Cat People (1942)
Surprisingly enough, Christmas Day has become a big day to go to the movies. The date itself has served as a convenient launching pad for potential Oscar contenders, and there were some good ones among the pretenders: To Kill a Mockingbird was released in 1962 and My Fair Lady in 1964. More recently, the musical version of Les Miserables opened in 2012, earning Anne Hathaway a much-deserved statue (I dare you to watch the clip and disagree), and scoring Hugh Jackman his first nomination. And Steven Spielberg’s Catch Me If You Can opened in 2002: underrated, but ranking among his very best.
As far as Oscar misfires go, there was The Godfather Part III, which opened in 1990: the all-time leader in prompting the phrase “let’s just finish it.”
For these more interested in lighter fare, P.J. Hogan released his terrific version of Peter Pan in 2003, while Alfonso Cuaron opened perhaps the best science fiction film of the past decade — Children of Men — in 2006. If your tastes run to the weird, there’s Ken Russell’s Altered States from 1980. And the classic adventure The Thief of Baghdad arrived today in 1940.
Finally, we’ll leave the last word to Mr. Mel Brooks, whose Hitchcock pastiche High Anxiety was released today in 1977.
Merry Christmas everyone!