The ’Toban staff’s holly-jolly holiday movie picks

Holiday films to make you laugh, cry and believe again

A Christmas Fury (2017)

If you’re looking for a holiday film with a large dose of Canadiana, look no further.

Based on the same characters from comedy icon Mary Walsh’s 2005 award-winning CBC show Hatching, Matching, & Dispatching, Walsh, alongside a bevy of other Canadian television alumni from the likes of This Hour Has 22 Minutes, The Kids in the Hall, Murdoch Mysteries and Republic of Doyle, are a dysfunctional family who run a combination-ambulance-wedding-funeral business in a Newfoundland town.  

Set at Christmas time, the Furey family find themselves in charge of a problem foster child, Nevaeh, when the Furey’s oldest daughter and her buffoon husband think having a child will grant them ownership of the family business. 

Cue hilarious shenanigans.

The film even compares Nevaeh, the epitome of chaos, to The Shining with hilarious nods to psychic abilities between the girl and her badly damaged, out-of-a-horror-movie looking doll. 

Even the Canadian weather is a part of the film’s laughs, where black ice plays just as much of a character as the rest of the cast. 

The film’s ending will also fill you with warm-hearted cheer and a yearning to spend time with all the characters that make up your own families this holiday season.


—Grace Anne Paizen, sports editor

Tokyo Godfathers (2003)

The third and second-to-last feature from one of the anime industry’s most imaginative directors, Satoshi Kon,  Tokyo Godfathers is an essential and often overlooked entry in the gay holiday film canon. 

While all of Kon’s four feature films are lauded for their feminist overtones, delving into questions about gender, the multiplicity of identity and the violence women navigate in the world,  Tokyo Godfathers deviates from Kon’s dark cerebral signature and exhibits the director’s more playful visions. 

Three unhoused pals stumble on a baby in the trash in Tokyo on Christmas Eve. Waffling between raising her in their weirdo polycule and tracking down her parents, the film is a profound lesson on the importance of the families we find and the ones we’re born into. 

In the scene that’s always stuck with me, Miyuki holds a conversation with another woman. Neither of them speak the other’s language, but their talk flows as if they do. 

There’s something so full of heart in this scene, the belief it has in its misfit wastrel characters and that unspoken thing that unites us across our differences.


—Jessie Krahn, comment editor

Klaus (2019)

Are you looking for a holiday movie featuring stunning animation, loveable characters and a moving narrative of healing and finding joy in a cold world once again? Then Klaus is the film for you. 

The movie features Jesper,  a self-centred postman who has never done a hard day’s work in his life. Jesper is inevitably stationed on a frozen island in the village of Smeerensburg to be their new postman and finds the village to be full of  angry citizens too busy feuding with each other to care about the mail, of all things. 

Jesper teams up with the reclusive carpenter living on the outskirts of town, and through their friendship, brings joy back to the dreary community. 

Beyond the story itself, Klaus  has unique animation that breaks from the status quo, mimicking a 3D animation style to create gorgeous winter scenes.

If you are looking for a new favourite Christmas movie that will make you laugh and move you to tears, I promise you, this is worth the watch. 


—Teegan Gillich, graphics editor

Rise of the Guardians (2012)

Holiday legends known as the Guardians come together in the 2012 animated film to stop the Boogeyman, who is extra scary just by being British, from taking over the world and destroying the imagination, belief and dreams of children across the globe. 

Jack Frost, our guide into this world and narrator, takes the viewer on a journey of remembering what it’s like to be a child and to believe in something whimsical and grander than oneself. 

This movie is such a refreshing take on holiday folklore as well. Without spoiling too much, it goes into detail on how these legendary figures became who they are, hinting at each of their lives prior to taking up their titles. 

Something about this film heals an inner child in you. 

When I saw this film in theatres back then, I was 15 years old and not the intended demographic, but watching Jack Frost say farewell and tell everyone in the audience, “when the Moon tells you something, believe it,” got me so emotional I went home and cried. 

So, if you’re looking for a film to reignite that childlike wonder in you, Rise of the Guardians is your holiday film.


—Jacob Davis, arts & culture editor

The Holdovers (2023)

Alexander Payne’s The Holdovers is an instant Christmas classic that doubles as a lovingly crafted period piece set in the 1970s. 

Paul Giamatti stars as a crotchety boarding school teacher alongside Da’Vine Joy Randolph, who plays the school’s lonely head cook, and Dominic Sessa, who plays Giamatti’s rebellious student. 

The three actors carry much of the film, as all three characters find themselves isolated at boarding school over the holiday season. 

The actors bring the characters to life as they develop their relationships against their personal and interpersonal struggles. Despite being a ship-in-a-bottle type of film, the movie never drags on and is wonderfully paced for a dramedy. 

The aesthetic of the film is spot on, complete with the brown palette of the 1970s and film grain galore. The soundtrack is also wonderful, whether it serves as the background or foreground, depending on the scene.

The writing is excellent. The film can bring you to tears of sadness or laughter in equal measure.

 The Holdovers is, in this humble and honest writer’s opinion, the best holiday movie of 2023. 


—Braden Bristow, columnist