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Five Favorite Christmas Films

After reading a friend’s blog post on her favorite Christmas movies, I was inspired to do some writing of my own and create a similar list. I only wish that ours didn’t overlap so heavily. After all, originality is always a point of pride with me.

1. Love Actually

This star-studded, Christmas-themed film is a pastiche of numerous different love stories.  From Colin Firth (delicious) being in love with a maid that once worked with him to Liam Neeson’s really horny son, this movie is packed with wonderful feel-good moments. Ultimately, though, one love story in particular attracts me to this film again and again.

The ever charming Alan Rickman stars in this film as an office manager who buys a gold necklace and, instead of giving it to his wife, he gives it to his secretary. Naturally, the wife finds out. One could argue, and I would, that this- in fact- is the greatest love story out of all of them. The wife loves her husband and children so much that she is willing to overlook his terrible sin and continue the relationship. Personally, I would have dumped Alan Rickman, but she doesn’t. True love: what more is Christmas about?

2. White Christmas

I took some time considering whether I should go choose this or Irving Berlin’s slightly earlier songbook film Holiday Inn, but ultimately chose this one on the grounds that it isn’t as racist.

I jest, of course. I get really mad every time I see the black-faced routine in Holiday Inn.  Anyway, there are two fantastic love stories in here and they both come with great music.  Everyone knows this one, so I’ll keep it short. I dare you not to cry when the snow finally falls in Vermont.

3.  Meet Me in St. Louis

OK. You caught me. I’m cheating a little. This isn’t exactly a Christmas movie, but it does have Christmas in it, so it counts. Right?

Judy Garland, a young woman famous for a certain other musical, showcases some phenomenal acting and singing by playing Esther Smith, a young woman madly in love, but hit by tough times. Many people do not realize it, but this is actually where the Christmas standard “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” came from. Plus, with other great little ditties like “The Trolley Song,” which won a well-deserved Academy Award for best song, how can you go wrong? Maybe It’s something wrong with me, but I’m a sucker for just about every musical ever made, and this is no exception.

4.  It’s a Wonderful Life

This seminal Christmas hit is more of a study on chaos theory than it is a Christmas film, but still I love it so. Anyway, you all know the story, so I’ll skimp there. Here’s the bottom line:

James Stewart does a great job (as always) starring as a banker who decides the world would be better off if he had never been born. Then, he gets taken through this alternate timeline by an angel. There you go! That’s the story. Sound familiar? If not, you may have been living on the planet Venus. I enjoy it anyway, and it makes me bawl, so there.

5. The Thing (1982)

OK. Now I’m really cheating, but there is lots of snow. So there.

Anyway, after spending so much time blabbing about the “Christmas spirit,” standing in line at the store waiting for the cashier to finish checking out the lady who bought the entire store’s worth of tacky Santa figurines, wrapping gifts with paper that seems to in fact be engineered to make wrapping impossible, and listening the the Chimpunks’ Christmas Song 87 times in a row, you really want to watch things die. That’s where Mr. Carpenter’s classic horror film comes in. There is enough blood and guts in here to make David Cronenberg cringe. Plus, it’s really scary. It may not make you feel all warm and fuzzy, but just imagine that the characters in this film are actually annoying Christmas shoppers. Instant stress relief!

So there’s my list. It’s a little unusual, but I think it does a good job of covering all my favorites. What’s yours?



Ethan Hawke and Willem Dafoe star in Daybreakers.

Daybreakers is the rarest of Hollywood Action-Horror crossovers: it succeeds in both genres and has a concept that allows it to pursue complex moral questions and modern-day issues without ever getting preachy or lame. The script had flaws, but- and I very rarely say this- the rest of the film was good enough to overlook the script issues.

Vampire films are a dime a dozen these days. Two Twilight Saga films come out every year; rip offs of those, and even things like HBO’s True Blood crowd the marketplace for vampire-related fiction. In order to stand out, a vampire film has to be really different, with a special “hook” to grab you and interesting characters to make you stay. Daybreakers does this incredibly well. Here’s the hook: In the year 2019, most of the population has been transformed into immortal vampires. However, they require human blood to live. (Their own blood disfigures them and causes brain damage.) For the last ten years, human blood as a resource has been dwindling, causing a need to find a blood substitute.

The beauty of Daybreakers lies in its not-so-subtlety and beautiful use of blood and gore. It’s a great big-budget b-movie.

Two Viewings Later: Thoughts on Inception Since DVD Release

After seeing Christopher Nolan’s latest masterpiece, Inception, multiple times and reading the “Shooting Script I got in my copy of the Best Buy bundle, I have begun to notice things that I didn’t see before.

First of all, I may have been wrong to assume that the top at the end (which signifies reality) did fall. The film certainly leaves it ambiguous (though it looks like the top is losing its balance) and the last line of the script says:





This makes it pretty clear to me that the Nolans (or Jonathan, if not Christopher) wanted to add this extra, foreboding element of complexity to the end of the film. It’s possible that that in focus group testing this ending was too controversial, so it was recut with the top starting to fall. On a Hollywood level, this makes a lot of sense; a ton of directors have been required to alter their endings to make a film more mainstream in the past.

Another thing that changed between the Shooting Script and the final film was an elimination of much of the voice-over text. There is also no mention of the (slightly confusing) merging of Saito’s home in Limbo with the dreamworld designed for him, which came at the beginning of the film.

Another thing which I noticed was the score. It’s carefully matched to sound like the music which warns of “the kick,” only dilated like it would be in the slow-moving dreamworld.