The holidays are here, and there’s no better way to get into the Christmas spirit than watching a holiday film or two. We all know the usual suspects — It’s a Wonderful Life, A Miracle on 34th Street, A Christmas Story Home Alone — but here’s an alternate list [in no particular order]:
First let me say that Shane Black films are mentioned several times on this list, but I’m going to start with this one. While this is a bonafide action flick, the backdrop is a Christmas party. Is there blood? Sure. Terrorists? You bet! Watch as Officer John McClane fights his way back to his wife, and discover the true meaning of love, and the spirit of Christmas.
This film doesn’t get nearly enough love and holiday cheer that it so rightfully deserves. A darker spin on Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, this classic strikes all tens with Bill Murray at the helm. There’s love, snow, decorations, songs, and oh yeah–some truly wacky ghosts that take Murray’s Frank Cross on an unforgettable, holiday ride.
Iron Man 3
The first great thing about this film is that it makes you forget the travesty that was Iron Man 2. But what this film ultimately does is allow Tony Stark to embark on a journey of self-discovery, and a see what the world would be like if people thought he were no longer in it. Also, snow.
Speaking of superheroes, this Tim Burton film ties a giant, black bow around the theme of Christmas with a [murderous] Scrooge, self-acceptance, a twisted first Christmas, and mistletoe kisses. Oh, and a ton of snow.
Sticking with Burton films, this film is bleak and a bit sad, but hopeful. Explaining why it snows every Christmas, this film is for those who aren’t keen on the feel goodery of the holidays, and reaches out to the outcasts, allowing them to appreciate Christmas films without being beaten over the head with men dressed in jolly red suits.
This film is basically a metaphor on what can happen if you don’t care of your pets, or your toys. Little monsters will ravage your house and neighborhood if you don’t take heed, kiddies. Also, if you need something cute to look at it, it doesn’t get much better than Gizmo.
Before there was Jason Bourne, there was Samantha Caine (Geena Davis), who goes on a journey of self-discovery right before Christmas. A woman without a past and who begins to lose time after a bad car accident, she decides to spare her daughter of her burgeoning personality disorder with the help of a private eye (Samuel L. Jackson), in the hopes that she will be home for Christmas. This film has it all–action, snappy dialogue, and of course, the true meaning of Christmas: family.
A spin on The Prince and the Pauper and starring Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd, this film offers the first look at a truly bad Santa, complete with a filthy suit and a pistol. The image of Aykroyd’s drunk Santa eating a smoked Salmon through a gray, dirty Santa-beard will forever be emblazoned in my mind.
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
A black comedy, this film about a petty crook offers up no shortage of Santa hats, a sexy Santa, and the search for the perfect gift. Another Downey Jr. and Black collaboration, this film is a perfect anti-holiday film, and yet, some well suited for the holidays.
Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale
Like many Christmas movies, this is a tale of the curiosity of a little boy in a mountain town, who discovers the truth behind Santa Claus. But with undead reindeer and a creepy Santa in the mountains, this dark, fantasy horror is definitely not the norm for Christmas flicks, but should satiate your geeky needs.
Along with talking animals and an adventurous journey, this film gives a peak at the Father of Christmas. He’s not exactly traditional, nor is he dressed in red, but he is a portly fellow who gives out badass gifts, like swords to the kiddies.
Part journey of self and part bromance, this Shane Black film allows suicidal Martin Riggs (Mel Gibson) to discover a reason to live again after being partnered with Roger Murtaugh (Danny Glover), who acts as equal parts BFF and Ghost of Christmas Present.
Nightmare Before Christmas
A dark animation, this film about Jack Skellington’s desire to bring the spirit of Christmas to Halloweentown is ultimately about self-acceptance, love, and the gift of giving. Also there are songs that are catchy and anti-carols. If there was ever a musical to watch during Christmas, it’s this film. While it can be enjoyed during Halloween, this is mos def a Christmas film.
This dark comedy is ultimately a modern spin on How the Grinch Stole Christmas, but live action, with profane language, lots of sex, and self-loathing. Join Willie (Billy Bob Thornton) as he takes a journey to becoming a better person, and leaving behind a life of crime with the support of a little boy by the name of Thurman, and a girlfriend with a bizarre Santa fetish.
A new kid on the block, this film tells the tale of what happens when the spirit of Christmas is lost. A young boy by the name of Max, after a horrible evening with his somewhat terrible family, stops believing in Christmas. This spurs the emergence of Krampus, who teaches a lesson to Max, and his entire family about why Christmas is so important. This film is particularly enjoyable due to its 90s nostalgia brand of storytelling, with zany humor and dark undertones.