Some gift idea to keep in mind as you think of your friends and family this holiday season:
For the sports fan:
ESPN Films: 30 for 30 Limited Edition Collector Set These brilliant films by some of today’s top directors have all the thrills and triumphs and gripping story lines any sports lover could ask for. The collector set includes all of these outstanding films and five hours of extras.
For those who loves thrills and chills:
Midnight Madness: The History of Horror, Fantasy and Sci-Fi Films From the golden age of Universal Studios through the explosion of digital effects, this 2-DVD set will take you through all the categories of scary movie magic, with interviews of the people who were there.
For PBS fans:
Masterpiece Classic: Downton Abbey This instant classic miniseries about a wealthy country family on the brink World War I is brilliantly acted by a cast that includes Dame Maggie Smith and Elizabeth McGovern. Season two is coming in January, so this is a good opportunity to get up to speed or enjoy all over again to prepare for what comes next.
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy The feature film remake is fine but it can’t touch the original miniseries, possibly the best ever shown on television. Alec Guiness plays George Smiley, a veteran spy called back to service to find a mole in the highest levels of British intelligence.
For classic movie buffs:
Meet Me in St. Louis One of the all-time family musical classics is this story of the Smith family in the year before the 1904 World’s Fair. Judy Garland sings “The Trolly Song” and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.”
TCM Greatest Classic Films Collection: Romantic Comedies (Adam’s Rib / Woman of the Year / The Philadelphia Story / Bringing Up Baby) Turner Classic Movies has a whole series of highly affordable classics and this is one of the best, with four Katherine Hepburn comedies featuring her two best co-stars, Spencer Tracy and Cary Grant.
TCM Classic Movie Trivia: Featuring More Than 4,000 Questions to Test Your Trivia Smarts See how well you know the movies — and find some good titles for your Netflix queue.
For the romantic:
Midnight in Paris Woody Allen’s best film in years is the story of a writer whose trip to Paris with his fiancée and her family takes an unexpected turn.
Jane Eyre This most recent re-telling of the classic Charlotte Brontë story about the shy governess and the stormy, mysterious employer stars Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender.
Beginners I predict Christopher Plummer will get an Oscar nomination for his performance as a man in his 70’s who comes out for the first time after the death of his wife. Ewan McGregor plays his son, who is a bit mystified but supportive, and inspired by his father to take some risks in his own romantic life.
For the new Blu-Ray owner:
These two sets include not just the iconic movie series that both rank at the top of box office winners but lots and lots of fabulous extras.
For 3-8 year-olds and their families:
Winnie The Pooh Disney’s loving adaptation of the A.A. Milne classic has beautiful hand-drawn animation and a charming story that lovingly captures the magic of the stories that have enchanted children for 85 years.
Scholastic Storybook Treasures: Treasury of 100 Storybook Classics and Scholastic Storybook Treasures: Treasury of 100 Storybook Classics Two My very favorite series for young children and their families has the very best in children’s books read aloud by the very best in voice talent with lovely musical accompaniment and some gentle animation. These also make a great gift for a school or library.
For 8-14 year-olds and their families:
Dolphin Tale Inspired by the true story of Winter, the dolphin with the prosthetic tail, this is a beautiful and inspiring family film.
Anne of Green Gables The miniseries based on the classic books about the red-headed heroine of Prince Edward Island has been digitally remastered for DVD.
The Rocketeer The 20th anniversary edition of this exciting sage of a dashing hero who fights the Nazis by wearing a special jet-pack is gorgeous to look at lots of fun.
One of my favorite picture books is The Mysteries of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg. It is supposed to be the portfolio of drawings left behind by an artist with no other clues about what was going on in the stories they illustrated. I loved to try to come up with my own ideas about what was going on. Now, a group of top writers have given us their ideas with The Chronicles of Harris Burdick: Fourteen Amazing Authors Tell the Tales / With an Introduction by Lemony Snicket and stories by Sherman Alexie, M.T. Anderson, Kate DiCamillo, Cory Doctorow, Jules Feiffer, Stephen King, Tabitha King, Lois Lowry, Gregory Maguire, Walter Dean Myers, Linda Sue Park, Louis Sachar, Jon Scieszka, Lemony Snicket, and Chris Van Allsburg himself.
For teens and their families:
Rise of the Planet of the Apes This excellent prequel to the tells us how an experimental treatment for Alzheimer’s led to the rise of the apes and the fall of the humans.
Celebrate the 50th anniversary of one of the greatest children’s books of all time with The Annotated Phantom Tollbooth and be on the lookout for the new documentary film featuring author Norton Juster, illustrator Jules Feiffer, and fans including authors, critics, teachers, and kids.
The Best of the Muppet Show The new generation that has fallen in love with the Muppets will enjoy sitting down with the older generation that remembers them well to enjoy these highlights from the original series.
Now that the story is done, Potterphiles of all ages will appreciate Harry Potter: The Complete 8 Film Collection, including the sensationally satisfying final chapter.