Not Your Typical Christmas Movies
We're sharing some of our favorite movies to watch around the holidays that aren't necessarily the usual suspects. We can only watch Will Ferrell jump around in a green costume so many times. (We love you, Will.)
If you have an IMDb account, we also have it in IMDb list form, here.
We selected movies that either take place (at least temporarily) during Christmas, that capture sentiments we value at Christmas time, or movies we associate with viewing in December.
“Oh Jo! How could you?”
Woof. I can’t even look at the quotes for this movie without tearing up. I’m pretty sure that Laurie was my first movie crush, and I still can’t believe that Jo didn’t put a ring on it. The opening scene with the girls all caroling is forever ingrained in my childhood and idea of Christmas season.
“You brought music back into the house. I had forgotten.”
I’m not sure how this became a Christmas movie, but this is one that always ended up on television after the Christmas Eve festivities had ended. For several years, my Christmas tradition was to watch Sound of Music and talk to Ries via Skype for most of the night. It was a quiet tradition, but one of my favorites. For me, this is the peak of Julie Andrews, though I know Ries fights me on this one and argues Mary Poppins.
“Oh, it's nobody's fault but my own! I was looking up... it was the nearest thing to heaven! You were there...”
I have some news. If you have not seen the scene above, you have never truly ugly cried. This is my absolute favorite movie I stumbled upon on Netflix. It’s not there anymore, but whoooo, that was a happy (and ugly cry) accident. And part of it takes place during Christmas, so.
“Didn't your father ever tell you that? Didn't he?”
This is another classic from my childhood. And like the previous three titles, it’s another tear jerker. A young student learns to be reliant on her imagination when her father is presumed dead in World War II, and she becomes the school servant. Ries rolls his eyes when I start talking about this movie, but I think it’s a required viewing for all females.
“That's a heck of a handshake you got there.”
This is one of those movies that makes us cry no matter when we watch it. And how could it not? Arguably Depp’s best role, across a young Winona Ryder, in the most Tim Burton of Tim Burton films, set against an urban Gothic Christmas landscape. This is a fairy tale for grown ups, with monsters and villains (don’t confuse the two) and an unforgettable score by Danny Elfman.
“When you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.”
Before I saw this film, I heard an interview with a movie director in which the interviewer asked what the director’s favorite movie of all time was. (I can’t remember who it was, though I think the interview was on NPR.) The director replied his favorite movie was “When Harry Met Sally” because no matter what phase of life you were in, you could relate to some part of the story. I don’t think Christmas is in this film (I could be wrong.) but it’s for that reason that I’ve included it on this list. We all need a relatable, feel good flick, especially with Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan.
“A ho! A ho! My dad’s been captured by a ho!”
First heard about in a conversation that described it as a “weird” movie, Sleepless in Seattle might be Ries’ favorite romance film of all time. Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan turn in an iconic pair of performances in a story as much about love as it is loss. Funny, sad, and permeated with a strange sense of magic, Sleepless in Seattle might be weird, but it’s assuredly lovely. Required viewing.
“Louie brought his new girlfriend over, and the nicest thing I can say about her is all her tattoos are spelled correctly.”
This is another staple classic. While it’s not necessarily a film I associate with Christmas, it’s definitely one that’s worth a watch if you haven’t seen it before. Just make sure you have a box of kleenex near by.
Maybe this isn’t a Christmas movie list at all, maybe this is a list of movies that make you cry. Isn’t crying on Christmas a holiday tradition for everyone? Just me? My bad.
“Bobo, take the cart away.”
UH. This is another movie that I accidentally found on Netflix and it holds such a big space in my heart. I love the characters, especially Cher in the opening scene in the restaurant, and Nicolas Cage’s character who feels the loss of his hand is all his brother’s fault and he’s been slighted by the world and can’t quite let it go. Lovable, imperfect characters.
“…and we're still in fookin' Bruges!”
In this dark comedy by Martin McDonagh, two hitmen lay low in the city of Bruges after a tragedy sends them into hiding. Hardly a Christmas movie except that it takes place during Christmas, this is a hilarious and disturbing story that is well suited to anybody who enjoys character drama with great actors at the top of their craft.
“I’m actually retired. I invented dice.”
I can name the films that capture the bright and vicious energy of Los Angeles on one hand, but if I had to narrow it down to three, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang would make the cut. Dark humor is the name of the game in this pseudo-noir from Shane Black, and a pre-Tony Stark Robert Downey Jr. shines in the role of a wannabe detective/unreliable narrator. The fact that it’s set against the strange setting of LA Christmas only sweetens the deal. Watch and enjoy.
“That wasn’t flying, it was falling…with style!”
What can we say about Toy Story that hasn’t already been said. A classic film buoyed by iconic characters, this is one for the whole family. Also present is a subtle reminder to love what things we have, an important message for Christmas.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa, put your feet down. This is fresh lacquer. Seriously, were you raised in a barn?”
I know everyone could live happily if they never had to hear “Let It Go” another day in their life, but this movie will always hold a special place in my heart because Ries and I saw it a couple months after we got married, right before he was deployed. I wasn’t a huge fan of The Princess and the Frog, Brave, or Tangled, so I was so pleasantly surprised and delighted the first time we saw Frozen, and I went home singing the songs for weeks. It was the most magical experience I had (outside of going to Disney World) since I was a child.
“I can’t believe it. My first day as a woman and I’m already getting hot flashes.”
I have no idea what this is doing in this list, but here it is anyway. Robin Willians turns in one of his finest, funniest and most heartfelt performances as a crossdressing father desperate to see his kids. Every film with him is even more precious now that he’s been taken from us, and this is one of the best.
“I don't want to be beautiful in my own way. I want to look like these people.”
“Oh those aren't people honey, those are models.”
Alright, alright, this is really not a Christmas movie. It has a really important story though of wishing you were a different age, forgetting your inner child when you become an adult, and fighting to get that child back. I think that’s an important message, especially around the holidays and moving into the end of the year, when you try to set intentions for the next year.
“Listen, you little wiseacre: I'm smart, you're dumb; I'm big, you're little; I'm right, you're wrong, and there's nothing you can do about it.”
If you haven’t seen Matilda, you’re likely missing a fundamental part of yourself. As a child of the nineties, this movie so relatable and magical, and going along the same lines of 13 Going on 30, I think this film is an important part of returning to our childhood and being a better version of ourselves.
“In the movies, we have leading ladies and we have the best friend. You, I can tell, are a leading lady, but for some reason, you're behaving like the best friend.”
Okay, so this is the most Christmas-y movie. For whatever reason it’s not as popular as Love Actually, but I definitely prefer it over Love Actually. I’m not usually a Jack Black or Cameron Diaz fan, but this has been an Amanda staple for a long time, and I watch it year round (or at least I did when I was afflicted with break ups.) There are so many things I love about the movie beyond the main romantic arcs—the English cottage, the storyline with Eli Wallach’s character story line, the toxic Jasper (Man in the High Castle fans will recognize this actor), and mostly Kate Winslet and Jude Law’s characters. Make a man cry in a movie and it’s game over for me.
The Lord of the Rings Trilogy: The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, The Return of the King
“There’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo. And it’s worth fighting for.”
We lumped this trilogy together because they feel, in many ways, like one super epic film. A trilogy that gets better with age, The Lord of The Rings is a perfect holiday movie, with a rotating offering every season if you watch one each Christmas. I’ve tried (and failed) to get a Christmas tradition of watching one of these every Christmas. If you’re reading this and you succeed, I will live vicariously through you.
“It’s true. All of it.”
I won’t ever forget the build up to this film. To say it was an emotional roller coaster is a gross oversimplification of what became a cultural touchstone. From the first trailer which had me in tears as it made me feel like a kid again, to watching the film itself in Disney Springs on opening weekend, The Force Awakens will always hold a deeply special place in my heart.
“You are just a child in a mask.”
Alright, let’s just come out and say it - this movie was kind of a hot mess. It wasn’t well edited, which made the fact that it featured some powerhouse performance even more jarring. I admit I enjoyed it more on a rewatch, though even then I felt it was more Iron Man 3 than Infinity War in terms of properly subverting audience expectations. (Spoilers in both those links.) Nonetheless, it has some redeeming scenes and cool lines. Plus, seeing Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker is always a good Christmas gift…even if he is…Er…not what we expect.
We hope you enjoyed this list and are having a great holiday season. Happy watching!
-A & R
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-A & R, Intercoastals