You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

What movies do you watch over and over? Our list of favorites to enjoy with family this holiday season

The Plain Dealer  Cleveland logo The Plain Dealer Cleveland 12/19/2020 Laura Johnston, cleveland.com

CLEVELAND, Ohio — What’s your favorite movie?

If you’re like cleveland.com staffers, the title probably doesn’t belong on any Greatest Films of Our Time canon — which is fine. Because all you really want during the holidays is something that makes you feel good. And we could all use a little happy nostalgia during the coronavirus pandemic.

You want movies that have delighted you since childhood, that wrap you in comfort like a pair of flannel pajamas. Movies that you know by heart but still manage to find something new in with every viewing. Movies that you’ve shared with people you love.

We asked cleveland.com staffers for their personal favorites. Only one — “Major League” — overlapped. What else would you expect in Cleveland?

Take a look, pop a bowl of popcorn and relax as we end 2020.

Amélie (2001): This quirky French love story, starring Audrey Tautou, is one of my absolute favorites, and one that I revisit when I want to watch something upbeat but not too silly. In Amélie, you can expect to see plenty of beautiful scenes of Paris life, awkward interactions and wholesome, heartfelt interactions that drive the puzzling plot forward into the most satisfying, not-too-sappy romantic ending.

- Anne Nickoloff

Back to the Future (1985): The movies I repeatedly watch are ones I feel like I can zone out of but also find new things if I pay attention. “Back to the Future” is one of those movies. The tale of Marty McFly accidentally traveling 30 years into the past and trying to ensure his then-teenage parents end up together is rife with enough asides, details and clues that even the most dedicated conspiracy theorists may have trouble catching them all. It’s one of my favorites, and it gets bonus points for having two lesser (but still immensely enjoyable) sequels.

- Eric Heisig

Batman Returns (1992): Tim Burton’s noir-filled take on the Dark Knight is the perfect palate cleanser for someone wanting to get that Christmas vibe without all of the mushy, trite tropes of regular Christmas movies. The adventure featuring Michael Keaton as Bruce Wayne/Batman, Danny DeVito as Oswald Cobblepot/The Penguin, Michelle Pfeiffer as Selina Kyle/Catwoman and Christopher Walken as Max Schreck/Christopher Walken has plenty of holiday imagery, but works as a kind of inverted version of A Christmas Carol as The Penguin goes from a beloved character by the people of Gotham to a man (creature?) hell bent on taking the city down.

- Seth Richardson

Blade Runner (1982): Set in director Ridley Scott’s concept of 2019, Harrison Ford stars as Rick Deckard, a futuristic bounty hunter called a “blade runner” who must hunt down and kill four escaped “replicants” - bio-engineered humanoids with four-year lifespans who escaped from the extra-terrestrial colony where they worked and returned to Earth to find their creator and extend their lives. It’s got a visually arresting cyberpunk, film noir feel, a compelling plot that questions the ethics of technology and what constitutes life, and a great cast including Rutger Hauer, Sean Young, Edward James Olmos and Daryl Hannah.

- Sabrina Eaton

Can’t Buy Me Love (1987): This is a must for any sisters. We watch this grossly underrated romantic comedy just about every time we’re all together. And we quote from it all the time. Stars Patrick Dempsey as a dorky lawnmower-riding teen, long before he grew into McDreamy on “Grey’s Anatomy.” The funniest character is a pre-teen Seth Green who plays Dempsey’s brother, Chuckie. This movie will take you back to high school – the cliques, teenage heartbreak, yearning for acceptance and popularity — and it is hilarious.

– Kristen Davis

Casino/Goodfellas (1995/1990): Two tour-de-force performances from Robert DeNiro and Joe Pesci. Yes, both movies are a bit violent, but if I’m ever looking for something to just “play in the background” while I’m doing something else, one of these tends to end up rolling.

- Mike Rose

Clueless (1995): Running out of movies? As if! “Clueless” remains a modern classic inspired by Jane Austen’s “Emma.” The quintessential ’90s high-school comedy, about a well-meaning but in interfering popular girl hosts an all-star cast including Alicia Silverstone, Paul Rudd and Brittany Murphy. If this is a favorite of yours, consider watching the most recent adaptation of “Emma” in a double showing where “Queen’s Gambit” fans can look forward to a magical performance from Anya Taylor-Joy.

- Emily Bamforth

The Cutting Edge (1992): I can recite D.B Sweeney and Moira Kelly’s banter word-for-word in this rom-com on ice, which I can’t wait to introduce to my hockey-playing and figure-skating kids. It may be set in the ’90s, but somehow the music and clothes are timeless, and so is the chemistry between the pair, the poor little rich girl and the guy from the wrong side of the tracks. From “Toe pick!” to “I’m sorry, I don’t downshift that fast!” you root for them all the way to the Albertville Olympics.

– Laura Johnston

Dazed and Confused (1993): I actually hated this movie when I first saw it. But obviously it grew on me. It’s set in 1976, but the high school experience is so relatable. It’s timeless. And the actors and the characters they play are so well-rounded. Chubby Ben Affleck is amazing. But who can forget Matthew McConaughey in what I still consider his greatest performance: “Alright, alright, alright...”

- Troy Smith

Empire Records (1995): If you ever wondered what the heck Rex Manning Day is, this is the film that spawned it. Features Renée Zellweger, Liv Tyler and Robin Tunney as employees of a local record store in danger to being sold to a big chain and chronicles their efforts to save the status quo over the course of one crazy day.

- Mike Rose

Goodfellas (1990): Everybody knows that “Die Hard is a Christmas movie,” but Goodfellas is a Christmas movie? Of course. At its core, the eminently quotable film is about a family working through their problems to try and survive the challenges that they face. That family just happens to be the mafia. Ray Liotta stars as the plucky, young Henry Hill trying to make a name for himself with the Lucchese’s in New York. It doesn’t matter if you can recite every line from the film by memory (which I think I might be able to do), because Joe Pesci, Robert DeNiro, Lorraine Bracco and Paul Sorvino are absolutely dynamite in what may be director Martin Scorcese’s magnum opus. A large part of the plot even kicks off at a Christmas Party, including some of DeNiro’s funniest lines in the movie.

- Seth Richardson

The Holiday (2006): I hate holiday movies, but I love “The Holiday.” Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz star as women so tired of their own lives they swap houses for the holidays. Winslet lands in Los Angeles, living in a mansion and learning to be the main character of her own life with the help of the incomparable Eli Wallach and Jack Black (who is actually charming in this film). Diaz holes up in a homey English cottage, only to meet Diaz’s dreamy brother, Jude Law. It’s heartwarming and will leave you smiling any time of year, but particularly around the holidays.

- Emily Bamforth

Joe vs. the Volcano (1990) — “You Got Mail” and “Sleepless in Seattle” are considered classic romantic comedies. But for me, this poorly reviewed box office flop is the best movie in the Tom Hanks-Meg Ryan trilogy. America’s favorite actor plays Joe Banks, a poor sap of a fellow living a boring life who learns he has a fatal disease. When a businessman offers to send him on an adventure of a lifetime on the condition he sacrifices himself by jumping into a volcano at the end of it, Joe seizes the opportunity. Along the way, he meets three very different women, each played by Ryan. Together, they circle the globe pondering the meaning of life, love, religion and other deep philosophical questions. I’m still not sure why audiences never warmed up to the movie. Maybe it was too deep for the rom-com crowd. John Patrick Shanley’s screenplay is instantly quotable and full of symbolism. The movie is so good, in fact, when I was in college, I recorded the audio on a cassette tape and listened to it on long car rides between Ohio and Florida. So, if the current state of the world has got you down, there are few movies that will make you appreciate life and the preciousness of our time on earth quite like “Joe vs. the Volcano.”

- Joey Morona

Jurassic Park (1993): From clever Velociraptors that can open doors to a terrorizing Tyrannosaurus Rex, Jurassic Park has been one of my all-time favorite movies since I was just a toddler. Most kids were afraid of the bogyman and monsters under the bed. Not me, I was afraid a Raptor would sneak into my room and get me with one of its razor-sharp claws. While the sequel, “Lost World” tops my list of favorites, no one can deny just how iconic “Jurassic Park” has become in the nearly three decades since its release. Sam Neill, Laura Dern and Jeff Goldbloom star in this thriller where a power failure causes the coolest theme park ever to descend into chaos as cloned dinosaurs wreak havoc on the park and its guests.

- Maura Zurick

League of their Own (1992): Obviously this is a baseball classic, about the launch of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League during World War II. It’s chockfull of stars, including Geena Davis, Tom Hanks and Madonna. But my obsession stems from the relationship between star catcher Dottie and her little sister, Kit, a pitcher. Their rivalry feels raw and real, and rooted in love – a dichotomy my sister and I immediately understood on our first viewing. Now my daughter wants her own Rockford Peaches uniform. And my sister and I still disagree on that final play at the plate.

- Laura Johnston

Major League (1989): It’s a much-watch for any baseball fan, especially for Northeast Ohioans. Major League is so ingrained in baseball fandom in Cleveland that jerseys of fictional players — Dorn, Taylor, Hayes, Vaughn — are worn by fans around Progressive Field as if they actually played for the team. Real-life relief pitcher James Karinchak wears No. 99 and sported a “Wild Thing” haircut for the playoffs this year in a nod to Charlie Sheen’s character Rick Vaughn. By mid-winter I’m craving baseball, and this is at the top of the list of baseball movies that scratch that itch.

- Adam Ferrise

Major League (1989) Opening Day is an annual holiday for me, complete with a ritual viewing of Major League. As someone who grew up in Northeast Ohio in the 1990s, I have fond memories of listening to the radio in my room past my bedtime, hoping to catch yet another Tribe comeback. I also remember checking this movie out from the library and being surprised how much swearing there was in it compared to the version that aired constantly on TV. It’s a classic 1980s comedy, which is to say the plot doesn’t make that much sense, the jokes come a mile a minute and it’s full of questionable and/or insensitive cultural tropes. But it’s hilarious, and I always tear up when the Indians qualify for the American League Championship Series at the end of the movie. I like to imagine that maybe that team made it all the way (I don’t recognize Major League II or any of the sequels as canon) as I wait year after year for the real team to finally win one again.

– Andrew Tobias

Mean Girls (2004): This is one of those movies I can rewatch endlessly and still enjoy every time. The Tina Fey comedy – which has spawned a Broadway musical and another movie based on the musical — one of the most quotable movie of my lifetime (“She doesn’t even go here” ... “So Fetch!” ... “Get in loser, we’re going shopping”). Plus, with several iconic scenes set on Halloween, Christmas and the infamous “October Third,” “Mean Girls” can easily be made a special occasion kind of movie, in a pinch.

- Anne Nickoloff

A Muppet Family Christmas (1987): I shouldn’t have to sell you beyond “the Muppets, Sesame Street and Fraggle Rock celebrate Christmas together,” but I can. This TV special is packed with classic Muppet humor; personal favorites include a rendition of “The Christmas Song” by Big Bird and the Swedish Chef and stand-up act featuring Fozzie Bear and a snowman. It’s also a brisk 47 minutes and ends with a 7 1/4 u00bd-minute Christmas sing-a-long and a cameo from the late Jim Henson. My family used to pop in an old VHS of this TV special every Christmas, but it’s also available on YouTube.

- Evan MacDonald

Napoleon Dynamite (2004): I guess 2004 was a year for great movies, for a then-10-year-old me. “Napoleon Dynamite” and “Vote for Pedro” t-shirts were absolutely everywhere in the months that followed this oddball release, but I’ve found watching my “Napoleon Dynamite” DVD in 2020 when I need a pick-me-up. In this movie, I’ve found the side characters to be the funniest, especially Rex and Uncle Rico.

- Anne Nickoloff

Roman Holiday (1953): This has everything you could want in a classic romantic comedy. It’s set in Rome, for one thing. Gorgeous Audrey Hepburn plays a young European princess trapped by her regimented life, and dashing Gregory Peck portrays a hungry reporter. He thinks he has the biggest scoop of his life when he finds the princess on the streets after she escapes from her handlers for a taste of freedom. But he doesn’t bank on falling madly in love with her. I love it not only because of the setting, but the palpable chemistry between the two beautiful stars, Hepburn and Peck. It’s got its share of sappiness, but it totally captivates me every time.

- Jane Kahoun

The Running Man (1987): Quite possibly my favorite Arnold Schwarzenegger Sci-fi movie, envisions a future where society is in upheaval and the masses are controlled through a number of increasingly over-the-top reality game shows. Legendary TV show host Richard Dawson seems like he was born to play the role of villain in the film while Jim Brown and Jesse Ventura both have interesting roles as well.

- Mike Rose

Superbad (2007): As a 50-something woman, I’m hardly the target demographic for “Superbad,” which chronicles the misadventures of a couple of alcohol- and sex-seeking best friends during their last days of high school. My nephew introduced the film to me and my daughters several years ago, and I can’t remember a movie ever making me laugh quite so hard. I watched it again recently and the effect was gloriously similar. The movie features early, excellent performances by Michael Cera and Jonah Hill, as best pals Evan and Seth, plus Seth Rogen and Bill Hader as bumbling cops — even a young Emma Stone as the object of Hill’s desire. It’s raunchy and inappropriate and misogynistic – and probably plenty of other things I say I hate – but also heartfelt, funny as hell and a terrific pick-me-up during tough times.

- Susan Glaser

Three Days of the Condor (1975): This all-but forgotten film is about a New York-based CIA researcher (Robert Redford) who stumbles upon a rogue element in the agency. At 45 years old, the film is loaded with dated images (the Twin Towers), references (the oil crisis) and themes (post-Watergate distrust of government.) But I watch every Christmas, drawn by the cast (Max von Sydow, Faye Dunaway, Cliff Robertson and John Houseman), Big Apple scenes from that charmingly gritty era when Disney had no place on Times Square and a nod to the importance of journalism. A Christmas carol played by a Salvation Army band figures hauntingly into the final scene. So, yes, it’s also a holiday movie.

– Mark Vosburgh

Zodiac (2007): David Fincher’s 2007 “Zodiac” serves as a painstaking look at the frustrations that emerge when police and newspaper folks never get their guy. Based on former San Francisco Chronicle cartoonist Robert Graysmith’s obsessive books about t film also features one of Fincher’s best casts, delivering outstanding, often humorous performances that cover many details of the still-unsolved Zodiac murders that haunted middle and southern California in the late 1960s and 1970s. You have a pre-”Iron Man” Robert Downey Jr., Jake Gyllenhaal (as Graysmith), Mark Ruffalo, and a pre-“Succession” Brian Cox in a humorous turn as celebrity attorney Melvin Belli. “Zodiac” that suitably captures newsroom culture. Ruffalo’s turn as bow-tie clad San Francisco police Det. David Toschi shows a police investigator driven by the endless frustrations emerging from his inability to piece together a solid case. What hews much closer to reality is the obsession that true crime stories create among the police and writers investigating them. Sometimes life means accepting there is no resolution to something you want to end. “Zodiac” understands that frustration. But it also understands that the foundation of our justice system means that, even if you think you’ve got your guy, you still have to prove it.

- Kris Wernowsky

To see other stories in our series about activities you can do with the people in your bubble this holiday season, please visit cleveland.com/familytime.

AdChoices
AdChoices

More From The Plain Dealer

The Plain Dealer  Cleveland
The Plain Dealer Cleveland
AdChoices
AdChoices
image beaconimage beaconimage beacon