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This month The Communiqué will be launching a special feature: a tournament pitting traditional and non-traditional holiday movies against one another. In this first round of the tournament, traditional movies will be battling other traditional movies, while non-traditional movies will be battling non-traditional movies. In the end, only one can win!


“Edward Scissorhands” – Olivia Newman

Most classic Christmas movies contain a problem that centers around universal human flaws, such as greed or hatred, and a solution to the issue that is found through the characters’ realizations and corrections of these flaws, often coined as discovering the “true meaning” of Christmas. Characters will drop their petty arguments and shallow desires and come together in the name of love, friendship, and giving. As long as a movie follows this pattern and takes place during the holiday, I believe it is safe to say it is a Christmas movie.

While in “Edward Scissorhands,” the characters do not specifically uncover the true meaning of Christmas, many are, in the beginning, driven to take advantage of Edward because he is so caring and vulnerable. Unfortunately, it is easy for them to do so, as despite the fact that the neighborhood knows Edward, his appearance still frightens many and they are therefore quick to accuse him. Edward’s love interest in the movie, Kim Boggs, for example, did not enjoy the fact that Edward was staying in her home in the beginning, but as the movie went on, she let go of her appearance-based judgements and came to love Edward for his personality. This character development and shift from a negative belief to a positive one, especially when this belief deals with love and inner beauty, is very characteristic of a Christmas film.

“Edward Scissorhands” is a bittersweet film that, although not a traditional Christmas movie, shares many of the same lessons and ideas. This movie instills the true values that come with this holiday, and therefore should certainly be considered one of the best Christmas films to watch during this time of year.

“The Nightmare Before Christmas” – Sarah Green

If you are one of the movie-lovers that hesitates to call “The Nightmare Before Christmas” a Christmas movie over a Halloween movie, it’s important to remember what truly makes a Christmas movie: the holiday spirit. Not only does “The Nightmare Before Christmas” embody this spirit more than that of Halloween, but it also embodies this spirit more than any other Christmas movie. What better way is there to show the meaning of Christmas than through the story of Jack Skellington finding the lost magic in his life through Christmas Town, a world of gifts, lights, family, snow, and especially joy? At the start of the movie, Skellington, the Pumpkin King of Halloween Town, feels discontent with the monotonous, unsettling world he lives in. It isn’t until he stumbles upon Christmas Town that he realizes he was not only missing out on an entire world, but an entire feeling, the feeling that only surrounds something as magical as Christmas. This magic is the only thing that can transform Jack Skellington into a selfless, sentimental person who knows what is really important in life and tries to share this joy with others. Because of this, “The Nightmare Before Christmas” isn’t just a Christmas movie. It is the ultimate Christmas movie.

Which is the better non-traditional holiday movie?

  • "The Nightmare Before Christmas" (84%, 16 Votes)
  • "Edward Scissorhands" (16%, 3 Votes)

Total Voters: 19

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“Home Alone” – Olivia Sher

Home Alone” is a cinematic master piece that miraculously blends comedy, adventure, and holiday spirit. It follows the story of Kevin who is accidentally left behind during Christmas vacation and is forced to defend his home from burglars. The movie stayed number one at the box office for twelve straight weeks. Kevin has a rambunctious spirit that fills an audience with laughs. The movie fills the inner child in all of us with complete joy by conveying the theme of childhood independence. Unlike “Christmas Vacation,” “Home Alone” takes a much more childlike and innocent approach to christmas instead of cynicism and stress. “Home Alone” is filled with booby traps, and pranks that can make any audience laugh while emphasizing the importance of family. After having all of his fun Kevin soon realizes how much he misses his parents and his mother rushes to get him back by Christmas morning.The movie stresses the importance of finding the child in all of us. Isn’t it the true meaning of Christmas to channel our inner child and have some fun?

“Christmas Vacation” – Michelle Yu

Though not considered a “traditional”, well-known Christmas movie, “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” should be categorized as an instant classic. Like most comedies, most of the comedy is embedded in non-sensible situations, but what makes the movie particularly hilarious is the truth of the plot lines that are presented. Admittedly, Christmas is a stressful time of year, and “Christmas Vacation” fully acknowledges that, making the laughs hit especially close to home.

“Christmas Vacation” is the third installment of the “vacation movies” and stars returning players Chevy Chase, Beverly D’Angelo, and Randy Quaid, all of whom deliver their lines with clear knacks for comedy. The film is a classic Christmas movie; it centers around a normal, American family getting ready to celebrate the holiday when everything that could possibly go wrong, does. Their extended family won’t stop showing up at unwelcomed times; they forget to bring cutting tools so they are forced to pull a Christmas tree right from out of the ground; the 25,000 lights wrapped around the house are accidentally connected to the garage switch and fail to turn on; and the father of the family — Clark — rambles on about hating his boss, which prompts his cousin to kidnap his boss and get the SWAT team called on both of them.

The film takes situations that we’ve all been in and over exaggerates them; however, it does so in a way that they are not so absurd that people would not be able to relate to them. What makes the movie so hilarious is that everything that happens is completely realistic, yet so funny because we are able to laugh at ourselves for doing similar things. Though the movie is filled with obvious jokes and knee-slap humor, it will make the whole family laugh. At the conclusion of the film, the family comes together to celebrate the remainder of Christmas, which ends it just like all other Christmas movies do.

Which is the better non-traditional holiday movie?

  • "Christmas Vacation" (64%, 21 Votes)
  • "Home Alone" (36%, 12 Votes)

Total Voters: 33

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“Die Hard” – Max Wilson

Picture this: you’re a genius criminal, and you’ve masterminded a plan to steal hundreds of millions of dollars from a corporate empire. You and your nefarious crew take over the company’s Los Angeles skyscraper on Christmas Eve, seizing a small group of workers having their holiday party hostage. Everything is going according to plan. Then, an elevator opens up and you see the body of one of your henchmen with a message scrawled over him… Now I have a machine gun. Ho ho ho. That is a message from John McClane, an NYPD detective visiting his wife (a hostage) and kids for the holidays, in the film that has gone down as history’s most action-packed Christmas movie. In what other holiday film will you see the protagonist deliver epic one liners while battling master criminals? “Elf”? “Frosty the Snowman”? Don’t make me laugh. Watching Bruce Willis take down German terrorists amidst a holiday atmosphere is without a doubt the best way to spend Christmas Eve; and it certainly beats watching Michael Keaton without the ability to turn his head fight Danny DeVito dressed as a goth Willy Wonka in “Batman Returns”. So when you’re sick of bland, boring holiday movies, remember: Yippie ki-yay, Humbugger.

“Batman Returns” – Samantha Higgins

Batman is the Santa Claus of vigilante justice, doling out punches in place of coal to circus criminals that fall onto his “naughty list” in Tim Burton’s 1992 superhero film Batman Returns”. Burton adds his own unique flair to the superhero genre with a spin on German Expressionism by combining the dirty and dreary urban setting of Gotham and an idyllic holiday style, satirizing the materialism of the holidays with the bloodthirsty ambitious villains of the movie. Despite its campy and genuinely comic atmosphere, “Batman Returns” achieves a deep moral Christmas meaning that “Die Hard’s” action-packed movie simply cannot. At its core, “Batman Returns” is a gothic fairytale on Christmas about “freaks” distanced from their families. The journeys of Batman, Catwoman, and the Penguin are all an emotional rollercoaster of outcasts on the edge of Gotham society trying desperately to fulfill the void that their missing families left behind. The meaning of “Die Hard”, if there even is one, cannot compare to “Batman Returns’” raw and impactful familial themes that teach everyone that even outcasts can find love and family, whether that be a family of bats, cats, or hyper-intelligent penguins.

Which is the better non-traditional holiday movie?

  • "Die Hard" (61%, 11 Votes)
  • "Batman Returns" (39%, 7 Votes)

Total Voters: 18

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“Love Actually” – Minji Kim

Love Actually”: the classic Christmas Rom-Com. What Christmas is complete without Hugh Grant dancing in the governor’s mansion or baby Sam running through the airport? Like most movies, “Love Actually” has its flaws. Though, in my opinion, that’s precisely what makes it a great movie. The movie is about many different people all celebrating the same holiday. Love is special and connects everyone together. Family and love is always a little imperfect and this movie captures that perfectly. In this movie, all the characters are somehow connected, whether it’s by family, friend, or even neighbor. The multiple storylines create a cozy environment for all the characters to tell their own stories. The movie might be flawed, but it certainly makes up for it with the fun Christmas music, the British accents, and love.

“Star Wars Christmas Special” – Esther Park

    As a series loved by families around the world, “Star Wars” has swept over the nation as one of the most influential film series to exist. And, with this, includes the holiday special. Compared to the more controversial “Gremlins” film, the Star Wars Holiday Special is one that can mean “Christmas” to several families. A film occurring on Christmas cannot be considered a holiday film compared to one about it and the traditions it brings. The Star Wars Holiday Special is not only based off of characters loved by the nation, but centers the story about the meaning of the holiday, making this a truly authentic Christmas film. A common theme in traditional holiday movies, like this one, are about the importance of family. Gremlins is a fantasy that just so happens to fall on Christmas Eve. Of course, when deciding between any two movies, there are various factors that will lead to a choice. Gremlin’s misleading exterior also does not suggest the violent and disturbing contents of the PG-rated film. Of course, this may be preferred for some audience members, but should not be considered the “Christmas” movie among the two, when Star Wars clearly highlights the values of the holiday. Regardless of whether or not the Star Wars Holiday Special is the more popular choice, it is the better choice. Many may consider this movie “forgotten” or “awful,” even. However the legendary holiday movie, Polar Express, has also been considered “a disappointing failure” by critics. Hence, despite the overall negative reviews, this reaction from the public should not dismiss the unchanging value or authenticity of the film.

“Gremlins” – Annie Tzvetanova

When it comes to non-traditional Christmas films, “Gremlins” takes the cake. To someone who has seen the movie, the word “Christmas-y” doesn’t necessarily come to mind. In the loosest of terms, it is considered a film in the comedy horror genre. The film begins with Randall, a man looking for a Christmas present for his son Billy. He ventures into a shop in Chinatown, where he spots the mogwai (“monster” in Chinese). Mr. Wing, the owner of the shop, refuses to sell Randall the mogwai, but his grandson sells Randall the creature behind his back. Before he leaves, Mr. Wing’s grandson warns him not to let the mogwai get wet, to not expose it to sunlight, and only to feed it after midnight. Of course, all of these things happen, unleashing an army of small slimy monsters upon the world. This film is thrilling, engaging, and as versatile as “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” which can be treated as both a Christmas film and a Halloween film. This movie is perfect for people who love gore, and a subtle theme of Christmas. The motif is adorable, giving the creatures an appearance reminiscent of Furbies (Hello ’90s!), but yet giving the audience a taste of suspense to assist with the build up to the violent crescendo, making it absolutely perfect for the horror lover and Christmas fanatic alike.

Which is the better non-traditional holiday movie?

  • "Love Actually" (50%, 10 Votes)
  • "Star Wars Christmas Special" (35%, 7 Votes)
  • "Gremlins" (15%, 3 Votes)

Total Voters: 20

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