Monthly Archives: December 2018

God, Bless Us, Everyone

One of my favorite holiday traditions is to attend the annual interpretation of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, performed by the Tony award-winning Dallas Theater Center. The basic story is always the same one we are all familiar with, but each year there are a few twists. This year, for example, the Ghost of Christmas Past was Scrooge’s mother, who died while giving birth to Ebenezer. That small twist brought new meaning to Scrooge’s Christmas experiences growing up. And as usual, Tiny Tim tugged on my heartstrings, especially, near the end, where he comes to Scrooge after his visitations from the apparitions and, singing acapella, starts a mash-up of the songs, No Man is an Island and The First Noel. That number alone is well worth the price of admission.

Of course, everyone remembers Tiny Tim’s simple prayer, “God, bless us, everyone.” It is a prayer I wish God would answer, but does not – at least in the way I hope God would answer. I admit it. Throughout my life, I have struggled with prayer. Does God hear and answer my prayers? It sometimes seems he (or she) answers some of my prayers, but not others. I know, you’re saying to yourself, that Ludlow guy is an idiot. God answers all prayers, just not the way he wants God to answer them. In other words, “no” is also an answer. But to me, God can be entirely random when it comes to answering prayers. We sometimes acknowledge God for answering insignificant prayers, like finding our car keys, but we can’t seem to discern God’s answers to prayers regarding poverty, disease, war, human trafficking, or comfort in times of tragedy. Sometimes we pray for the healing of a loved one and God responds with a miracle. But for others, the miracle never comes.

Maybe God’s answers are not really so random. Perhaps God sees how answering our prayers a certain way can negatively affect someone else, so he refuses to intervene. I smile when I see competitors on rival sports teams pray for a win. Are the Dallas Cowboys God’s favorite? More seriously, during World War II, soldiers on both sides prayed to the same Christian God for victory. I cringe every time I watch this scene from Patton.[i] Would God bless the Allies with good weather so they can do a better job of killing their enemy?

Why do we even bother to pray? We are taught by scripture that God knows what we need even before we ask. And since God’s answers seem, at times, to be so random, what’s the use? Are we wasting our time then? Should we sit back and let God do his thing, fearing our prayers will have little impact on the outcome? I learned many years ago the answers to my prayers for things to happen the way I wanted them to happen rarely worked. So, I changed the emphasis of my prayers to less about what I wanted to happen and more about, regardless what happens, please give me the strength to get through a given situation, and let me learn from the experience. At least with those prayers, I am rarely disappointed.

Sometimes we pray to show our devotion to God. But often it is less about devotion to God and more about loyalty to a particular religion. Here is a scene from Vertical Limit[ii] which help illustrates this point:

I have learned that, while showing gratitude and devotion to God through prayer can be significant, prayer is more about us than about God. I hope you don’t consider that blasphemous. But prayer is one of the few times, if we do it right, where we undergo some serious introspection and reflection and determine what we are really thankful for, and what is essential in our lives. In short, it helps us focus on our values. It helps us realize what we need to do to be better individuals, better family members, and better members of society. I have also noticed, when people lose their faith in a God they once believed in, they often turn to meditation. And when you think about it, meditation and prayer often serve that same function of introspection, reflection, value determination, and change.

But for me, my prayers and meditation are not very useful. I have struggled to understand why that is, and I have learned much about my lack of spirituality from watching movies. For example, I first saw the film, Shenandoah[iii] when I was twelve, but I still remember this prayer:

When we make our prayers or mediations all about us and our accomplishments, we see no reason or need for improvement. Growing up, my parents called that a lack of humility. Today, we more often use the term vulnerability. If we are not vulnerable enough to see our mistakes and weaknesses, we don’t give deity (or even our own souls) much chance to reveal (or discover) our best selves.

Along with that same line of thought, if we focus our prayers or meditations only on ourselves, we will find very little spiritual enlightenment. I love this scene from Election[iv] where three candidates offer three separate prayers, but each in their way, are self-focused:

I find that when my prayers or meditations are more about blessing or helping others, I have a higher chance of feeling some spiritual enlightenment in return. And that spiritual enlightenment is usually in the form of what I can do to ease someone’s suffering, or help someone through a bad situation. In short, I often can, at least partially, be the answer to my own prayer or meditation and help be the miracle in someone else’s life.  

Occasionally in the past, I had determined to have a soul-searching, deeply contemplative prayer, when a loved one or I was facing a particular challenge. To my dismay, I found that in most of those times, my efforts seemed like a disaster. My mind kept wandering, and I received no particular spiritual enlightenment. My prayers, although personal, often went something like this scene from Talladega Nights:[v]

Perhaps finding a quiet place might help. A friend of mine suggests we take a notebook and make notes before we begin our prayer or meditation, and let those notes help us keep our focus. Perhaps making notes of our feelings and impressions while we pray or meditate can also keep us on track. The point is, find something that works for you and stick to it. And long prayers or meditations are not necessarily the best. I served a church mission to Australia many years ago. On my first night there, my companion and I knelt at our beds after a long day, and each of us began a silent, personal prayer. I gave thanks for everything I could think of and asked God to bless me and everyone I loved. It was one of the longest prayers I had ever offered. I finished and got in bed. My companion remained on his knees. I kept waiting for him to finish, but he kept going and going. I soon started to panic a little, thinking, if to be a successful missionary required long prayers like my companion’s, I was doomed. My fear, though, soon turned to smiles as I heard my companion start to snore, asleep on his knees with his head in his pillow.

Finally, we don’t need to get caught up in the words of our prayers or mediations, as this prayer from Meet the Parents[vi] illustrates:    

The important thing is to determine what is in our hearts and just let that come out.

This post indeed is one of “do as I say, not as I do,” as prayer and meditation are not my strong suits. But I believe that prayer, like meditation, is more important for the person who is doing the praying or mediating than for anyone that might be listening – God or otherwise. I hope each of us can experience spiritual enlightenment often, and through that enlightenment, we make ourselves and those around us better.

Such a quest for spiritual enlightenment might be a New Year’s resolution worth keeping the whole year.   

[i] Patton

  • Production Company: Twentieth Century Fox
  • Director: Frank Schaffner
  • Screenwriters: Francis Ford Coppola and Edmund H. North
  • Starring: George C. Scott, Karl Malden and Stephen Young
  • Release date: April 2, 1970

[ii] Vertical Limit

  • Production Companies: Columbia Pictures, Global Entertainment Productions, and Mountain High Productions
  • Director: Martin Campbell
  • Screenwriter: Robert King
  • Starring: Scott Glenn, Chris O’Donnell and Bill Paxton
  • Release date: December 8, 2000

[iii] Shenandoah

  • Production Company: Universal Pictures
  • Director: Andrew V. McLaglen
  • Screenwriter: James Lee Barrett
  • Starring: James Stewart, Doug McClure, and Glen Corbett
  • Release date: June 29, 1965

[iv] Election

  • Production Companies: Bona Fide Productions, MTV Films, and Paramount Pictures
  • Director: Alexander Payne
  • Screenwriter: Alexander Payne (based on the book by Tom Perrotta
  • Starring: Matthew Broderick, Reese Witherspoon, and Chris Klein
  • Release date: May 7, 1999

[v] Talladega Nights

  • Production Companies: The Legend of Ricky Bobby: Columbia Pictures, Relativity Media, and Apatow Productions
  • Director: Adam McKay
  • Screenwriters: Will Ferrell and Adam McKay
  • Starring: Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly, and Sacha Baron Cohen
  • Release date: August 4, 2006

[vi] Meet the Parents

  • Production Companies: Universal Pictures, DreamWorks, and Nancy Tenenbaum Films
  • Director: Jay Roach
  • Screenwriters: Greg Glienna and Mary Ruth Clarke
  • Starring: Ben Stiller, Robert De Niro, and Teri Polo
  • Release date: October 6, 2000

Gifts We Can All Give

Almost everyone thinks Christmas is too commercialized these days, but no one knows what to do about it. Once we get started, we can’t seem to stop; we keep piling on Christmas present after Christmas present until we have busted our budgets (if we even had a budget to begin with). So, I got thinking about how to make Christmas different this year and came up with this crazy idea. Maybe my kids and grandkids, at our annual extended family Christmas party, should exchange only homemade, do-it-yourself, presents that cost little or no money. (Of course, each of my adult children and their families could also have a “normal” Christmas with lots of presents under the tree and the annual visit from Santa.)

To determine how feasible my idea might be, I searched for possible gifts of that type, hoping I could find something cool that would fit the requirement – and one that I could make myself. I soon gave up on the idea. First, there is nothing I could make that any of my grandkids would think was cool, no matter how well I made it. Second, I have no skills in the area of crafts, as I am not particularly good with my hands (which is one reason I became a lawyer). Finally, I determined that I could find better, more productive, uses of my time (like going to movies!) than the hours it would take for me to make do-it-yourself presents. Besides, since my grandkids get so much each Christmas, they often ignore my gifts after a week or two. I might as well take the easy way out and just buy them something. Quick and easy. Perfect. Merry Christmas!

After Thanksgiving, though, I started one of my annual Christmas traditions. I started listening to my favorite Christmas music. As it always does, soon the music put me into the real Christmas spirit – you know, the Christmas spirit that focuses on Christ, love and the true spirit of giving. So, I started thinking a little deeper of the best gifts that anyone could give – not just on Christmas, but throughout the year. Here, then, are five Christmas gifts that won’t cost you anything but some commitment and awareness, as exemplified by the life of Christ, and illustrated by some of my favorite films. And whether we are Christian, Non-Christian, agnostic or atheist, we would do well to follow these examples of Christ. And whether you believe these events about Jesus actually occurred or are just myths, the principles they teach are worthy of emulation.     

The Gift of Change: We often want to change the world, but we don’t know how to do it. Christ did it dramatically, taking on the current philosophy of his day and turning it on its head. He changed an eye for an eye into turning the other cheek. He turned love your neighbor, but hate your enemy, into love your enemies, bless them that curse you, and do good to those that hate you. He changed the importance of outward appearances into it’s more important what you are like on the inside.

Sadly, we are still trying to incorporate the lessons of love he taught. So, if someone so admired and followed as Christ cannot change the world after 2000 years, how can we expect to bring about any meaningful change? The answer is simple. First, as illustrated by this clip from Evan Almighty,[i]we change the world by one act of random kindness, and watch it ripple out to others: 

In Bruce Almighty,[ii] God gives Bruce Nolan (played by Jim Carrey) the chance to see what it’s like to be God. He soon realizes it is not so easy. After the chaos he causes gets under control, the real God teaches him a great lesson about miracles. If we want a miracle to occur, the best way is for us to be the miracle:

More often than not, if our prayers or pleas are answered, it is through the efforts of those around us. Let’s be a miracle in the lives of others, whether family, friend or a total stranger. And it doesn’t have to be something monumental. As 18th-century essayist, William Hazlitt, reminds us, “A gentle word, a kind look, a good-natured smile can work wonders and accomplish miracles.” By doing so, we can change the world – at least the world around us – for the better.

The Gift of Appreciation: Studies reveal that we are happier when we express our gratitude to others. But we not only need to say it, we need to show it by the things we do, or as John F. Kennedy said it, “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” I love this thought by Voltaire: “Appreciation is a wonderful thing: It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.” Don’t you find that to be the case? When we express genuine appreciation to someone, we create a special bond between them and us.

Unfortunately, those we should appreciate the most are those we often take for granted. This clip from The Break-Up[iii]illustrates this point well:   

Jesus taught the importance of appreciation. One of my favorite examples is the story of the healing of the ten lepers. These men, of different nationalities, now companions by necessity, asked Jesus to have mercy on them. Christ instructed them to show themselves to the priests, for without being pronounced clean by a priest, they could not return to life within the community. As they went, all ten were miraculously healed. But only one turned back to Jesus to offer thanks. Pained over the lack of gratitude on the part of the other nine, Jesus lamented, “Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine?” While no doubt the other nine were healed by following the letter of the law by going to the priests, their lack of gratitude stands in sharp contrast to the spirit of the one who gave thanks, even though the one who gave thanks was a Samaritan, whom the Jews considered far inferior to themselves. None of us are so important that we forget to give thanks to anyone who does something for us.

How can we learn to be more appreciative of others? Here is an excellent suggestion from Dr. Wayne Dyer: “Give yourself a gift of five minutes of contemplation in awe of everything you see around you. Go outside and turn your attention to the many miracles around you. This five-minute-a-day regimen of appreciation and gratitude will help you to focus your life in awe.” Perhaps at the end of each day, we could take those five minutes and list the things we are grateful for that occurred that very day. But don’t just list them. Take an extra few minutes to make a phone call, write a letter, or send a text or email expressing your thanks. But don’t even stop there. Determine that tomorrow you will pass it on by doing something similar to someone you encounter that day.

The Gift of Encouragement: If I have learned anything from my life so far, it’s that we can’t live a happy, rewarding life alone. We need connections with others. Or, as the song goes, no man is an island. That is not to say that the more friends we have the happier we will be, but everyone needs at least a small group of family or friends who care and encourage each other. There are times in each of our lives when we experience doubt, tragedy, and just plain hard times. It is times like that where encouragement can make all the difference – where we reach the point where we can’t do any more on our own and someone rallies around us, encourages us and helps us to keep going. I love this clip from For Love of the Game:[iv]

One of my favorite Bible stories growing up was when Jesus walked on water. I mean, how cool would that be? When his disciples first saw him walking on water, they were frightened, thinking he was a ghost. But Jesus called to them, assuring them it was him. Peter then did the unthinkable. He asked Jesus to allow him to walk to him. When Christ encouraged him to do so, Peter left the ship and started walking on water toward Jesus. A moment later, when he realized what he was doing, Peter began to sink. But Jesus reached down to catch him and pull him to safety. I doubt any of us have ever walked on water, but through encouragement from loved ones, we can do impossible things. And if we start to stumble and fall, how wonderful to have an encouraging friend or family member there to catch us and lift us up! As author, Yehuda Berg, said, “Words are singularly the most powerful force available to humanity. We can choose to use this force constructively with words of encouragement, or destructively using words of despair. Words have energy and power with the ability to help, to heal, to hinder, to hurt, to harm, to humiliate and to humble.” Let’s make sure our words only encourage, help, and heal.

The Gift of Compassion: To have compassion is to have a deep feeling of empathy for one who is struggling. And with that empathy, we want to do all we can to alleviate that person’s suffering and despair. The Dalai Lama said, “Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.” Said another way, to lose our compassion, is to lose what it means to be human. How do we begin to show compassion? We start by applying this Amish proverb: “Instead of putting others in their place, put yourself in their place.” By doing that, we begin to understand what someone is going through, and with that understanding, we not only can help, but we want to help ease the pain, the anxiety, the suffering. Here is a simple example of compassion from the film, Schindler’sList:[v]

Jesus Christ was nothing if not compassionate. Every story of a miracle healing began with compassion. He had compassion on the multitude of his followers who were hungry when he fed them all with a few morsels of bread and fish. He showed compassion when he promised the thieves with whom he shared crosses that they would be with him in paradise. When it comes to our relationship with others, a little compassion goes a long, long way

The Gift of Forgiveness. Dr.Martin Luther King Jr. said, “We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love.” Often, I find it hard to forgive those I should be the most willing to forgive – my family and friends. But sometimes I find it harder still to forgive myself. Even though it might be hard, we must learn to forgive so we can move on with our lives. Or as radio personality, Bernard Meltzer, said, “When you forgive, you in no way change the past – but you sure do change the future.” The converse is also true. If we are unwilling to forgive, we remain mired in the past we can do nothing to change. As this scene from Shrek[vi] illustrates, isn’t forgiveness one of the marks of a true friend? To forgive us – whether or not we deserve it:

Jesus Christ was a marvelous example of forgiveness, and he taught us valuable lessons about it. If we do not forgive others, how can we expect others to forgive us? When Peter asked how often should he forgive another who had sinned against him, Jesus answered seventy times seven, or in other words, always. Even while on the cross, Jesus asked his father to forgive his persecutors. Following that example, then, let’s forgive those who wrong us, remembering that forgiveness is just as important to the person doing the forgiving as it is for the person in need of forgiveness.

I wish everyone a happy holiday season. By giving the gifts of change, appreciation, encouragement, compassion, and forgiveness, not just on Christmas Day but throughout the year, every year, we will be giving some of the best gifts we can give.

[i] Evan Almighty

  • Production Companies: Universal Pictures, Spyglass Entertainment, and Relativity Media 
  • Director: Tom Shadyac
  • Screenwriter: Steve Oedekerk
  • Starring: Steve Carell, Morgan Freeman, and Lauren Graham
  • Release date: June 22, 2007

[ii] Bruce Almighty

  • Production Companies: Spyglass Entertainment, Universal Pictures, and Shady Acres Entertainment
  • Director: Tom Shadyac
  • Screenwriters: Steve Koren and Mark O’Keefe
  • Starring: Jim Carey, Jennifer Aniston, and Morgan Freeman
  • Release date: May 23, 2003

[iii] The Break-Up

  • Production Companies: Universal Pictures, Mosaic Media Group, and Wild West Picture Show Productions
  • Director: Peyton Reed
  • Screenwriters: Jeremy Garelick and Jay Lavender
  • Starring: Jennifer Aniston, Vince Vaughn, and Jon Favreau
  • Release date: June 2, 2006

[iv] For Love of the Game

  • Production Companies: Universal Pictures, Beacon Pictures, and Tig Productions
  • Director: Sam Raimi
  • Screenwriter: Dana Stevens (based on the book by Michael Shaara
  • Starring: Keven Costner, Kelly Preston, and John C. Riley
  • Release date: September 17, 1999

[v] Schindler’s List

  • Production Companies: Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment
  • Director: Steven Spielberg
  • Screenwriter: Steven Zaillian (based on the book by Thomas Keneally
  • Starring: Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, and Ben Kingsley
  • Release date: February 4, 1994

[vi] Shrek

  • Production Companies: DreamWorks Animation, DreamWorks, and Pacific Data Images (PDI)
  • Directors: Andrew Anderson and Vicky Jenson
  • Screenwriter: William Steig (based on the book by Ted Elliott)
  • Starring: Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, and Cameron Diaz
  • Release date: May 18, 2001

Family is Where You Find It

Someone once said, parenthood requires love, not DNA. In other words, genes do not define good families. Instead, they are built, from the ground up, upon love, caring, and mutual respect and acceptance among family members.

At Thanksgiving, our thoughts often turn to family. I am thankful for mine. I have a wonderful family that is built upon love, caring, and mutual respect and acceptance. Some, though, are not so lucky. As of September 30, 2016 (the latest date for which I could find statistics), there were 437,465 children in foster care in the United States. And each year, for at least the past five years, that number has increased. Although foster care affects all ethnic backgrounds, almost half of the foster children in America are white, while about one-fifth each is African-American and Hispanic. Interestingly, only about one percent of foster children are Asian.

There are multiple reasons why a child must enter the foster care system, but of those in the system in 2016, 61 percent (or 166,679 children) was due to neglect by their parents, 34 percent (or 92,107 children) was due to drug abuse by a parent, and 12 percent (or 33,671 children) was due to physical abuse by a parent. If you are good with numbers, you have already realized the percentages in these three categories alone surpass 100 percent, meaning most children who end up in foster care experience more than one cause. For example, drug abuse by a parent might lead to both neglect and physical abuse.

Two recent events emphasized these disturbing facts to me, but also give me hope that things can get better. First, on November 9th of each year, we celebrate National Adoption Day. If you even knew about the day enough to celebrate it, you might have done this with your hand:

A smiley face drawn on your palm is the symbol of National Adoption Day. And this past November 9th marked the one-year anniversary of the day our family adopted our grandson, Dax. But first, here is a short video about how National Adoption Day came to be and what it’s all about:

Second, I recently watched the film, Instant Family,[i]inspired by the movie’s writer/director’s own experiences with fostering and adopting three siblings. It is a touching story that will make you laugh, cry, and appreciate what foster parents do, and will help you get into the Christmas spirit. Here is a peek at the family who inspired the film, interspersed with a few scenes from the movie:  


One of my favorite lines from Instant Familygoes like this: “Ellie, people who take in foster kids are really special. They’re the kind of people who volunteer when it’s not even a holiday. We don’t even volunteer on a holiday.” My son and daughter-in-law, Scott and Lauren, are special like that. A few years back, they already had four children of their own but felt like their family was somehow incomplete. Rather than have another of their own, and after discussing it with their other children (for fostering needs to be a complete family effort), they decided to take in a child. That brought Dax into our lives.

Dax’s mother was a drug addict, and there were signs his father had physically abused him. When he first came into Scott’s and Lauren’s home, Dax wouldn’t go near Scott. That was hard on everyone. Although regardless of the situation, adjusting to new surroundings and a new family takes time, the love for Dax came instantly. And with that love and time, Dax soon became best friends with Scott and an indispensable part of the family. Thinking about Scott and Lauren and how instantly they accepted Dax, problems and all, reminds me of what journalist, Bob Constantine, once said: “I have four children. Two are adopted. I forget which two.” To watch the interaction among Dax, his new parents, and siblings, you would never be able to tell which of the children is the adopted one. And even with adopted children, or more accurately, especially with adopted children, it takes a village of love and acceptance to make things work. Here is Dax, on the day of his adoption, surrounded by family who makes up part of his village (Dax is the little dark-haired boy between the three blue balloons):        

Although it takes a great effort of an entire extended family and friends to be successful at fostering, and with no offense to my son, Scott (who is wonderful with all his kids, and does more than his fair share of nurturing), the focal point of successful fostering most-often falls on the mother. And when I think of great foster/adoptive mothers, after Lauren, I think of Sue Brierley from the movie, Lion,[ii]the true story of an adopted son who expends great effort to find his birth family. Here is one of my favorite scenes, which emphasizes the unconditional love of a mother, even for an adopted son, and the special calling many adoptive mothers (and fathers) feel:

Or as Leigh Ann Touhy (the subject, along with her family, of the film, The Blind Side[iii]) said: “Families don’t have to match. You don’t have to look like someone else to love them.” The Blind Side is the true story of Michael Oher, a homeless African-American youth who is adopted by a white family, who are instrumental in helping him reach his full potential as a football player and a person.

Unfortunately, most foster children do not experience the happy endings that Michael Oher from The Blind Side, or Saroo from Lion, or our grandson, Dax, did. According to ABC News, on average, foster children will remain in the system for about three years before being reunited with their families or adopted. On average, a foster child will live with three different foster families, but it is not uncommon for a foster child to have been in 20 to 30 different homes over his or her short life, and many of them are separated from not only their parents but their siblings as well. It is easy to understand how unsettling the frequent moves in and out of the homes of strangers would be. But it often gets worse. In 2016, for example, 20,532 children “aged out” of the system, meaning they turned 18 without being reunited with their families or being adopted. In short, we turn them into the streets where they often end up homeless (30 percent of homeless people in America were foster kids) or in prison (25 percent of those in prison were once in foster care).

Even great foster kids can have a hard time adjusting to their new surroundings. Look what Buddy, in Elf[iv]had to face as a foster child and the pain of his realization that he is a little different:

But more seriously, when I think of what life might be like as a foster child, I think of this scene from the movie, Antwone Fisher,[v] the true story of a foster child who had been traumatized by events from his past:

Several months back, Scott, Lauren, and family took in their second foster child, Grace. Her mother’s boyfriend had physically abused her, which resulted in a fractured skull. The injury became infected, requiring the removal of a large portion of her skull. So now Grace has to wear a helmet, so she doesn’t injure her brain. She looks like this (fostering regulations require no identifying photos on social media):

Eventually, when she gets a little older, she will have a plate inserted into her head to protect her brain. But Grace is a remarkable child. For all she has gone through during her young life, she remains one of the happiest children I have ever been around. In short, she is easy to love, as she loves everyone in return. But unlike Dax, Grace came with a catch. Most-likely one day soon, Grace will be adopted by her natural grandparents. And so, Grace might not be part of our family for long. But she will be forever in our hearts. All of which makes Scott, Lauren and their family even more remarkable to me. They have opened their home and their hearts to Grace and loved her as if she were their own, even knowing they probably will be separated soon. But isn’t that one of the truest measures of love? To be able to say goodbye to someone you love when the time is right.

I tip my cap to all the caring, loving parents everywhere, but especially to those who are foster parents. As someone reminded me, foster parents don’t have superpowers, but it’s worth remembering that even Superman was adopted.

[i] Instant Family

  • Production Company: Paramount Pictures
  • Director: Sean Anders
  • Screenwriters: Sean Anders and John Morris
  • Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Rose Bryne, and Isabela Moner
  • Release date: November 16, 2018

[ii] Lion

  • Production Companies: The Weinstein Company, Screen Australia, and See-Saw Films
  • Director: Garth Davis
  • Screenwriter: Saroo Brierley (adapted from the book by Luke Davies)
  • Starring: Dev Patel, Nicole Kidman, and Rooney Mara
  • Release date: January 6, 2017

[iii] The Blind Side

  • Production Companies: Alcon Entertainment, 3 Arts Entertainment, and Left Tackle Pictures
  • Director: John Lee Hancock
  • Screenwriter: John Lee Hancock and Michael Lewis (book)
  • Starring: Quinton Aaron, Sandra Bullock, and Tim McGraw
  • Release date: November 20, 2009

[iv] Elf

  • Production Companies: New Line Cinema, Guy Walks Into a Bar Productions, Gold/MillerProductions
  • Director: Jon Favreau
  • Screenwriter: David Berenbaum
  • Starring: Will Ferrell, James Caan, and Bob Newhart
  • Release date: November 7, 2003

[v] Antwone Fisher

  • Production Companies: Fox Searchlight Pictures and Mundy Lane Entertainment
  • Director: Denzel Washington
  • Screenwriter: Antwone Fisher
  • Starring: Denzel Washington, Luke Derek, and Joy Bryant
  • Release date: January 10, 2003