I Saw 10 Ships: The Best Christmas RomComs

When you think of what children’s Christmas movies are really about – elaborate holiday fantasies about befriending Santa, visiting the North Pole, and getting the ultimate present – it’s a wonder that any kids like them at all. Real life never matches up.

You could say the same thing about holiday rom coms. I don’t know why I love watching attractive people fall head-over-heels in love (right in time for Christmas!) while sporting designer wardrobes. I could die alone in clothes from Target, but that won’t stop me from loving a good Christmas rom com. If you love rom coms too, make some time between now and 12/25 to see these three ten ‘ships come sailing in.

Traci’s Picks

Love Actually

What’s a Christmas movie list without Love Actually? Shit – is what it is. I remember going to see this with some friends in high school (at the theater Molly used to work at!) and immediately loving it about 10 minutes in. I was enamored with Christmas in London, hot Karl, Jamie and Aurelia’s unspoken love story, ‘Ifyou real-ly love Christtt-mas’ charming Prime Minister Hugh Grant, pre-fame Chiwetel Ejiofor & January Jones, everything about Emma Thompson, SAM – all of it. I bought the soundtrack and played it on repeat, even when it wasn’t Christmas. Needless to say, it’s not only one of my favorite Holiday RomComs, but all time movies in general. Besides Crash, Richard Curtis brought the intersecting storylines way of filmmaking into the the 2000s, and it’s been an influence on movies ever since.

The Best Man Holiday

Let’s be real. I only went to see this movie theater because of the impressive amount of HBMs (<- click for explanation). I hadn’t see the first one, but I figured I didn’t really need to know much about it, and they would recap me if necessary. And if you haven’t seen it either, the good news is that when you watch The Best Man Holiday, they’ll do just that. This group of longtime friends gets together for some quality time over Christmas, and while there are many laughs and near panty-dropping moments (like the one shown above), all I’m telling you is to watch with a box of tissues next to you. You will probably need them.

I’ll Be Home For Christmas

I wasn’t one of those girls into JTT. Just call me the 1%. I was too busy fangirling over Leo and BSB, I didn’t have time for a silly crush on a 90s It boy. However, I wasn’t exactly immune to his movies either. Like this one, a fun and festive adventure which has JTT speeding across the country in a Santa suit to get from California back home to New York in time for Christmas. Yes, that is Jessica Biel as his girlfriend. Yes, of course, the ride in a one-horse open sleigh together.

Bad Santa

Does this really constitute as a romantic comedy? Maybe not entirely, but these is some ‘romance’ in it, thanks to my girl Lauren Graham and her naughty relationship with Billy Bob Thornton’s Santa. He’s a disaster, but you know who really wins Christmas in this movie? THIS KID.

When Harry Met Sally…

When Harry Met Sally doesn’t entirely take place over the holidays, but a chunk of it does, and of course the end at New Year’s Eve, so I’m counting it. If you’ve read my previous post about this film, you’ll know that I was a late bloomer to this amazing movie, but I’m all in now. WHMS is a reminder that New York at Christmastime is a magical beautiful place – and then you snap back into reality watching Sally try to haul a Christmas tree by herself in the snow down the street. But all of it, the good and the bad, is a reminder why RomComs like this are the perfect thing to watch at the holidays. They make you laugh, make you cry, make you all tingly inside knowing that the season isn’t just about the trees and the snow and the presents – it’s about being around the people you love.

Molly’s Picks

The Holiday

The Holiday is one of my top two Christmas rom coms (it sort of shares first place with Love Actually). It has everything I could want in a Christmas movie: aspirational real estate (both the California mansion and the Cotswolds cottage), just-as-aspirational hair and wardrobe, precocious English tots, a kindly old man, and Jude Law right in the middle of what will someday be remembered as his golden era. Sure, it does fall into the romcom trope of everyone thinking the obviously pretty and charismatic Kate Winslet is some sort of sad sack, but – spoiler! it turns out she’s leading lady material after all. With Jack Black and Cameron Diaz rounding out the main cast, the Holiday is the perfect balance of rom and com.

Meet Me In St. Louis

As with regular-season rom coms, it’s important not to disregard the classics at Christmas. This musical (come on, you knew there would be a musical!) follows a year in the life of a turn-of-the-century family. However, the film ends at Christmas time, and is the origin of Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas. To be honest, I never would have bothered with this movie if (1) I weren’t in the play in 8th grade, and (2) it didn’t star Judy Garland while she was still … doing well. But it’s worth watching if you like musicals, holiday cheer, and one of the most talented performers of a generation.

The Family Stone

I recommend this rom com with one reservation: I am recommending the whole thing except for the last, oh, five-ish minutes. If you’ve seen it, you know why. But the rest of it is great, sort of a Yuletide This Is Where I Leave You. And like TIWILY, it’s at least somewhat relatable if you have a large family of grown siblings, in-laws, nieces and nephews. The comedic parts of it hit a little harder than a lot of Christmas movies, which stick to the feel-good fluff. Plus, the cast is incredible: Christmas King Dermot Mulroney, as well as Diane Keaton, Craig T. Nelson, Luke Wilson, Sarah Jessica Parker, Claire Danes, Rachel McAdams,  Elizabeth Reaser and Paul Schneider (Mark Brendanawicz himself).

But I mean it about the last 5-10 minutes.

Elf

Elf, a rom com? I say that it is! It may be a children’s/ family movie, but I think it’s one of the funniest films out there. And I know I’m not the only one who thinks so, because just about every other adult I know can quote the whole thing. After a rocky start (the musical Law and Order: SVU episode setup that is Baby It’s Cold Outside), the gentle love story of Buddy and Jovie is a big part of what makes Elf so sweet. What can I say? Smiling’s my favorite.

While You Were Sleeping

If I had to explain to someone what 1995 was like, in the romcom world anyway, I’d show them While You Were Sleeping. This movie is just so delightfully normcore, before we had a word for it. Everyone’s hanging out in Chicago, wearing Gap sweaters and Land’s End khakis, telling lies about their romantic history and falling in love during comas and stuff. If you’re wondering why your mom still calls Sandra Bullock America’s Sweetheart, just watch While You Were Sleeping.

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Gay Apparel: Fashion Inspiration From 90s Christmas Movies

90s fashion is – like it or not – totally in. And so is Christmas. So for the 2014 Yuletide Season, let’s take all our fashion cues from Christmas movies of the 1990s, shall we?

Home Alone (1990)

When I was watching Home Alone with some nephews last week, I told them that this movie showed how people dressed when their mom and I were kids. Then, I realized that everyone looked almost exactly like they do now. Not sure if this is because we’ve 360’d back to 1990 fashion, because the costume designers aimed for a timeless  look, or a bit of both.

There’s a lot of fashion here, so let’s take it category by category:

Outerwear

Please, try to suppress your rage at Kevin’s garbage family for the next few moments so we can focus on their outfits. Here’s what I’m seeing. A baseball-style coat on Buzz, a few of Kate Middleton-worthy cranberry-colored jackets, cheerful Fair Isle-type scarves, and some heavier coats that you can probably still buy from Patagonia or North Face. All outerwear that is entirely appropriate for winter 2014-2015.

The best, though, is Kevin’s tan parka with the red-green plaid flannel lining. And that knit reindeer hat? I’ll take one in an adult size, please.

Loungewear

No, you’re not looking at the early 90s J.C. Penney Christmas catalog. The garbage McCallisters are serving some serious pajama here, and I think we could stand to recreate it. I’d wear Kevin’s robe and PJs with the contrasting white piping. And how about those nightgowns? What do we have to do to bring those back?

I bet Fuller and the cousin over Kev’s shoulder are still wearing those same glasses, but now in an ironic hipster-y way.

Sweaters Forever

If left home alone, all of the little boys I know would remain in whatever they woke up in that morning because they “can’t find their clothes.” Even if they woke up on top of or next to their clothes. But not Kevin. Kevin appreciates a good chunky-knit sweater, and what can I say? So do we.

Turtlenecks Forever-ever

Turtlenecks are so silly (looks-wise) and practical (warmth-wise) that I kind of want to start wearing them again. But do I dare wear them under a button-up like Kev’s garbage relative?

Novelty Prints

My memories of 1990 are sketchy at best, but I do recall wearing a lot of silly, loud prints. To preserve the timeless aesthetic, the Home Alone costumers stuck to muted tones and L.L. Bean-y cuts instead of the neon monstrosities that most of us were wearing. Um. I would wear Fuller’s exact shirt. And maybe the glasses.

Miracle On 34th Street (1994)

Look At All These Freaking Coats

Obviously Susan’s mother made some serious bank, because I doubt most New Yorkers could even afford an apartment that would house this many beautiful, classic wool coats.

Everyone. There were more coats. It’s important that you know that there were even more coats, but I had to stop myself.

Ain’t No Collar Like A Peter Pan Collar Cause A Peter Pan Collar Don’t Pop

Like the costume designers of Home Alone, the folks behind Miracle on 34th Street aimed for a timeless production. And nothing quite says “timeless” like the Peter Pan collar — the collar that will never grow up, if you will.

I just feel like everyone’s all “oh, Zooey Deschanel, she’s the queen of the Peter Pan collar,” but long before Mara Wilson was a funny, relateable 20-something writer, she was doing big things for the Peter Pan collar industry.

While You Were Sleeping (1995)

Warm Stuff

Chicago is cold, but when you have a floppy knit tam or a newsboy cap, you won’t feel the chill. It was true in 1995 and is true 19 years later.

Ouch. Writing that “19 years later” part hurt a little.

Knit Stuff

Everybody had a chunky, oversized oatmeal-colored sweater, probably from The Gap or, like Barbara Moss or whatever. They were cozy as hell.


What’s so 90s about this? In addition to the thick chain stitch on Sandy’s sweater, I’m pretty sure it’s cropped, so it would fit right in now. Not like an above-the-belly-button thing, but this look where they were … my friend and I used to call them “awkwardly short.” Hitting right around your natural waist, so that if you raised your arms you were in trouble. Or you would have been, but it was 1995 and you were wearing a bodysuit so it was fine.

Ruggedly Handsome Stuff

Yes, please, gentlemen of 2014.

Stuff We’d Rather Forget

Nobody ever talks about this when they talk about 90s fashion, but there was this thing for a while where we were all like “fuck it, I’m just gonna put a rosette on this.” Seriously. Around this time my First Communion dress had a sailor collar that met in a rosette and to this day if you try to tell me I wasn’t hot shit, I will not hear it.

The Preacher’s Wife (1996)

This movie makes me want to lift my hands in praise … for its wardrobe department. Whitney looks like a Central Park ice skater from a Currier and Ives print. Really. The costume designers on The Preachers Wife are angels sent to bestow gifts on humankind. Proof: Denzel Washington dressed like a handsome man from the 1990s dressed like a handsome man from the 1940s.

So, I really like Whitney’s ensemble here. But I also have to note that if you were a preacher’s wife or a Catholic school teacher in the mid-90s, you definitely wore that front-button dress/ turtleneck combo into the ground. Still, as the weather turns chillier I find myself more and more into the long skirt/dress with boots look.