HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

Friday, December 19, 2014

So here we go again. It’s mid-December. Still not in Christmas mood despite all the sales, decor and “Pasko Na Naman” being played on AM radio over and over again?
I highly suggest you include any of the following movies in your must-watch list to get you in the mood.

1) While You Were Sleeping

While You Were Sleeping is a 1995 romantic comedy film directed by Jon Turteltaub and written by Daniel G. Sullivan and Frederic Lebow. It stars Sandra Bullock as Lucy, a Chicago Transit Authority token collector, and Bill Pullman as Jack, the brother of a man whose life she saves, along with Peter Gallagher as Peter, the man who is saved, and Peter Boyle, Glynis Johns, and Jack Warden as members of Peter’s family.



2) The Holiday

The Holiday is a 2006 American Christmas-themed romantic comedy film written, produced and directed by Nancy Meyers. Distributed by Columbia Pictures and Universal Studios and filmed in both California and England, it stars Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet as two lovelorn women from opposite sides of the Atlantic Ocean, who temporarily exchange homes to escape heartbreak during the holiday season. Jude Law and Jack Black co-star, with Eli Wallach, Shannyn Sossamon, Edward Burns and Rufus Sewell playing key supporting roles.

The Holiday was first released on December 6, 2006, in Spain and on December 8, 2006, in North America and the United Kingdom. It grossed over $205 million worldwide. Reviews were positive towards the film’s visual aesthetic design and the acting, most notably Winslet’s performance as society column editor Iris. However, the plot drew a mixed response from critics, who criticized plot elements that lacked any surprises or were predictable. Diaz garnered an ALMA Award nomination for her performance, while Winslet was nominated for an Irish Film and Television Award the following year. The film itself won the 2007 Teen Choice Award in the Chick Flick category.



3) The Polar Express

The Polar Express is a 2004 American motion capture computer-animated musical Christmas fantasy film based on the children’s book of the same title by Chris Van Allsburg. Written, produced, and directed by Robert Zemeckis, the film featured human characters animated using the live action performance capture technique, with the exception of the dancing waiters who dispense hot chocolate on the train, because their feats were impossible for live actors to achieve. The film stars Daryl Sabara, Nona Gaye, Jimmy Bennett, and Eddie Deezen, with Tom Hanks in six distinct roles. The film also included a performance by Tinashe at age 9, who later gained exposure as a pop singer in 2010, as the CGI-model for the female protagonist. Castle Rock Entertainment produced the film in association with Shangri-La Entertainment, ImageMovers, Playtone and Golden Mean, for Warner Bros. Pictures. The visual effects and performance capture were done at Sony Pictures Imageworks. The film was made at a budget of $165 million, a record breaking sum for an animated feature at the time. The studio first released the film in both conventional and IMAX 3D theaters November 10, 2004. It received mixed reviews from critics but still made gross earnings of $307 million worldwide, a very good gross for an animated film, but was still not a box office hit due to its huge $165 million budget. The Polar Express is listed in the Guinness World Book of Records in 2006 as the first all-digital capture film. This is Castle Rock Entertainment’s first animated film.

This was Michael Jeter’s last acting role, and the film was dedicated to his memory.



4) Holiday Inn

Holiday Inn is a 1942 American musical film directed by Mark Sandrich and starring Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire. With music by Irving Berlin, the film has twelve songs written expressly for the film, the most notable being White Christmas. The film features the complete reuse of Easter Parade, written by Berlin for the 1933 Broadway revue As Thousands Cheer. The film’s choreography was by Danny Dare. In 1943, the film received an Academy Award for Best Original Song (Irving Berlin for White Christmas), as well as Academy Award nominations for Best Score (Robert Emmett Dolan) and Best Original Story (Irving Berlin).



5) Sleepless In Seattle

Sleepless in Seattle is a 1993 American romantic comedy-drama film directed and co-written by Nora Ephron. Based on a story by Jeff Arch, it stars Tom Hanks as Sam Baldwin and Meg Ryan as Annie Reed.

The film was inspired by the 1957 film An Affair to Remember and used both its theme song and clips from the film in critical scenes. The climactic meeting at the top of the Empire State Building is a reference to a reunion between Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr in An Affair to Remember that fails to happen because the Kerr character is struck by a car while en route. At one point, some of the characters discuss Affair, with Sam commenting: That’s a chick’s movie.



6) Just Friends

Just Friends is a 2005 American romantic comedy and Christmas film directed by Roger Kumble, and starring Ryan Reynolds, Amy Smart, Anna Faris, Chris Klein and Christopher Maquette. The plot focuses on a successful record executive (Reynolds), formerly an overweight high school nerd, who reconnects with his lifelong romantic crush (Smart) after arriving home in New Jersey with a neurotic pop star (Faris) in his company.

The film revolves around humorous observation of strictly platonic relationships as just friends or just as best friends. It was shot in Regina & Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan.



7) You’ve Got Mail

You’ve Got Mail is a 1998 American romantic comedy-drama film directed by Nora Ephron, starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. It was written by Nora and Delia Ephron based on the 1937 play Parfumerie by Miklós László. The film is about two people in a correspondence courtship who are unaware that they are also business rivals. An adaptation of Parfumerie was previously made as The Shop Around the Corner, a 1940 film by Ernst Lubitsch and also a 1949 musical remake, In the Good Old Summertime by Robert Z. Leonard starring Judy Garland. You’ve Got Mail updates that concept with the use of e-mail. Influences from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice can also be seen in the relationship between Joe Fox and Kathleen Kelly — a reference pointed out by these characters actually discussing Mr. Darcy and Miss Bennet in the film. Ephron stated that You’ve Got Mail was as much about the Upper West Side itself as the characters, highlighting the small town community feel that pervades the Upper West Side.

The name of the film is an example of product placement, based on the trademark greeting that AOL users hear when they receive new e-mail.

The film received significant media coverage leading up to its release in anticipation of the romantic coupling of Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, who had both appeared together previously in Joe Versus the Volcano (1990) and Sleepless in Seattle (1993).



8) How The Grinch Stole Christmas!

Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! is a 2000 American musical fantasy comedy Christmas film from Universal Pictures and Imagine Entertainment, based on the 1957 story of the same name by Dr. Seuss. It was the first Dr. Seuss book to be adapted into a full-length feature film. Because the film is based on a children’s picture book, many additions had to be made to the storyline to bring it up to feature-length, including some information about the backstory of the titular character. Most of the rhymes used in the book were used in the film, though some were slightly changed, and new rhymes were put in as well. The film was directed by Ron Howard, produced by Howard and Brian Grazer, and starring Jim Carrey, Jeffrey Tambor, Christine Baranski, Bill Irwin, Molly Shannon and introducing Taylor Momsen as Cindy Lou Who. The film received mixed reviews from critics, but spent four weeks as the number-one film in the United States. The Grinch is the highest-grossing holiday film of all time with $345,141,403 worldwide. It won the Academy Award for Best Makeup, and was also nominated for Best Art Direction and Best Costume Design.



9) Charlie Brown Christmas

A Charlie Brown Christmas is a musical animated television special based on the comic strip Peanuts, by Charles M. Schulz. Produced by Lee Mendelson and directed by Bill Melendez, the program made its debut on CBS on December 9, 1965. In the special, lead character Charlie Brown finds himself depressed despite the onset of the cheerful holiday season. Lucy suggests he direct a school Christmas play, but he is both ignored and mocked by his peers. The story touches on the over-commercialization and secularism of Christmas, and serves to remind viewers of the true meaning of Christmas (the birth of Jesus Christ).

Peanuts had become a phenomenon worldwide by the mid-1960s, and the special was commissioned and sponsored by The Coca-Cola Company. It was written over a period of several weeks, and animated on a shoestring budget in only six months. In casting the characters, the producers went an unconventional route, hiring child actors. The program’s soundtrack was similarly unorthodox: it features a jazz score by pianist Vince Guaraldi. Its absence of a laugh track (a staple in television animation in this period), in addition to its tone, pacing, music, and animation, led both the producers and network to wrongly envision the project as a disaster preceding its broadcast.

A Charlie Brown Christmas received high ratings and acclaim from critics. It has since been honored with both an Emmy and Peabody Award. It became an annual broadcast in the United States, and has been aired during the Christmas season traditionally every year since its premiere. Its jazz soundtrack also achieved commercial success, going triple platinum in the US. Live theatrical versions of A Charlie Brown Christmas have been staged. ABC currently holds the rights to the special, and broadcasts it at least twice during the weeks leading up to Christmas.



10) Serendipity

Serendipity is a 2001 American romantic comedy film, starring John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale. It was written by Marc Klein and directed by Peter Chelsom. The music score is composed by Alan Silvestri.



11) Love Actually

Love Actually is a 2003 British Christmas-themed romantic comedy film written and directed by Richard Curtis. The screenplay delves into different aspects of love as shown through ten separate stories involving a wide variety of individuals, many of whom are shown to be interlinked as their tales progress.

Set primarily in London, the story begins five weeks before Christmas and is played out in a weekly countdown until the holiday, followed by an epilogue that takes place one month later.



12) Muppet Christmas Carol

The Muppet Christmas Carol is a 1992 American musical fantasy-comedy film and an adaptation of Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol. It is the fourth in a series of live-action musical films featuring The Muppets, with Michael Caine starring as Ebenezer Scrooge. Although it is a comedic film with contemporary songs, The Muppet Christmas Carol otherwise follows Dickens’s original story closely. The film was produced and directed by Brian Henson for Jim Henson Productions, and released by Walt Disney Pictures.

The Muppet Christmas Carol was the first Muppet film released after the deaths of Muppets creator Jim Henson and fellow puppeteer Richard Hunt. The film is dedicated to their memories.



13) Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas

The Nightmare Before Christmas, often promoted as Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas, is a 1993 American stop motion musical fantasy-comedy film directed by Henry Selick and produced/co-written by Tim Burton. It tells the story of Jack Skellington, a being from Halloween Town who opens a portal to Christmas Town and decides to celebrate the holiday, with some dastardly and comical consequences. Danny Elfman wrote the film score and provided the singing voice of Jack, as well as other minor characters. The remaining principal voice cast includes Chris Sarandon, Catherine O’Hara, William Hickey, Ken Page, Paul Reubens and Glenn Shadix.

The Nightmare Before Christmas originated in a poem written by Tim Burton in 1982, while he was working as an animator at Walt Disney Animation Studios. With the success of Vincent in the same year, the Walt Disney Studios started to consider developing The Nightmare Before Christmas as either a short film or 30-minute television special. Over the years, Burton’s thoughts regularly returned to the project, and in 1990, he made a development deal with Disney. Production started in July 1991 in San Francisco. Disney decided to release the film under their Touchstone Pictures banner because they thought the movie would be too dark, and scary for kids.

The Nightmare Before Christmas was met with both critical and financial success. The film has since been reissued by Walt Disney Pictures and re-released annually in the Disney Digital 3-D format from 2006 until 2009, making it the first stop-motion animated feature to be entirely converted to 3-D.



14) Black Christmas

Black Christmas is a 2006 Canadian-American slasher film written and directed by Glen Morgan and starring Katie Cassidy, Michelle Trachtenberg, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Oliver Hudson, Lacey Chabert, Kristen Cloke, Crystal Lowe, and Andrea Martin. The film takes place several days before Christmas, and tells the story of a group of sorority sisters who are stalked and murdered by one of their house’s former inhabitants during a winter storm. It is a loose remake of the 1974 film of the same name.

In December 2006, upon anticipation of its premiere, the film garnered some criticism from religious groups due to its graphic content in a holiday setting, as well as the distributor’s decision to release the film on Christmas Day in the United States. The film opened in the United Kingdom on December 15, 2006, and, despite backlash from some religious organizations, opened in US theaters on Christmas Day 2006 to moderate box office success, but generally unfavorable reviews.



15) Home Alone

Home Alone is a 1990 American Christmas family comedy film written and produced by John Hughes and directed by Chris Columbus. The film stars Macaulay Culkin as Kevin McCallister, an eight-year-old boy who is mistakenly left behind when his family flies to Paris for their Christmas vacation. Kevin initially relishes being home alone, but soon has to contend with two would-be burglars played by Daniel Stern and Joe Pesci. The film also features Catherine O’Hara and John Heard as Kevin’s parents.

As of 2009, Home Alone was the highest-grossing comedy of all time. It spawned a successful franchise, with four sequels and three video games, and with the main cast reprising their roles for the sequel Home Alone 2: Lost in New York.



16) Home Alone 2

Home Alone 2: Lost in New York is a 1992 American Christmas family comedy film written and produced by John Hughes and directed by Chris Columbus. It is the second film in the Home Alone series and the sequel to Home Alone. Macaulay Culkin reprises his role as Kevin McCallister, while Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern reprise their roles as the Wet Bandits. Catherine O’Hara, John Heard, Tim Curry, and Brenda Fricker are also featured.

The movie was filmed in Winnetka, Illinois, O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, Miami, and New York City (which was star Culkin’s hometown at the time). The exterior of Duncan’s Toy Chest in New York City was filmed outside of the Rookery Building in downtown Chicago. Despite receiving mixed-to-negative reviews from critics, the film became the second most financially successful film of 1992, earning over $173 million in revenue in the United States and over $359 million worldwide against a budget of $20 million.

Home Alone 3 followed five years later in 1997, Home Alone 4 followed in 2002, and Home Alone: The Holiday Heist followed in 2012. Culkin did not appear in any of them nor did the rest of the cast.



17) Robot Chicken Christmas Special

Robot Chicken is an American stop motion animated sketch-comedy television series, created and executive produced by Seth Green and Matthew Senreich along with co-head writers Douglas Goldstein and Tom Root for Adult Swim. The writers, especially Green, also provide many of the voices. Senreich, Goldstein, and Root were formerly writers for the popular action figure hobbyist magazine ToyFare. Robot Chicken has won an Annie Award and three Emmy Awards.

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