Dude versus Elf.
I wouldn't say The Big Lebowski is a staple on our household family Christmas cinema schedule, but watching distant cousin Elf, in installments this week, has brought me to a realization that they share something in common: these are possibly the ONLY TWO FLAWLESSLY STRUCTURED FILMS IN HISTORY. Forget Chinatown. They cannot be cut down by a single scene, there are no throwaway lines, scenes, shots, or cutaways. I'm not saying either Elf or Lebowski is my favourite film, or the best film ever (though they are wonderful); I am simply saying they are subatomic-good. They cannot be split.*
One film a massive cult classic, the other a massive mass classic; both stripped down, no fat examples of films that demand and reward repeated viewings (or, just LISTEN to them all the way through sometime). There are three films that I would love to see a sequel to, but I hope I never have to, because they ended just where they were meant to end. Except I wouldn't mind seeing Buddy and The Dude share some screen time in a holiday spinoff...
I would also highly recommend Christmas in Connecticut, the 1945 Barbara Stanwyck classic. She does not appear in either Elf or The Big Lebowski, and in fact, I would not call these three films highly similar.
*physicists, fact-check me privatel, better, just ignore any trivial physics misstatements; these laws of the physical universe are really more suggested guidelines, I think.