From Don Cheadle to Lindsay Lohan: Hollywood stars list their holiday-movie favourites

Stars from this season’s releases talk about the films that have become seasonal traditions

By The New York Times

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Published: Fri 23 Dec 2022, 1:22 PM

Last updated: Fri 23 Dec 2022, 2:52 PM

How do actors entertain themselves when they gather with family and friends for the holidays? They watch movies, just like the rest of us. Here, a few of the stars from this season’s releases talk about the films that have become seasonal traditions and the others they hope will one day.

Hong Chau

This season the actress can be seen in The Whale and The Menu.

Favourite Holiday Film: The Shop Around the Corner (1940), Ernst Lubitsch’s romantic comedy with Jimmy Stewart and Margaret Sullavan as seemingly antagonistic store clerks in Budapest, Hungary.

A still from The Shop Around the Corner
A still from The Shop Around the Corner

Why: It’s just got everything. It is set during Christmastime, even though it’s not a typical holiday movie. It’s a workplace comedy. It’s a romantic comedy. And even the supporting characters are all memorable, and the comedy is just timeless. I really love Pepi (William Tracy as a comically cocksure delivery boy), oddly. I like that he wins in the end, and he’s taking over for the Jimmy Stewart character, basically. If they ever do a sequel, he should be the main character. And the music is romantic and sweet, even that little song in the bit about the cigar box.

I like being transported whenever I watch a movie. And getting to be in that shop full of wonderful little items, and having all of the signage in Hungarian, does that. I wish I could be in there and just get to examine and touch everything.

My daughter is 23 months, and I think it will be a good one for her. She actually watches a lot of older movies, like Singin’ in the Rain and the That’s Entertainment compilation. So she has seen a lot of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers and Gene Kelly and Debbie Reynolds.

Don Cheadle

This season the actor can be seen in White Noise.

His Family's Favourite Holiday Film: Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975), the medieval sendup directed by Terry Gilliam and Terry Jones, and Dr. Strangelove (1964), Stanley Kubrick’s Cold War satire starring Peter Sellers.

A still from Monty Python and the Holy Grail
A still from Monty Python and the Holy Grail
A still from Dr Strangelove
A still from Dr Strangelove

Why: I don’t really have a “put us in the spirit of Christmas” movie. I mean, the low-hanging fruit is It’s a Wonderful Life, which is a great movie, and if it’s on, I’m going to watch it. But the ones that we would somehow always end up watching when my kids were home on Christmas break — they’re adults now and out of the house — are Monty Python and the Holy Grail and Dr. Strangelove. Neither are holiday movies, but they always seem to find their way onto our TV.

Every character that Peter Sellers played in Dr. Strangelove was hilarious. The president, the captain, the Nazi doctor — they are all insane. And for Monty Python, it’s the whole cast. My kids know all the lines forwards and backwards, and we sometimes text each other out of the blue. “What makes you think she’s a witch?” “Well, she turned me into a newt!” “A newt?” “I got better.” They’re both just great movies, very funny in very different ways. And they’re dark, which fits my family’s brand of humor.

Zoey Deutch

This season the actress can be seen in Something From Tiffany’s.

Favourite Holiday Film: How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000), Ron Howard’s live-action remake of the animated Dr. Seuss classic, starring Jim Carrey as the holiday killjoy.

A still from How the Grinch Stole Christmas
A still from How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Why: How the Grinch Stole Christmas came out when I was 7. I remember watching it for the first time and not knowing who I was more jealous of, Jim Carrey or Taylor Momsen. I wanted to be both the Grinch and Cindy Lou Who at the same time. They were filled with humor and heart and everything in between. I loved everything about the world that was created and how it was executed. The story, the costumes, the music, the camera movements, the direction, the set design, the acting. I find myself going back to it every year and marveling at how original and fun and moving it is.

Lindsay Lohan

This season the actress can be seen in Falling for Christmas.

Favourite Holiday Film: Love Actually (2003), Richard Curtis’ relationship comedy; Miracle on 34th Street, the 1994 remake (from director Les Mayfield) about a department store Santa; and Elf (2003), the Jon Favreau-directed comedy with Will Ferrell as Santa’s helper.

Why: I love the movie Love Actually. It’s just really heartwarming. That scene when Hugh Grant dances (through 10 Downing St.) is hysterical. And Liam Neeson’s storyline with his son, where he runs through the airport as his crush is leaving on a plane, always gets me crying.

And then Miracle on 34th Street. When I was really young, I remember I watched it at my Grandma Sullivan’s house with her and I was sitting on the floor. I remember this actually very well. It just made me want to be in Christmas in New York City and the whole meeting Santa thing.

Especially during the holidays, I always like to reminisce, and whenever I’m with family, we go to Elf at some point. That’s why it was special to do Falling for Christmas. My sister got to play a little role, and she did a song. I was lucky to have my husband come to the set, and it’s the first time he’d seen me acting. It was very sentimental. I’ve never done a Christmas movie, so this is a special feeling because it’s something that I’ll be able to show our kids.

Leslie Odom Jr.

This season the actor can be seen in Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery.

Favourite Holiday Film: Home Alone (1990), the Chris Columbus comedy with Macaulay Culkin as Kevin, left behind by his family.

A still from Home Alone
A still from Home Alone

Why: I was 9 or 10 when I first saw it — the same age as Kevin — and he was the perfect avatar for every boy who wanted to be as clever as he was when he took down the bad guys. And who maybe wanted to escape from their parents for even a day. The movie has all the traditional trappings of the season: snow and fire, wreaths hung on the door, pizza night, late-night packing for early flights the next morning. It’s a record of all we love about the holidays. All that stresses us out about the holidays. It’s portrayed with honesty and real charm and so ends up being a classic story that stands the test of time. And the score, by John Williams, is so signature. It has just as much to do with the overall effect of that film as the great performances and the great set pieces and gags.

My kids are 5 and 1 1/2, and they’re a little too young to understand it. But one day I hope we’ll watch it together. And I’ll tell you: When they spend the night with their grandparents, my wife and I have our own fun home alone. It’s good for the parents, too.

Now I’m working on my own Christmas movie: The Exorcist.

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

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