10 Favorite Movies To Watch at Christmas Time

There are certain movies that become family tradition around Christmas… from classics like White Christmas, It’s A Wonderful Life to more contemporary fare like Scrooged, Home Alone, Elf, and of course, the ‘honorary’ Christmas action flick of all time, Die Hard. Some people might opt for the plethora of Christmas rom-coms, which if you are one the you are in luck as Netflix has a bazillion of them that rival even the Hallmark channel!

I have to admit, I did watch three Christmas rom-coms in early December – Jingle, Jangle: A Christmas Journey (which I’ve blogged about here), The Holiday Calendar (meh!) and Last Christmas. That last one is not perfect but given it’s written by Emma Thompson and I grew up loving George Michael’s songs, the movie has its charm and I ended up enjoying it quite a bit. I might even do a Music Break post at some point.

Now, I’ve written about some of the movies on this list, but hey, they’re still my faves so I’m including them again here. Some of them on this list aren’t exactly Christmas movies per se, but there are some memorable scenes that you associate with the season that gets you in the holiday spirit.

LOVE, ACTUALLY

I love many Richard Curtis’ movies and this one is chock full of my favorite British actors so naturally it’s one of my go-tos around the holidays. The sappy cards-on-the-doorstep bit is everyone’s favorites, but I have to say Emma Thompson is the scene stealer here and her storyline as a dutiful wife who suspects her husband (played by the venerable Alan Rickman) is cheating on her with his hot co-worker never fails to bring tears to my eyes.

YOU’VE GOT MAIL

I’ve mentioned this movie oh-so-many-times on this blog for obvious reasons. NYC is particularly festive and lovely during Christmas season with all the sparkling lights. But it’s the quiet moments that always gets me… Katherine misses her mother as she decorates the Christmas tree at the store her late mom had built. We all miss our loved ones during the holidays, and this year is particularly tough as we can’t even spend time with our family/friends because of the lockdown.

THE HOLIDAY

Ok so this movie has issues and I have to say I have a hard time watching Cameron Diaz’s character at times. But the Kate Winslet’s storyline is much more intriguing of the two. I sure can relate to her falling hopelessly in love with a hot-but-caddish co-worker at a Christmas party… and I love her reaction when she found out just how amazing Diaz’s LA house is.

Speaking of house, Jude Law’s home is one of the dreamiest Christmas homes that actually looked believably lived-in. It’s got that warm + cozy feeling right from the entry hall.

According to this article, apparently this enchanting Mill House is located in Wonersh, Surrey. Another reason I can’t wait to go visit the UK again once this pandemic is all over!

JOYEUX NOËL

Based on a true story of an unofficial Christmas truce in December 1914, this film truly conveys the real meaning of Christmas. Such a wonderful film that shows an uplifting lesson in humanity, though the truce is such a brief one and the troops from three countries had to pay the price for their disobedience.

I highly recommend this one if you haven’t already. Here’s a clip of the singing scene.

Per IMDb, the character of the opera singer is based on that of German tenor Walter Kirchhoff (1879-1951), who travelled to the front in order to perform for the troops. His performance was met by cheers from the French lines, where upon he decided to climb on to no-mans-land to see who was cheering.

BRIDGET JONES’S DIARY

I actually just bought the blu-ray of this one. I figured I’d get a lot of watch out of it that it’s better to buy it instead of renting. Helen Fielding created such a fun, relatable character in Bridget and the movie still made me laugh after all these years. Fielding wrote the screenplay along with two of my fave British writers, Andrew Davies (responsible for a bunch of Jane Austen adaptations) and Richard Curtis (natch!). Texas-born Renée Zellweger is simply marvelous as Bridget, which proves she’s quite a versatile actress who made the iconic British character her own. It’s quite fun seeing Hugh Grant playing a cad, too, which I think is closer to his own persona than the goody-two-shoes roles of his other rom-coms.

KLAUS

This Oscar-nominated animated movie is such a wonder. Per IMDb, director Sergio Pablos had wanted to do a traditionally animated feature film, so the studio used CGI lighting techniques with hand-drawn animation to create a unique animation style for the story. The visuals are simply amazing to behold, but it’s the story that warms your heart. An imaginative take of a classic about a postman who befriends toymaker Klaus, whose friendship ends up changing the lives of the people in two feuding towns. The quintessential feel-good family movie that’ll make you laugh and cry… I know I’ll be watching this for years to come.

THE FAMILY MAN

I saw this quite a while ago and despite it being a mash-up of Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life and Dicken’s A Christmas Carol, it’s still got its charms. Nic Cage is basically Scrooge, a successful, narcissistic business man who thinks he’s got it all. Then he meets Don Cheadle one fateful night and he’s given a glimpse of an alternate universe of what might’ve been if he hadn’t leave his college girlfriend and married her instead. Funny and heartwarming, it’s the kind of movie that makes you reflect on your own life and figure out just what’s really important to you.

ELF

I just watched Netflix’s The Holiday Movies That Made Us documentary series which shows the real stories behind these iconic Christmas blockbusters, thanks to insider interviews and behind-the-scenes peeks. The ELF episode is especially fascinating for me who’s struggling striving to make a feature film, as it shows just how challenging it is to make a movie. Everything had to align just right and even so, there’s no guarantee the movie would be a hit.

It seems Will Ferrell was born to play the Elf who travels from North Pole to NYC to locate his father after discovering he is a human. Beautifully written by David Berenbaum, who made this as an homage to his own father, this movie has the crucial ingredient for a Christmas classic: a big, huge heart. I forgot that Jon Favreau directed this, which further proves he’s one of the most talented and versatile filmmakers working in Hollywood today.

VICAR OF DIBLEY – CHRISTMAS SPECIAL 2006

I actually just watched this a couple of days ago and though it’s not a movie, I simply had to include it on this list. This popular British sit-com is yet another one of Richard Curtis‘ creations and it’s so brilliantly funny and irreverent. Dawn French is hilarious as the boisterous female minister (vicar) Geraldine Granger who serves in an eccentrically-conservative small town’s church.

This Christmas episode is actually the final season, consisting of just two episode where Geraldine gets swept off her feet by a handsome stranger (Richard Armitage) and finally becomes the bride after officiating thousands of weddings. I love that Geraldine also loves Sense and Sensibility, she’s in fact shown to be watching the Ang Lee version on the show! Interestingly, James Fleet, who plays Hugo Horton in the series, played John Dashwood in the Jane Austen movie.

I found some excerpts of this episode in Vimeo, so enjoy!

 

IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE

I saw this a decade ago for the first time and I haven’t re-watched it since, so some details were quite hazy to me. Well, I’m glad I rewatched this two days before I wrote this list, as I’ve come to appreciate this Christmas classic even more!

I love James Stewart‘s moving performance as George Bailey, despite the character being originally developed at another studio with Cary Grant in mind. Apparently this was Donna Reed’s first starring role as she’s wonderful as Bailey’s love interest Mary, who I think is as much a savior in Bailey’s life as Clarence the angel. Frank Capra cited this as one of his favorite films and it’s certainly has stood the test of time. Yes it’s melodramatic at times and some of the scenes are a product of its time, but the uplifting and inspiring message is one that generations to come would still enjoy and relate to. Given the pandemic and many of us feeling down and perhaps even desolate, this story resonates even more.

This is the most iconic scenes in the film and perhaps ranks as the most indelible one in all classic films. Even though I had seen this before and it’s one of the most shared clips/gifs, I still can’t help feeling really emotional watching this. Bailey’s problems of being $8,000 short still remains, but his outlook on life has drastically changed. The part when he wished the evil Mr. Potter a Merry Christmas through his office window is both funny and touching.

Per IMDb, the set for Bedford Falls was constructed in two months and was one of the longest sets that had ever been made for an American movie.

Despite being set around Christmas, the film was filmed during a heat wave, in fact this exact scene was actually filmed on a scorching July day. It got to be so hot that director Frank Capra gave everyone a day off to recuperate.


In the spirit of Christmas AND his love for Star Wars, my hubby made this mash-up arrangement. Hope you enjoy it! 🙂


Here’s wishing all of you

a BLESSED & JOYFUL CHRISTMAS…

Stay safe + healthy!


Top 10 Best Christmas Movies Relay Race

Well happy mid December everyone! This year, time has truly ran away from me… and if you’re keeping track, my life’s pace has been at lightning speed since I decided to make a movie last January! But hey, I do miss blogging and I remember how fun it was participating in my pal Nostra’s relay race posts in the past. Plus, when a good friend tagged you to do a relay race (thanks Keith!), you make time 😉 It’s a fun topic that’s perfect for this time of year, too!

So how does this work? Here’s a rundown from Nostra himself:

The rules are, just like the past relay races, very simple: The list has 10 Christmas movies (in random order) and when the baton is handed over to a new blogger, he or she has to remove one title of the list (with an explanation why) and add one new title. Once that is done a new blogger is contacted who will take the baton and run with it, doing the same (you can reinstate a title which has been previously removed). As Christmas is in three weeks I want to ask you to publish your entry as quickly as possible to make sure the list changes as much as possible before the 25th of December. Add the logo of this relay race to your post and also add links to those who came before you making it easy for everyone to find all the entries.

So here is the list of the 10 Best Christmas Movies as it stands now:

HOME ALONE

HOME

There are a number of Christmas films that I actually watch annually and Home Alone has been one of my favorites for years. This film, written by John Hughes, has all the elements to amuse and get you in the mood Christmas. And Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern are of course hilarious when the “Wet bandits” Harry and Marv.

ELF

ELF

The film is almost fifteen years old, but the timeless story of a grown man who grew up among the elves and heads to New York, looking for his father, still is very funny and entertaining. Will Ferrell is the perfect “man child” and the short animated parts are a pleasure to watch. A real Christmas classic.

A MUPPET CHRISTMAS CAROL

MUPPET

Although Charles Dickens story has been translated to film many times, this version is still my personal favorite. A film with a lot of atmosphere and the warmth of the Muppets.

DIE HARD

DIE HARD

Every year people argue whether or not Die Hard can be labeled a Christmas film. Yet it is very simple: Although there is a lot of action, the story takes place around Christmas. And Bruce Willis might play his best role ever.

 

GREMLINS

GEMLINS

Although you might not associate this horror comedy with Christmas immediately, this film is set during this period and the gremlins even sing Christmas songs. A title that can not be missed.

IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE

WONDEFRFUL

It’s a Wonderful Life is a movie which is watched by lots of people every year. Rightly so, because it is a beautiful film that fits the Christmas period.

MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET

MIRACLE

Another title that I have to think about immediately during this period. Although the opinions are divided which two of the two versions is the best.

ARTHUR CHRISTMAS

ARTHUR

The clumsy son of Santa, Arthur, has to make sure that a forgotten package is delivered on time, doing this together with his grandfather. A very nice film from Aardman studios (also responsible for the Wallace & Gromit films).

EYES WIDE SHUT

EYES

I’m using the same argument here that many Die Hard fans cling to. The story is set during the festive season and, in actual fact, most if not all scenes are introduced by depicting a Christmas tree. It’s fair to say, that it’s dark psychological mystery isn’t exactly in tune with the Christmas cheer but if Die Hard can be tenuously linked to this joyful season then so can Kubrick’s masterpiece.

A CHRISTMAS STORY (Keith’s addition)

RALPHIE

Few films have defined my Christmas movie watching like Bob Clark’s delightful “A Christmas Story”. Sure, I gets overplayed during the season, but it is such a fabulous concoction filled with humor and heart. So many memorable scenes, so many memorable lines, so many memorable characters. This one simply has to be here.


Deciding what to remove was a painful task. I initially considered removing Eyes Wide Shut as the blogger who chose it himself said it ‘isn’t exactly in tune with the Christmas cheer’ but I guess it can still be considered an alternative Christmas film.

So the one I’m tossing out from this list is GREMLINS. I’ve only seen bits and pieces of one of the movies but man, I can’t stand those creatures!! I think seeing them sing Christmas songs will give me nightmares. Funnily enough, my short film’s lead actor’s theatre company is called Gremlin Theatre and for the life of me I have no idea why he chose that [shrug] Sorry Nostra but if I had to choose one, Gremlins‘ definitely gotta go!

So what’s my pick to replace it?

JOYEUX NOËL

I saw it on a Christmas weekend a few years ago as it was on Netflix. It’s a 2005 French film about the truce that took place on December 24, 1914 during World War I. Now this is a film that reflect the true Christmas spirit. Such a wonderful film that shows an uplifting lesson in humanity, though the truce is such a brief one and the troops from three countries had to pay the price for their disobedience. I’m a big fan of Daniel Brühl who’s great in the film, and I also love the performance of Guillaume Canet, Benno Fürmann and Diane Kruger. I’m glad I finally saw it and it’s become one of my favorite Christmas-themed films!


Ok I’m passing the yuletide baton to…
Brittani (yes a fellow Minnesota blogger 😉 ) over at Rambling Film Blog

Merry Christmas! Five Favorite Christmas Moments in Movies

christmasmoments

It’s Christmas eve and my hubby and I just came back from spending one night in Duluth, which is a couple hours north of Twin Cities. We specifically went there to see Bentleyville right at Canal Park, the largest FREE Christmas lights display in the USA (perhaps even the world) where you could tour over 4 million lights in a 20-acre park along Lake Superior. As if that wasn’t awesome enough, they also gave away free cookies and hot chocolate. Bless Mr. Bentley and the town of Duluth for such an annual holiday treat!


Well, I thought I’d celebrate Christmas with a few of my favorite things. And y’all know I love movies so here are five of my favorite Christmas scenes over the years.

You gotta start w/ the classics… and It’s A Wonderful Life is definitely my favorite Christmas-themed film that can be appreciated any day of the year. It’s such a joyous and rousing finale, complete with the Christmas/New Year’s staple songs Hark the Herald Angels Sing and Auld Lang Syne. Is it any wonder people love returning to Bedford Falls at the end of every year?

Of course when it comes to the most romantic scene of Love, Actually, one would likely think of Andrew Lincoln’s ‘To me you are perfect’ declaration to Keira Knightley… but as far as the most memorable Christmas scene… it’d have to be this one. Not only did Olivia Olson have a glorious voice singing Mariah Carey’s Christmas hit, it’s also a sweet, romantic yet cheeky scene that makes this British ensemble holiday flick a joy to watch year after year.

A message of hope and peace doesn’t get more poignant than this one set during wartime. I’d say this is a film that should be a Christmas staple given the historical significance. Joyeux Noël is an underrated 2005 film about the World War I Christmas truce of December 1914, depicted through the eyes of French, British and German soldiers. Starting with the Scots with their bagpipes, all the way to the moment a German soldier singing Adeste Fideles holding a small Christmas tree, it’s hard not to tear up watching this amazing scene.

Christmas is also a pretty romantic time of the year. There’s something about the snow and twinkling lights that make you all warm and fuzzy. This scene from an unabashedly sweet rom-com While You Were Sleeping utilizes a Wintry Christmas scenery beautifully as the two leads first realize they have feelings for each other. Who doesn’t love Sandra Bullock, and though I don’t normally picture Bill Pullman as a go-to romantic lead, he’s got such an aw-shucks charm here that made me root for these two to be together.

Many of you already knew that I lost my mother when I was sixteen (on my 16th birthday to be exact). It’s been over two decades now but one never gets over such loss and it’s especially tough during the Christmas season. That’s why this scene in You’ve Got Mail gets me every time. Meg Ryan’s Kathleen is reminiscing on her late mother as she decorates her Christmas tree in her shop… wishing her mother were still alive to counsel her. “I’m missing her so much I almost couldn’t breathe…” It always hits me hard as growing up in Jakarta, my late mom and I always decorated our Christmas tree together every December… and I’ll cherish those wonderful memories forever.


Here’s wishing you all

a BLESSED & JOYFUL CHRISTMAS…

wherever you are.


Now that I’ve shared mine, what’s your favorite Christmas movie scene(s)? 
  …

Question of the Week: Which literary characters in film are your favorites?

Characters are the main ingredients that can make or break a movie… even if the film is so-so, a great character portrayed on screen would still make a film memorable. The same is true on the flip side, even if a film is generally well-made, but if you don’t connect with the characters, you probably aren’t going to remember them much afterwards.

AustenlandPosterIn light of the recent passing of famed novelist/screenwriter Elmore Leonard, whose works have been adapted to the big screen several times, I thought I’d focus this week’s question on literary works and the movies. I’m guilty of having seen only one of Mr. Leonard’s work, but I LOVE the character Ben Wade in 3:10 to Yuma (2007) as played by Russell Crowe (he’s one of my picks of scene-stealing bad boys, natch!).

I’m also going to Austenland screening tomorrow night, a comedy inspired by Jane Austen‘s most famous work… and one of her most famous characters, Mr. Darcy. The synopsis reads: Obsessed with the BBC production of “Pride and Prejudice”, a woman travels to a Jane Austen theme park in search for her perfect gentleman. I’m looking forward to this, sounds like a escapist entertainment type of movie for fans of period dramas like moi!

From classic authors like William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, J.R.R. Tolkien, Emily/Charlotte Brontë and of course Austen, Hollywood has churned out interesting characters based on their works. There are also modern classic authors like Philip K. Dick, Michael Crichton (which my pal Terrence just did a Time to Vote Tuesday on last week), as well as those still living like J.K. Rowling and John Grisham whose popular works have translated to big bucks for the film industry. I’m also opening up my question to TV as well, as there are certainly some fantastic made-for-TV adaptations out there, especially from BBC. Speaking of which, did you know that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes is the most portrayed human character portrayed on film and TV according to Guinnes Book of Records??

Now, for the purpose of this discussion, I’m actually excluding graphic novels and comics as that’s kind of a whole different animal entirely. Oh, and let’s focus on human characters (no robots, toys nor fairies) just for the sake of this discussion.

I know it’s darn near impossible to narrow down to just 10, but I’m gonna try anyway, because well, it’s a lesson on decisiveness, right? 😀

There are various reasons I picked these. For female characters I listed here, I admire them for their courage and strength, not all of them are admirable characters, I mean Scarlett O’Hara is a great example of an anti-heroine, but I admire her spunk and survival instinct in a time when women aren’t supposed to be fierce. Same with the guys, they’re not all heroes who save the day. In fact, Mr. Rochester and The Phantom are both deeply flawed characters, but they sure are unforgettable. Truth be told, I agonized over picking George Bailey over Atticus Finch (y’all know how much I love Gregory Peck & his astounding performance in that role), but ultimately I feel that I identify more with the troubled and disillusioned family man. As you can see, I have a penchant for tortured souls 😉


Ok, now your turn folks! Name at least one (or more) of literary characters on film that you love!

Wishing you all a blessed Christmas!

It’s Christmas eve and the sun is shining outside with no hint of the white, fluffy stuff outside. So yeah, this year there’s no White Christmas in Minnesota, I’m sure travelers and last-minute shoppers rejoice not having to deal with extra traffic caused by bad weather, but there is something so charming about snow-covered streets that make those Christmas lights sparkle even brighter… like this dramatic fan-art rendition of Bedford Falls, George Bailey’s hometown in It’s A Wonderful Life (from fanpop.com). I so love that movie, no wonder it’s a Christmas tradition for a lot of you… more on that in a bit.

Unlike last year where I traveled to New England to spend time with my in-laws, this year is a pretty mellow one for me. We’re going to an afternoon church service later today, followed by a get-together at a friend’s family dinner. The rest of the weekend’s plans will probably include lots of movie-watching, yay! I’ve got The Help dvd and we might catch The Adventures of Tintin on Christmas day. I also got to see Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (finally!) which was somewhat unplanned, we were just at dinner and checking out what films are playing nearby. As soon as we saw this title playing in an hour at a nearby theater, we immediately decided to watch it. I should have the review of that and The Artist next week.

Well, I managed to squeeze in a Christmas classic this week based on the recommendations of people at the MTOS Twitter event, that is The Bishop’s Wife. It’s a cute and heart-warming movie starring Cary Grant, David Niven & Loretta Young where Grant played an angel (talk about the ultimate fairy tale!). I enjoyed it but it’s definitely not going to replace It’s a Wonderful Life as my favorite Christmas classic. I’ve been reading a bunch of wonderful posts dedicated for that Frank Capra masterpiece:

Of course there are other great Christmas classics for your holiday viewing:

  • Iba at I Luv Cinema explored a few of them in her Tuesday’s Overlooked Films post
  • The master of Top 10 Lists Dan Stephens have various Top 10 Christmas Movies from the 1980s all the way to the 2000s
  • Oh and don’t forget to check out Lesya’s Christmas in Genres, a collaborative effort with many movie bloggers including yours truly

Let me close with this wonderful score from It’s a Wonderful Life‘s opening sequence. There’s an interesting story behind that music however, which apparently is not exactly a joyous one.

With that, I want to wish you all a blessed and merry Christmas and thank you for being such loyal support of FlixChatter!

Weekend Roundup: It’s a Wonderful Life and The Blind Side

You can say I had a ‘Capra’-laden weekend. On Friday night, I finally get to see the all-time Christmas classic It’s A Wonderful Life for the first time with my movie-nite gals. The next day, my hubby & I caught The Blind Side at a local theater, and even in its fourth week of release, the theater’s still more than half-packed (it’s #2 at the box office this week). One reviewer called The Blind Side as veering a bit closer to Capra territory. That’s a debatable point surely, but both movies share something in common in that they’re unabashedly affecting and pack such emotional wallop as my eyes were swollen by the time the end credits rolled. Coincidentally, I also saw an oldie-but-goodie rom-com with none other than Nicholas Cage called It Could Happen to You (about a NYC cop who gives a waitress a $2 million-dollar tip), which was also regarded by some reviewers (such as this one) to be a bit Capra-esque in its warmth and simplicity.

It’s A Wonderful Life

There’s little wonder why this movie never fails to make it to anyone’s Top Christmas Movies list. As Rockerdad said, it may be heavy on melodrama but it’s such a rewarding experience with an uplifting moral message to take stock of one’s life, no matter how seemingly destitute we think it is. I absolutely fell in love with it and wish I had seen this sooner! Not having grown up in the States, there are lots of classic movies I haven’t had the privilege of seeing. But after watching this — and listening to Prairiegirl and Rockerdad’s classic-flix discussions — I definitely have to acquaintance myself with some of them (though there are a few I’ll never have interest in seeing, i.e. The Wizard of Oz).

As this is the first James Stewart movie I’ve ever seen, I must admit I really enjoy watching him. I don’t know if I would’ve enjoyed it as much if the role had gone to Cary Grant (it almost did, according to IMDb trivia). I have to admit I like Stewart more acting-wise than Grant when I first saw him in To Catch a Thief. Stewart’s journey as George Bailey is so moving that after mere minutes of watching the movie, I was fully invested in his character. It’s not so much that I was watching an actor named Jimmy Stewart, but I was watching this guy George living his ‘wonderful’ life, despite the not-so-wonderful moments it threw at him.

Besides Stewart, the acting is superb all around. Donna Reed is perfect as Mary in her acting debut, she reminds me a lot of Olivia deHavilland (Melanie in Gone with the Wind) who was offered the role. Her telephone scene with Stewart was brimming with restrained romantic tension that was breathtaking to watch. Even more incredible is that according to the DVD Special Features, that formidable scene was done in one take! Lionel Barrymore, like Rockerdad said, plays the Scrooge-like villain so brilliantly there were times I almost wanted to throw my remote at him! But Stewart really made this movie. His transition from a buoyant optimist to a downtrodden, broken man is utterly believable and heartbreaking — we can all relate to his George Bailey and more than empathize with him. Even when he was being a jerk to his family, you feel for the imperfect hero that Bailey was.

I was also amazed to learn that the town of Bedford Falls was a set, all four acres of them was all built in the RKO’s studio Encino ranch! Some parts obviously looked like a set, but for the most part it looks impressively like a real small town. I LOVE the fact that it’s in black and white. There’s a colorized version of this, which is a shame as they should’ve left it in its black & white glory. Even Jimmy Stewart himself was one of the most prominent critics of this process, calling it ‘denaturing’ when he appealed before congress against it.

The best part of the movie course is the unabashedly positive message about appreciating one’s life and what a gift it is, not just for ourselves but for others whose life we touch. It’s also quite rare to see movies these days where a prayerful Christian family is depicted in a favorable light, and as someone who believes in a God who indeed answers prayers, that’s a gratifying thing to behold.

5/5 stars

Which brings me to another inspirational movie I saw the very next day …
….

The Blind Side

This flick is definitely one of the unexpected indie hits of the year, even beating the tween vampire juggernaut that is New Moon over the Thanksgiving weekend (even for just a day it’s still impressive!).

I must admit I was intrigued after hearing all the positive reviews on this. This isn’t the kind of flick I usually rush to see at the theaters, as I prefer more action or sci-fi fares to a tearjerker drama any day. When I say this one is a tearjerker, I truly meant it as my eyes were rarely dry in the 2-hour plus running time! The movie is inspired by a true story of an African-American youngster Michael Oher who’s taken in by the Touhys — a wealthy white family in the South — who ended up helping him realize his full potential as an NFL-caliber football player.

As M. Carter stated in her always well-written review, The Blind Side is heavy on heart-tugging emotion but light on schmaltzy sentimentality. I had a pretty high expectation given the positive reviews and still I was pleasantly surprised by it. It’s an inspiring understated drama thanks largely to Sandra Bullock‘s assertive but guarded performance. I’ve always liked Bullock, she always comes across very genial and relatable, but she really won me over here with her sensitive portrayal of Leigh Ann Touhy. She’s already nominated for a Golden Globe this year (a dual nominations as she also nabbed one for The Proposal) and she truly deserved it.

The rest of the cast isn’t bad, either. Kathy Bates is always watchable as Michael’s Tutor, while Quinton Aaron‘s performance as Michael really tugs your heart strings, even if he’s a bit awkward at times. Country star Tim McGraw is surprisingly charming as Sean Touhy and the pint-sized Jae Head (who looks even more diminutive compared to big Teddy bear that is Big Mike) provides comic relief for the movie. The one with least to do here is the Touhy daughter Collins (interestingly enough she’s the daughter of British musician Phil Collins).

The Blind Side wasn’t marketed as a Christian movie, but it paints a refreshingly flattering picture of a Christian family. The real-life Touhys are devout believers but the movie is never preachy. As the same time it also doesn’t shy away from showing the characters act out their faith and being thankful to God. The filmmakers also portray the enviably harmonious family dynamic — including the amiable relationship between Leigh Ann and her husband Sean — that feels genuine and natural.

But the most touching of all is Leigh Ann’s unexpected connection with Michael. Despite their contrasting walk of life, they’re kindred spirits, like M. Carter said, and their bond feels heartwarmingly sincere. There’s a part when she was told by one of her friends over lunch that she’s changing Michael’s life, Leigh Ann replied, “No, he’s changing mine.” That maudlin sentiment is sneer-proof as it was delivered with real earnestness.

What a fitting movie this one is for the Holiday season. Like Christmas staple It’s a Wonderful Life, it inspires us not only to be thankful for what we’ve been blessed with, but also to share them joyfully.


Have you seen these films? Please share your thoughts on ’em below.

Five Essential Classic Christmas Movies – by guest blogger Rockerdad

A note from yours truly, RTM:
It’s that time of the year again, my favorite season if you ask me. I was going to post a Top Five Christmas Movies list, but after raking my brain to find the ones I thought were ‘worthy’ to be included, I ended up turning to my reliable guest blogger Rockerdad. Having just seen the first one this past weekend (I’ll have my review on a later post), I’d have to agree that It’s A Wonderful Life is the quintessential uplifting Christmas movie, one to pass on from generation to generation as the uplifting message is as timeless as Christmas itself.
…..

It’s A Wonderful Life (1946)

This Frank Capra classic is and has been a holiday staple for years. Pretty heavy on the melodrama but is ultimately rewarding because of Jimmy Stewart’s believable performance as regular good guy George Bailey whose limits are tested by a greedy and scrooge-like bank magnate (Lionel Barrymore). Donna Reed is sweet and Barrymore is right up there with the most despicable screen villains of all time.

Miracle On 34th Street (1947)

One of the best, this film introduced us to a very young Natalie Wood. Edmund Gwenn claims to be Kris Kringle but young Susan (Wood) is skeptical as is her mother (Maureen O’Hara), a special events coordinator at Macy’s. Somehow, they warm up to Kris but he is then threatened to be committed to the asylum after the store’s ill-intentioned psychologist deems him unstable. A young lawyer (John Payne), promises to defend Kris in court and then the fun begins.

A Christmas Story (1983)

This classic from late director Bob Clark (Black Christmas) will inevitably cross your TV screen this holiday season. Young Ralphie Parker wants a BB Gun for Christmas but first he must overcome a few obstacles that might prevent him from getting it. Its subtle charm is its Norman Rockwellesque feel and look which makes it seem timeless (very unlike 1983). Darren McGavin is brilliant as the cuss-filled but well meaning dad – as well as the rest of the cast. We’ve all had our own version of the ‘Red Ryder BB Gun’.

The Snowman (1982)

This 27 min. animated classic is my personal favorite. Based on the book by English author Raymond Briggs, The Snowman has no dialogue, but is magical nonetheless.  A young boy builds a snowman who suddenly comes to life at midnight and they begin a fascinating dream-like adventure together – eventually meeting Father Christmas. This one is not to be missed.

Baby Boom (1987)

Not really considered a classic but this Diane Keaton comedy has all the ingredients of a holiday film – babies, lots of snow and gourmet applesauce… Keaton plays an aggressive ad executive whose life and career are turned upside down after she inherits a toddler from a deceased relative. With her boss and colleagues unsympathetic, she starts over and moves to a broken down country house in Vermont where she meets a charming vet (Sam Shepard) and begins a promising entrepreneurial foray into – what else – baby gourmet applesauce!


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Honorable Mentions:

A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964)

The Bells of St. Mary’s (1945)

Holiday Inn (1940)

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What say you, folks? Whats your staple Christmas movie(s)?