The essential Christmas to-read and to-watch list

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The holiday season is many Filipinos’ favorite time of the year for a reason. It checks everything off the list of qualities that defines being a Filipino.

As among the happiest and most hospitable people in the world, we Filipinos love a good celebration. We are also fiercely religious, and what is Christmas but the celebration of faith and goodwill?

Christmas is also a time to gather with families and loved ones and spend quality time over food and entertainment. We’ve compiled a list of the best books and movies to share with friends and family this holiday season.

It’s a Wonderful Life

Many would call Frank Capra’s 1946 film, It’s a Wonderful Life to be the defining American Christmas movie. The fantasy-drama film, based on the short story and booklet The Greatest Gift by Philip Van Doren Stern, tells the sad story of George Bailey, portrayed by Jimmy Stewart. Bailey, battered by life and financial stress, is considering taking his own life before he is stopped by his guardian angel. What happens next is a moving and inspiring tale of how significant one life can really be in making the world a brighter place. A timeless classic made to remind everyone what they should be thankful for this holiday season.

Die Hard

For those more interested in action-packed and high-powered fare, Die Hard is the flick to watch. Hailed as among the best action and Christmas-themed movies of all time, Die Hard was was selected in 2017 for preservation in the United States National Film Registry. The film follows Bruce Willis’s off-duty New York City Police Department officer John McClane when he gets caught up in a Los Angeles skyscraper during a heist led by Hans Gruber, played by the late Alan Rickman. Die Hard is a movie for any time of the year, and especially so on Christmas.

Love, Actually

Love, Actually is a 2003 British Christmas-themed romantic comedy film written and directed by Richard Curtis. Featuring a star-studded cast, this feel-good movie is an anthology of stories about love and all of the complications that comes with it. And though the film received mixed reviews among critics, the film proved to strike a nerve among audiences and was a box office hit, grossing $248 million worldwide on a budget of $40–45 million. It received a nomination for the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy.

A Nightmare Before Christmas

Still feeling a bit of a hangover from Halloween a few weeks back? Are your kids still donning their costumes looking for candy? Then the Tim Burton classic A Nightmare Before Christmas is the perfect film to watch this season. The 1993 American stop-motion animated film follows Jack Skellington, the King of “Halloween Town” who, after finding a portal to “Christmas Town”, is overcome with a sudden obsession to celebrate the holiday. The movie is among Burton’s best work, and was met with both critical and financial success. It also holds the particular title of being the first animated film to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects.

Home Alone

A relic from the vanishing genre of ‘kids getting up to mischief’, Home Alone is a classic in its own right. The 1990 American comedy film was written and produced by John Hughes and directed by Chris Columbus, and follows eight-year-old Kevin McCallister, played by Macaulay Culkin, when he gets left behind on his family’s Christmas trip to Paris. What happens next is perhaps the most memorable and hijinks-fueled vacation of his young life, as he attempts to thwart the plans of two burglars targeting his home. Home Alone was the highest-grossing Christmas film for nearly three decades after its release.

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Perhaps the most famous Christmas story of all time. Dickens’ A Christmas Carol remains as relevant today as it has been when it was written in 1843. In the story, Ebenezer Scrooge, an old, bitter man, becomes haunted by three ghosts who take him on a journey through Christmases past, present, and future. The heartfelt and thought-provoking story is a classic reminder of the true meaning of the holiday season.

The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry

Another classic, The Gift of the Magi is a short story about a young husband and wife trying to make ends meet, all the while coming up with a way to buy secret gifts for each other. With very little money, the couple is forced to make sacrifices for the benefit of the other. The well-known twist ending is meant to inspire readers to think about what is really important during this important holiday. As the story ends, the narrator compares the characters’ sacrificial gifts of love with those of the Biblical Magi.

The Little Match Girl by Hans Christian Andersen

The tradition of tragic, heartrending Christmas stories is a popular one in literature, as this fairy tale from Hans Christian Andersen proves. The tale of The Little Match Girl starts with a young girl spending a night on the streets trying to sell matches during the holidays. And while it ends on a tragic note, the story is a meaningful reflection on hope and life. Bjorn Biel M. Beltran





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