Mamma M’s Movie Club: Holiday Movies to Watch This Week

Love Actually–” Nine intertwined stories examine the complexities of the one emotion that connects us all: love. Among the characters explored are David (Hugh Grant), the handsome newly elected British prime minister who falls for a young junior staffer (Martine McCutcheon), Sarah (Laura Linney), a graphic designer whose devotion to her mentally ill brother complicates her love life, and Harry (Alan Rickman), a married man tempted by his attractive new secretary.” Look, critics love to hate on this movie, and I get it (I think?), but I really love the cast of characters from the recently widowed stepfather trying to help his stepson win over the “one girl for him” which is adorable because he’s eleven. It’s a feel-good movie and while it might not touch on deeper societal issues or be complex enough to get film buffs onboard, I stand by it as a great holiday film. I watch it every damn year and it still makes me laugh and cry a bit and feel warm and toasty at the end which is what I want every December when it gets dark right after lunchtime and everyone is up to their ears in debt. 

The Family Stone–” Everett Stone (Dermot Mulroney) wants to bring his girlfriend, Meredith Morton (Sarah Jessica Parker), to meet his bohemian Connecticut family at Christmas. Straitlaced Meredith, feeling she needs backup, asks her sister Julie (Claire Danes) to come along. Hoping to win the approval of her boyfriend’s parents Sybil (Diane Keaton) and Kelly (Craig T. Nelson) and the rest of the family, instead, Meredith succeeds only in highlighting her uptight personality and making Everett doubt his intentions.” Written and Directed by Thomas Bezucha it’s about the messy, loving, complicated disaster that is family. It’s one of the films that made me reconsider having children back when I absolutely didn’t want kids. There are mess and pain but so much joy and love. 

House of Yes– “A mentally unbalanced young woman – who is convinced she is Jackie Kennedy – flies into a murderous rage when her brother returns home to reveal he is engaged.” Starring Parker Posey and Tori Spelling. Written and directed by Mike Waters. It’s laugh out loud funny and incredibly dark and twisted. It’s one of my fave comedies of all time which probably says more about me than the movie. 

Happiest Season with Kristen Stewart–Happiest Season is a holiday romantic comedy that hilariously captures the range of emotions tied to wanting your family’s acceptance, being true to yourself, and trying not to ruin Christmas. Directed by Clea DuVall. Screenplay by Clea DuVall & Mary Holland. Story by Clea DuVall.” This movie was so beautiful and heartbreaking. It fully captures what it’s like for so many to hide their authentic selves to be accepted by others and is a perfect real-life glimpse into toxic family dynamics. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that throughout the entire movie I thought of my dad who has a similar “perfection is expected” attitude and repeatedly turned to my husband and said, “This is literally what it’s like to hang out with your family.” The next morning after watching it, we were having coffee and watching Leo play and I said to F, “I hope that Leo knows that he will never need to hide himself from us because whoever he is ten years from now is exactly who he’s supposed to be and we’ll love him and celebrate him as he is.” And Francesco grunted in agreement because that’s how he communicates. Streaming now on Hulu. 

The Holiday– “Dumped and depressed, English rose Iris agrees to swap homes with similarly unlucky in love Californian Amanda for a much-needed break. Iris finds herself in a palatial Hollywood mansion while Amanda navigates the lanes of a picture-perfect English village. Soon enough, both lovelorn ladies bump into local lads perfect for a romantic pick-me-up.” Starring Cameron Diaz, Kate Winslet, Jack Black, and Jude Law. Listen again critics love to hate on this movie but it’s romantic and warm and some of us need to vicariously feel loved through our iPad screen, okay? 

2 thoughts on “Mamma M’s Movie Club: Holiday Movies to Watch This Week

  1. Okay, how is it that Love Actually, The Family Stone, and The Holiday are in my top “must watch” movies every holiday season, and I recently watched and loved Happiest Season, but I have never even *heard of* House of Yes?! I must find that immediately.

    Re. Happiest Season: One thing I try to say to my daughter is: “Do you know that I love you the maximum amount I could possibly love you? That means there is nothing you could do to make me love you less — but it also means there is nothing you could do to make me love you more.” Of course she might disappoint me sometimes, but feeling that unconditional kind of love — like I didn’t have to earn it through any job, status, amount of money, etc. is something I would’ve really appreciated feeling from my own mother. And as my kid gets older I’ll try to avoid the classic, “Are there any boys you like at school?” and stick with “Is there anyone you like at school?” Hopefully just by way of phrasing things, she’ll always know that whatever she answers, it’s totally okay.

    Also — and I’m sorry I write such long comments — Have you seen “About Time,” also by Richard Curtis? It’s not Christmasy, but it’s so touching, and a fascinating screenplay to study. (Superior to Love Actually, even.) Hardly any scene is longer than 1.5 pages, and he manages to squeeze an entire structurally-sound RomCom into the first half of the film.

    Also Marriage Story. Kind of the opposite of About Time as the scenes are long and deep… but also one of the more touching movies I’ve seen in recent history.

    1. This THIS THIS! 100% We do the same thing with Leo. We don’t set any relationship exceptations and we say things like “if you choose to grow up and marry a person.” We use partner a lot instead of husband or wife and we put emphasis on him being kind and happy instead of “doing big things.” My mom is very unconditionally loving but my dad (bless him) is a very typical persian dad in the “you must make the family look good” way. Honestly, it killed us growing up feeling like we had to earn love (and oddly enough, my dad has loved us through many a mistakes but not in words…just in the way he continues to show up). Words matter, so much. No I haven’t watched About Time but I will! THe House of Yes is VERY DARK but it’s funny and so weird.

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