'Tis the season to be jolly and to watch Christmas movies while decorating the tree or baking cookies or sitting in front of a wood fire (except in Arizona where we sit in front of faux wood fires). Over the next week or so, I will be sharing my top ten favorites of the season. Coming in at #9 and #10 are:
New in Town with Renee Zellwegger and Harry Connick, Jr. Synopsis (from imdb.com): A high-powered consultant in love with her upscale Miami lifestyle is sent to a middle of nowhere town in Minnesota to oversee the restructuring of a blue-collar manufacturing plant. After enduring a frosty reception from the locals, icy roads and freezing weather, she warms up to the small town's charm, and eventually finds herself being accepted by the community. When she is ordered to close down the plant and put the entire community out of work, she is forced to reconsider her goals and priorities and finds a way to save the town.
The story is predictable. You know exactly what is going to happen as soon as Renee's character arrives in town: The hard-nosed city girl will be charmed by the locals, especially Harry Connick. But it doesn't matter. Connick and Zellwegger light up the screen, and the supporting cast, especially J. K. Simmons and Siobhan Fallon, are wonderful. The movie was filmed in the winter in a sub-zero Winnepeg, and because of the conditions the cast and crew had to face, the backstory is as interesting as the movie. 4 out of 5 Stars
Love Actually with a cast that includes Hugh Grant, Emma Thompson, Alan Rickman, Liam Neeson, and Bill Nighy. Snyopsis (from imdb.com): The characters are falling in love, falling out of love, some are with right people, some are with the wrong people, some are looking to have an affair, some are in the period of mourning; a capsule summary of reality. Love begins and love ends. At all ages and social levels, love is the theme. Romantic love and brotherly love is the hotchpotch through out the movie. Most of the movie is filmed in London during Christmas and the characters all end up at Heathrow airport on a very uplifting note.
The quality of the stories vary greatly, and some didn't work for me at all (but I fast forward through those). However, watching Hugh Grant (as Britain's PM) dance and alcoholic Bill Nighy trying to record a Christmas song are standouts. My favorite couple: Bill Nighy and his overworked and undervalued Guy Friday, Gregor Fisher. 3.5 out of 5 Stars