It’s the holiday season, yes I know that here in the States, Thanksgiving is still three weeks away, but we’re already doing the holiday shuffle. We have two birthday parties, one to attend and one to throw. We’re hosting the family for Turkey Day or in our case, Honeybaked Ham Day. There are school projects and writer’s conferences, a book release and school vacation, not to mention a panel on vampires, a tea, a readers group, NaNoWriMo – okay, I’m getting tired just thinking about it. But beyond all the things to do and the places to go, the holiday season is about downtime too. Down time where we get to watch movies, such as our annual viewing of The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, a holiday classic when decorating the tree.
Holiday Top Flicks
It’s a time to revisit some of the best holiday and romantic holiday movies perfect for viewing anytime between Thanksgiving and Christmas. My daughter has so many favorites now that we literally have to stack the decks with the films so that everyone gets to watch the ones they want to see before the big C day when we watch the parades, open presents and kick back to relax. So, in no particular order here are the top ten holiday flicks for 2009.
This film became an instant classic in our home as it follows the intertwining lives of several Londonites preparing for the holidays. From Liam Neeson’s widower to the happy young couple acting as stand-ins for a porn to the powerhouse dynamic between Alan Rickman and Emma Thompson not to mention Bill Nighy, Colin Firth, Keira Knightly, Hugh Grant and so many more. The movie is so jam packed with fantastic moments that I can’t possibly pick a favorite!
The music is a good reason to load up this classic, but then so are Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye. Set in the years after World War II, the duo has become a popular performing act, doing the circuit. They even hook up with a pair of sisters in a corny, cooky romantic subplot. But the real kicker is when they get word that their General, the man they followed into every battle during the War is in danger of losing his Inn in Vermont. Kaye and Crosby bring all their fellow soldiers in, jam packing the Inn and performing for free – why? Because they love him. What better reason is that?
The Grinch Who Stole Christmas
The animated movie is wonderful, but the daughter chooses the Jim Carrey film with young Taylor Momsen as Cindy Lou Who. The film is a story of commercialism gone amok, not to mention the crazy antics with all the decorations. Yet even when the Grinch steals everything, the Whos remember that Christmas is not just about the loot – even if the loot is super cool. Some of the best moments are between Carrey’s Grinch and little Momsen as Cindy.
While You Were Sleeping
Sandra Bullock’s Lucy is a woman many of us can identify with. She’s lonely, she works as a toll booth collector at the train station and everyone knows Lucy has no one to go home to or spend the holidays with, so she gets stuck working on Christmas. Lucy also has big dreams and a huge crush on Peter (Peter Gallagher) whom she sees frequently. On Christmas Day, she witnesses Peter getting mugged and knocked onto the tracks. She saves his life and is taken with him to the hospital where the staff mistakes her for his fiancé (a whispered, wistful fantasy on her part). Peter’s family arrives and lost, lonely Lucy is caught up tight to the bosom of this warm, loud family that wants to love her. She’s also very attracted to Peter’s brother Jack (Bill Pullman). This is a holiday keeper for us.
You’ve Got Mail
Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks hook up in an AOL chat room and exchange anonymous, flirty emails that give them both the emotional boost they are not receiving in their respective relationships. Unfortunately, Hanks’ Joe Fox is part of the Fox and Sons Bookstore, a Barnes and Noble sized juggernaut that puts Ryan’s “The Shop Around the Corner” out of business. Equal parts wistful romantic comedy and the first dash of Internet romance when the idea was still new, this is such a fun movie to watch over and over again.
Miracle on 34th Street
While I’m partial to the Natalie Wood version, I have to admit that the remake has its charms with young Mara Wilson in the role of Susan Walker. My daughter loves the 1994 remake that it usually headlines with Natalie Wood’s version playing after she goes to sleep. The story of a little girl’s faith in Santa Claus and the man who believed in her and the love her mother fell – yeah, who wouldn’t love this movie?
The Glenn Close live action movie is another holiday favorite (although arguably it is any time of the year). The stellar cast (Hugh Laurie, Joan Plowright, Glenn Close), the beautiful dalmatians and a story of two parents willing to risk anything to save their children? It doesn’t matter that the parents are canines. Jeff Daniels and Joely Richardson as Roger and Anita are adorable in the film.
The Santa Claus and The Santa Claus 2: The Mrs. Claus
While the third film in this series doesn’t quite make the list, the story of Scott and Charlie when Santa falls off their roof is one most parents can empathize with. Scott becomes Santa Claus, much to his own chagrin, but in the process, he discovers the value of the love he has for his child and more. In the second film, Elizabeth Mitchell adds some needed levity to the jolly man as he must take a wife or risk the de-santafication process permanently. Always a double feature.
Love him or hate him, but it’s every parent’s nightmare to forget your child and it’s every child’s dream to get the run of the house to themselves. So when Kevin is left behind by his family when they all hustle off to Paris for the holidays, major hijinks ensure. Kevin learns that as annoying as his family is, he loves them and that his crazy neighbor is just as lonely as he is. The stunts to keep the thieves out of his house are hilarious and Joe Pesci is a riot.
A Christmas Carol
In all its infinite varieties from Scrooge McDuck to Patrick Stewart to Bill Murray’s Scrooged and to the more recent Barbie movie version. I think there are enough versions that we could watch it every single day and remember what the holiday spirit is about – giving, not taking.
What are your favorite holiday films?