The best non-Christmas Christmas movies


#1

Tomorrow will be the annual Velocityprime Christmas bash, and with a bash a fun holiday movie needs to come along with it. For the past five years I’ve usually screened the classic (and the film I’ve seen the most in my life) Home Alone 2: Lost in New York. But last year I decided to move away from that track and start showing one of my favorite genres of film, the non-Christmas Christmas movie. I love the setting because it brings such ambivalent emotions from the audience, strong senses of warmth and nostalgia mixed with isolation and despair. These conflicting feelings serve as wonderful backdrops for a myriad of genres including action, horror, and comedy.

My favorite non-Christmas Christmas movies are as follows.

  • Gremlins (1984) Dir. Joe Dante: The film equivalent of a razorblade wrapped in chocolate. Gremlins is equally sweet and biting making it the perfect holiday treat. Simultaneously a riotous take down of It’s a Wonderful Life and a exhilarating send up of Merrie Melodies shorts. The movie looks a snow globe filled with oozing gloop spurted out by an alien creature. Its satire is sharp, its filmmaking on point, and has one of the most delirious monologues ever committed to film (that is amazingly parodied in the film’s own sequel). There are some unfortunate moments of Orientalism that is a plague upon 80’s cinema, but it still all worthwhile for the manic moments like Phoebe Cates serving the Gremlins in the bar, or meeting Chuck Jones.

  • Batman Returns (1992) Dir. Tim Burton: I don’t know if this a superhero movie or an excuse for Burton to indulge in his leather fetish, but whatever it is this is most definitely the most demented Batman flick ever cemented to celluloid. Most of the action in the film takes place in an art-deco/Dickensian metropolis that throws most of what people like about Batman in favor of extreme stylistic flourishes. All of the lead actors ham it up to the nth degree, and all of it done in front of Christmas trees and snow swept streets. Pfeiffer is still one of my top 3 superhero performances, even now in our comic dominated age. The plot here is really clunky, but honestly I’m just here for the exploding penguin army.

  • Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang (2005) Dir. Shane Black: Black loves Christmas. Almost every one of his films is set during that time (Lethal Weapon, Long Kiss Goodnight, Iron Man 3, hopefully the new Predator) and it brings out the best of his screenwriting. KKBB is a wonderfully goofy neo-noir that throws withering barbs and severed fingers with glee. Robert Downey Jr. is excellent here, and it paved the road for his comeback. Some of the most fun you’ll have with the non-Christmas time flicks.

So what are your favorite non-holiday holiday films?


#2

Die hard, like hello!


#3

Die hard is actually a christmas movie, It’s about people coming together and family. I will die on this hill.


#4

(me, seeing this thread topic) how long until this becomes about die hard
(me, reading this thread) ah, immediately. of course.

anyway I watched Rent for the first time the other week and that was pretty solid, imo


#5

Harold & Kumar’s 3D Christmas is excellent and only nominally is about the holiday.


#6

Tokyo Godfathers. I guess you could argue it’s about family, but the whole “christmas” aspect of the whole thing isn’t really the focus.


#7

Yeah, I intentionally left Die Hard off of the list because of the over exposure of that film on this topic, and I feel like there a lot of other films to be explored.

However I will give some props to Die Hard 2 (a pretty bad picture) for capturing the insanity of holiday travel. So there is that.


#8

This may be a little too the nose (it does have Christmas in the name), but I’d recommend Black Christmas as a horror movie. It was the first movie I can remember to pioneer “the creep on the other end of the phone” horror trope and still (mostly) holds up today.


#9

The Lion in Winter is a Plantagenet family drama set during Christmas in 1183. Some of the traditions seen, like presents under a decorated tree, I believe are anachronistic? But that detail doesn’t matter, because it’s not about Christmas itself. It’s about the conflict over who will inherit the throne. Today, it may feel a bit like a proto-Game of Thrones, without the gore. And if none of that sells you on it, then I’ll add that it really is exciting from start to finish and it has one of Katherine Hepburn’s best performances. Plus, Peter O’Toole’s magnificent beard.

“Well, what shall we hang: the holly, or each other?”


#10

2 Fast 2 Furious tbh. Like I live here. I don’t see snow. Fuck it.

When I’m in Canada visiting my husband and the in-laws, it’s time for me to never leave the house and binge watch Blue Planet.


#11

Eyes Wide Shut is my favorite non-Christmas Christmas movie.


#12

Does Fellowship of the Ring count?

Because that.


#13

Yes, yes and yes. I saw Black Christmas for the first time a few years ago, not long after GamerGate began, and hoo boy is it oddly prescient for something that came out in the '70s. It’s surprisingly progressive in its treatment of sex and bodily autonomy with regards to its female characters, its commentary regarding misogyny and how non-overtly-misogynistic men allow it to perpetuate, and “Billy” is maybe my favourite slasher ever.


#14

Better Watch Out is amazing.