You ever think that the ghosts in "A Christmas Carol" could have saved a lot of time if there had been Christmas movies in Dickensian England? Just pop a copy of "It’s a Wonderful Life" in the ol’ DVD player and bada bing, bada Scrooge, Ebenezer is a new man.
It’s hardly a holiday season without yuletide movies to fill our hearts with cheer. We’ve rounded up some only-in-Austin special screenings around town through the end of the year.
Don’t travel much for the holidays? AFS Cinema invites you to spend the season with them. As you’d expect, their Christmastime slate is part iconic, part eclectic. You’ve got "It’s a Wonderful Life" (Dec. 22-25). But you’ve also got the witchy Kim Novak-Jack Lemmon flick "Bell, Book & Candle" (Dec. 20, 22, 25 and 26) and the excellent, boozy 1930s mystery "The Thin Man" (Dec. 21, 24, 25 and 27), which is one of those "oh, yes, this IS a Christmas movie" movies.
For fans of foreign films, you can also catch "Yi Yi" (Dec. 28 and 29) and "Tokyo Story" (Dec. 30 and Jan. 1). Don’t sleep on 1983 New Year’s Eve flick "Get Crazy" (Dec. 29 and 31), with Lou Reed and Malcolm McDowell as "basically Mick Jagger."
If you haven’t scored an invitation to an office Christmas party yet, fear not. The Austin-based cinema-and-dining experts at Drafthouse have lined up an excellent schedule of holiday-themed movie parties in December. Screenings for movie parties usually involve some type of swag and audience participation, so it’ll be more fun than taking hits of eggnog by the copier with Carla from accounting. (Unless you are Carla from accounting. Knock yourself out, girl.)
Check Drafthouse’s website for theater locations, showtimes and tickets for these movie parties:
• "A Christmas Story"
• "The Grinch" (the 2018 animated version)
• "Love Actually"
• "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation"
• "The Polar Express"
Other seasonal offerings from the Drafthouse:
• Master Pancake’s November tribute to the inimitable Tom Hanks, dubbed "Hanksgiving" (6:30 and 9:20 p.m. Nov. 29 and Nov. 30 at Ritz)
• A brunch screening of underrated rom-com gem "The Holiday" (noon at Lakeline and 11:30 a.m. at Slaughter, both Dec. 1)
• A brunch screening of one of the best things Anna Faris ever did, home-for-the-holidays comedy "Just Friends" (12:45 p.m. Dec. 1 at Ritz)
• The closest thing we’ve got to a Stanley Kubrick Christmas film, "Eyes Wide Shut" (7 p.m. Dec. 3 at Village, 6 p.m. Dec. 8 at Mueller)
• Another round of "National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation," this time as a three-course feast with beer pairings from Deschutes Brewery (7 p.m. Dec. 4 at Lakeline)
• Holiday-adjacent neo-noir "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" (7:30 p.m. Dec. 5 at Village)
• Santa slasher flick "Silent Night, Deadly Night" (9:30 p.m. Dec. 8 at Village, 9:30 p.m. Dec. 12 at Lakeline and 9:20 p.m. Dec. 16 at Mueller)
• Frank Capra tearjerker "It’s a Wonderful Life" (1 p.m. at Mueller, 3:25 p.m. at Lakeline and 6:25 p.m. at Slaughter, all on Christmas Eve)
The North Austin shopping center will host a screening of "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" (6 p.m. Dec. 7) by the fireplace. There will also be face painting, balloon art, a DJ and more.
Austin Public Library
Sure, books, fun, great, but have you considered: movies? Head to an Austin Public Library location and catch:
• Vince Vaughn-Reese Witherspoon vehicle "Four Christmases" (6:30 p.m. Nov. 21, Terrazas Branch)
• Idris Elba/Regina King flick "This Christmas" (1 p.m. Dec. 5 at Terrazas Branch)
• "National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation" (1 p.m. Dec. 12 at Terrazas Branch)
• Animated nativity story "The Star" (3:30 p.m. Dec. 13 at Old Quarry Branch)
• "Elf" (1 p.m. Dec. 19 at Terrazas Branch)
• Sci-fi B-movie "Santa Claus Conquers the Martians" (6:30 p.m. Dec. 19 at Carver Branch)
• Tim Burton’s masterpiece "The Nightmare Before Christmas" (3:30 p.m. Dec. 20 at St. Johns Branch)
Austin Trail of Lights
The brightest holiday tradition in town teams up with Austin Parks Foundation to show "Home Alone" (Dec. 12). Bring a blanket, but get the kettle corn at Zilker Park. General admission to the Trail of Lights on movie night is free.
The North Austin shopping destination will screen a few wintry movies in December: "Home Alone" (Dec. 13), "Elf" (Dec. 20) and "Abominable" (Dec. 27). All screenings start at 6 p.m. on the Domain Northside lawn. Bring a chair and a blanket; heaters will be provided. The screenings will be free and open to the public.
The downtown coffee shop and bar will host a screening of "Home for the Holidays" (10 p.m. Nov. 27). Drink specials, snacks, s’mores, an escape from your family.
If you like to combine movies with light fitness — which, hey, it’s your life, buddy — you won’t want to miss the annual "Elf" Pub Run (Dec. 3). Pub-runners meet up at the theater at 6 p.m. and head on foot to a "secret location" for snowball fights, burping contests and singalongs. The action then swings back to the Paramount for a screening of Will Ferrell’s modern holiday classic, "Elf," at 8:15 p.m., plus other Christmas treats. Don’t forget your costume. Tickets for the pub run and the screening cost $25; tickets to just the movie cost $12.
The Paramount also will screen an all-star roster of Christmas movies, the ones you don’t want to get to Dec. 26 without watching. Mark your calendars for "Home Alone" (Dec. 4), "Love Actually" (Dec. 10), "It’s a Wonderful Life" (Dec. 17) and "White Christmas" (Dec. 18). If you aren’t immediately enchanted with the idea of watching Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney spark off each other while you munch popcorn in a historic movie palace, I don’t know what to tell you.
The East Austin restaurant will host a screening of "National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation" (6 p.m. Nov. 29) on its lawn. Movie is free; drinks and snacks for sale at the outdoor bar.
Texas Farmers’ Market
The Mueller farmers market will host a family-friendly screening of "Home Alone" (6 p.m. Dec. 18) under their hangar.