A Playwright's Top Christmas Movies You Might Not Have Heard of

Everyone can probably give you their favorite Christmas movies, and I definitely love a lot of the classics, like Miracle on 34th Street (with Elizabeth Perkins), Rudolf, Elf, A Christmas Carol (Muppet version of course), It's a Wonderful Life, National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, The Santa Clause, Love Actually. But there are some that don't get as much attention, and maybe deserve some exploration.  So here are three of this playwright's top films that you might not have heard of, but are worth a watch.

1. Joyeux Noel: This movie blew my little snowflake socks off. Years ago, this must have come up as a recommendation from Netflix or a friend...I'm not even sure anymore, but this has got to be one of the most meaningful and unique Christmas movies out there. You MUST SEE THIS. So what makes it so different? It's kind of a war movie, but...not really. It takes place during WWI on the Front Lines between French, Scottish and German troops. On Christmas Eve, they set down their differences and guns, play Christmas music on Scottish bagpipes, light German pine trees and drink French ale together, coming forth to celebrate together in the snow into "no man's land." The relationships formed through their battle and on this night give me chills, and the aftermath of the decision to lay down arms and share together also gives me chills. It's funny, heart-warming, dramatic and touching. This is based on multiple true events and real stories soldiers shared (not were all so discrete about this very big "no-no" they engaged in, when writing letters home!). If you don't like war movies, trust me, you will like this one. If you do like war movies, then enjoy seeing one from a slightly different perspective. It brings to light real Christmas spirit, without Santa, elves or magic. It unites, tears down barriers (literally), and also reminds us of how heart-breaking war truly is to the individuals who are having to make the ultimate sacrifice.

2. Nestor, the Long-Eared Donkey: Think Dumbo meets Bambi meets Rudolf meets Bethlehem. An adorable outcast donkey with long ears, a self-sacrificing mother, and a journey to find his place in this world. Done in the 1977 stop-animation style that immediately makes me want to sip hot chocolate, this short movie found a very special place in my heart. For years after, when I was a tiny child, my mom would double-check my bath and say, "Ears, Nestor..."

3. The Best Christmas Pageant Ever: When the "hoodlum" kids in town take over an otherwise stuffy production of the Nativity Story, Bethlehem starts to get real. It's a book, it's a play, but I know the 1983 movie version that is still on VHS tape at my parents' house. I watched it just last year with my then 2 and 5 year old boys and the stoic acting of the children still gets me. The production is heart-warming, funny, and I'll say it, "classic."

I could really go on and on, but time is short this Christmas season, so if you have the chance to check out any of these movies, keep an open mind, and enjoy! :)  Merry Christmas!

Share your thoughts: What are some of your favorite Christmas movies? Do you know any which are a bit more obscure?