10 Best Non-Traditional Christmas Movies
The best unconventional, non-traditional Christmas movies you can watch year-round.
According to the internet, Die Hard is a Christmas movie. It has almost nothing to do with Christmas, but since it takes place during Christmastime, it counts. So, with Christmas having just passed for another year, and many people still in the holiday spirit, let’s take a look at a bunch of other non-traditional Christmas movies. After all, you can only watch It’s A Wonderful Life and Miracle on 34th Street so many times each year. (Bonus: You can watch these at any time during the year, since they’re not focused on Christmas.)
Iron Man 3
For reasons that had more to do with its “betrayal” of its comic book origins than an actual lack of quality, fans were mixed on Iron Man 3, which takes place around Christmastime. The movie sees Tony Stark—Iron Man, for those unaware—deal with both a new villain in the form of The Mandarin and his own PTSD following his near-death experiences over the course of the movies. It’s one of the deeper, more character-driven Marvel movies. It was directed by Shane Black, whose name appears on this list a few times. He likes Christmas.
Mean Girls isn’t really a Christmas movie. It takes place over an entire school year, after all. But it does have an iconic scene involving Christmas, which sees its titular mean girls dress up and perform “Jingle Bell Rock” at the school talent show. It doesn’t go as planned. Really, it’s on this list to remind you how great Mean Girls is, and because it still feels more Christmas-y than Die Hard.
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
Another Shane Black-directed movie, this one also stars Robert Downey Jr. In Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, he tags along with a private investigator and winds up being instrumental in attempting to solve a case. Its witty dialogue, engaging neo-noir plot, and solid acting make it more than a worthwhile movie—that just happens to be set around Christmastime.
It’s Batman. On Christmas. Need more be said?
It might surprise you to learn that In Bruges takes place around the Christmas season. After all, the word “Christmas” is only mentioned a couple of times throughout the course of the movie and there aren’t copious amount of decorations, trees, or eggnog. But it does, and it’s a hilarious movie. Do you need anything more than that? Fine. How about its themes of forgiveness and sacrifice make it more Christmas-y than Die Hard?
The Ice Harvest
Here’s a movie about a crime that takes place around Christmas (Christmas Eve, to be specific). The Ice Harvest sees two bad people steal $2 million … and then things don’t go according to plan. It’s got a solid cast—John Cusack and Billy Bob Thornton take the leading roles—and it was directed by Groundhog Day‘s Harold Ramis. It didn’t see much play, and barely gets mentioned anywhere, but it’s fun and funny and worth considering.
If Die Hard counts as a Christmas movie, than surely Lethal Weapon does, too. Set in LA and without snow, the film does set a scene to “Jingle Bell Rock” and features a drug bust in a Christmas tree lot. The buddy-cop movie is a lot of fun beyond that, featuring all sorts of cop moments that’ll give you enough energy to make you feel like you aren’t too old for this #@$%.
While Lethal Weapon wasn’t directed by Shane Black, it was written by him. That’s three movies on this list in which he was involved! It’s safe to say he’s the kind of unconventional Christmas movies.
The Nightmare Before Christmas
Tim Burton directed Batman Returns and produced The Nightmare Before Christmas, so maybe he, like Shane Black, has a thing for the holiday season. The Nightmare Before Christmas is here so that we can talk about whether or not it should be considered a “Christmas movie” or a “Halloween movie.”
There you go.
Eyes Wide Shut
A movie that opens at a Christmas party and concludes at a toy store must be a Christmas movie, right? Just ignore all the masked orgy at its core and you’re golden! Eyes Wide Shut sees at-the-time real couple Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman … actually, you know what? Just watch it and find out what happens. It’s weird, doesn’t translate as well to text, and it’s a Stanley Kubrick film, so if you love movies you owe it to yourself to watch it regardless of anything else.
I referenced Die Hard several times already, and because it’s the film that inspired this list, it had to be included in its top spot. Die Hard is an iconic action movie—one of the best of all time. It also takes place on Christmas. Does that make it a Christmas movie? Several polls say that it does. Fair enough, people. If that classification matters to much to you, have at it. It can be watched any time of the year—and should be—and there aren’t really any recurring Christmas-y themes, but I’ll accept it as long as you accept all of these entries, too.
But in all seriousness: if you haven’t watched Die Hard, get on that. Yippee ki-yay!
(Its direct sequel, which is not as good, also takes place on Christmas, for those curious.)