The dog has pulled the turkey carcass off the table, the relatives are sleeping off some extra drinks and you didn’t get punched on Black Friday. That can only mean one thing: It’s time to start planning your holiday movie watching! We’ve gathered all of the winter classics that will be lighting up Denver screens over the next few weeks — you can blame a certain Star Wars offshoot for pinching off some quality Christmas movie-watching time — so grab your Advent calendar and start putting these shows in with the chocolates. Presented alphabetically for maximum holiday cheer:
A Christmas Story
Thursday, December 8, at 7 p.m.
Although it's an annual tradition to show A Christmas Story 24/7 on television, nothing beats getting to watch this 1983 holiday classic in a movie theater. For its single screening in town this season, the Alamo is giving the film the Movie Party treatment, with themed props, a “You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out” game before the film, and the opportunity to shout out key lines of dialogue during the movie itself. Sounds promising! Get tickets at drafthouse.com.
Saturday, December 3, at 2:45 p.m.; Sunday, December 4, at 6 p.m.; Tuesday, December 6, at 8:05 p.m.; Saturday, December 10, at 7:45 p.m.; Tuesday, December 13, at 7:30 p.m.
This 1989 cinematic gift of a comedy proved that a holiday film didn’t have to be all love and mistletoe. Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo return as the Griswolds, whose bad summer adventures chronicled in two previous Vacation films lead to more bad luck at Christmas — with an overabundance of awful family, dangerous holiday decorations and one nasty squirrel. The Alamo is amping up this screening with themed props, quotes and an eggnog-drinking contest for lactose-tolerant diehards. Get tickets at drafthouse.com.
Eight Crazy Nights
Friday, December 16, and Saturday, December 17, at midnight
Landmark’s Esquire Theatre
Jewish children have long gotten the short end of the dreidel when it comes to fun holiday representation — it’s hard to believe that not one of the Peanuts kids was Jewish — but once upon a time, proud, Jewish comedian Adam Sandler was at the top of the box office, and decided to use his stardom for good instead of evil by creating the first animated feature film to celebrate Chanukah! It was still done Sandler style, however, which means it’s about a recovering alcoholic who gets a second chance by rudely figuring out how to make the holidays work out for everyone, no matter who you pray to. The film is PG-13, too, so you’ll still have to find something fun for the little kiddos to do when they get out of Hebrew school. Get tickets at landmarktheaters.com.
Thursday, December 1, at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, December 3, at noon; Sunday, December 4, at 3:15 p.m.; Friday, December 9, at 7 p.m.; and Saturday, December 10, at 5 p.m.
Actor Will Ferrell's career has been full of memorable characters. But the most charming may well be Buddy, who is raised by Santa’s elves and then sets out from the North Pole to find his real father and spread some super-sweet holiday cheer in an otherwise crusty Big Apple. The Alamo has turned this screening into a party complete with props so that the audience can join in the fun on screen, with quotable dialogue and more that will have you screaming for joy at the top of your lungs, just like Buddy. Get tickets at drafthouse.com.
Wednesday, December 7, at 7:30 and 8 p.m.
Friday, December 16, at 7 p.m.
Joe Dante’s cozy 1984 horror classic gave Christmas movies a devilish twist with this dark tale of a precious little mystery critter named Gizmo that's gifted to young Billy Peltzer along with three rules: Don’t put him in bright light, don’t get him wet, and don’t feed him after midnight. These things never go as planned, and soon bloodthirsty little monsters are running rampant in the picturesque town of Kingston Falls, attacking and killing residents and turning a white Christmas blood-red. Though rated PG at the time, Gremlins’ dark themes (along with those of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom) led to the creation of the PG-13 rating — so keep that in mind before you subject the kids to Phoebe Cates’s classic “Santa Claus in the chimney” story halfway through this gory gem. Get tickets at drafthouse.com and denverfilm.org.
Sunday, December 4, at 12:30 p.m.
The number-one box-office hit of 1990 introduced the world to pint-sized action star Macaulay Culkin as Kevin McCallister, who's accidentally left behind by his family just before Christmas. He learns to fend for himself and battle a pair of buffoonish burglars, played by Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern, with booby traps and catchphrases. The film still emboldens kids the world over who seek independence and a cheese pizza all for them. Speaking of pizza, the Alamo is deeming this screening a “pizza party” with all-you-can-eat pizza included in your ticket (but sorry, Kevin, there's no Pepsi: The Alamo only serves Coke). Get your tickets at drafthouse.com.
It’s a Wonderful Life
Monday, December 5, at 6:30 p.m.
Sunday, December 11, at 1:15 p.m.
Sunday, December 18, at 2 p.m.; Wednesday, December 21, at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Century Bel Mar
Few holiday films are true gold-plated classics, but this Jimmy Stewart/Donna Reed feel-good fest is definitely one — and in Denver, you can experience it three ways! The Alamo has tied a screening to its Denver Actors Fund series, with 50 percent of the box office benefiting the DAF and a special radio-play performance of scenes from the film done by local Spotlight Theatre. The Sie is using the film to launch its Classics in Context series, which features newsreels from the film’s original release date — that would be 1946 — and other contextual goodies included. If you want a no-frills screening, the Century Bel Mar has your number and your seat waiting. Get tickets at drafthouse.com, denverfilm.org and cinemark.com.
Friday, December 2, at 10 p.m.
Last holiday season, director Michael Doherty (who made Halloween films bewitching again with Trick R Treat) took on Christmas with this tale of a family whose loss of holiday spirit raises the ire of Krampus, the ol’ dark-sided Santa, who pays the clan and neighborhood a terrifying visit. With a winning cast (Adam Scott, Toni Collette, David Koechner) and wink in its evil eye, Krampus scares up Gremlins-style chills to go on top of the regular winter ones. Get your tickets at denverfilm.org.
Friday, December 9, at 7:30 p.m.
Friday, December 9, at 10 p.m.
Friday, December 9 and Saturday, December 10, at midnight
Landmark’s Esquire Theatre
You’d be hard-pressed to find a film written by Shane Black that didn’t include Christmas in its hard-boiled story line, and Lethal Weapon — which pairs unhinged cop Mel Gibson with stressed and retiring cop Danny Glover as they try to take down drug smugglers and maintain some Christmas spirit — was the one that started it all for him in the '80s. Over one weekend, the film will be presented in three different ways for your enjoyment: The Alamo is showing the movie as part of its Mile High Movie Roast series (formerly Mile High Sci-Fi), with local comics doing comedy over the film as you watch it, Mystery Science Theater-style. The Sie has the film as part of its Films on Tap series, with drinking game-style cues to help you enjoy the film more as you imbibe. The Esquire serves up the movie straight, no chaser, in its Midnight Madness series. Get your tickets at drafthouse.com, denverfilm.org and landmarktheaters.com.
Saturday, December 11, at 2 p.m.
Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel has been adapted for film four times; this 1994 version is its most recent and winning take. It stars Winona Ryder, Claire Danes, Kirsten Dunst and Susan Sarandon as the March sisters and their matriarch, making their way through Civil War America with no man in the house and a lotta love in their hearts. (Christian Bale and Eric Stoltz help with that.) This Alamo screening is part of the Afternoon Tea series that offers tea and treats to warm you up and keep you full of frivolity and nascent feminism. Get your tickets at drafthouse.com.
Muppet Christmas Carol
Saturday, December 10, at 10:30 a.m.
The classic Dickens holiday tale gets the Muppets treatment in this felt-filled adaptation of Ebenezer Scrooge's wild morality tale. Admission is cheap, and after the film the Sie is hosting free ornament-making for the entire family — so leave a corner of your tree available for whatever creations you and your clan whip up. Get tickets at denverfilm.org.
The Nutcracker performed by the Bolshoi Ballet
Saturday, December 17, at 1 p.m.
Sunday, December 18, at 12:55 p.m., Monday, December 19, at 6 p.m.
Participating Fathom Events theaters
Sugarplum fairies, mice and scary dancing nutcrackers abound in the Bolshoi Ballet's polished performance of this holiday stalwart, filmed live at the Bolshoi Theatre in Russia in 2014. The December 19 show is a special “Sensory Friendly” event where the lights will remain up, the sound will be lowered a bit, and parents of small kids and folks with special needs are encouraged to be themselves and sing or dance to their heart's delight. Get tickets at denverfilm.org and fathomevents.com.
Saturday, December 10, at 12:30 p.m.
Robert Zemeckis adapted Chris Van Allsburg’s beloved book about a mysterious train that takes a holiday-doubting little boy on a magical — and kinda spooky — ride to the North Pole. The Alamo is making this show a family party, providing activity sheets, props and a souvenir ticket to take home after this cinematic train has returned to the station. Families are even encouraged to wear their PJs and order some hot chocolate and cookies! Get your tickets at drafthouse.com.
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Rifftrax Holiday Special Double Feature
Thursday, December 1, at 7 p.m.
Participating Fathom Events theaters
Rifftrax — featuring members of Mystery Science Theatre — is back, offering comic relief to two bizarre holiday treats (or is that tricks?): Santa Claus Conquers the Martians and a Christmas Shorts-stravaganza! Instead of Santa, “Weird Al” Yankovich is supposed to stop by to pump you full of holiday spirit, so get your tickets now at fathomevents.com.
Sunday, December 4, at 2 p.m., and Wednesday, December 7, at 2 and 7 p.m.
Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol was a holiday fable written with dark ink, and who better to put a spin on that old crabapple Ebenezer Scrooge than Bill Murray? He plays mean to the hilt as a bitter television executive who just might experience a change of his coal-black heart when he’s visited by three ghosts (John Forsythe, Carol Kane and David Johansen), who try to show him the error of his ways — just in time for Christmas. Get your tickets at cinemark.com.