JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: It's the holiday season, as the song goes, and for many of us, that means it's time to pull out the old videos/dvds or to start streaming favorite holiday movies.
Christmas flicks - and let's face it, they are almost all about
Christmas - tend to fall into three categories. The first are the movies that you must watch or it will not be Christmas this year. Prominently featured on this list will be old Rankin-Bass stop-motion animation and George Bailey exclaiming, "Zuzu's petals!"
The second are the movies you enjoy because they put you in the mood - flicks to watch while wrapping presents or signing cards. There are a lot of Hallmark Holiday specials on this list, as well as movies that are must-sees for your kids, but that came around too late for you to really cleave to. ELF, I'm talking about you.
Sometime these movies cross over to different lists. For my husband and son, THE GODFATHER is absolutely required pre-Christmas viewing. For my daughters and me, HOLIDAY IN HANDCUFFS, a delightfully silly romance with Melissa Joan Hart, is our must-see-or-baby-Jesus-will-cry movie. Also on my have-to-have-it list: CHRISTMAS IN CONNECTICUT, which no one else in my family wants to watch. I always wind up wrapping presents while swooning over Barbara Stanwick and Dennis Morgan. (I saw the 1992 remake once. It was...not good.)
For my Christmas subversive movie, nothing tops REINDEER GAMES, a twisty caper movie/mystery starring Ben Affleck as The Sap and Charlize Theron as The Dame.
As for present-wrapping/napkin ironing/silver polishing fare - well, that's what Netflix is for. I willingly stream movies I wouldn't take a second glance at if they weren't set at Christmas time. If it features a romance, an adoptable dog, and a kid who needs a family, I'm in egg nog-sodden heaven.
How about you, Reds? What are your holiday must-sees?
RHYS BOWEN: My must sees have now been seen so the season has officially kicked off. One is IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE and the other is WHITE CHRISTMAS. Both oldies but goodies. I still get weepy at the end of A Charlie Brown Christmas. I really liked SCROOGE but haven't seen it recently. I have to confess to being awfully fond of LOVE ACTUALLY (especially the lobster in the nativity play).
It's funny but I used to enjoy all those old cartoon movies with my kids--you know Rudolph, Frosty etc, but the magic has gone.
LUCY BURDETTE: My favorite would be SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE, which I cannot get anyone to watch with me again. Hmmm, that makes me really want to try though...
DEBORAH CROMBIE: LOVE ACTUALLY tops my list as the absolutely-must-see-or-it's-not-Christmas. Yes, I can repeat the dialogue. Yes, I know the soundtrack by heart. And yes, Rhys, I love the lobster in the nativity play. Then A CHRISTMAS STORY, followed by IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE. (My daughter told me yesterday that she's never seen it. How can that be??? Where did I go wrong?? I'm going to fix that!) This year I succumbed to a Hallmark Christmas special, THE CHRISTMAS SHEPHERD, because--guess--it had a German shepherd in it. It was actually pretty good, and the dog was fabulous. I'd watch it again just for him.
And then sometime in the week between Christmas and New Year's, I must watch THE HOLIDAY, with Kate Winslet, Jude Law, Cameron Diaz, and Jack Black. I adore this movie, and not just because I fancy Jude Law. Written and directed by Nancy Meyers, with a score by Hans Zimmer, it has great performances and great dialogue. And it will have you rockin' around the Christmas tree by the end.
JULIA: Debs, I've got to see this now!
HALLIE EPHRON: Adding CHRISTMAS IN CONNECTICUT and THE HOLIDAY to my list... how did I miss them? I've already watched LOVE ACTUALLY, my personal favorite. And queuing up A CHRISTMAS STORY if only to revisit the Red Ryder BB gun and the leg lamp and to listen to that wonderful narrator's voice -- a movie by a radio guy. So why doesn't someone create a leg lamp lawn ornament? I bet it would be a HUGE seller.
JULIA: Here you go, Hallie:
HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Well, of course, LOVE ACTUALLY. The best. (Just in cases.) And YOU'VE GOT MAIL. And I'll watch SEATTLE with you, Lucy! I never understood THE BISHOPS WIFE, because, I mean, what would you do?
And contrarian here, A CHRISTMAS STORY leaves me a little cold. Maybe I'll try again. Yeah, the voice is good, but... And even IT'S A WONDERFUL.., it's great, sure, and the angel thing, but it's just not what someone would DO. Zuzu's petals is worth it, though. And of course, love WHITE CHRISTMAS! Can't go wrong with Bing! And oh, DIE HARD. :-)
DEBS: Hank, we watched DIE HARD last year. Such fun!!! Definitely an addition to the Christmas movie list.
JULIA: How about you, dear readers? What will you be sitting down to with a bowl of popcorn and a mug of hot cocoa this season?