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[No comments] Christmas Movie Counterprogramming: There are Christmas movies, movies that aspire to fill viewers with the Christmas spirit. And then there are movies that are set during Christmas but would rather do something else with your time. The canonical example of the first type of movie is It's A Wonderful Life (1946); the canonical example of the second is Die Hard (1988).

If you're sick of watching It's A Wonderful Life every year, then mixing it up with Die Hard might be nice, but once you open that door you've got a lot of additional possibilities, and watching Die Hard every year just to stick it to Capra fans is silly. As a public service, I've used IMDB data to find the top-rated 'Christmas' movies for use in your holiday counterprogramming.

I used an IMDB data dump (see postscript) to find every movie tagged with the christmas keyword, excluding documentaries, movies with 'Christmas' or 'Holiday' in the title, and movies in Wikipedia's "American Christmas Films" category. I went through what remained and picked out films that were set as a whole over the Christmas holidays or otherwise had a pervasive Christmas element—a lot of top movies like Goodfellas and Full Metal Jacket and Citizen Kane seem to only have one memorable Christmas scene. Here are all the matching films with an IMDB rating of 8.0 or higher.

  1. The Godfather (1972)
  2. The Apartment (1960)
  3. Pelísky (1999)
  4. Plácido (1961)
  5. Jagten (2012)
  6. The Thin Man (1934)
  7. The Lion in Winter (1968)
  8. Twelve Monkeys (1995)
  9. The King's Speech (2010)
  10. Ma nuit chez Maud (1969)
  11. In Bruges (2008)
  12. C.R.A.Z.Y. (2005)
  13. Brazil (1985)

I've seen seven of these movies and I'm pretty happy with these results. If I wanted to watch a movie that fits this niche it would definitely be The Apartment, and The Godfather is kind of a marginal case.

Postscript: unfortunately, IMDB changed their data format recently to a format that is a lot easier to parse than what they had before, but which is missing important pieces of information like movie ratings and keywords, which makes a project like this impossible and renders the dataset as a whole nearly devoid of interest. It's been a fun ride, IMDB data dumps. From Ghostbusters Past to Worst Best Picture to The MST3K-IMDB Effect to You Can't Be Serious to I Should Be In That Spoof to Where's that Golden Age? to Worst Episode Ever, the old, hacky, IMDB dumps from an FTP site have provided me with quality data and my readers with much entertainment.

But we all knew it was only a matter of time until someone at Amazon said "Wait a minute..." and had a meeting with someone at IMDB. So from this point on, all of my IMDB projects will use the last full IMDB dump I got, for Ghostbusters Past in early 2015.

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