With the shopping rush and rampant buy, buy, buy commercials, it's easy to get bogged down by the material aspects of Christmas and forget about the fun. However, we shouldn't forget the one tradition that allows you to give love and steal a kiss from someone special -- the mistletoe. The parasitic plant morphed from a pagan symbol in pre-Christian Europe that signified life and fertility, to a Christian symbol inextricably linked to Christmas and kisses. (It's funny how years can change the scope of things.)
In honor of the tradition, and as an opportunity to distract oneself from the smothering kisses of Great Aunt Bea, I thought I would put together a list of mistletoe escapes. What follows are three men and three women who provide an alternative choice to mistletoe fantasies -- free from the mainstream, full-lipped Angelinas and muscle-bound Brads of the world. Better yet, the actors and actresses are teamed with a good film in which they are particularly smoochable. Some of this list might make you nod in agreement, and some might make you think I'm crazy (even though I already took out the likes of eyebrow-raisers such as Christopher Walken). At the very least, it will provide a list of recent film fodder for when things wind down or you're hiding away from family.
Gary Oldman -- Immortal Beloved
Gary Oldman's portrayal of Ludwig van Beethoven is the classic choice for tortured, stolen kisses wrapped in a musically-powerful package. When cooking up sex appeal, pairing the wild-haired Maestro and the once-Zorg might seem crazy, but it works so well that Oldman's presence and sexual charisma become the backbone of the film. As Schindler tries to hunt down the immortal beloved, Beethoven's sexual escapades unwrap and slide seamlessly into the composer's accompanying score. While it is pure conjecture based on the Maestro's actual letter, its sense of "What if?" provides a prime backdrop for your own mistletoe imaginings.
Timothy Olyphant -- Go
It's not surprising that Katie Holmes' character in Go rapidly morphed from a disgusted bystander into a participant in stolen stairwell kisses when she was forced to spend time with Todd Gaines. From the moment Olyphant's character was introduced to the screen, as he partook in an upside-down, lingering kiss, he oozed sex that transcended the character's dirty, drug-dealing image. It isn't every man that can make a Santa hat and old sweats look sexy, yet he pulled it off, becoming a great male diversion from the gay actors, goofs traveling to Las Vegas, and the boy hiding in garbage.
Christopher Eigeman -- Metropolitan
If you'd rather be talked into a mistletoe kiss, there's no better man for the job than Whit Stillman's conversational dynamo, Christopher Eigeman. The man can make even the most difficult or contrived sentence (like discussing the beauty of Babar) flow easily from his lips -- and talented lips bode well for one's kissing abilities. He might not be the super-sexy stud stacked with muscles and machismo, but he manages to hold his own. His yuppie bitterness in Stillman's films is actually amusing and endearing, and he'd be one to provide pre and post-kiss banter, if you're into that sort of thing.
Julie Delpy -- Before Sunset
When Julie Delpy's smiling face took Ethan Hawke's book-touring Jesse by surprise, you could see a decade worth of maturation in an instant. Over the years since Before Sunrise, Ms. Delpy really grew into herself, becoming the full-package everywoman. Throughout the course of the film, her Celine indulged in intelligent and sarcastic conversation, exuded success, and still threw in some raw honesty and vulnerability. What might have sounded like a sleeper film became a powerful, oft-noted piece of cinema. Besides, the woman knows how to sway to Billie Holiday, so who wouldn't want to miss a plane for her, or scour the earth for some mistletoe?
Frances McDormand -- Laurel Canyon
Unfortunately, Frances McDormand was branded with a bad image rap with her cinematic start. Winning an Oscar for her role in Fargo solidified her type-casted fate as the dowdy older woman. While it might seem strange, therefore, to pick up a copy of Laurel Canyon and see that she's a foxy rock n' roll producer, it's actually just right. Canyon was McDormand's chance to show her sex appeal whilst indulging in sexy, on-screen kisses -- and she did it with ease. As Alessandro Nivola's love interest, she threw off the chains of old mom typecasting and showed that women over 35 don't have to be sent out to pasture.
Franke Potente -- Run Lola Run
If fleeting, stolen kisses aren't your style, and you want to fantasize about dedication and many years of entwined bliss under the mistletoe, Lola's the girl for you. Franke's character runs all over the city for her mistake-plagued, hoodlum boyfriend, and her sense of duty transcends even exorbitant boundaries of helpful. As Tom Twyker gives three optional paths for Lola's reality, she answers her own questions and apprehensions with the steps she takes. While it doesn't hurt that Ms. Potente is one of the most beautiful women out there, her determination and logic make her irresistible.