As much as I enjoy Christmas comedies and movies about Santa Claus, I also love films that remind us of the beginning of the holiday. Below I’ve listed movies that remember the reason for the season. Many of these are on my must-see holiday list.
- The Nativity Story (2006) – A beautiful re-telling of the Nativity. Keisha Castle-Hughes as Mary and Oscar Isaac as Joseph give heartfelt performances. Directed by Twilight director Catherine Hardwicke, this movie features an international cast, including Shohreh Aghdashloo, Ciarán Hinds, and Alexander Siddig. Also features outstanding music by Mychael Danna, who incorporates traditional Christmas hymns into the score.
- The Bishop’s Wife (1947) – As Christmas approaches, Bishop Henry Brougham becomes caught up in plans for a new cathedral. But is he forgetting the true meaning of the holiday? This lovely movie stars David Niven as the bishop, Loretta Young as his neglected wife, and Cary Grant as Dudley, an angel sent to help the bishop find the answers. The cast also includes Monty Woolley, Gladys Cooper, Elsa Lanchester, and James Gleason.
- Meet John Doe (1941) – Gary Cooper stars as an unemployed, homeless drifter who becomes an unwitting pawn in a game of politics. Barbara Stanwyck plays the reporter who hires him to portray her creation, “John Doe,” a man who speaks for the “little people” of the world. Edward Arnold is the ambitious businessman using them both for his own agenda. The climactic scene on Christmas Eve reminds everyone about the original “John Doe.” Walter Brennan, James Gleason, and Spring Byington also star in this Frank Capra film.
- A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965) – “Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?!” Charlie Brown asks in desperation. His friend Linus Van Pelt knows – and thus a holiday classic is born. Charles Schulz was one of a kind. “Lights, please?”
- A Christmas Carol – In every incarnation, Charles Dickens’s classic story emphasizes the good a man might do in his life if he honors the true meaning of Christmas.
- The Bells of St. Mary’s (1945) – Although the emphasis of this movie is faith, it is not focused solely on Christmas. I include it here for the incredibly sweet and funny scene of a first grade class rehearsing their Christmas play, which they have written and directed themselves. Watching Ingrid Bergman as Sister Mary Benedict and Bing Crosby as Father O’Malley watch the children is almost as entertaining as the kids themselves. Joan Carroll and Henry Travers co-star in this movie. And here’s your trivia for the day: this is the movie playing at the Bedford Falls theater as George Bailey gets his life back in It’s a Wonderful Life .
Enjoy the holiday and the movies!