Monday, December 15, 2014
Christmas is a wonderful season for stories. There are all sorts of traditional stories, of course, but the season lends itself to newer variations as well. A few years ago, my husband and I began a new tradition in our home of watching all our favorite Christmas movies during the month of December. In the past, we might have watched these movies now and then during the year, but since we started this tradition, we don't, and now we really look forward to seeing them all in December. I thought I would share with you my favorite Christmas stories (even though these are movies and not books--stories are stories, right?). In alphabetical order, they are:
Bell, Book and Candle - Okay, not primarily a Christmas movie, but it does have Christmas in it. What better way to celebrate Christmas than with witch Kim Novak and "victim" Jimmy Stewart? One of the best lines is when Stewart tries to tell his ex-girlfriend that Novak is a witch and she says, "Oh, Shep, you just never learned to spell."
Brother Sun, Sister Moon - Another not exactly Christmas movie, but one that always brings the season home to me. I'm not a church-goer, but the end of the movie where soon-to-be Saint Francis goes to the Vatican to see the Pope fills any need I might have for organized religion. Sir Alec Guinness as the Pope delivers the most classic line in this beautiful and luscious story. I cry every time I hear it.
The Holiday - A surprising little story of two women (Carmen Diaz and Kate Winslet) who switch houses for the holidays, each trying to get away from their unhappy and stressful lives. The heart of the story, however, is Eli Wallach as an aging Hollywood writer. And Jack Black is cute enough to eat with a spoon.
It's a Wonderful Life - The quintessential Christmas movie about a man who thinks the world would be a better place if he'd never been born. If you're not familiar with this movie, you must be living under a rock. This is THE classic.
Joyeux Noel - You don't often find war movies in a Christmas collection, but this one is a gem. It's based on true incidents during WWI when French, Scot and German troops agreed to a spontaneous and unsanctioned Christmas Eve truce between the trenches. The surprising events underscore the true essence of humanity.
The Last Holiday - Queen Latifah shines as a struggling sales associate in a scrooge-like chain store (think Wal-Mart) who is diagnosed with a terminal disease. When she decides to blow her life's savings doing all the things she never dared to do before, she shows everyone around her what living is all about.
Love Actually - My favorite Christmas movie, weaving together no less than seven or eight (it's hard to keep track, since they all criss-cross each other) stories about the true importance of Christmas. Hugh Grant, Colin Firth, Emma Thompson, Liam Neeson, Bill Nighy and Keira Knightly and many others make this ensemble story a real winner.
The Santa Claus 2 - Of the series, this is far and away the best. The first movie was good, the third was horrible but this one is perfect. This movie has more heart than a dozen Hallmark movies, plus it's funny. Don't skip the credits at the end though; one of the best parts is Elizabeth Mitchell doing her Mrs. Claus dance.
Sleepless in Seattle - One of the best stories about following your heart and doing the very thing your head tells you not to. Tom Hanks brings a heart-breaking realism to the kind of fantasy we all yearn for.
Trans-Siberian Orchestra's Ghost of Christmas Eve - If you're not into hard rock and heavy metal, I can understand if you've never heard of this. However, I think you owe it to yourself to give it a try. TSO's ground-breaking music and retelling of traditional stories are absolutely transcending. They are like Mannheim Steamroller on steroids. My Christmas would never be complete without TSO echoing through the house. Here's a youtube link to one of my favorite songs: Canon.
So here's my present to you; pick one or all of these movies and watch them. I guarantee you won't be disappointed.