Though we may be post-Christmas, but that does not mean that we are past the holiday movie season! There are so many great seasonal movies that it takes most of the winter to watch them all! When asked what is best Christmas movies around – White Christmas, It’s A Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street and many other holiday classics, new and old, are mentioned over and over again. But there are a whole slew of “Christmas” Movies that fly under the radar, even though they are inarguably set during the holiday season!
The very first movie featuring Nick and Nora Charles (starring William Powell and Myna Loy and directed by W.S. Van Dyke) should be on everyone’s Christmas Classic lists. The murder mystery that movie claims to be about is little more than an excuse for the sophisticated couple to flirt and celebrate the holidays! The Thin Man even concludes with the private detective solving the murder at a holiday dinner!
At first glance, there’s not much that feels particularly Christmas-y about the 1983 comedy Trading Places. Starring Dan Aykroyd, Eddie Murphy, and Jamie Lee Curtis, the story is about a wealthy businessman and a convicted street hustler who wind up swapping social statuses due to being the unwitting subjects in a bet placed by a pair of wealthy, scheming brothers. However, Christmas does feature prominently in the plot of the film, as well as the soundtrack, with one of the pivotal scenes taking place during a Christmas party and Aykroyd’s character dressed up as a filthy, bedraggled Santa Claus.
For those still looking for the perfect Christmas gift for their loved ones, steer clear of fuzzy creatures called Mogwai. (Hint: That’s Cantonese for Monsters.) Gremlins (starring Zach Gallagher and Phoebe Cates) delights in skewering the tropes of Christmas time as the Mogwai-turned-Gremlins wreak havoc. One character even tells a story of how her dad got stuck in a chimney and died after dressing up as Santa
From “Jiggle Bell Rock” playing over the opening credits to it’s ending with Mel Gibson sharing Christmas dinner with Danny Glover’s film, Richard Donner’s (Donner? How apropos!) buddy cop film does not try to hide it’s season. Though the plot does tend to ignore the holiday, the filming does not with Christmas Specials on tv and a drug bust shoot out on a Christmas Tree lot.
Almost universally loved and praised, The Princess Bride does not at first glimpse seem like a Christmas movie. Who knows if Princess Buttercup (Robin Wright), Westley (Cary Elwes) and the rest of the beloved characters even celebrate Christmas in their lands? But you may not have realized that the grandson’s (Fred Savage) sick day actually takes place over Christmas. Not only are there Santa decorations scattered all around the grandson’s bedroom — including a prominent Santa that can be viewed right behind the grandfather (Peter Falk) in each of his reading scenes, hanging on the closet door — but there’s also a mini-tree with festive lights on the hallway table outside his bedroom door and snow-covered, light-trimmed houses visible through the window.
Die Hard being on the list should come as no surprise to anyone. People have been claiming this John McTiernan film, starring Bruce Willis, Alan Rickman and Bonnie Bedelia, as their favorite Christmas movie for years! For anyone that argues the point (not naming any names, you know who you are), please remember that the entire film takes place at an office Christmas party!
Although much of Tim Burton’s 1990 film Edward Scissorhands takes place earlier in the year, the entirety of the final act of the film is set around Christmas. Peg (Dianne Wiest) spends much of the end of the movie trying her best to get the people in her neighborhood to attend her annual Christmas party, hoping it will calm down the animosity that people feel towards Edward (Johnny Depp) and allow the feelings in their neighborhood to go “back to normal.” We see Peg and her daughter, Kim (Winona Ryder), decorating the tree, the house is lit up for Christmas, and Peg’s husband, Bill (Alan Arkin), is up on the rooftop, rolling out swaths of fake snow while singing “I Saw Three Ships” at the top of his lungs.
The Caped Crusader’s entire thing is being dark and gritty. He’s the antithesis to the Christmas spirit. But the juxtaposition of the holidays to Michael Keaton’s brooding Batman adds a touch of dark humor to the action flick. The Christmas decorations, blankets of snow and relative cheeriness of Batman’s environment solidify its place as a holiday film without being overly preachy about it. This time around, the bad guys are literally jumping out of the presents.
Though most know Rent as the musical about impoverished young artists struggling to survive in New York’s Alphabet City during the AIDS crisis, many forget that the movie (and play upon which it is based) begins on Christmas Eve and end on Christmas a year later.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe is probably not the first thing you think of when listing holiday movies, but that doesn’t change the fact that Iron Man 3 takes place during this time. From the explicit scene of Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) working in his lab, grooving to “Jingle Bells” next to a light-adorned Christmas tree to the numerous subtler Christmas nods all throughout the film, as various locations are decorated for the holidays, snow covers the ground, several characters wish one another a “merry Christmas,” and holiday music plays in the background.
So what is your favorite unconventional Christmas Movie?