Weekend Watchlist | ‘Tis the Season

By The Pitt News Staff

This long, challenging semester is nearly over. Kick back and celebrate the holiday season with these streaming recommendations.

The Nightmare Before Christmas (Disney+) // Diana Velasquez, Senior Staff Writer

Tired of the same old jolly white Christmas? Well, you’re not alone. Jack Skellington wants a new kind of Christmas for everyone too, and in this Tim Burton-produced animated special, he’s got scares for you. Released in 1993, “The Nightmare Before Christmas” has become both a Halloween and a Christmas classic for millennials and Gen Z kids of all ages and interests. Shot in that distinctly eye-catching stop-motion style of animation, this movie is not only a top-notch musical but a feast for the eyes as well. Jack Skellington, who discovers a portal to Christmas Town, brings back all the shiny red and green baubles he finds to Halloween Town, where the denizens, all too happy to create their own horror-filled holiday, set about a plot that ultimately ruins Christmas. And while Jack Skellington is the star of this film, I have to give a shout-out to the truly terrifying Oogie Boogie, the villainous bogey-man who quite literally sets in motion a plot to capture Santa Claus and torture him, mentally scaring many, many innocent children in the process. The movie rides a wave of all things spooky, jolly, ghoulish and downright toe-tapping. It’s a nightmare, alright. 

Edward Scissorhands (Starz) // Charlie Taylor, Contributing Editor

I know what you’re thinking. And no, “Edward Scissorhands” is not just a Halloween movie. Like “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” “Edward Scissorhands” blurs the boundary between spooky Halloween themes and cheesy Christmas themes, with a delightfully campy result. 

In a sheltered suburban neighborhood, which sits below the fortress of a reclusive mad scientist, a housewife named Peg (Dianne West) struggles to sell her Avon beauty products. She decides to venture to the scientist’s home in hopes that he will want to buy lipstick, only to discover that he has passed away, leaving behind his Frankenstein-like invention, Edward (Johnny Depp).

Edward’s father died before he could make his hands, equipping him instead with several blades on the ends of his wrists. Feeling bad for Edward, Peg takes him home to live with her family. He quickly becomes the fascination of bored, gossipy members of the neighborhood and falls in love with Peg’s teenage daughter, Kim (Winona Ryder). Told years later from Kim’s perspective as a cozy bedtime story for her granddaughter, the film concludes on a snow-covered Christmas day. The moral of “Edward Scissorhands” is just as universal as any other Christmas movie – we all deserve unconditional love, even if our fingers are actually just knives.

A Christmas Story (Hulu) // Sarah Stager, Contributing Editor

I don’t know about you, but my family watches this movie at least once every holiday season. It is non-negotiable. I could probably mouth along to all the lines at this point, but that’s only because every single scene is so iconic that I will never forget any of them for as long as I live. “A Christmas Story,” and the Barenaked Ladies’ album “Barenaked for the Holidays” — another piece of compulsory holiday media in the Stager household — are all I need to make this particular holiday season feel normal.

This 1983 film follows a young boy’s mission to receive a Red Ryder air rifle as a Christmas present, while dodging bullies and dealing with his zany parents and snotty little brother. Even though Ralphie, our main character, can at times be infuriatingly immature, the movie carries a tint of nostalgic innocence, portraying in a timeless manner the distorted yet rosy worldview of a child. Perhaps it will transport you back to your own childhood, when you could still be excited by the idea of Santa and the mystery of gifts arrayed carefully under the tree. Even if you don’t celebrate Christmas, every frame of this movie is so infused with wintry cheer that you could still easily find yourself transported into Ralphie’s simple and snow-clad world.

When Harry Met Sally (Hulu) // Nadiya Greaser, Staff Writer

“When Harry Met Sally” is an all-occasions movie — appropriate for graduation, breakups, first dates, Christmas, Valentine’s Day and New Years, it is the romantic comedy that every other romantic comedy aspires to be. It is one of those movies that you should have watched already, but that even if you haven’t seen, you’ve heard about it — like “Jaws,” or “Casablanca,” or (for reasons unknown to me) “La La Land.” So on the off chance that you’re one of the embarrassing few who haven’t seen “When Harry Met Sally” yet, I promise that there’s something in it for you. 

The movie is set so deeply in the ‘80s that landlines, Rolodexes and the Sharper Image store are intrinsic to the plot, their kitschiness outdone only by the volume of Sally’s hair and the sheer number of turtlenecks. Harry (Billy Crystal) and Sally (Meg Ryan) play off of each other’s fussiness and moodiness and wittiness in a way that makes you Google “are Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal married,” even when you’ve already Googled it. “When Harry Met Sally”’s greatest skill is in its conversations — unlike weaker romcoms and more cliche Christmas movies, it doesn’t depend on a forced misunderstanding, a madcap rush to the airport, or a wedding interrupted. Instead, it has one of the best declarations of love maybe ever, and a New Year’s kiss that doesn’t come off cliche. 

Glee (Netflix) // Megan Williams, Digital Manager

For my entire tenure as Digital Manager, I’ve begged someone to write about “Glee.” Several iterations of Weekend Watchlist were made solely so a writer could explore that horrible/amazing, triumph/trainwreck of a program. In the spirit of Thanos’ Avengers: Age of Ultron post credit scene — fine. I’ll do it myself. 

Glee’s Christmas episodes vary in quality just like its seasons. The first Christmas episode, airing in Season Two, features some of the cast’s best holiday covers — “Baby It’s Cold Outside,” “Last Christmas” and “We Need a Little Christmas.” Actual plot existed between the festive, albeit expected, songs — Rachel and Finn broke up, Emma and Will moved closer together, and some of the side characters got to shine. The Season Three Christmas episode does not have a particularly good plot, but I’m willing to forgive its shortcomings for giving us Mercedes (Amber Riley) covering the best Christmas song of all time, Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You.” The holiday episode quality fell more quickly than the show’s ratings after this, though, culminating in the Season Five performance of “The Chipmunk Song,” which should’ve gotten Glee cancelled and its performers jailed. If you want to have some genuine fun this holiday season, stick to Glee’s first forays into Christmastime. If you want to torture your relatives, venture past Season Three.