It's a new year and we are all going to be inundated with lists, plans and methods to stay on track, meet our goals and get. things. done. While I am down with a motivated January, I somewhat lament the abrupt end to the lazy holiday vibe. My husband is the one to always bring this to my attention when I want to start playing Christmas music on Thanksgiving weekend: "you know, the 12 days of Christmas technically begin on Christmas day and extend into January." Thank you Tim.
In an effort to balance out the crazy new schedules and goals we have set for ourselves, here is a list of 14 movies to relax and unwind with at the end of the day. It is, after all, still winter and we need to hygge while we still can! As far as these movies, some are fantastic, some are indulgent, some are cringe worthy, but all have the same lovely note: letter writing can be a life changer.
1. You've Got Mail | Oh this movie. I am a Tom Hanks fan and when this first came out I had my own VCR in my bedroom and watched this on repeat. Star crossed lovers without all the killing yourself drama? Done! Delightful emails exchanged between strangers back when the internet was new and online chat rooms weren't seedy yet? Done!
2. The Shop Around the Corner | A 1940's black and white film featuring James Stewart and Margaret Sullavan that is the inspiration for You've Got Mail. This movie is a classic! So much so that in 1999 it was chosen for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress, it is listed in Time's All Time 100 Movies, and is featured in AFI's 100 Years...100 Passions. How much more persuasion do you need?!
3. Atonement | Full disclosure: I did not like this movie and couldn't get through the book. Primarily because I found both tedious and tortured, and I just did not see what all the fuss was about. That being said, give it a shot because it does show you how powerful one mistakenly delivered letter has in the lives of many people. Also, it's worth a watch for Keira Knightley rocking an organza and chiffon emerald green dress as only Keira can.
4. The Notebook | Even if you haven't seen it, I'm sure you've heard of The Notebook. It's the painfully unattainable romance between Noah and Allie, and yes, like all Nicholas Sparks books-turned-film it does have two white people nearly kissing as the movie poster. But all snark aside, this is a movie that you can easily get lost in if romance is your jam. And (SPOILER ALERT) 365 letters are written, but not delivered to their intended target for many years...oh drama!
5. Casablanca | True story: this list is the reason I finally watched Casablanca. I am not a movie buff and when I like a film I tend to watch it 3,943 times which doesn't always leave time for catching up on the "must watch before you die" lists. However, Casablanca has always been on my list of movies that I need to watch, so here we are. But who knew that letters played such a key role in a film that everyone at least knows by name, if not by the famous "here's looking at you, kid" line! I mean letters are basically a lead role in this movie...
6. Letters to Juliet | Yeah, I've never seen this. Looked way to sugary for me, but based off of the title I'm assuming letters are a key figure in the plot (I just Wikipedia-ed the plot and I'm right, fyi). The movie is based off a real event in Verona where people write to Juliet (of Romeo and Juliet) and there are actual people in charge of responding to the letters. In true Hollywood fashion many obvious twists, turns and unrequited-love-looks fill this movie, but we have a 50 year old answered letter to thank for all the drama.
7. The Postman | A 1997 post-apocalyptic movie where Kevin Costner once again plays a drifting loner who ends up the hero. Even though it has some pretty awful humor and is just down right eye-rolling at times, I still enjoyed it. I love a good post-apocalyptic story and this one makes you think about the institutions we currently have in place in the US and how life would be (or wouldn't be) without them.
8. Miracle on 34th Street | Holiday classic and story where letters save Christmas? Who knew?! Not being one of my favorite holiday movies, I had forgotten the famous ending to this 1947 drama about the real Santa Claus. I won't ruin it for you, but if you're in the mood to watch a precocious, young Natalie Wood and the always classy Maureen O'Hara this is a special movie.
9. PS I Love You | Totally unattainable romance again, but I love it. Something about this movie is reassuring and uplifting even though it centers around a dead husband sending letters to his wife to help her grieve (spoiler alert?). It may be the sweeping Irish landscapes, the hilarious family and friends, or I love it simply because this movie shows the power of the written word between two people. Watch it. Love it. Repeat.
10. Mail to the Chief | The millennium brought us many a great things, but high up on that list has to be the Disney classic Mail to the Chief. I mean a boy seeking out an email pen pal is unknowingly advising the president of the United States? Pure gold.
11. Beaches | You probably think more of Bette Midler's very red hair or "Wind Beneath My Wings" when you think of this cult classic, but letter writing is what allowed the iconic best friends to remain in contact for so long after that first meeting. Letter writing was it before emails, social media and texting so I love this movie simply for the fact that it shows relationships can grow through the written word.
12. Mary and Max | A 2009 stop motion animated film from Australia, this movie looks funny and heavy and real. So no, I haven't watched it (I prioritized Casablanca over this one), but it is going to stay on my list for the sheer craziness of the plot. Also because it brings two people together across a vast distance and only through written correspondence. Hooray for pen pals!
13. Dear John | Oh boy. Another Nicholas Sparks weepy romance, but the man does love his letters so I can't fault him for that! Dear John is about a military man who is home on leave and falls for a woman. Lots of silly drama, a few rainy kisses and plenty of gratuitous half naked Channing Tatum follows, but what I do appreciate about the movie is that it shows the real power that letters have in the military world. My Dad was in the Navy and I remember writing to him on his many deployments throughout my childhood. And I distinctly remember that overwhelming feeling of happiness when we had a letter from him. My mom has often said that she fell in love with my dad through letters, so it's a real thing and I appreciate that Dear John tries to relay that sentiment.
14. The Lake House | If I were a smart writer I probably would have ended on a more powerful note (or at least with a movie that I've seen the whole way through), but here we are ending with The Lake House. If you like this movie, look away. I could not finish this movie. And I love Sandra Bullock. And I love to comment on Keanu Reeves. And I love mail. But no, that was not a recipe for success for me; however, it's on the list because of the magical mailbox at the center of this movie's plot and that, once again, two people are drawn to each other only though the written word. Powerful stuff man (but sadly, in this case, not as powerful as a speeding bus taken over by a disgruntled ex-police officer...)
Alright, there you have it! A nice little list of movies about snail mail that will help get you through the rest of the chilly winter months. There are plenty more movies out there so I'll probably do a part two, but I don't want to give you too many movies to watch or else you'll have no time to write your long lost love, save Christmas or restore the hope of the United States of America!