Hooray for Holidays

Are we in a bad mood, or what? Never mind the real world, which is bummer enough. This may be remembered as the Year of the Depressive Movie. When I toted up my top-10 list, I wasn't surprised at how few big studio movies there were: it was a dog year for Hollywood. What stood out was how heavy my favorites were--tales filled with paranoia, terrorism, broken hearts and busted families. The times demand darkness; in these indelible movies, anguish is transformed into art. Besides, did I have a choice? Even our hit summer movies this year sprang from nightmares--the traumatized "Batman Begins," the tragic "Revenge of the Sith," the dark, apocalyptic "War of the Worlds." When our romantic comedies ("Mr. and Mrs. Smith") are about assassins, our musicals ("Rent") are about AIDS and our kiddie fare ("Charlie and the Chocolate Factory") is misanthropic, where do we turn for comfort? To penguins, and Jane Austen. What dark treats do the holidays hold? Plenty. Here are the delights and the disappointments of an ambitious crop.