The Best Christmas Movies That Aren’t Christmas Movies

    a roundup of films with holiday twinkle but no santa business

    by · December 22, 2015

    Let us explain that headline up there. See, you’ve got your It’s A Wonderful Life, your National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, your Jingle All The Way—you know, Christmas movies that are one hundred percent about Christmas. Some of them are good, some of them are bad, but they’re all right there sitting on the buffet table for you along with the ham and the monkey bread.

    Then you’ve got a whole second category of Christmas movies that are completely not about Christmas or only touch on the holiday in the lightest of ways. Even though these films aren’t Christmas movies with a capital “C,” they still manage to capture its hectic, candy-coated magic along with all the twinkly, warm fuzziness you need.

    These movies—the Christmas movies that aren’t Christmas—are what we’ve wrapped up along with links for where you can stream. Enjoy these stocking stuffers from us to you and share with your loved ones this holiday season.

    Image via Paramount Pictures

    The Godfather (1972)
    Yes, The Godfather has violence on violence on violence. At its core though, it’s really about family…oh, and food. With sepia-toned visuals, retro style, and classic moments it’s ideal for gathering your own la costa nostra together. Rent or buy it on Amazon streaming here.

    Image via 20th Century Fox

    Edward Scissorhands (1990)
    This movie not only contains some genuine Christmas scenes, but a good helping of cinematic magic. It’s good for the whole family, well-ingrained in our collective memories, and has a certain twinkle in its eye. Oh, and there’s that snow scene with Winona Ryder. Rent or buy it on Amazon streaming here.

    Image Via Warner Bros.

    Gremlins (1984)
    Christmas is the setting of this horror flick, but not its focus. That said, it’s kind of a perfect, off-kilter holiday pick. Also—your fond recollections of Gizmo notwithstanding—it’s way darker and more diabolical than you perhaps remember. Rent or buy it on Amazon streaming here.

    Image via TriStar Pictures

    Sleepless In Seattle (1993)
    Again, some of this movie happens at Christmas, but the bulk of it does not. That said, the whole focus of this film is bringing together two people who live on opposite sides of the country. Add that timely sentiment to the wink-filled script and you’ve got a stocking stuffer flick. Buy it on Amazon streaming here.

    Photos via Warner Bros., Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, and Marvel Studios

    Lethal Weapon, Die Hard, Die Hard 2, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Iron Man 3So, about all this. Lethal Weapon writer Shane Black staged that violent cop thriller during the Christmas season, giving Joel Silver the inspiration to do the same with Die Hard 1 and 2. Black continued to use the holidays for havoc in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and Iron Man 3. What you’ve got is a quintet of violent, hilarious films ringed in lights and tinsel. Enjoy.

    Image via 20th Century Fox

    Home Alone (1990)
    Like those violent films from the last slide, this one uses the holidays less as a theme and more as a setting and excuse for brutal action and chilling disregard for human life. In his signature role, Macaulay Culkin plays a young villain in a role that equals Anthony Hopkins’ turn as Hannibal Lecter in its depth and fearsomeness. Rent or buy it on Amazon streaming here.

    Image via Paramount Pictures

    Planes, Trains And Automobiles (1987)
    Perhaps because it’s as much an attack on the holiday spirit as it is a celebration of it, Planes, Trains and Automobiles never quite landed as a Christmas classic, even if it is one of the better explorations of the stressful things that happen during the season. It can be rough stuff, but it’s charming and funny nonetheless. Add it to your Netflix queue here.

    Image via Buena Vista Pictures

    Aladdin (1992)
    Who are you to tell us that Aladdin isn’t the perfect holiday film? It’s got sweet songs, beautiful visuals, humor, love, charm, and everything else you could want. So what if it happens in the pre-Muslim Middle East? Isn’t that where Christmas began, anyway? Look it up. Buy it on Amazon streaming here.

    Image via Columbia Pictures

    When Harry Met Sally… (1989)
    There’s something about Meg Ryan and the holidays. Again, this film uses Christmas as the backdrop to some of its action, but it’s really more of a New Year’s film. Still, it’s sweet, ever-so charming, your parents love it as much as you do, and that ending always makes everybody cry a little bit. Add it to your Amazon queue here.

    Image via Warner Bros.

    All The Harry Potter Films, All Of Them
    Yes, all of them. For reasons too many to list, these movies are basted in the holiday spirit much like your Christmas goose is cooked in its own juices. Suggestion: buy each and every one of these beauties and just marathon them out over Christmas day. It’s what we’re doing! Rent or buy them on Amazon streaming here.

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    Last updated: 2015-12-21T16:36:28-05:00
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