So I’m not really a Christmas kind of person (not a big December holiday person in general) though I do like Solstice. Regardless, I do kind of like Christmas movies, but as a rule, I’m not all that typical. LOL
The kinds of Xmas movies I like tend to have twists or tend to have something else going on, like, say, trying to escape from a skyscraper taken over by terrorists.
But I digress.
So here’s a list of 10 Xmas movies that I enjoy. And I get it. Not everybody’s taste. Some of you might prefer the classics, like It’s a Wonderful Life. Or Miracle on 34th Street. Hey, I like those, too. But generally my go-tos are Xmas movies that have some element of Xmas in them but aren’t focused on Xmas, which is kind of how I prefer it. However, there are a couple on this list that might be a bit more “traditional,” if you will, but whatever! I liked them!
Anyway, here’s my list – IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER – and feel free to put your fave holiday movies (some cool Hanukkah recommendations would be great!) in the comments. Regardless, whatever you celebrate, I hope you have a safe holiday season.
The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996)
Y’all. Y’ALL. This is an every year fave of mine. Geena Davis as a school teacher in small-town wholesome winter America who has no idea who she was before seven years ago because of amnesia. Samuel L. Jackson as the down-and-out PI Davis hired to find out who she is/was. Well, who she was involved, shall we say, some serious special ops. Ass-kickin’ buddy flick with the unlikeliest of pairs, set against a Christmas backdrop that’s never in your face.
Jingle Jangle (2020)
Brand new this year on Netflix! This is a delight. It’s a “Christmas musical fantasy” with magic toys, music, steampunk elements, and a sweet story about how a granddaughter reaches her sad and lonely grandfather (Forest Whitaker! Phylicia Rashad! Plus awesome newcomers! And John Legend is a producer and wrote the songs!). Lots of girl power here. Awesome for kids and HELL YES MORE DIVERSITY IN XMAS MOVIES. See this one ASAP.
I’ve seen this movie too many times to mention, but I haven’t recently, so it’s on my list again for this year. From the website Roger Ebert: “‘Gremlins’ is a confrontation between Norman Rockwell’s vision of Christmas and Hollywood’s vision of the blood-sucking monkeys of voodoo island. It’s fun.” That about sums it up. Guy goes to Chinatown and gets his kid a pet for Xmas. That pet is a gremlin, and there are certain rules you have to follow if you’re going to have one in your life. Like, don’t get them wet. And don’t ever, ever, feed them after midnight. But you know what’s gonna happen…
Die Hard and Die Hard 2 (1988; 1990)
Yeah, yeah. I know. There’s always a huge debate about whether these are Christmas movies or action movies or whatever. How about BEING BOTH????? In the first, Bruce Willis goes to California for Christmas to hang out with his wife, who is at some chi-chi Xmas party in this big ol’ skyscraper. The entire building gets taken hostage by terrorists, but Bruce manages to not be in the hostage group and he’s sneaking around behind the scenes to try to put a stop to this. In the second one, it’s Xmas again and this time Bruce is at Washington Dulles airport waiting for his wife’s flight. Except, once again, terrorists show up and take over the air traffic control and planes can’t land — including the one Bruce’s wife is on. Great action (yeah, dated in some ways, but some serious action).
Anna and the Apocalypse (2017)
Christmas zombie apocalypse high school musical! NO, REALLY! Y’all need to see this one. Campy af but also poignant in places and holy crap the music is SO GOOD. Teenage angst, stress, friendship, and survival in a zombie apocalypse. It totally should not work. BUT IT DOES!!!! PLUS, queer character in the mix! (and my co-host Lise MacTague and I talk about this movie on the latest episode of our Lez Geek Out! podcast).
Bill Murray as the asshole in this take on the classic Charles Dickens tale “A Christmas Carol.” Here, Murray is a TV exec trying to put a major Christmas show together for the network, but he’s SUCH a dick. Enter the various ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future to try to get him on the right path. Karen Allen as the love interest. (As an aside, both Dickens and this movie served as inspiration for my reboot of “A Christmas Carol,” The Bureau of Holiday Affairs. WOOO!)
Lethal Weapon (1987)
Mel Gibson and Danny Glover in their first turn as buddy cops in this thriller/action movie. Gibson plays a guy who’s dealing with a lot of PTSD and emotional distress (and it shows), but the movie has Xmas as a backdrop (including a shootout in a Christmas tree lot). Now, tbh, I’m not a huge Gibson fan, but I do like Glover, so these two kind of worked together as cop buddies.
Home Alone (1990)
Macauley Culkin as the kid inadvertently left behind on Xmas vay-kay by his big, outta control family and he has to ward off a couple of bumbling burglars. Kind of a classic, y’all.
Iron Man 3 (2013)
What is this madness, you may ask. HOW IS THIS A CHRISTMAS MOVIE, ANDI? Well, you’ll notice Xmas decorations as backdrops and it was directed by Shane Black (also The Long Kiss Goodnight), who tends to set his movies right around the holidays (Black is also responsible for Lethal Weapon). Plus, there’s a bit of a “It’s a Wonderful Life” theme as Tony Stark is thought to be dead and he goes on a journey of self-discovery that involves befriending a kid who helps give him some perspective on things. Also, some of the movie is in a winter setting (and Disney Plus thinks it’s a Christmas movie, too…)
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
Tim Burton, y’all! Jack Skellington is king of Halloween Town who discovers Christmas Town and ends up becoming obsessed with celebrating Christmas.
Anyhoo. For youngs, seeing some of these ol’ skool movies can definitely give you some historical perspective on pop culture if nothing else (shit, the 80s were gritty, amirite?). And who knows? You might actually enjoy a couple of them.
Regardless, happy holly-daze, y’all. Stay safe.