December: Festive & Cozy


2018 has been quite a year! And it's time to curl up, sip a hot beverage, and watch a holiday flick. While composing this list, I find myself disappointed by the lack of cozy Hanukkah, Kwanza, etc. films I've seen/exist. Hallmark promises TWO new Hanukkah movies on their slate next year, so we're getting there. Whatever you may think about Christmas/holiday season, here are some films that should make you feel merry. Shout out to my uncle Alonso Duralde - a film critic who literally wrote the book on Christmas movies (Have Yourself a Movie Little Christmas). 

1. The Princess Switch (2018) 

While Hallmark movies lack interracial (and queer) couples, Netflix's The Princess Switch gives you single dad interracial love AND royal love. If you've ever thought to yourself: I want The Parent Trap and The Princess Diaries to mashup and I would like it to have Vanessa Hudgens playing two people - this is it! Tensions rarely run high when Stacy (Vanessa Hudgens) and Lady Margaret (Vanessa Hudgens) decide to switch lives for two days before the Belgravia Royal Bakeoff that Stacy will participate in. They weren't supposed to fall in love, but they did it anyway and it's wonderful. 

2. While You Were Sleeping (1995)

Lucy (Sandra Bullock) works for the Chicago metro and saves her commuter crush (Peter Gallagher) from the train tracks. She lies to the hospital to see him in a coma, claiming she's his fiance. The whole family loves her, especially handsome brother (Bill Pullman) and take her in for Christmas. This is a buffet of your favorite rom com troupes: orphan girl, frumpy Sandra Bullock, coma, Business guy vs. humble guy, etc. It's a pure delight and has some solid funny moments. Sandy B is the epitome of warm, fuzzy feelings. 

3. Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol (1962)

Many of you probably have a favorite Christmas Carol and there are oh so many solid choices (and some that aren't). The one that I grew up watching was Mr. Magoo - a 60s animated retelling of the Dickens' classic. While animated, this one doesn't mind going to dark and emotional places - the poverty is clear and the ghost of Christmas future probably inspired quite a few spooky Scooby Doo episodes with the rattling chains of warning. It sill makes me cry and is a proper adaptation. 

4. The Store (1984)

This is a famous Frederick Wiseman documentary about the Dallas Neiman-Marcus store preparing for the holiday season. If you are new to Frederick Wiseman or this fly on the wall/verite documentary style, this is a good place to start. You can easily put this on in the background of baking cookies or curl up while watching shoppers waltz through 80s outfits and the staff bringing Neiman-Marcus to life. Trust me, it's a cozy one 

5. Metropolitan (1990)

There's something I find very cozy about pretentious, pseudo-intellectual, young, rich New Yorkers and Metropolitan brings us into the middle of debutant and gala season. With an outsider disrupting the bourgeois bridge games, the group begins to unravel in their social comparisons and the outsider falls in love with an insider. Whit Stillman is masterful in his quick witted dialogue and manages to create dimensions in the seemingly insufferable ensemble. Despite the society and their own perceived pedigree, we see how flawed and ridiculous this group is and have fun the whole way through the holidays. 

Enjoy your binge! Until next time, Pilar <3

About What She’s Watching

Hi y'all, my name is Pilar and I am a filmmaker & lover who has gotten overwhelmed by suggestions at film school parties and didn't know where to start. I'm hoping this column will give you some hors d'oeuvres to chew on and help you discover other great movies to inspire your own filmmaking. This is a safe space no judgement if you haven't seen it, in fact, I'm very jealous of you right now for getting to experience some of this for the first time.