Hello dear Readers!
I thought it was high time that I gave you all some Christmas movie recommendations. Today felt like the perfect day to do this because I just encountered a well-known and much loved film for the first time, and it truly touched my heart.
As you all know, I am an avid, passionate fan of the Christmas season, and one of the pastimes that gets me into the spirit each year is watching Christmas movies every night with my parents. We’ve recently brought SS into the fold, and we watched four movies last weekend alone. My mother and I are unstoppable when it comes to scouring out movies, taping them and scheduling time for us all to sit down and watch them. We have a very good idea of whether or not we will like a Christmas film just from the description, and we’ve found some real winners over the years that have become near and dear to our hearts. Although I can’t possibly go through all the Christmas movies we’ve watched here, I would like to recommend a few of my yearly go-to’s, as well as talk about a couple new favourites.
~ Borrowed Hearts ~
Borrowed Hearts is a touching and fun Christmas film that is full of romance and valuable lessons. Starring Eric McCormack as a businessman who has no time for holiday cheer, and Roma Downey as the single mother who turns his life around, this movie features some remarkably charming moments, such as a scene featuring a heartwarming game of Twister, a visit to an outdoor skating rink and a whole host of family moments and traditions. McCormack’s character is heavily inspired by Scrooge, and it is exciting to watch him go from grumpy and surly bachelor to a true family man. Hector Elizondo is also just lovely as Javier Del Campo, another businessman who is more appreciative of family values and who encourages McCormack’s character to focus on love rather than his bank account over the Christmas season. There are strong suggestions that Del Campo is actually an angel, and this is a fun twist that really makes the movie feel even more like a Christmas classic. My mother and I have been watching this film for many years, and it is one of the classics that we won’t skip watching every Christmas season.
~ The Bells of St. Mary’s ~
Strictly speaking, The Bells of St. Mary’s is not a Christmas film. There is one Christmas scene in it, but this classic starring Bing Crosby (Sidenote: Bing Crosby singing just about any Christmas carol is absolutely divine!) and Ingrid Bergman definitely offers something for the whole family. This is the film that my father has always called his favourite Christmas movie, and for a long time we have watched it together on Christmas Eve, after returning from dinner at my grandmother’s house. It tells the story of the priest Father O’Malley who begins working at St. Mary’s Church to get it out of a financial slump. He butts heads with a nun who works at St. Mary’s, Sister Benedict, but they eventually start to see eye-to-eye despite several misunderstandings. I should note that my father and I are not at all religious, and although The Bells of St. Mary’s is technically about a priest and a nun and a church, it does not feel heavily religious in the least, and it delivers messages and insights that can be applied in any setting. Father O’Malley is also an incredible character: he is funny, witty, sarcastic and just plain cool. My father and I have always enjoyed Crosby’s take on this religious figure, and there are a number of very humorous moments throughout the film. You’ll also get a chance to hear Bing Crosby sing, which is the ultimate Christmas treat!
Fun 2016 Frontrunner
~ Crown for Christmas ~
It’s not every year that my mother and I can say we’ve found a new, all-time favourite Christmas film, but 2016 is certainly that year! Just last night, we watched a movie we had never encountered before, Crown for Christmas, and it was absolutely wonderful! It is highly reminiscent of The Sound of Music and (my personal forever favourite) Jane Eyre in that it tells the story of a New Yorker who is hired as the governess for the daughter of a king. Danica McKellar stars as the governess and she is charming and adorable in the role. My mother and I were instantly rooting for her. It is the king, played by famous British actor Rupert Penry-Jones, who really steals the show, though. I have been fond of Penry-Jones since I first watched the BBC adaptation of Jane Austen’s classic novel Persuasion – he is THE Captain Wentworth in my books. Penry-Jones is a consummate British actor, and his traditional good looks and delectable accent made him the perfect choice for the role of king in Crown for Christmas. He has his moments of being cold and distant, but there is an undeniable warmth and goodness that oozes out of him, and he plays the role of father remarkably well. The movie was just so romantic, but also very wholesome, and I would highly recommend it to anyone who is a fan of movies like The Sound of Music and Jane Eyre, but also to those who may have a soft spot for Rupert Penry-Jones and his dashing persona (I’m sure there are a lot of you out there!).
A New-Old Favourite
~ It’s A Wonderful Life ~
“Each man’s life touches so many other lives.”
I am ashamed to admit that I had never seen the classic (in every sense of the word) Christmas film It’s A Wonderful Life until today. I don’t know why, but I resisted watching it for many years. This seems strange in hindsight because it is a movie that is right up my alley – my favourite films as a teenager getting through high school were the likes of Roman Holiday, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, My Fair Lady and, of course, The Bells of St. Mary’s, so I don’t know what ever made me think that I wouldn’t love It’s A Wonderful Life. And love it, I did!
I decided to sit down and watch it today after my dear friend CV mentioned to me on the weekend that it is a film she watches every single year at Christmas. CV and I have almost identical taste, and I knew instantly that if it was a favourite of hers, it would certainly make my list of favourite Christmas films. I set myself up in front of the TV with it today, all bundled in my heavy sweater and blankets, and I couldn’t take my eyes away from the screen for the full two hours. I happened to watch it in black and white, and I’m so glad I did because I think it felt a lot more authentic that way.
This is the story of a man, George Bailey, who sacrifices everything for the people around him. He is at once a businessman and a family man, and it seems like, for the most part, nothing goes right for him and he can’t really catch a break. His plans to leave his small hometown of Bedford Falls are constantly thwarted, and his dreams of exploring Europe and going off to college are never realized. Instead, George gives of himself to his father by taking over the family business, to his brother by paying for his college education, and to his wife Mary by being a constant source of support to her and their four children. George Bailey reminds me very much of my own father in that sense, and as I watched him toil at work, dealing with one crisis after another in swift succession, I was reminded of the nights when my father would return home from work very late, after a two and a half hour commute. My father never seemed to be tired though, and was always willing to sit down and watch TV with us, offer me and my brother advice with any school dilemmas, or even pick us up from our friends’ houses at all hours of the day and night. To this day, my father works very hard, but he is also a constant presence in our house, a personality that shines in any room he is in. And, he is also the sort of man, just like George Bailey, who has done so much for other people that they are eager and excited to give back to him, whenever they can.
It was wonderful (that adjective is truly fitting in this case) to watch George Bailey in his roles as workingman, husband and father. It honestly warmed my heart, and I nearly cried at the end of the film. Probably what made me so emotional is the fact that my own dear future husband SS is currently, at this very moment, working late, doing everything that he can to build his career, develop a name for himself and set us up with a comfortable and happy life. I am, of course, doing my part as well, and my mother does the same for my father, so it was also very nice to see George’s wife Mary act as his constant support throughout the entire film. It was simply a lovely story to behold, and the underlying message, that a person’s life is so much more valuable than they can ever imagine for the part they play in the lives of those around them, was remarkable and profound. This is a film that quickly became a favourite of mine and that I have every intention of watching every single year!
“Remember no man is a failure who has friends.”
There you have it – I hope some of you may have a chance to watch these great Christmas movies and curl up with your loved ones and some delicious hot chocolate over this holiday season!
Girl with a Green (and Red) Heart