My Holiday Music Fest post today made me think of one of my favorite, little-known holiday movies which I figured I should mention, giving folks time to perhaps get it from Netflix or whatever online service you subscribe to before the season is out. Though it's great any time of the year.
It's a foreign language film, Joyeux Noel, which was nominated for a Best Foreign Language Oscar in 2005. Honestly, I thought it should have won, but the Oscar that year went to a South African movie, Tsotsi. That was quite good, but for my own taste Joyeux Noel stood hand-over-fist better. Tsotsi told an important story, in an important country at an important time in its history. And it told it well. But Joyeux Noel was just...joyous. And wonderful.
It tells a fictionalized version of a story you may have heard -- how in World War I, four armies faced each other on Christmas Eve, ready for battle, but among themselves decided to call a truce for that one night. The movie isn't just "feel good," there's a great deal of drama and intense tension, and it's all told superbly.
It was also the first movie I'd seen Diane Kruger in, though I didn't realize it at the time, since she wasn't a well-known star in the U.S. then. She plays an opera singer, and interestingly he singing is dubbed by someone who was one of my folks very favorite, Natalie Dessay.
(I should note for those wary of foreign language films that one of the armies at a crossroads is British, so a good part of the movie is in English.)
Here's the trailer. It doesn't give a sense of the rich, tense drama at stake and tends more to focus on the warmth. But you should get a sense of it all, most especially how extremely well-crafted it is.
By the way, here's a link to it on Netflix, by clicking here. You'll note that it has four stars -- and a 7.8 rating on iMDB. On Rotten Tomatoes, the critic rating is a high 74%...but the audience rating is 89%. So I'm not alone on this...