The Best Films of Christmas #16 The Holiday


The Holiday (not to be confused with the great Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn film Holiday) the 2006 film about the characters portrayed by Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet switching houses in Surrey and L.A. for two weeks around the Christmas season is newest addition to the cannon of great Christmas films.   It’s a wonderful love story.

Just as a film it’s a good one.  The first few scenes where we see Diaz try to cry is hilarious, but that it’s followed by Winslet on a crying jag is just sadly delightful. The fact that Diaz, a person who cuts movie trailers, is followed by the disembodied deep voice from movie trailers that narrates portions of her life is a great addition.

These two women and their romantic partners (Jude Law and Jack Black) provide a wonderful story of love and moving forward in life.  Hell, this is pretty much the only movie I can think of where I don’t just not feel like punching Jack Black in the face (there are movies Jack Black isn’t even in, where I feel like punching him)– I actually like him in this film.   All four main characters are not perfect but we love them all and none of them have unforgivable traits so we are utterly relieved that all of them get the love they have been seeking.  Oh, and the actresses playing Jude Law’s daughters are unspeakably adorable in this movie, as all children in film tend to be (yeah try subbing for a day in kindergarten and see if you find them as adorable, is all I have to say).  So all in all this is a wonderful romantic comedy…but why is it a holiday film?

Well first, and I had forgotten this fact when I was first setting up this list, there is a Chanukah party in this film! I forgot about this!  I am declaring this the best Chanukah film by default since there were no other good ones to speak of!  And before you complain that it is only a short period of time in the film, consider how tenuous the connection to Christmas some of the films on this list have.  This is being declared as the best Chanukah movie yet made by Hollywood.

Well, first there is the issue of giving gifts.  Winslet’s character, who came to L.A. to just escape her life, ends up helping an aging screenwriter (played by Eli Wallach) regain a passion for life.  The Diaz-Law and Winslet-Black of course are based on the non-selfish love that seeks to make the object of their love happy.

Next there is the issue that Christmas (the whole season when you count Solstice and New Years) is a time of new beginnings and starting afresh.  In the stories of all of the central characters in this movie, they are able to put their past behind them and leave it in the past and move onto a real life that will actually bring them happiness.  In fact this movie makes it quite clear that living in the past is always a bad thing—respecting and learning from the past, good, fondly remembering the past, good…but living there isn’t living.

On multiple levels it’s just a fun romantic comedy, but it does match up to several of the themes of the holiday, even if it doesn’t explicitly try to be a Christmas movie.

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