The Underrated Holiday Film You Need To Watch
It's that time of year! Everyone is releasing "best of" lists for the year. Actors, movies, shows, musical artists--everything is being ranked as the year draws to a close. And evergreen "best of" lists pop up too. Best and worst Christmas songs, best and worst Christmas movies, best and worst gifts. I'm a sucker for all the lists. But I have a bone to pick specifically with the myriad of lists compiled about the best Christmas movies.
Rotten Tomatoes listed the 63 best Christmas movies of all time. Naturally titles like It's a Wonderful Life (which lands at number 1), Elf, and Home Alone made the cut. Even a couple horror movies were included (Black Christmas, A Christmas Horror Story). Noticeably absent is Last Holiday starring Queen Latifah.
The premise: A shy woman who always played it safe and never took any risks, including in her personal life, discovers she has a terminal illness and very little time to live. She decides to cash out all her savings and live out her final days in a posh European hotel of which she'd always dreamed of visiting. And it's set right around Christmas, leading into New Year's Eve.
It's not a terribly revolutionary idea, but gosh dammit, it's feel-good all the way! Latifah is radiant as Georgia Byrd and brings such warmth to her character, you become genuinely invested in her fate. The supporting cast is comprised of stellar actors: Gerard Depardieu, Giancarlo Esposito, LL Cool J, Alicia Witt, and Timothy Hutton. They expertly pepper the film with performances that help Latifah shine.
Ultimately, there's a happy ending. Don't worry, I'm not spoiling it. You can figure out the plot twist as you hit the major plot point. But you feel so hopeful and cheery and great afterward. And we could all use that feeling in 2020.
Maybe all these lists find Last Holiday to be predictable and simple. But when you walk away from a film feeling bright and warm, that's something consider. I mean, Christmas movies are all about the holiday spirit, no? This has tons of it! Roger Ebert didn't give it a thumbs up for nothing. You can even feel the film's energy in his review. So take a break from watching A Christmas Story for the hundredth time and give this little movie the chance it deserves.
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