Imagine your typical family reunion at Christmastime, only dad is Henry II, King of England, and mom is his estranged wife, Eleanor of Acquitane, freed from prison for the holidays. Set in the late 12th century, Anthony Harvey’s The Lion in Winter is a tour-de-force of familial tensions, political drama, and—buried in there somewhere—a great deal of love; just the ticket for this time of year. Peter O’Toole, Katharine Hepburn, and a young Anthony Hopkins star.
Fanny and Alexander (1982)
Ingmar Bergman’s 1982 film (and five-part television miniseries) was inspired, in part, by his childhood with his sister, Margareta, and father, Erik Bergman, a strict Lutheran minister. Yet before the marital strife unfolds and the ghosts appear, the film lingers on a Nativity play and sprawling Christmas feast in 1907, comprising some of the most colorful and joyful moments in Bergman’s oeuvre.