The most excellent holiday movies that aren’t the obvious ones

Written by Staff Writer at CNN

Cut down to a very quick holiday-themed movie marathon? This year, you can catch up on seven unheralded Christmas classics.

Helena Coelho / George Pimentel “Remember Me” (2007) — A visually stunning film from German director Claire Denis, “Remember Me” takes place on the set of a tragic crime drama, filmed on Christmas Day in 1996. It stars Paula Beer as Marianne, who marries avenge-seeking writer named Mattressfort (Mathieu Amalric). While she tries to put on a brave face for the film’s poster and promotional campaign, it’s evident from her emotional past that she’s hiding a considerable amount of pain. Their divorce ends up as a tragic episode in Mattressfort’s life, too, and he covers it with the usual manipulation of a grudge and emotional manipulation.

Helena Coelho / George Pimentel “The Light Before Your Eyes” (2006) — The older brothers of “Spotlight” cast a long shadow — from Cardinal Bernard Law, to Edward Cardinal Egan — on everyone involved in a series of brutal school molestation cases. Philomena Lee’s courage in exposing the truth about her brother’s molestation by a school priest is another inspiring aspect of the movie. Jimmy Smits plays the Catholic church’s bespectacled patriarch and Kevin Bacon is a bitter ex-priest. Emma Thompson is a nurse with a rival cause who persuades the older brothers to share their role in the cover-up with her. The scenes where Thompson and Smits are hilarious and heartbreaking together onscreen is perfection. If you haven’t had a chance to see it, the trailer will have you hooked on this one!

George Pimentel “Yentl” (1984) — “The makers of ‘Yentl’ wanted to say something profound about the feminine artist, and what it means to be Jewish, and what happens to a Jewish girl growing up in Vilna, Tzfat, Romania.” A lovable, lively Hollywood fable about a beautiful 9-year-old Jewish girl (Jewish schoolgirl Yentl) who learns to understand Jewish texts and culture. The movie is very popular for its visual style, incredible musical numbers, and shows how the birth of Jewish culture has been shaped by Jewish women. The source material is Mordechai Richler’s much-adapted and inspiring novel from 1982, “The Children of Riga.” With a brilliant animation, “Yentl” is witty, moving, and makes you feel for Yentl as she learns to grow up in this contemporary Jewish community of Vilna.

Helena Coelho / George Pimentel “Amélie” (2001) — One of the better fantasy films ever. Amélie travels through Paris, sampling life and getting caught up in the minutiae of street life and Parisians. She also charms everyone around her — perhaps due to her charm and, occasionally, because of her magical abilities. Amélie’s energy, non-stop positivity, and good nature as she navigates the city could be compared to the tired clichés of “Lolita” and “The Great Gatsby.” Together with her character’s past (which is revealed slowly), this film will get you hooked on a magical French Christmas.

Helena Coelho / George Pimentel “The Christmas Club” (1971) — One of the earliest movies to come out of West Germany after the communist conquest of 1968. With a plot that takes place over the course of two very tense Christmases, “The Christmas Club” provides a tale of terror, betrayal, and survival in a refugee camp, where special guests give use and insight into lives behind a smock and often-covered faces. “The Christmas Club” won the Grand Prix at the Berlin International Film Festival in 1971. The title could also be used as an acronym for Germans “contemporizing Christmas.”

Helena Coelho / George Pimentel “Sister Act” (1992) — This film from director Don Nunan was nominated for a Golden Globe Award in 1992. Janine Turner plays Deloris Van Cartier, an old lady who disguises herself as a young policewoman, and partners with Detective Kevin Blake (played by Irish-American Regis Philbin). When her alter ego, Deloris, has gone bad, she enlists him to help save her from a crime lord who comes to complete a murder job. The film was originally titled “A Woman Made With Burning.”

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