When the weather outside is frightful and the fire is so delightful, it's the perfect occasion to sit down and watch a good old-fashioned holiday flick.

With the holidays quickly approaching, the Daily Nebraskan decided to seek out film experts here at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and find out their favorite films to watch this time of year.

Gwendolyn Audrey Foster, an English professor at UNL, said she dislikes the idyllic outlook of most holiday films.

"I am not particularly fond of the holidays, because they are so incredibly commercialized and everyone is expected to be part of a middle classed perfect nuclear family," Foster said. "Many of us come from toxic families, disastrous families, dysfunctional at best  I think we ought to be more honest about it. That is why I adore ‘Bad Santa.'"

Another film professor at UNL, Wheeler Winston Dixon, agree with Foster.

 

"Terry Zwigoff's 2003 ‘Bad Santa' is about as twisted as you can get," Dixon said. "With Billy Bob Thornton as a department store Santa Claus with larceny on his mind, but really funny if you're in the right mood.

"My single favorite Christmas film is the 1938 version of ‘A Christmas Carol'," Dixon said. "This is as traditional as plum pudding for the holidays, beautifully made with the full MGM gloss, and I look forward to it every holiday season."

Foster, who specializes in gender studies, suggests 1945's "Christmas in Connecticut," as an older classic that manages to be comical while making a statement about the sexes.

"It is hilarious and also says a lot about gender roles," Foster said. "Barbara Stanwyck is a newspaper writer posing as a Martha Stewart perfect homemaker-type. Truth is she can't cook and wants to be a career woman in the '40s. She meets dreamboat Dennis Morgan who eventually figures out that she is essentially ‘passing' as a wifely type. It's a beautiful romantic comedy."

Foster also enjoys more recent holiday films such as 1988's "Scrooged."

"I love Bill Murray's performance as a cynical, mean-spirited TV exec in this postmodern spin on ‘A Christmas Carol'," Foster said.

"Scrooged" mixes sincerity with sentimental as Foster explained that "the message is sweet, but there is a reality at the center of the film, unlike many more celebrated mainstream holiday faves."

The film professor also recommends 2005's Academy Award winning French film "Joyeux Noel," which tells the true story of a Christmas truce during World War I.

"Few people have seen it," Foster said, "which is a real shame because it is a… moving, and utterly realistic portrayal of French, Scottish and German soldiers putting down their guns for Christmas."

Another foreign film Foster fancies is the 2010 Finnish feature "Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale."

She described the film as "a Christmas tale that has a frightening take on Santa, who is unearthed in an archaeological dig. It's really more a horror film in that when Santa is unearthed, kids start disappearing. It's unusual to see Santa and his elves depicted in a negative light.

"It's really hard to find but worth seeking out!"

mikehollins@dailynebraskan.com