We know. Elf. A Christmas Story. It’s a Wonderful Life. Home Alone. Miracle on 34th Street. We love you. We get it. Don’t worry, we’ll make time for you. But what else?
It’s a giving season, a season of magic and heartwarming moments. Where darkened hearts reluctantly warm and glow and where hope rises up to meet you in the depths of despair. It’s a season where everything that can go wrong does. You’re reminded of the importance of family, of the gravity of a single life, in the power of belief. We love more. We express more. Oh, yes, and we decorate more, adding twinkle lights. We shop more, certainly, but all fashion and culinary taste go out the window. We wear abhorrent Christmas aprons and allow ourselves to drink 4 egg yolks and a cup of cream for a thimble full of rum. Just because it’s December, we ingest things we otherwise wouldn’t dream of eating. But above all else, the Christmas season is emboldening. We risk more. We leap. And nothing is more magical than snow.
I adore Christmas. Holiday movies are my guiltiest pleasure. So I’m sharing my addiction because I’m extra giving this time of year. Of course I’ve already covered the more traditional holiday movies (I love that post). Here, though, these aren’t necessarily holiday movies, but they touch on the same themes and bring about those same feelings. Of people wanting to be their best selves, of people moved by the spirit, people living deeply and boldly.
THE SHOP AROUND THE CORNER
James Stewart is a Budapest store clerk who finds himself feuding with his co-worker, Margaret Sullavan, only to unknowingly fall in love with her. Also known as the original You’ve Got Mail, a film which tips its hat, making direct reference to “The Shop Around the Corner.” To watch Jimmy Stewart in any film makes me relish the holidays. This is such a charmer, and I love to see the decisions made to remake this film. In You’ve Got Mail, they chose to have the main characters both already involved in other relationships to raise the stakes, to create more conflict.
AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER (Netflix)
I used to assume that everyone had seen this film, as it’s by far one of my favorite. But, my God, what if you haven’t seen it? I’d feel personally responsible. You need to stop whatever you’re doing and get on this. The idea that two involved people fall in love with each other and want to make themselves worthy of the other… well, yes. On so many levels, yes. Life is an adventure, and you may not have asked for the situation, but you won’t let it pass you by without taking hold of it with both hands. Life isn’t always neat, and love is messy, but this film makes me believe, deeply, in love.
Nominated for 4 Oscars: Best Cinematography; Best Costume Design; Best Music, Original Song;
Best Music, Scoring
“I’ve fallen in love. I didn’t think such violent things could happen to ordinary people.” So good.
Similar to An Affair to Remember in that both parties are otherwise involved, in Brief Encounter, they’re both married to others when they meet and fall in love. She has children. They both have tremendously kind and lovely spouses, too. Making the decisions all the harder. Which should win? Promises made to people who don’t suit you in the same way, or the choice of this inexplicable connection, the ruling hand of love? Another deeply moving film—Thanks Dad for the suggestion!
Nominated for 3 Oscars: Best Writing, Screenplay; Best Director; Best Actress in a Leading Role
I haven’t seen these films yet, but they’re on my December radar:
“Silly how upsetting a little thing like saying goodbye to one’s husband can be.”
Not a holiday movie, but I still want to see it.
Marlene Dietrich stars as the unfaithful wife of a foreign diplomat in the sophisticated comedy Angel directed by Ernst Lubitsch. Lady Maria Barker (Dietrich) has the perfect life: a famous husband (Herbert Marshall), a stately English manor, and endless trips abroad. Unfortunately, the one thing that is missing – her husband’s attention – leads to a short-lived affair with a dashing British stranger (Melvyn Douglas) in Paris who knows her only by the name “Angel”. Though she tries to put the infidelity behind her, the whirlwind romance comes back to haunt Lady Barker when the Englishman turns out to be her husband’s old military chum. Torn between her husband and her lover, she is forced to make an agonizing decision that may change her life forever.
REMEMBER THE NIGHT
“One of these days one of you boys is going to start one of these scenes differently and one of us girls is going to drop dead from surprise.” A shoplifter and her prosecutor fall in love, creating tensions in their family lives. Barbara Stanwyck.
Don’t miss these newer films either:
LOVE THE COOPERS. “That feeling like you’ve landed in the wrong life. Everybody feels that way.” The trailers make this movie look like a total bomb. It’s overly done stylistically, with weird tactics like a narrator dog and people exploding and shattering. And Diane Keaton’s story line is lacking. But the military love story is so dreamy.
NOEL (Streaming on Netflix): Robin Williams, Susan Sarandon, Penélope Cruz, Paul Walker, Alan Arkin, Daniel Sunjata. What I liked about this film is that I didn’t know where it was going. Wait, what’s happening? I was trying to figure out what would happen next. It wasn’t an expected formula, which is probably what worked, and what didn’t work with this film. Such beautiful people in this film. “You saved me Rose. I was wondering where God was and then the next thing you know, there you are at the bedside of a complete stranger telling him you love him with such meaning. And then I knew God was there in that room, with you.”
THE HOLIDAY. I watch this movie almost weekly because I have a major sickness. I really am sick. I can’t get enough of this movie! “Iris, in the movies we have leading ladies and we have the best friend. You, I can tell, are a leading lady, but for some reason you are behaving like the best friend.”
THE BLIND SIDE. I never, ever, tire of The Blind Side. I LOVE this movie! “Who would’ve thought we’d have a black son before we met a Democrat?”
COMING TO AMERICA ” The royal penis is clean, your Highness. ”
SPIES LIKE US
“You mean you don’t feel a certain degree of urgent pressure on the inner wall of your bladder, now, right at this moment? ”
“There are people who are having trouble making their miracle happen; there are people who don’t have enough to eat, there are people who are cold, you can go out and say hello to these people. You can take an old blanket out of the closet and go to them and say ‘Here!’, you can make them a sandwich and say ‘oh by the way, here!’ ”
“Do you know what this family needs? A mute.” A cat burglar is forced to take a bickering, dysfunctional family hostage on Christmas Eve.
Okay, a lot of people think this movie is bad. I’m not sure why. A couple reunite years after the night they first met, fell in love, and separated, convinced that one day they’d end up together. I’ll admit that John Corbett’s character is so awful that he’s hard to watch. But the idea of this, the sweetness, the grand sweep of destiny. The snowfall and magic of New York. The gift giving. The stakes. I really enjoy it. Plus it makes me love that crowded restaurant.
MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET
As a Netflix #StreamTeam member, I receive a complimentary subscription to Netflix in exchange for sharing 1 post each month about Netflix movies and TV Shows, though I often share more often because, let’s face it, I own the verb “overshare.” Post includes some affiliate links. As always, all opinions are mine all mine.