Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Teacher says, "Every time a bell rings an angel gets it's wings."

I started my annual repeat viewings of "While You Were Sleeping" last week and it got me thinking about Christmas-y/ New Years-y/ Holiday-y movies.  So I went through my movie collection and came up with a pretty decent list of movies that I consider to be must-sees during the winter/holiday season.  Here is my holiday stack, if you would:

I dove right in and watched a bunch this past week, but I wasn't able to get through all of them.  Here are the ones I got around to!

While You Were Sleeping (1995)- Duh!  This is one of my faves.  The story spans from Christmas to New Years and is chock full of Bill Pullman and lines like, "Cesar Romaro was tall," and "The potatoes are so creamy, Mary mashed them."  It has a great cast including Sandra Bullock, Peter Gallagher, Peter Boyle, Glynis John and Jack Warden.  While being so humorous it also tugs at my heart strings.
I've never seen this poster and I love it
When Harry Met Sally (1989)- Another favorite of mine all year round, but it becomes necessary to watch around the holidays.  It might be because of the little vignettes of Harry and Sally getting prepared for the holidays or the fact that they make a New Year's pact.  Whatever it is, I just love watching this movie in the winter.  It takes a fun look at the relationships between men and women.  While watching the commentary it was interesting to learn that many of the little idiosyncrasies of some of the characters came about from interactions between writer Nora Ephron and director Rob Reiner.

It's a Wonderful Life (1946)- I first saw this movie in High School, but of course at the time I couldn't fully appreciate everything that it had to offer.  And I'm pretty sure we didn't finish the whole movie while watching it the day before winter vacation.  As I became a massive classic film fan this movie became an essential Christmas movie during the month of December.  It's such an engaging story and is really very well done.  It has a great performance by James Stewart, who picked darker, more realistic roles after coming home from the war.  Lionel Barrymore is also the perfect villain.  All around great movie.

Love Actually (2003)- This was my "birthday movie" in 2003.  It became an instant holiday staple for me.  All the intertwining stories, the humor and the relationships are so endearing.  My favorite storyline is the love story between Jamie (Colin Firth) and Aurelia (Lucia Moniz).  I can also very much relate to the Laura Linney/ Rodrigo Santoro storyline seeing as how the majority of my romantic relationships have been having crippling crushes on boys.  A great feel-good Christmas movie.  Oh, and "I hate Uncle Jamie." :)

Scrooged (1988)- This is a very fun interpretation of the Charles Dickens' story 'Christmas Carol,' it stars Bill Murrary as Frank Cross, a heartless, cruel, unfair TV executive who needs to re-evaluate his life.  It also stars Karen Allen, Bobcat Goldthwait, Carol Kane, Alfre Woodward and has supporting roles by Robert Mitchum and John Forsythe.  There are also cameos by Buddy Hackett, Mary Lou Retton, Lee Majors, and Robert Goulet.  For some reason, growing up this was the main holiday movie we watched in my house.  The dark humor is perfect and Bill Murrary is the perfect man you love to hate.

The Shop Around the Corner (1940) and You've Got Mail (1998)- Neither of these movies are strictly Christmas movies, but they each have moments or scenes that are related to the holiday season.  In The Shop Around the Corner the final scene takes place right before Christmas and in You've Got Mail they celebrate the changing of the seasons and include a Christmas montage.  However, they are both very sweet love stories.  James Stewart and Margaret Sullavan make a great pair, I've read in a James Stewart biography that he loved Margaret very much, but she married Stewart's good friend Henry Fonda.  That must've been awkward.

The Ref (1994)- Another amazing black comedy about the holiday season and oh! another appearance by the wonderful Glynis John.  This movie also has a phenomenal cast including Kevin Spacey, Judy Davis, Denis Leary, Christine Baranski, JK Simmons and BD Wong.  This movie cracks me up, it deals with family relationships really well and has wonderful performances by everyone, oh and lots of cursing.

Home Alone (1990)- I decided to watch this movie with commentary by director Chris Columbus and star Macaulay Culkin.  It was really interesting to watch it with their insights hearing about filming and how they got certain shots.  Chris Columbus talks a great deal about the script by John Hughes and working with and Macaulay Culkin apparently has the greatest memory of anyone in all the land.  He remembers everything about the shoot, he was 9!  9 years old, I don't remember anything I did when I was 9, I mean in all fairness he was doing very cool and interesting things at the age of 9, but still!  I recommend the commentary very much.

Christmas Vacation (1989)- Such a funny holiday movie, Chevy Chase does such a good job of playing a hapless patriarch.  Everything that could go wrong for him, does.  The supporting cast is great.  So many ridiculous exchanges and situations.  I love when Chevy gets locked in the attic and puts on anything he can find for warmth.  So hilarious. Also, fun fact the aging great aunt Bethany is played by Mae Questel, who was the voice of Betty Boop and Olive Oyl, boop-boop de doop-boop!

Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987)- This is more of a Thanksgiving-y movie, but it's still a wonderful glimpse at the turmoils of holiday travel and upon my last viewing I really appreciated John Candy's amazingly complex performance.  I also could not stop laughing at the way he delivered the line, "I've never seen a guy get picked up by his testicles before."  There's just something about how sincere he is when he says the line.  The movie is so great, it's got some emotional moments and many hilarious moments.

Great Neck shout out :)

Miracle on 34th Street (1947)-  I realized this year that I had never seen this movie, but I do own the DVD, so I rectified this oversight this weekend.  I watched it and really enjoyed it and! was pleasantly surprised to find out that Kris Kringle lived in Great Neck (my hometown).  Who knew?! I really like this movie and can't believe that I had never seen it.  Natalie Wood is so cute in the movie and does such a great job.  Edmund Gwenn was great as Kris Kringle and it's so funny that he won the Academy Award for the role.  And as always Maureen O'Hara is wonderful.  It was also great to catch William Frawley (Fred Mertz in I Love Lucy) in another role.  It was also really fun to see Macy*s in the 40s oh! and a brief cameo by Thelma Ritter.

 As I've been watching these movies I've been thinking about movies that I have yet to see like Holiday Inn and White Christmas, both of which I will try to track down this holiday season.  I have also been discussing Christmas-y/ New Years-y/ Winter-y/ Holiday-y movies with a few of my friends and they suggested some great movies that I sort of overlooked.  One friend recommended that I add The Long Kiss Goodnight, which I have always loved.  Geena Davis is such a badass in it!  And another friend reminded me to include Meet Me in St. Louis as a must see Winter movie, I can't believe I left it off my list!

What are your must see movies during the winter holidays?  Any of the ones I selected not your cup of tea (of hot chocolate)?

PS- It's been a really rough week for classic film fans, lots of monumental losses.  It's always so sad to have to say goodbye to actors and actresses from this era.

Here are some very well done in remembrance posts from some other wonderful bloggers.

William McKinley: A Sad Week for Classic Film Fans

Laura's Misc Musings


And TCM also has in memoriam videos which can be found on youtube.

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