Billy Elliott (2000)
I was thinking about "holiday movies" that aren't "Holiday Movies," that is, movies that don't have Christmas or Hanukkah as a theme or a backdrop but that have at their core a spirit of newness and hope. Billy Elliott is a splendid example of what I mean besides being a tremendously life-affirming movie overall. It's the story of young British lad growing up in a coal-mining town during Margaret Thatcher's "reign" as Prime Minister and her war against the miners' unions. Despite his father's coaxing to explore boxing after school, Billy discovers an interest in the ballet and therein lies a whole different sort of battle -- one that has a truly surprising conclusion. Director Stephen Daldry was nominated for an Oscar for this film, and the wonderful Julie Walters' performance as the stern but kindly ballet mistress was recognized as well. The film's enormous heart, however, is Jamie Bell, in his first feature film. And what a debut. Highly Recommended.