In Salt Lake City, the holiday season is a time of joy, compassion, and nostalgia. Whether you are spending time with family and friends, or enjoying the snowy slopes and warm drinks, this time of year is about loving traditions and memories as well as making new ones. Whether it’s the holiday movie you watched every year as a family, or going out to your local theater on Christmas Day, film has a special place in many of our hearts during this festive period.
At Salt Lake Film Society, our staff also have a special place for movies in their hearts during the holiday season. From all-time holiday classics, to obscure independent films, to the never-ending debate on whether or not Die Hard is a Christmas movie, our love of film and cinema doesn’t take time off for the holidays. Check out the wide variety of picks and preferences that SLFS staff enjoy during this time of year and who knows, maybe you will find a new title to add to your family holiday movie tradition!
TOKYO GODFATHERS (2003) – Tori Baker, President/CEO
- “Consider starting a tradition of viewing the masterwork Tokyo Godfathers, a tale that will take you on a sentimental journey that might just also break your heart in the best way possible—the way that makes you want to pursue more understanding of humanity and it’s complexities.”
AUNTIE MAME (1958) – Marcie Collett, Associate Director of Development
- “During holidays – or whenever I’m in need of inspiration on abundance and fabulousness – I treat myself to Rosalind Russell in Auntie Mame. Mame’s memoir is Live, Live, Live!, and her motto is: “Life is a banquet, and most poor suckers are starving.”
GREMLINS (1984) – Rachel Getts, Associate Director of Digital Content
- “A classic funny alternative holiday movie that doesn’t take itself too seriously. The gremlin bar scene alone is a bizarre surreal hilarious mess. Wouldn’t change a thing.”
SCROOGED (1988) – Stephen Simmons, Associate Director of Production
- “I watch this film every year. It never gets old. It’s got everything. The cast is a 90’s comedy dream team. It’s spooky, sarcastic and filled with Christmas spirit(s). The speech Frank Cross (Murray) gives at the end makes me tear up…..every damn time.”
CAROL (2015) – Ally Lantz, Theater Operations Manager
- “One of my favorite films that is altogether beautiful and heartbreaking (and also happens to have a Christmas road trip involved). In other words, be sad, do gay, and Merry Christmas.”
A PISTOL FOR RINGO (1965) – Landon Adams, Theater Operations Manager
- “Have you ever watched a spaghetti western and thought “This would be improved with a Christmas theme?” Well A PISTOL FOR RINGO exists anyway. It opens with two men meeting in the center of town at high noon, hands near their gun belts. One moves fast, offering his hand: “Merry Christmas, Jack”.”
RECKLESS (1995) – Brandon Suisse, Associate Director of Development
- “A bizarre and largely forgotten dark comedy for anyone who has ever been overwhelmed by the relentless giddiness of the holiday season. While the satire may not feel scalding (or coherent) enough for some, it ultimately arrives somewhere that’s unexpectedly un-pessimistic. This unpolished gem of a movie is a must-see for Grinches everywhere–if you can find a copy.”
IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE (1946) – Jesse Sindelar, Development Manager
- “An established holiday tradition for many, it’s also the blueprint for most holiday movie storylines: not appreciating what you have until it’s gone. I’ve cried at the end of every watch, and I’ll keep on crying in the future. Merry Christmas you wonderful old Building and Loan!”
SLEEPER (1973) – Susan Tive, Head of Development
- “As a child, my Jewish family’s Christmas tradition was dinner at a Chinese restaurant followed by a movie. In 1973, it was SLEEPER, Woody Allen’s dystopian comedy which became for me one of those cinematic treasures I summon again and again and when I do, I’m still a kid too young to get the punchlines but not yet too old to delight in the memories of my parents’ laughter.”
THE FAMILY STONE (2005) – Amy Beth Aste, Head of Theater Operations
- “The actors alone make me nostalgic, Sarah Jessica Parker, Diane Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Dermot Mulroney, Luke Wilson, Claire Danes, Craig T. Nelson, Paul Schneider, all actors I loved in the 90’s! They come together in one story of a family that deserves your suspension of disbelief and will make you laugh, cry, and want to learn sign language.”
TANGERINE (2015) – Daniel de Santiago, Front of House Staff
- “My love for this holiday film goes not just towards its hilarious dialogue, but how the film was captured. Sean Baker is amazing in how he documents his scenes, they feel more like a documentary then a scripted film, it’s excellent directing. Plus, the first line in this film is “Merry Christmas B***H”.”
POLAR EXPRESS (2014) – Sophie Nielsen, Front of House Staff
- “All aboard, and hold on TIGHTLY! I make my family watch POLAR EXPRESS every Christmas. Everything about it is magical: the scenery, the music, the friendship, the actual magic, and the fact that they only had to hire one voice actor (Tom Hanks).”
BLACK CHRISTMAS (1974) – Patrick Charles, Theater Operations Manager
- “An amazing proto-slasher movie directed by Bob Clark that mixes tons of laughs with extremely dark Christmas-themed mayhem. Clark would go on to direct, A CHRISTMAS STORY, which is quite similar to BLACK CHRISTMAS, minus the obscene phone calls and murders.”
A CHRISTMAS CAROL (1984) – Guy Wheatley, Head Projectionist
- “When it comes to epitomizing the character, George C. Scott *is* Ebenezer Scrooge. You believe his every caustic remark about Christmas, and his redemption is the most poignantly reminiscent of Scott’s own career. This Christmas Carol is the only Dickens you need.”
JUST FRIENDS (2005) – Abby Derrick, Front of House Staff
- “Reminds me of long winter nights spent with my sisters. Every Christmas Eve, we’d stay up all night watching this over and over, the jokes getting funnier with every watch. It’s the perfectly funny movie to ring in the new year.”
MIXED NUTS (1994) – Zoey Wiltsey, Event Manager
- “For me, the holiday season doesn’t really start until I’ve watched Mixed Nuts. It’s been a tradition since early adolescence. I love Nora Ephron’s dark sense of humor and I find the 90’s sensibilities very comforting around this time of year.”
Holiday Films at SLFS
We hope the variety of seasonal movies and personal experiences shared by our staff add some cinematic perspective to your holiday season (and maybe even some inspiration for the next holiday movie night!).
At Salt Lake Film Society, we can’t think of a better present for the people you love then the gift of cinema. Consider sharing and supporting access to quality independent film this holiday season, with a gift membership to our Red Carpet Club!
Find this holiday list on Letterboxd! We have curated lists from SLFS Staff there, including the films mentioned in this post, here.