I am a movie addict. You name it, I’ve probably seen it. Let’s face it, there’s not much to watch on TV nowadays (although I just finished watching and loving the first four seasons of Mad Men on Netflix).
The lack of suitable TV shows makes me turn to movies for entertainment all the more. So, here it is, my tried and true list of favourites to watch during the holiday season. Although I took a couple of electives in film when I was in university, you won’t see any Kurosawa here. The older I get, the more I watch movies just for fun—they don’t necessarily have to be funny, but they have to at least be absorbing and compelling in some way. Grab some popcorn, snuggle up and enjoy!
1. Home for the Holidays (1995)
This is a Thanksgiving classic, directed by Jodie Foster. I’m going to take this description right off the package, because it pretty much sums it up. “In a span of 36 hours, Claudia Larson (Holly Hunter) has managed to lose her job, make out with her boss and learn that her daughter (Claire Danes) is planning to go all the way. But Claudia’s fortunes actually take a turn for the worse when she flies home to endure an even more gruelling trial: the family Thanksgiving!” One thing they should have mentioned is that Robert Downey Jr. is hilarious as Claudia’s gay brother, who is also home for the holidays and making Claudia’s life more difficult with his practical jokes. You will love this dysfunctional family, including the mom, played by Anne Bancroft, and the lovable dad, played by Charles Durning.
2. The Ice Storm (1997)
This Ang Lee film has Kevin Kline, Joan Allen and Sigourney Weaver portraying life as parents in the 70s. Memorable moments include the wife-swapping key party (let’s hope that didn’t happen in my neighbourhood) and the beautifully depicted but tragic ice storm that causes the characters to re-adjust their priorities in a big way.
3. The Family Man (2000)
Somehow Nicolas Cage is the perfect fit for this tale of a single, wealthy Wall Street trader who one day at Christmastime magically wakes up in a suburban New Jersey home with a wife (Tea Leoni) and two kids—the life he might have had if he had made different choices as a young man. I’m not saying it’s not predictable, but I never fail to enjoy watching as he comes to appreciate all of the lovely imperfections of everyday life with kids.
4. The Family Stone (2005)
They call this a comedy, but it’s not all fun. Sarah Jessica Parker plays the uptight and ultra-conservative Meredith Morton so well that her comments are often cringe-worthy. But, when Morton leaves Manhattan to meet her boyfriend Everett Stone’s tight-knit family during the holidays, she meets her match with Everett’s mother (Diane Keaton) and sister (Rachel McAdams). Thank God for Everett’s brother (Luke Wilson) for lightening things up a bit.
5. Love Actually (2004)
This is the only one on the list that my husband won’t watch with me. Yes, it’s pretty much a chick flick. But, I’m not apologizing. I love the way several storylines skillfully intertwine in this feel good romantic comedy, which is set during Christmastime. As the cover says, the movie features an all-star cast including Hugh Grant, Liam Neeson, Laura Linney, Colin Firth, Emma Thompson and Alan Rickman (who brings me to my next selection).
6. Die Hard (1988)
Okay, so this one doesn’t exactly scream holiday cheer, but the sentiment is there. New York City detective John McClane is newly arrived in Los Angeles to spend the Christmas holidays with his estranged wife (Bonnie Bedelia) and kids. As he waits for his wife’s office party to finish, terrorists take control of the building. While McClane wages a one-man war on the terrorists, including leader Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman), he also learns to re-evaluate his priorities and remember the importance of family. This movie is a holiday tradition for my husband and me.
What are your favourite holiday movies? Please let me know. Maybe I haven’t seen them. That would make me so happy.