The recent cold weather has forced me to take in more movies than usual—seven during the last six weeks. I watched a tear-jerker, “Wonder;” a musical,” The Greatest Showman;” a historical story, “The Darkest Hour;” a raw mystery, “Three Billboards from Billings, Mo.;”, a comedy, “Jumanju,” science fiction, “Downsizing,” and a movie about journalism, “The Post.”

The variety in the recent movies amazed me. I hardly went to the movies in late summer and early fall because there was a run of several too-loud stories about too many super-heroes.

During the cold weather, I was delighted I had a long run of good movies.

I took tissues to “Wonder” because I figured that I, a grandmother and teacher, would cry about the struggles of Auggie, a schoolboy with a facial deformity. The directors did a great job of softening the saddest moments with gentle humor. The movie, based on a fictional novel, was written by a mother who grabbed her young son away when she saw him staring at a handicapped child. She said that, afterward, she wondered what it would be like to be that child. Her book was based on the incident and a song by the same name. All students, teachers and parents need to see this movie, In fact, everyone should see “Wonder” because it promotes compassion toward others.

“The Greatest Showman” is pure entertainment with a sweet story of love between a couple and the challenges faced by all families. The story is about P.T. Barnum who started his famous circus shows by creating a museum based on human oddities of nature, such as a bearded lady (great character in the movie), a tall man, a little person, etc. The ambition of the movie’s main character, played by Hugh Jackman, almost ruins him; but his work ethic and love for his wife allow him to have a successful life. The movie added in a possible romance between Barnum and the famous singer, Jenny Lind, who, in real life, had no romantic interest in him. Hollywood had to throw in a little romantic conflict.  

“The Darkest Hour” is an informative story of Winston Churchill, which has been told before. This was my first time to see his story, though. I enjoyed learning about the respect and love between him and his wife, Clementine (Kristin Scott). In spite of knowing Churchill’s decision to stand up against Adolph Hitler and the Germans, the movie director did a good job of creating suspense by revealing the opposition he faced and his self doubts. Gary Oldman, the actor who played Churchill, did a good job of showing the leader’s passionate heart for his fellow Brits.

“Three Billboard in Billings, Mo.” won the Golden Globes’ Best Motion Picture and reflects the modern movement to make movies seem like real life, as rough and painful as that can be. The main character, played by Frances McDormand, who won Best Actress in a Motion Picture, could have been, indeed, any woman who has been beaten down by an abusive ex-husband, a smart-mouthed daughter, and corruption in small-town law enforcement that could not solve her daughter’s murder. If the measure of the Golden Globes is realism and authentic character, this compelling movie certainly deserved awards.

“Jumanju” was my least favorite of the six, although I laughed several times. I grew weary as the ending dragged out too long. The story is about a team of four unlikely friends, who have been transformed from their original identities as high school students. Each must find the courage to use their skills to get out of the jungle. The movie is framed by a story about how the four students were drawn into the magical version of an once-popular board game.

The sixth movie was “Downsizing.” I was only a little motivated to see it because of its premise: Modern people had the

option of being shrunk to five inches in order to help the environment and to give them an economic advantage. Matt Damon, a sensitive son and husband, tries to fit into the prevailing attitudes of society’s pursuit of material affluence. He and his wife make a joint decision to allow the doctors to shrink them. She changes her mind before she is shrunk, and he has to go to the new planned “Leisureland” community alone. After a year of isolation, he decides to venture out and fit in. The story then changes to an adventure full of unexpected twists as he comes to understand his true self. He learns that people are the same no matter their size or environment. He discovers that a life without meaningful work is empty. Human suffering and poverty still exist, and spirituality leads to learning the importance of having love for others – messages that made me like the movie.

Seeing “The Post” was important to me because I have worked in journalism since 1986. One thing I have learned is that good reporters and editors strive to report the truth and shine a light on wrong-doing. Both are vital to our democracy. “The Post” underscores this necessity.

Spring will come soon enough with my love for spending time outdoors. I feel I made the best out of frozen ponds and icy winds thanks to a good run of movies.

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