Christmas is just around the corner and by now hopefully you have already finished your Christmas shopping. Some of us are going home to family near or maybe far. Others are preparing for Christmas dinners and family coming. The rest of us have different plans. Perhaps staying at home with family and friends.
To get to the Christmas spirit, I would sometimes watch various Christmas movies. Over the years, there had been several Christmas movies released, some of which had become cinema classics they had become essential for the season. If you feel like binge-watching Christmas movies to get you into the spirit of Christmas, here are some films that can get you in the mood.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000) – Witness the comedic madness that made Jim Carrey famous. The first time this film was released was in 1966. It was an animated version of the classic Dr. Seuss Christmas children’s book of the same name. But the one I saw was the motion picture released in 2000 starring Jim Carrey in a hairy green custom playing the Grinch. The film was directed by Ron Howard. If you have read the book as a child or to your children, you know how the story went. Discover why the Grinch hates Christmas and how he stole it from the small town of Whoville. This film also stars Molly Shannon, Jeffrey Tambor, Billy Irwin, Christine Baranski and Taylor Momsen as Cindy Lou Who.
A Christmas Carol (2009) – This adaptation of Charles Dickens’ classic Victorian novel was probably made by the same animators who created the Polar Express. Directed by Robert Zemeckis, it stars the likeness of Jim Carrey playing Ebenezer Scrooge, Gary Oldman as Mr. Cratchit, Colin Firth as Scrooge’s nephew Fred and Robin Wright Penn as Scrooge’s old flame Belle. The story starts of on Christmas Eve in Victorian London with the death of Mr. Marley, Scrooge’s business partner. Witness how the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future is represented in this film, one of which may have a familiar face to you. There have been other movies adaptation of this classic novel but this particular animated version is my favorite of them all.
The Polar Express (2004) – As you will later discover, I love traveling by train which is why this particular film is near and dear to my heart. It’s about a boy who is not a strong believer of Santa Claus. He decided to hop on a train heading to the north pole with a conductor played by legendary actor Tom Hanks. The boy meets some interesting kids and characters on this journey and later discover what the North Pole is like. The North Pole being the place where Santa Claus and his elves live. He later he meets the big man in red who gave him a very special gift. The train conductor later teaches him and the other kids a very important life lesson each to the specific child. This is one Christmas film that takes every viewer to a kid’s adventure even grown-ups would appreciates. The film was based on a book of the same name written by Chris Von Allburg and is directed by Robert Zemeckis.
It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) – Do you believe in Angels? I hope Hollywood never remakes this film because I think it’s perfect the way it is. This may not be your typical Christmas story but it surely show a lot about family. It stars legendary actor James Stewart as George Bailey, who dreams of traveling and seeing the world. However he sacrificed this dream staying home in Bedford Falls to take care of the family business and giving his brother opportunities he could never have. At the same, he manages to get married and create his own family. I guess the reason why this became such as Christmas classic because it spans several Christmases throughout George’s life. What do you think Bedford Falls would be like without a good man like George Bailey? This film also stars Donna Reid as George’s wife Mary, and acting legend Lionel Barrymore as Mr. Potter.
Elf (2003) – Another comedian makes his mark on a new Christmas classic. Will Ferrell surely plays a different brand of comedic madness as the lost elf in New York City in the film. He stars as Buddy the elf, who manages to get himself up the North Pole where he was raised by master elf played by Bob Newhart. Buddy later discovers he is not an elf (at 6′ 3″ tall) and sets out to find his father in New York City played by James Caan. Here Buddy’s adventure starts and meets his father’s family. This film also stars Zooey Deschanel, Mary Steenburger and Ed Asner as the big man in red. The film is directed by Jon Favreau.
Miracle at 34th Street (1947 and 1994) – The original film was released in 1947 starring the then child actress Natalie Wood as Susan. However the film I saw is the 1994 remake with Sir Richard Attenborough playing Kris Kringle. Directed by Les Mayfield, the 1994 version is about two retail giants competing for the business of every shopper buying presents for Christmas. It centers around a little girl Susan and Kris Kringle with a brewing love story between her mother, Dorey and a lawyer named Bryan Bedford. Can you imagine Santa Claus defending himself at court? If you like this sappy, sugary, feel-good stories about people believing in Santa Claus, this film is for you. Feel free to pick any version you like.
The Holiday (2006) – Here is a film for grownups. Do you want to spend Christmas in a far away place? Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet stars as Amanda and Iris, two women swapping homes for the holidays to escape romantic breakups – one from faded love and the other from unrequited love. Both women took a leap spending Christmas in faraway places to forget their sorrows only to find new people in their journeys. Both women learned to give love a second chance in two different countries. There are also life lessons from Shakespeare quotes some of which is actually true, so pay attention. Amanda and Iris did not meet each other until the end. The film also stars Jude Law, Jack Black, Rufus Sewell, Edward Burns and Eli Wallace who plays (my favorite character in the film) Kate’s next door Los Angeles neighbor Arthur, a legend in the film industry. This romantic Christmas comedy is written and directed by Nancy Meyers. This is the film that probably boosted the home exchange business.
Love Actually (2003) – Written and directed by Richard Curtis, this film has an ensemble cast that includes Hugh Grant, Colin Firth, Keira Knightly, Alan Rickman, Laura Linney, Emma Thompson, Martin Freeman, Bill Nighy, Liam Neeson, Chiwotel Ejiofer, Andrew Lincoln and a whole slew of supporting actors. This film is about people gaining, living and losing their love ones around the holidays with each character entangled with each other like six degrees of separation. Every character in this film seems to be related to one or the other to some degree. There’s fame, fortune and power in this film but there is also faith, hope and love. The spirit of Christmas in this film is about being with somebody you love during Christmas. This very British comedy have scenes not suitable for children (Rated R).
The Nativity Story (2006) – To me this is the real Christmas story because this is how Christmas really began. This film should be in syndication every year reminding movie-goers that this is the true story of Christmas and not the idea of commercialism and super sales. The film starts of during the most horrid and tragic event in the new testament called the slaughter of the innocence when King Herod ordered every child under two years old be executed to prevent the child becoming the King of the Jews. It then flashbacks about a year prior starting from the annunciation of Elizabeth’s conception of John the Baptist. The film stars Keisha Castle-Hughes playing the teenage Mary, Oscar Isaac playing the carpenter Joseph and Ciaran Hines as the paranoid but ruthless King Herod. This film also takes us to the cities of Jerusalem, Nazareth and later Bethlehem as the biblical story suggests. We will also meet the three magi Melchor, Gaspar, Balthazar and the shepherd Mary and Joseph met along the way to the stables. This retelling of the greatest story ever told is directed by Catherine Hardwicke.
If you study these films very closely, they all have the same or similar theme. This films are about faith and love towards something or someone. Each Christmas story represents one if not all about faith, selflessness, generosity, love and most of all our relationships with other people. Good karma is also represented.