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Put these 4 movies on your Christmas holiday watch list!

Christmas Movies

IMDb

Paul Asay - published on 12/23/17

These films about the Nativity Story are the real reason we're celebrating.

Santa, Scrooge and Frosty the Snowman are fine in their own way. And hey, I like looking at lights, eating cookies and opening presents as much as anyone.

But all that stuff is just icing on the Christmas gingerbread house compared to the ultimate gift: Jesus. It’s His birthday we’re celebrating, after all. But sometimes some of us (as I raise my hand sheepishly) need a little reminder.

But there’s no reason such reminders need to be confined to Mass or Sunday School. Several movies about the real reason for Christmas can both inspire and entertain, and many are readily available for you to watch this weekend. Consider:

The Nativity Story (2006)

Nativity Story
2006 New Line Cinema

The first film to ever have its world premiere held at The Vatican, The Nativity Story walks viewers through the events surrounding the birth of Jesus with both reverence and realism, reminding us that the Son of God wasn’t dropped into a holy, antiseptic reality depicted in Renaissance paintings: He was born to a poor teenager and her seriously stressed husband in a place far, far from home. Starring Oscar-nominated Keisha Castle-Hughes (who actually got pregnant during filming) and Oscar Isaac, The Nativity Story is a grounded but still glorifying primer one what Christmas is really all about. The PG-rated film is available on YouTube, Amazon Prime, Vudu and Google Play for $2.99, and iTunes for $3.99.

The Star (2017)

The Star
CTMG, Inc.

Feel like a live-action rendition of the Nativity is soooo 2006? Looking for a few wacky animated animals to spice things up? Look no farther than this year’s The Star. The “star” of The Star, I suppose, is Boaz the donkey, who has spent most of his life walking in circles, grinding up grain, but has always dreamed of carting around a king. Lots of other animals—sheep and doves and a few wise-cracking camels—compete for screen time, too. But the real centerpiece is a certain baby born in Bethlehem. Featuring an eclectic cast of all-star voices (including Oprah Winfrey, Tyler Perry and Tracy Morgan as the camels, Mariah Carey as a melodious hen and the great Christopher Plummer as King Herod), The Star reverently honors its central story even as it gets seriously silly around the edges. The bad news: You can’t watch it on television. The good news: It’s in theaters now!

The Fourth Wise Man (1985)

THE FOURTH WISEMAN
YouTube

The Bible never actually says how many wise men there were, and it certainly never discusses this theoretical “fourth” king from Orient. In the story, Artaban also wanted to bring the Christ child gifts—a sapphire, a ruby, and a pearl of great price—but he misses the trip West and spends the next 33 years trying to track down the Son of God, sacrificing his treasures for worthy causes as he goes. This touching, entertaining, slyly funny made-for-TV movie was based on the beloved 1895 story by Henry van Dyke, and it features an impressive cast including Alan Arkin, Ralph Bellamy, Eileen Brennan and Martin Sheen as the ever-faithful, often frustrated Artaban. And here’s something else that’s nice: The only thing you need to watch it is an internet connection. The full film is available for free on YouTube.

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005)

Chronicles of Narnia
Disney Enterprises, Inc. and Walden Media, LLC

I don’t think any of The Chronicles of Narnia movies achieve the richness and humor of C.S. Lewis’ classic books that I read and re-read as a child. But the blockbuster hit The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is a competent, faithful retelling of Lewis’ most popular Narnia book and a visual delight—one that brings the Easter story to Christmas. It’s about four young kids who stumble through a wardrobe and into a magical land ruled by the evil White Witch. There it’s always winter but never Christmas, until slowly, the White Witch’s spell begins to break and the land’s rightful king makes his return. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is available on HBO Go with a subscription, or you can rent it from YouTube, iTunes, Amazon Video and all the rest for $2.99.

Don’t cotton to talking lions? Don’t care to watch a full-blown movie about the Nativity? Like your Christmas stories seasoned with some sensational jazz piano? Turn your attention to A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965), the best Christmas special ever, which ABC is making available for free on its website. Made before even I was born, the show feels perhaps more relevant and contemporary than ever, and it features one of the boldest proclamations of the reason for the season in entertainment history. Charlie Brown, frustrated by the materialism and commercialism of the season, wants to know what Christmas is all about. In response, his friend, Linus, walks on stage and recites Luke 2:8-14, which includes the line, “For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.”

He then wanders back to Charlie Brown, dragging his blue blanket behind.

“That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown,” he says.

Couldn’t have said it better myself.


Christmas Movies

Read more:
Looking for some offbeat Christmas movies this year? Here’s what’s streaming

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ChristmasMovies
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