Here at The Bubble, we’re not afraid to court a little controversy, so we’re going to hit you with a scolding-hot take: Christmas in Buenos Aires can be… A bit of a bummer.
I know, I know, it’s probably unfair for an expat to project their own childhood experiences unto another culture just because they’ve made the decision to set up shop there. It’s a bit like a houseguest that’s staying at your house for a week suddenly decided to rearrange all your furniture to maximize your feng shui (is that how feng shui works?). It’s an inherently selfish and arrogant instinct to want your adopted home to mirror your place of birth in this one very specific way, but if we’re really honest with ourselves, we spend much of the holiday season here feeling like something’s missing (and I don’t think it’s just the weather).
Which is not to say that Christmas flat-out doesn’t exist in Argentina. It does! The marketing/consumer aspect of it is alive and well in the Ciudad de la Furia. It’s just a bit more understated. If you come from a country that makes a big deal about the Christmas holidays– we’re talking full-on decked-out houses, maddeningly ubiquitous Christmas jingles, and holiday-themed specials on the television– it can be a little deflating to spend your holiday season in a country that’s comparably kind of blasé about it.
For the last few days we’ve been giving you recommendations of what to do for the holiday weekend, or where to celebrate the holidays. Now we’re going to give you a few ideas of ways in which to leverage the awesome power of streaming to get into the holiday spirit, if you’re not quite there yet. So get ready for the sound of sleigh bells and a lot of red & green: here are ten picks for streamable Christmas content.
Todo el Año es Navidad
Most of this list will focus on that familiar, heartwarming Christmas feeling that you can really only get from a giant corporate entity decorating it with pretty lights and shoving it in your face. However, we’re starting our list off by highlighting something more local, to highlight the fact that Christmas isn’t actually dead here– it’s just a tiny bit different. Todo el Año es Navidad is a charming documentary about the lives of the unsung heroes of Christmas time: shopping-mall Santas. Many of these men have been doing this job for decades, and some even consider it their life calling. Take a peek at their stories by streaming this film on CINEAR.
The Santa Clause
Speaking of people dressing up as Santa, how about this completely ridiculous and nonsensical — yet somehow widely beloved — mid-90s holiday classic? Follow the adventures of Tim Allen (we’re pretty sure that’s his actual character’s name), a bumbling nincompoop of a man who murders Santa Claus. No, really, that’s how this movie starts — our protagonist kills Santa. And because of some downright Satanic curse of sorts, he is now obligated to take the place of jolly old Nick. It doesn’t have to make sense, it just has to transport you to a magical time of your childhood were things were easier, simpler, better. And this bizarre film manages to defy the odds to do exactly that.
A Christmas Carol
Ah yes, the story of Ebeneezer Scrooge. We’ve all seen many iterations of Charles Dickens’s timeless classic about a cranky old man who is compelled by three ghostly apparitions to embrace the true meaning of Christmas: But have you ever watched the 2009 version by visionary director Robert Zemeckis, featuring Jim Carrey as Scrooge himself, as well as some seriously uncanny-valley CGI? This version goes a little darker than most cinematic portrayals of the story, and was criticized at the time of its release for scaring small children. Doesn’t this make you want to watch it that much more?
A Very Murray Christmas
Another actor who famously portrayed Ebeneezer Scrooge (or, well, a version of Ebeneezer Scrooge) is the great Bill Murray, who also starred in another timeless holiday classic: Groundhog Day. So it makes some sense that Netflix gave the master of deadpan humor his own holiday special, which is about… Bill Murray and his famous friends attempting to host a holiday special. Filled with comedy skits, moments of heartfelt emotion, and wonderful musical performances (including a re-contextualization of Todd Rundgren’s “I Saw the Light” as a Christmas ballad of sorts), it’s as dazzling as it is bittersweet. It features cameos by artists such as Miley Cyrus, Chris Rock, George Clooney, and a sizeable amount of those people with recognizable enough faces that compel you to exclaim “oh hey it’s that guy!”, but whose names you can never quite remember.
El Camino Christmas
Christmas is a stutter in the march of days. A moment of quiet reflection where you can take stock of your place in life and show appreciation to your loved ones. So why does it have to be all sleigh bells and mistletoe? If you ask me, nothing spells Christmas like a black comedy about a shoot-out at a liquor store. Starring Jessica Alba, Luke Grimes, Vincent D’Onofrio and the second appearance of Tim Allen on this list, El Camino Christmas is likely the most violent, most ludicrous Christmas movie you’ll watch this year, but you might enjoy it for precisely that reason.
The Nightmare Before Christmas
If you grew up in the 1990s, chances are you’re already very familiar with this dark Christmas story spawned from the imagination of Tim Burton (though actually directed by Henry Selick, a fact that you can now bust out at your next holiday party to impress exactly zero people). This twisted stop-motion animation about a skeleton Pumpkin King in a Halloween town who, when faced with a sudden bout of existential malaise, decides that he and his fellow Halloween townspeople will take over Christmas this year. If you’re anything like me, you’ve memorized the lyrics to every song, and this film has become an essential part of your holiday traditions.
And if you want to talk about spookiness, why not watch a straight-up horror movie this Christmas season? Krampus is a dark fantasy horror film that isn’t afraid to get a little silly. If you’re not familiar with the concept of Krampus, well, think of it as a reverse-Santa; a demonic goat-demon who punishes children who have misbehaved. Krampus is a piece of Central European folklore that has, sadly, fallen out of favor with the passing of time, but this film by director Michael Dougherty is bringing the horned beast back for modern audiences to enjoy, and an entirely new generation of children to be terrified of.
Iron Man 3
The Marvel Cinematic Universe is everywhere, and, if we’re honest with ourselves, we’re a little tired of superhero movies. But! The third entry in the Iron Man series is actually a Shane Black film first, and a superhero movie second. And those familiar with Shane Black’s career know the director’s penchant for setting his films on Christmas. And that’s exactly why Iron Man 3 — regardless of the fact that it is an action-comedy about robot suits — is a Christmas movie. Not only that, but it is actually a pretty good time, with Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark actually spending most of his time outside of the suit. This sounds like an odd thing to praise a superhero movie for, but trust us — it’s all the better for it.
Bojack Horseman Christmas Special
You know, if someone told me a few years ago that the most accurate and poignant portrayal of depression, ennui and existential anxiety would be on a show about an animated talking horse, I’d… Well, I probably would have believed you. And that’s exactly what this brilliant piece of television is. In this excellent one-off holiday special, Bojack & co. take a break from spiraling into despair to celebrate the joy of Christmas. Well, about as much joy as you can muster when you’re Bojack Horseman.
Mariah Carey’s Merriest Christmas
The great canon of Christmas songs contains classics such as “Deck the Halls”, “Jingle Bells”, “Frosty the Snowman” as well as older standards such as “Angels We Have Heard on High”. But it also contains a few recent additions. And no, we’re not talking about “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer”– we’re talking about Mariah Carey’s smash hit “All I Want for Christmas is You”, a brilliant piece of pop songwriting from the queen of melisma herself. So forget all these movies we just talked about. Liquor-store shootouts, goat demons, superheroes, skeleton kings, depressed talking horses, Tim Allen — those things all contribute to the spirit of Christmas in their own ways. But if you really want to plunge face-first into the spirit of the holiday, all you need to do is play this performance by Mariah, as she regales us with the gift of her pipes and some brilliant tunes. Deck the halls, baby; we’re there.