Sunday, December 15, 2013

Sunday Best: Christmas Movies of All Time #4 and #3

#4 The Nativity Story

This is probably the best movie I have seen that is centered around the birth of Christ.  It has a few flaws.  The biggest is the performance by Keisha Castle-Hughes as Mary.  I understand why she was cast, being one of the youngest women to be nominated for a Best Actress Oscar.  But my wife did not like how ambiguously she played the Immaculate Conception.  I understand.

But the movie is gorgeous.  It is filmed beautifully by Catherine Hardwicke.  The landscapes, the homes, the costumes all feel so genuine.  And I love Oscar Isaacs' Joseph.  I love that he is portrayed as a young man who is still trying to find his place in this world.  He is a simple carpenter who just wants a simple life, but God has other plans.  I love how Isaacs performance of this man so overwhelmed that he almost buckles.  But he mans up and trusts in God and Mary.  For me, he is the real lynchpin of the movie.

And I love that the movie does not shy away from how bloody and raw life in 1st Century Judea was.  Whenever something beautiful and heavenly occurs, the movie reminds you of why we need a Savior.  It reminds me of the words of a Michael W. Smith song where he sings to the Holy Child "Bring your peace into our violence."

I watch this movie every Christmas Eve to remind me of the heavenly peace of the Nativity.

#3  The Muppets Christmas Carol

This is, hands down, the best screen adaptation of Ebeneezer Scrooge's story.  It is also the move that the Muppets have made.

Michael Caine is perfect.  The music is fantastic.  And how can anyone not love the Ghost of Christmas Present?

Using Gonzo as Charles Dickens lets us hear Charles Dickens' beautiful prose as we watch this enchanting Christmas tale.  The Muppets make an excellent fit to the magical world depicted.  I also love that they did not eschew the explicitly religious elements, but brings out how essential Christ is in Christmas.

And on top of all that, it's really funny.  No matter how many times I watch it, I always end up laughing, especially at the Gonzo and Rizzo.  That humor makes nice relief against the movie's darker elements.  But in the end it is both magical and moving.

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