movies that fall under the Christmas umbrella, so no matter what kind of movie you like — musicals, horror, Western — you’ll find a holiday film that suits you.

OK, which do you consider the worst holiday film?
If you mean “worst” as in “I can’t believe this was made and I can’t stop watching it,” I’d have to go with the 1959 Santa Claus, an unhinged Mexican import in which St. Nick and Merlin team up to fight the devil. It’s become an annual tradition in my house — and they just put it out on Blu-ray! But for “worst” as in “this thing is wretched and it hurts my eyes and we must turn it off right now and never watch it again,” my vote goes to The Nutcracker in 3-D, which just came out on DVD as The Nutcracker: The Untold Story. Hip-hop arrangements of Tchaikovsky, awful new lyrics by Tim Rice, and Nathan Lane plays Albert Einstein. Trust me, this one’s not even fun-bad.






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