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Holiday Films Are Good for You: Movies to Check Out from Herrick Library

According to a study performed by University College London (UCL), watching movies can be as beneficial to health as light cardio at the gym, and it can improve heart health, memory, and concentration. Furthermore, a movie-watching experience provides opportunities to devote undivided attention for sustained periods of time, which builds mental resilience.

Movies can benefit people by:

  • promoting learning
  • driving social change
  • exploring difficult life lessons
  • offering an appreciation of art
  • developing empathy for others’ struggles
  • motivating positive behavior
  • releasing pent-up emotions
  • being a relaxing experience

What better time to sit down and watch a movie than during the holidays? Although theaters are shuttered for now, Herrick Library offers plenty of holiday films that can be checked out via curbside pickup. To search the catalog, click here  and place a hold on the movie of your choice. You can also call the library at 619-825-5010 or send an email to info@herricklibrary.org. Pickups are Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9 a.m.–1 p.m., and Wednesdays, 2 p.m.–7 p.m.

Herrick Library’s Collection

 The following Christmas-themed or Christmas-adjacent films (movies at least partially based during the Christmas holidays) are available for checkout:

  • Almost Christmas (PG-13)—Members of a dysfunctional family gather for their first Christmas since the matriarch’s death. Kimberly Elise and Danny Glover star.
  • Ben Is Back (R): In a race against time on Christmas Eve, a mother played by Julia Roberts must find her drug-addicted teen son before it is too late. (Read our Staff Movie Review.)
  • Blackbird (R): Starring Susan Sarandon and Sam Neill, a couple summons their family to their beach house for an early Christmas gathering after Lily decides to end her long battle with ALS.
  • The Blind Side (PG-13): Based on the true story of Michael Oher, a family, whose feisty matriarch is played by Academy Award–winner Sandra Bullock, takes in a homeless football prospect and helps guide his life.
  • Christmas in Connecticut (not rated, NR)—A famous food writer in New York City (Barbara Stanwyck) who has lied about being the perfect suburban housewife must try to cover her deception when her boss and a returning war hero invite themselves to her home for a traditional family Christmas.
  • Christmas in Conway (PG)—A husband (Andy Garcia) plans to construct a Ferris wheel in his backyard as a present to his cancer-stricken wife, played by Mary Louise Parker.
  • A Christmas Romance (NR)—Starring Olivia Newton-John and Gregory Harrison, a widowed mother short on money comes to the aid of a bill collector who crashes his car in a snowstorm.
  • Christmas with Holly (NR)—A 6-year-old traumatized by her mother’s death, stops talking, but is helped by her uncles, one of whom must decide if he has room in his life for love while raising Holly.
  • Collateral Beauty (PG-13)—Will Smith plays a man who questions the universe after his daughter’s death and receives unexpected answers. Also starring Kate Winslet, Keira Knightley, and Helen Mirren.
  • Dolly Parton’s Christmas of Many Colors: Circle of Love (NR)—The Parton family must scrape together enough money to buy their beloved mother the wedding ring she has long waited for.
  • The Family Stone (PG-13): In this funny yet heartfelt film, an uptight businesswoman (Sarah Jessica Parker) is invited to her boyfriend’s tightknit family’s home for Christmas and feels completely left out. Also starring Claire Danes, Diane Keaton, and Craig T. Nelson.
  • Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life (NR): In this holiday classic, an angel is sent from heaven to help a desperate businessman (James Stewart) learn what life would have been like had he never existed.
  • The Gathering (NR)—A dying father, played by Ed Asner, pulls his torn family together for one last Christmas.
  • The House Without a Christmas Tree (NR): An annual TV event in the 1970s, this film is about a young girl growing up in 1946 Nebraska who yearns for a Christmas tree that her widower father (Jason Robards) refuses to give her because it brings back sad memories of his wife.
  • How About You (NR)—Based on a Maeve Binchy short story, a young British woman struggling with life choices spends Christmas watching over a retirement home filled with demanding residents.
  • I’ll Be Home for Christmas (NR): A widowed surgeon and his daughter return to his hometown to run the local hospital and possibly find love.
  • Irving Berlin’s White Christmas (NR): In the movie from which the beautiful Bing Crosby Christmas song of the same name derives, two talented song-and-dance men team up after World War II to become one of the hottest acts in show business.
  • Last Christmas (PG-13): A troubled Christmas-store elf, played by Game of Thrones’s Emilia Clarke, finds attraction and inspiration in a mysterious stranger.
  • Last Holiday (PG-13): Queen Latifah stars as a New Orleans cookware salesperson who believes she has less than a month to live and to check adventures off her bucket list.
  • Lovely, Still (PG): This charming film featuring Martin Landau as Robert, a lonely grocery store worker, ends with an interesting twist after Robert returns home from a shift one day to discover a stranger (Ellen Burstyn) in his house.
  • The Man Who Invented Christmas (PG): This movie is a feel-good tale about the creation of Charles Dickens’s holiday classic, A Christmas Carol.
  • Moonstruck (PG): A bookkeeper from Brooklyn, played by Oscar-winner Cher, finds herself in a predicament when she falls for the brother (Nicolas Cage) of the man she has agreed to marry.
  • New Year’s Eve (PG-13): An ensemble cast, including Halle Barre, Robert De Niro, and Sofia Vergara, headline this American romantic comedy film directed by Garry Marshall.
  • November Christmas (G): A brave young girl who is battling cancer affects the lives of the people around her. With Sarah Paulson and Sam Elliott.
  • Once Upon a Christmas Miracle (G): A holiday romance based on the incredible story of an organ donor and the recipient.
  • Once Upon a Sesame Street Christmas (G): Muppet Elmo’s father tells him a tale of how Sesame Street was a dreary place in the 19th century before Elmo’s great-great-great-grandfather helped turn things around.
  • Ordinary People (R): In this intense Best Picture winner directed by Robert Redford, family relationships are strained among the bitter mother, the good-natured father, and the guilt-ridden son after the accidental death of the older son. Starring Mary Tyler Moore, Timothy Hutton, and Donald Sutherland.
  • Pieces of April (PG-13): A wayward young woman (Katie Holmes) invites her mother, who is dying from cancer, and the rest of her estranged family to her tiny apartment for Thanksgiving dinner.
  • Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (R): A man, played by Steve Martin, struggles to travel home in time for Thanksgiving with a lovable oaf (John Candy) as his only companion.
  • Silver Linings Playbook (R): After a stint in a mental rehabilitation facility, a former teacher (Bradley Cooper) moves back in with his mother and father (Robert De Niro) while trying to reconcile with his ex-wife, but life gets complicated when he meets a young widow with issues of her own. (Read our Staff Movie Review.)
  • Stepmom (PG-13): An unlikely friendship develops when a mother of two (Susan Sarandon) must teach her husband’s fiancée (Julia Roberts) how to raise her children after she receives a cancer diagnosis.
  • Where’d You Go, Bernadette (PG-13): Going through a crisis of mind and feeling confined in suburbia, Bernadette (Cate Blanchett) disappears at Christmastime, and it is up to her gifted teen daughter and workaholic husband (Billy Crudup) to figure out where Bernadette really is—both in mind and body—and how to get her back to the person she once was. (Read our Staff Movie Review.)
  • While You Were Sleeping (PG): Sandra Bullock plays a hopeless romantic working a token booth who saves the life of a man mistakenly thought to be her fiancé, only to fall for his brother.




Sources: Exploring Your Mind, Film Therapy: the Benefits of Watching Movies, https://exploringyourmind.com/film-therapy-benefits-watching-movies/; Express, Scientists Claim Cinema Trips as Good as Exercise in Heart and Brain Benefits—Here’s Why, https://www.express.co.uk/entertainment/films/1227610/Cinema-trips-benefits-light-exercise-UCL-Aladdin-health-benefits-watching-movies; ABC Life, 5 Very Real Benefits of Watching Movies, https://www.abc.net.au/life/benefits-of-watching-movies/10830400;

Graphics: Glamour, https://www.glamour.com/gallery/netflix-christmas-movies


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