Around this time of year, I get my unavoidable hankering to curl-up with some pop-corn and watch various Christmas movies flooding across the Silver Screens. However, when I actually go to see a new movie in theaters during the season, I often choose the darkly dramatic fare, with a seemingly irrelevant holiday theme, rather than the up-lifting, season-appropriate cheer fests. Because of this, I thought “I must not be the only one that has this same tendency, or else the 25 days leading up to Christmas wouldn’t be such fodder for the large amount of devastatingly emotional features specifically distributed during this time.” As I have come to find out, I am not; because being human, everyone has a balance of good and evil where the leveling motives are even stronger when one emotion is overpowering the other. Therefore, when people are all hopped up on Christmas Glee, it leaves room for a plethora of negative emotions to come to life; which is why they are best harvested in the movie theater where thoughts are released and actions are not actually taken. Below is a list of the Top 7 Emotionally Cathartic Seasonal Films that would even come as a pathos relief to Santa’s smiling-overdosed Elves:
- Les Misérables (Release Date: 12/25)- Honestly, there is nothing like the ultimate emotionally- wrought topic of social class warfare to ease the holiday aches. This highly anticipated big-screen adaptation retells the infamous tale of caste stratification in 19th century France. The film’s debut date really couldn’t come at a better time because, at Christmas, everyone tries to forget their family’s prejudicial treatments and embrace their lot in life, yet this just causes resentment to boil under this repression and needs a healthy release outlet. Therefore, instead of waging war on one’s parents- who may have paid an older brother’s college/rent in a campus apartment, while the other had to take out loans and live in a rat/ freshman invested dorm- witnessing the weak rise above the powerful on screen will provide assimilated satisfaction for these relevant circumstances.
- The Impossible (Release Date:12/21): Natural disasters and family survival might be just what many viewers need to balance their tidings of comfort and joy via a cinematic gift of destruction. The film tells the true-story of a Spanish family vacationing in Thailand, during the 2004 Tsunami, who overcame all odds to reunite and return back to safety. Argo, this ultimate natural disaster movie might be essential to crush all the jolliness being created during the season; however, I must also note, that this extreme negativity will easily re-create the need for happiness to even the toppled scale of good vs. evil, so the film’s focal points of hope and togetherness are most likely the emotions you will leave the theater feeling.
- Zero Dark Thirty (Release Date: 12/19)- Again, another politically-based movie to really mask the cheer of the holiday season. Academy Award-Winning Director, Kathryn Bigelow, created this piece to honor the men and women who were on the seemingly elusive mission to hunt and kill Osama Bin Laden. Likewise, many families have some unruly leaders (patriarchs and matriarchs) who demand Christmas compliance by barking- out orders to sing carols, eat all the fruitcake, or even open one present at a time while circling all 40 family members; which are some painfully cheery commands someone might be avidly against. However, he/she can’t weaken the reign with so many other kin protecting this person by devotedly following this dictator’s call to respect and holiday enthusiasm. Therefore, seeing how these soldiers were able to conquer Bin Laden’s agenda by getting around his protectors, or identifying those who have been betrayed by his rule, will provide confidence that some viewers can do the same on a very scaled-down level with their own families (Of course, without any actual hunting or killing involved!).
- The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (Release Date: 12/14)- Hobbits are a welcome creature during this time-of-year as they resemble elves; especially as they are those crowd-pleasing elves who are put-upon by evil mystical plans. This feature follows the origination of Bilbo Baggins’ plight to find the “ring” as well as his initial meetings with the cast of characters who guide/foil his mission, providing the emotional catharsis many moviegoers face with some of the logistical element of Christmas-finding the perfect gift! Being tasked with finding the most “preciousssss” purchase for each family member is supposed to enhance holiday excitement and adventure, but is instead very taxing and inhibited due to jealous individuals who want the power associated with delivering the perfect gift. Therefore, seeing this same motive played out on the screen, enables viewers to healthily project their negative emotions at those characters who pilfer other’s pure initiatives, especially after sitting around the family gift-giving circle and pretending to be happy while the another person uses presents for their evil intentions.
- Rise of the Guardians (Release Date: 11/21)- This adverse holiday-season fare actually has a Christmas angle- well, it really just has Santa Clause heading up the mission! The film depicts a strong-willed, action-focused Kris Kringle who teams up with the Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, Sandman, and Jack Frost to prevent world-domination and destruction of young children’s lives. Being foretold of this jolly-old man’s god-like persona, everyone expects a more powerful side to him, since he knows who’s naughty/nice and can meet/defeat these evil influences at anytime, so many viewers are sick of the belly-full-of-jelly motif and want an aggressive vigilante. Therefore, witnessing Kringle’s using his dominating behaviors to actually defeat worldly predators and create an authentic sense of joy, is the emotional formula many moviegoers have desired to combat those overly frivolous Santa flick’s.
- Django Unchained (Release Date: 12/25)- Just as one would expect from Quentin Tarantino, his Christmas gift to the film world is a re-invented historical fantasy film. In the movie, Jamie Foxx plays a slave-era bounty hunter seeking the plantation owner who captured his wife. Sounds like the perfect release for heavily burdened viewers who have been forced to hide their sense of familial justice due to cordial holiday guidelines. Thus, being able to cinematically experience the redemption of an accepted plight by transferring control to the people it was forced upon, is more socially acceptable than taking back power of Christmas by giving the supposed angelic mother that gave you life, a gift of coal in return .
- The Guilt Trip (Release Date: 12/25)- Now, I know I mentioned the holiday movie season isn’t about laughter, but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention this dramedy. The premise is about an inventor who drives cross-country to pilfer his latest innovation with his pain-in-the-ass, recently widowed mother in-tow. This movie leaves the final thought, which most holiday moviegoers should ultimately realize: that although families can be annoying, they are sometimes the only relationships many people have left. So, going to this film to laugh at the agitating foibles of mother, Barbra Streisand, and her son, Seth Rogan, will help express repressed negative emotions by projecting them on this duo, but most importantly, will also provide a solution to the un-balanced emotional scale through familial acceptance.
So, looking for a way to gain some emotional release this Holiday Season, without punching the Mall Santa or going AWOL on Christmas morning in your hand-crafted Christmas Sweater? I highly suggest making some time to catch one of these flicks, between holiday shopping trips, to ease the happiness hangover.