December films can mean a lot of things. For critics, it's a marathon of award contenders, many of which seem important at the time and quickly disappear into the cinematic mists, but many of which catch on and last forever. It can also mean trips to the movies with family, breaks from shopping, ways to get out of the cold, holiday-themed movies, kids' movies, etc. Like the holidays themselves, December movies can conjure up many memories. It's also the last oasis before the January dump comes along (featuring the latest horror remakes, and Martin Lawrence and Larry the Cable Guy films).
1a. The Lord of the Rings (December 17-19, 2001-2003)
This just goes without saying, doesn't it?
1b. The Exorcist (December 26, 1973)
The Exorcist is a perfect Halloween movie, with its colored leaves and chilly autumn winds. But here's a secret: it opened the day after Christmas, 1973. I can only imagine: you and the family are slightly hung over from turkey dinners and an overabundance of gifts. You yawn, put down your empty egg nog mug, step over the discarded wrapping paper, move past the Christmas tree, past Grandpa Fred asleep on the couch, wrap up in scarves and hats, pile in the car, drive down to the movie theater, and buy tickets for... this? For spinning heads and pea-soup vomit? Yet it worked, and it was a huge hit. This was what people wanted to see that winter. Perhaps it was a reflection of those dark times. Just last year, during our own dark times, AVPR: Aliens vs Predator - Requiem opened on Christmas Day. I have an AVPR ornament on my tree to prove it.