Peter Billingsley, "A Christmas Story"

The holiday season is upon us. The halls are decked. The lights are sparkling. And nothing goes better with a peppermint mocha, a lush Christmas tree, and a cozy fireplace, than a Christmas classic – It’s a Wonderful Life, Charlie Brown’s Christmas, Miracle on 34th Street, A Christmas Story, or one of my personal favorites, Bing Crosby’s White Christmas. Even one of those made-for-TV Lifetime or ABC Family movies like A Christmas Proposal or Holiday in Handcuffs offer entertainment in a cheesy, so-bad-they’re fun kind of way.   

Along with all those holiday favorites, this time of the year is special for another reason. It’s award season. And if you’re a movie buff, it’s time to get yourself to the theater and catch up on some of the year’s best films, especially those noteworthy nominees designated this week by The Hollywood Foreign Press Association (click here for the full list) as the best of the best.  

At the pinnacle of achievement for this year’s Golden Globes are Best Picture Dramas: Black Swan, The Fighter, Inception, The King’s Speech, and The Social Network. Best Musical/Comedy: Alice in Wonderland, Burlesque, The Kids Are All Right, Red, and The Tourist. And some of the most critically acclaimed performances: Natalie Portman (Black Swan), Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network), Colin Firth (The King’s Speech), Jennifer Lawrence (Winter’s Bone), and James Franco (127 Hours).  

As expected, The King’s Speech (7), The Social Network (6), and The Fighter (6) have secured the most nominations across the board; however, there were many unexpected snubs. Specifically, the omission of the Coen Brothers’ True Grit, Ben Affleck’s The Town (1 nod for Jeremy Renner), and terrific comedies like I Love You, Phillip Morris and Casino Jack (1 nod for Kevin Spacey). 

Colin Firth, "The King's Speech"

On an individual level, however, nothing was more surprising than seeing Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie nominated for their performances in The Tourist, one of the most critically reviled films of the year. And on the flipside, seeing terrific performances like Jeff Bridges (True Grit), Barbara Hershey (Black Swan), Mark Ruffalo (The Kids Are All Right), and Robert Duvall (Get Low) completely overlooked.  

Known for being a precursor to the Oscars, the 68th Annual Golden Globes will be presented live on Sunday, January 16, 2011. And hosted by the always entertaining, Ricky Gervais.  

To get you started, I’ve included a checklist of 25 ‘must see’ films below. And please be sure to come back before the New Year for my Top 10 Films of 2010.   

Until then, Merry Christmas to all and to all, a fun movie night!      

-Mark Sells, “The Reel Deal”  

Gwyneth Paltrow, "Country Strong"

Holiday Checklist – Award Season Films:  

  • Animal Kingdom                         
  • Black Swan                              
  • Biutiful                                     
  • Blue Valentine                          
  • Casino Jack                             
  • The Concert                             
  • Country Strong                         
  • Despicable Me                         
  • The Fighter                               
  • How To Train Your Dragon        
  • The Illusionist                           
  • I Love You, Phillip Morris           
  • Inception
  • The Kids Are All Right

Jeff Bridges & Hailee Steinfeld, "True Grit"

  • The King’s Speech
  • 127 Hours
  • Rabbit Hole
  • Restrepo
  • The Social Network
  • The Tillman Story
  • The Town
  • Toy Story 3
  • True Grit
  • Waiting for Superman
  • Winter’s Bone