Tuesday, December 06, 2011

fun non-holiday movies that happen to take place around christmas

There are countless holiday films featuring Santa and elves and "bah humbug"-ers, but you don't have to watch a holiday movie to still get a holiday vibe. There are some great movies out there that could still be enjoyed this time of year, in which Christmas plays a supporting role. Here are my suggestions for an alternative holiday movie marathon of non-holiday movies that take place around Christmas:

Die Hard — Bruce Willis stars as John McClane, a New York cop trying to reunite with his wife who has taken a job in L.A. during the holidays. Instead he finds the fancy new firm where she works is under siege by terrorists and he may be the only one who can save her and himself. It's the first and the best of the 80s action movies. Undeniably violent, but full of wry humor. And as an extra Christmas gift, Alan Rickman (in his feature film debut!) plays arch villain Hans "Bubbe."

The Lion in Winter — Fun couple Eleanor of Aquitaine and Henry Plantagenet of England are getting together for the holidays ... and Katherine Hepburn and Peter O'Toole bring every bit of venom and humor they can to this wonderful film (based on the play) about their power struggles over the successor to Henry's throne. It's not exactly historically accurate, but it is good drama.

Brazil — Terry Gilliam's masterpiece, Brazil is set during the Christmas holidays, but its 1984-like world is grayed-out and devoid of cheer. Jonathan Pryce is wonderful as Sam the dreamer/hero and Robert DeNiro almost steals the show in his amusing cameo as a genial terrorist named Tuttle.

About A Boy — Hugh Grant's Will lives off the substantial royalties from his father's one-hit wonder and Christmas hit, Santa's Super Sleigh. Perpetually immature, he meets Marcus, a young boy with a single, troubled mom, and the two form a very unlikely friendship. Based on the book by Nick Hornby, it's a sad and funny and truly wonderful film. It's also Grant's best performance to-date.

Desk Set — My favorite Tracy/Hepburn movie, Desk Set takes place during the Christmas season. Hepburn heads the reference department for a major New York television network, answering questions like the names of all of Santa's reindeer. Tracy has invented a computer that Hepburn and her crew fear will make them obsolete. Their chemistry is adorable, and it's a brightly colored, witty romantic comedy. It's also a fun slice of nostalgia, as the enormous room-sized computer is installed in Hepburn's 1957 office space. So much of the technology has changed in 50 years, but the office politics are still the same.

While You Were Sleeping — Another romantic comedy set during Christmas. Sandra Bullock as Lucy and Bill Pullman as Jack are wonderful together, and Peter Gallagher looks great — although he spends the majority of the film in a coma. A fun, quirky film, full of characters that you wish that you knew in real life.

Love Actually — the mother of all ensemble movies, Love Actually is kind of a mess and kind of adorable, depending on which storyline you're currently watching. But it has some genuinely funny moments, such as Bill Nighy's cynical holiday ditty, "Christmas is All Around." And how can you argue with a cast that includes Emma Thompson, Alan Rickman, Hugh Grant, and Colin Firth?

Also fun viewing:

Meet Me In St. Louis — a turn-of-the century musical with Judy Garland at her most gorgeous, singing the very best rendition of "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas."

The Family Stone — the ultimate nightmare holiday with the relatives, except it's fun to watch because they aren't my relatives. Diane Keaton heads a dream cast that includes Craig T. Nelson, Rachel McAdams, Claire Danes, Dermot Mulroney, Luke Wilson, and Sarah Jessica Parker.

The Holiday — Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet switch houses for the holidays. I found myself wanting to just spend Christmas with Winslet and Jack Black. Still, it's fluffy and fun and Eli Wallach has a great part, too, as an Old Hollywood script writer who takes a shine to Winslet.

Mixed Nuts — Definitely a mixed bag, Mixed Nuts is a comedy about a suicide-prevention hotline, set during the holiday season, and all of the crazy characters on both sides of the telephone. Steve Martin, Madeline Khan, Adam Sandler, Liev Schrieber, and Rita Wilson are all at their zaniest.
Enhanced by Zemanta


Post a Comment