Movies like The Holiday: The often barren landscape, the melancholy of the end of a long, enduring year, the anxieties surrounding the venture into what uncertainty awaits, and the struggles of the former year carried onto the next with not a respite in sight– all serve to suggest why winter might be considered as perhaps the bleakest season of all. Still, winter has been eulogized for its blissfulness. Austrian poet Rilke, while corresponding with one of his female admirers who was reeling from the desertion of her husband, described winter as a time to tend to one’s inner garden– tending to one’s mind and spirit after a long period of endurance. “In the depths of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer,” later Albert Camus went on to state.

The films that we now refer to as Christmas movies—mostly romances, among which “The Holiday” is one—paint a picture of this inner garden’s growth against a background that’s not favorable even for actual gardens. “The Holiday” is a film that bases itself on the heartbreak of two women. However, there is little that could be called gloomy in it. Not so much attention is given to shedding sentimental tears as reveling in the cozy comfort of the romances as well as their swapped holiday lodgings that help them to recuperate.

Here are ten films like “The Holiday” that somewhat capture the same spirit:

10. Serendipity (2001)

Serendipity (2001) The Holiday

High On Films in collaboration with Avanté

That winter, and by extension, Christmas, is supposed to be interspersed with miracles is retold through “Serendipity.” One element in particular echoes throughout the film: the appeal of fate and destiny. Unlike most movies on the list, the romance that is at the centre relies more on the couple’s chance meetings and miraculous coincidences than growing together despite being at odds. Starring John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale, the couple, Jonathan and Sara, meet at Christmas, feel the spark, but let each other go purposefully, and remain faithful to fate which they believe would one day bring them together again.

9. A Tale of Winter (1992)

A Tale of Winter The Holiday - hof article

In his ‘On Eric Rohmer’s A Tale of Winter,’ Stanley Cavell notes, “In ‘A Tale of Winter,’ Rohmer discovers vision or interest in, let’s say, a specialized or stylized sense of the world as passing by, namely in crowds of strangers passing, in their individual mortal paths, and oneself as a passer-by among others, each working out a stage of human fate.” Félicie, who had shared a brief relationship with a young man named Charles, is a hopeful lover. She lets Charles go and remains hopeful that they will reconcile again. Throughout the years, men come and go, but Félicie remains unmoved by the longing for Charles. Finally, Félicie finds Charles on a bus. The reassertion of faith and destiny and the reward an individual gains through their unshakeable belief in both make it readily acceptable for this list.

8.  Holiday Affair (1949)

Holiday Affair

In this film, Robert Mitchum, revered yet repulsive as the living nightmare Harry Powell from “The Night of the Hunter,” is endowed with a Christmas love story with a single mother. Quite interestingly, in this film, Mitchum is a reservoir of clear water– there is no mud causing hindrance in the way of deeper probing. He handles children well, and children fascinate him so much. Even in the end, when his love interest reveals that she is going to marry someone else, he is vulnerable enough to show his disappointment but lets her go, and yet remains hopeful. On top of it, Steve Mason, the character played by Mitchum, loses his job for her but never bats an eyelid. (If that is not a green flag!)

7. Anjaana Anjaani (2010)

Anjaana Anjaani

Continuing the pattern of Christmas or winter miracles, “Anjaana Anjaani,” which, albeit not a traditional choice in a list such as this, is faithful enough to the larger scheme of Christmas romantic plots. It is in line with the plot of miracles and coincidences, as the two central characters are suicidal strangers whose suicide attempts are thwarted multiple times. Amid multiple attempts of dying, they meet and fall in love. Like “Serendipity,” it is a snow-laden Christmas romance in New York.

However, what is most interesting is the fact that it has been touted as perhaps the first Indian film to be shot in New York during Christmas. Interestingly, the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree, which is forbidden to shoot during this time of the year, also finds a place in the film. According to some reports, the connection between Sylvester Stallone and Sajid Nadiadwala, the producer of the film, has been instrumental in pulling this off.

6. While You Were Sleeping (1995)

While You Were Sleeping The Holiday - hof article

The film ‘While You Were Sleeping’ is a fitting choice for the contours of a Christmas romance film: it has a woman falling in love with a stranger, the woman rescuing her love from a near-death experience, but most importantly, the woman’s misunderstood identity as the man’s fiancée. The woman, named Lucy (played by Sandra Bullock), falls in love with a stranger despite never coming close to even speaking terms. However, she gives love a second chance when she falls in love with the stranger’s brother.

5. The Apartment (1960)

The Apartment The Holiday - hof article

“The mirror, its broken”

“Yes, I know. I like it that way. Makes me look the way I feel”.

In “The Apartment,” sleazy men and casual sexism abound. The ones who are not monsters are losing against circumstances: loaning out their apartments to the higher-ups to score well careerwise. The women have their hearts broken by getting into relationships where a dead-end is inevitable but deliberately whitewashed. However, it is a Christmas love story as both these categories of broken individuals, C.C. Baxter and Fran Kubelik, get together and share their brokenness and trust to form a meaningful whole from the parts. There is also a line from Kubelik that says, “Some people take, some people get took. And they know they’re getting took and there’s nothing they can do about it.” This is essentially a story of two people who are taken great advantage of and left out in the unforgiving weather when the time comes, quite literally.

High On Films in collaboration with Avanté

4. Christmas in Connecticut (1945)

Christmas in Connecticut

The far too many instances of Christmas films pinned on mistaken or concealed identities perhaps cannot just be a work of comic relief. One way to see them can be to acknowledge the undertone of the inherent goodness of the human spirit lying beneath all that innocuous deceit and confused states. The central character Elizabeth Lane who is very much single, has for days concocted false narratives of being married with a baby and owning a Connecticut farm.

So when she is almost on the verge of a showdown with her publisher and one of her devout readers, she manages to get hold of a farm and even almost gets married falsely. However, in the end, despite these grave anomalies, Elizabeth is forgiven and given a true romance of her own. Stories like this continue to be popularly associated with Christmas due to their lightheartedness and themes of human fallacies and forgiveness.

3. It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)

It’s a Wonderful Life The Holiday - hof article

The mythical air surrounding Christmas and the blissfulness of the human heart are nowhere more trenchantly examined than in Frank Capra’s ‘It’s a Wonderful Life.’ The film is more than simply a Christmas romance. Along with carrying religious and secular messages, I believe it is also a film that explores in great detail how draconian institutions like banks and concepts like ‘loans’ can be and how they can contribute to the languid state of humankind. The disconcertion surrounding the topic makes it a widely faced yet less painfully nanoscopic-addressed subject. Yet, the triumph of the will following a tragedy such as that of George remains one of the greatest testaments of the undying human spirit.

2. The Shop Around The Corner (1940)

Nothing makes for a greater romance than one where the endurance of each other’s pitfalls is laid out in the beginning. In this Lubitsch film, the central characters play and outplay each other, drive each other up the wall, and go through a process of deflating and inflating egos– all this while being in the process of falling for each other, however, with concealed identities. The comforting element is perhaps the absence of the need for perfection. Much like “Pride and Prejudice,” which is a reference point for the next film on the list, and rightly so, Alfred Kralik and Klara Novak, co-workers at Matuschek and Company, bicker and have great disdain for each other, even going to the extent of name-calling. However, with time both realise that scratching the surface and digging into the inner truth might result in the most sustained achievement.

1. You’ve Got Mail (1998)

To me, You’ve Got Mail is irrevocably the tutelary spirit of the Christmas romances. In other words, it is the chicken soup for the soul beaten by both the unforgiving weather and the cynical world. The romance at the heart of it is comforting. It is comforting as it reiterates the adage that the best of relationships and friendships can start off with the hugest of fights. It is also comforting as the relationship reminds me of this Adrienne Rich quote:

“An honorable human relationship — that is, one in which two people have the right to use the word “love” — is a process, delicate, violent, often terrifying to both persons involved, a process of refining the truths they can tell each other.”

Although the concealment of the identities of both parties is the element that drives the story, there is never a deceit in terms of understanding what compounds the other person: their virtues and their vices. What also makes it visually comforting is the cozy settings and mise-en-scene– from the Brooklyn brownstone apartment of Kathleen Kelly to her quaint bookstore ‘The Shop Around the Corner’ peppered with adorable knick-knacks and goodies.

Read More: 10 Great Alternative Christmas Movies Set Around Christmastime

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