I know ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ is a very meaningful film that a lot of people adore, but I’m kind of sick and tired of it, to put it bluntly. There are a few classic films that you will find on a lot of other Christmas movies lists here, but I’ve also thrown in a few surprises. So no matter if you’re looking for a classic, something new, or something outrageous, there should be a great Christmas movie on this list for you:
A Christmas Story (1983)
What can be said about this film that hasn’t been said (over and over again, thanks to TNT)? We may have all seen it one too many times, but it is one of the most realistic and funny films about Christmas ever created (as well as one of the most quoted).
The Decalogue: Part III (1989)
For those who aren’t familiar with the films of ‘The Decalogue’ series, they are a collection of ten films that take a look at the Ten Commandments in a very different way. This film from the series focuses on the commandment to remember the Sabbath and keep it holy, and it takes place during Christmas. In the story, a man abandons his family on Christmas Eve to take a bizarre journey with a former lover. These ten films, directed by Krzysztof Kieslowski, are all very different but all beautifully crafted, and I recommend that you watch all of them, not just this one.
Die Hard (1988)
I know. It seems very bizarre to put a shoot ’em up action thriller on a list of Christmas movies, but ‘Die Hard’ actually does take place during the holiday season (the film begins at a Christmas party). So if you want your holiday film to include a whole lot of action, then this film is definitely for you.
Eyes Wide Shut (1999)
And if an action film wasn’t strange enough, how about a psychological film with a lot of sex? ‘Eyes Wide Shut’ takes place during Christmas, which adds even more of a mystical, dreamlike feel to an already strange and slightly twisted film. Stanley Kubrick was a little ahead of his time with this one, but as years go by, it has garnered more and more acclaim and will someday be seen for what it truly is: a great and innovative film.
Fanny and Alexander (1982)
This film may be a little long for some tastes (the original version runs a little over 5 hours), but it is worth every second. The beginning of the film will draw you into the beauty of an old world Christmas, and you won’t want to leave. It’s a beautiful, magical film that focuses on the lives of two young children in the early 1900’s, but it’s a lot more than a grand story; it’s a true artistic masterpiece.
Monty Python’s Life of Brian (1979)
If you’re looking for a comical story of the life of Christ, well, this is it. Sort of. It’s a hilarious look at the life of a man who is born at the same time and place as Jesus, so, naturally, he is mistaken for the Messiah. Sure it’s completely blasphemous, but that’s what makes it so much fun!
Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
This film about believing in Santa Claus is a must-see during the Christmas season. For those who haven’t seen it, it’s the magical tale of a department store Santa who is so loving, giving, and good-natured, he has everyone believing that he might just be the real deal, and he’s taken to Court to prove it. It’s a great look at human nature and how those who are truly good at heart are sometimes persecuted, and it shows us that it’s not so bad to believe in magic after all.
The Shop Around the Corner (1940)
There’s no better Christmas love story than this one! Jimmy Stewart’s most famous Christmas film may not be on this list, but this one is even better. It takes a look at a very awkward love story: pen pals who fall in love via letter, but are bitter enemies in real life. It’s comical, romantic, and at sometimes a little sad, but it is a truly great film that’s perfect for viewing during the holiday season.
Bad Santa (2003)
I like to think of this film as the new ‘A Christmas Story”. Billy Bob Thorton is perfectly cast as a dirty, drunken, mall Santa who makes a living off of robbing the stores where he works, and “the Kid” aka “Thurman” (actor Brett Kelly) is definitely the Ralphie of our generation. It’s vulgar and full of sex and bad language, but it is definitely a very fun and fresh take on the Christmas movie genre, and it’s an extremely funny film.
Scrooge (aka A Christmas Carol) (1951)
You can’t have Christmas without watching one of the many versions of ‘A Christmas Carol’, and this version is generally viewed to be the best. Charles Dickens tale of learning that being giving, kind, and caring is far more important than greed and gold never gets old, and it’s a lesson that will forever ring true in our society (which is why it has been remade so many times).
So this holiday season, if you’re tired of the same old Christmas movies, well, there are a few films on this list that you may not wish to watch, but there are plenty of others that will definitely make you look at the holiday a little differently.