The Top Five Non-Christmas Christmas Films

20 Dec

For us here at Lara and the Reel Boy, Christmas time means that we watch specific movies.  Home Alone and Home Alone 2: Lost in New York are viewed back to back, usually with large quantities of pizza and ice cream with marshmallows.  White Christmas and Holiday Inn typically make an appearance as well.  These are all films that are only watched at Christmas time.  We will never sit down and watch The Santa Clause in July, or Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer in April.  That would just be sacrilegious.

But there are also those Christmas films that can be watched throughout the year.  This is what we’re going to focus on today.  The Top Five Non-Christmas Christmas Films.  So, to explain, this is going to be Christmas movies that you would watch at other times of the year, without feeling super weird about it.  The story takes place during Christmas, and you probably watch them during the month of December every single year, but you also watched them with the air conditioning blasting during that heat wave last June.  And you felt fantastic about it.

ChristmasVSChristmas

David’s List

5.  On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

OnHerMajestysSecretService

This is one of my top three favorite Bond films.  I couldn’t tell you whether its number two or three, they’re constantly shifting in my mind, but its a good one.  George Lazenby is a pretty good Bond, but what really makes the movie is Diana Rigg as one of the best Bond girls ever and Telly Savalas as an absolutely incredible Blofeld.  Oh, and also most of it takes places in the Swiss Alps during Christmas.

Christmas is absolutely secondary to everything else happening in this movie.  Which is why its so easy to watch at other times of the year.  But watching Bond ski through the Alps to escape the agents of SPECTRE is good fun on a cold winter’s night.

4.  Love Actually

LoveActually

This is was a difficult one to decide whether or not to include.  Ultimately, I decided that this is just as much a romantic comedy as it is a Christmas movie.  While its perfect to watch at Christmas time, its also great to watch when you’re feeling sappy and sentimental on a summer evening when your wife is out of town.

And yes, this movie is cheesy.  But its cheesy in that very particular way that anything Richard Curtis writes is cheesy.  Its a perfectly wonderful brand of cheese that makes it impossible not to smile (and maybe cry a little, no admissions here, just saying that’s a possible) while you’re watching it.  He does it in Love Actually, he did it in Notting Hill, and he continues to do it in things like the incredible episode of Doctor Who that he wrote, “Vincent and the Doctor”.

3.  Ghostbusters 2

Ghostbusters2

Is it as good as the original?  That’s always the question that comes up.  Maybe not.  But its pretty damn good, and it takes place during Christmas, which automatically gives it several points in my book.

Plus you get Vigo the Carpathian, pink slime, a walking/dancing Statue of Liberty, Rick Moranis finding love, and Peter MacNicol doing one of the best accents in film history.  Nothing says Christmas like Carpathians.  I think we all know that.

2.  Die Hard

diehard

Die Hard is an example of a perfect action film.  It has just the right amount of violence and humor.  And its one of my go-to films when I don’t know what to watch (no matter what time of year it is).

But its also a film that must be watched every Christmas.  The entire plot takes place on Christmas Eve.  And one of the greatest moments in the film involves Bruce Willis dressing a dead bad guy up like Santa Claus before the other criminals find him.  Its pure Christmas magic.  And while its not something my mother likes to watch every December, its required viewing around my house.

1.  Batman Returns

batman_returns

Batman Returns just feels like Christmas to me.  I know, there’s a lot of patently un-merry things in this movie.  The black goo that comes out of The Penguin’s mouth is a good example.  But so many other things are so very Christmasy!  There’s Christmas decorations everywhere, penguins marching around, snow covering everything, a Christmas tree, a frozen zoo, and tons of evil circus performers.  Maybe some of that is not your traditional Christmas elements, but that’s what makes it so perfect to watch at other times of the year as well.

Plus, this is my favorite Tim Burton movie.  The miniatures are amazing, the sets feel exactly like a comic book, and the actors are amazing.  Danny DeVito is amazing as The Penguin.  He’s revolting and hilarious all at the same time.  And Michelle Pfeiffer.  Oh man.  We all fell in love with Catwoman the first time we saw this.

Batman Returns is awesome.  And the fact that it takes places during Christmas just makes it even more awesome.

Lara’s List

5. Catch Me If You Can

Catch Me If You Can

Though the story stretches over a ten-year period, exhibiting the many hoaxes of Frank Abagnale (not Abagnoli), it is anchored by Christmas. Despite their game of cat and mouse, Frank consistently checks in with FBI’s Carl Hanratty on December 25th, “Carl! Merry Christmas! How is it we’re always talking on Christmas, Carl? Every Christmas, I’m talking to you!” And in the heartbreaking scene in which Frank is standing outside the window of his mother’s house, watching her with her new family, Nat King Cole croons “The Christmas Song,” making the moment all the more poignant.

Despite the Yuley themes, this film was directed by Steven Spielberg. And that means it is an Always Movie.

4. Gremlins
Gremlins

This movie that terrified and fascinated me as a child has now become one of my absolute favorites. I love the over-the-top violence, the Jerry Goldsmith score, Corey Feldman dressed as a tannenbaum, and of course, the most adorable of pets, Gizmo the Mogwai. Plus it takes place during the holiday season: with the snow, and the presents, and the—err– gremlins massacring townspeople… and stories of a girl whose Dad died in the chimney dressed as Santa Claus…yikes. Somehow the excessively morbid take on Christmas makes me feel exonerated me from December-only viewings. I don’t question it.

3. Little Women (1994)

Little Women

Oh my goodness, this 1990s adaptation of the 1860s book is a classic. What more could you want in a female dominated film than Susan Sarandon, Winona Ryder, Claire Danes, Kirsten Dunst, and that other actress? Not that there aren’t nice boy moments with Laurie (Christian Bale), the dreamy neighbor whom Jo ends up with—I choose NOT take part in the second half of this movie or book—do not dispute this fact with me. It has moments from throughout the year as the girls grow and develop their individual identities as well as their relationships with each other. But then there are scenes of ice-skating, and silly renditions of “Here We Come A-wassailing,” and Thomas Newman scores, and Christmas parties and burnt feathers… It is truly one of those films that makes you feel the wonder and warmth of a fireplace, wherever and whenever you watch it.

2. Hook

Hook Poster

It is only fitting that one of the greatest tales of imagination ever made into film started with an inquisitive boy asking his screenwriter father, “What if Peter Pan grew up?” From there sprang the story of Peter Banning, the lawyer who returns to Neverland, teams up with the rowdy Lost Boys, and slays Captain Hook once and for all. I ignore the fact that critics, and Mr. Spielberg himself, panned Hook—I honestly don’t understand why they would! I’ve tried for years to wrap my head around the hostility towards it and I can’t for the life of me figure it out: it is The Perfect Movie. There’s a Never-Feast for goodness sake!

Scenes in the Real World are set at Christmas time (though snow on Christmas in London isn’t extremely real,), which serve as nice wintery bookends to the colorful and warm Neverland adventures. Perfectly justifying it for holiday AND any day viewings.

1. Edward Scissorhands

Edward Scissorhands Poster

My favorite love story. The artificially-made, innocuous man who comes down from his secluded castle to the brightly colored suburbs, and changes the lives of all he meets. Oh and he’s got scissors for hands. This, in my opinion, is Tim Burton at his finest: it has a fair amount of whimsical weirdness, but the story is simple and timeless. Set entirely at Christmastime, with ice carvings, rooftop caroling, and fake snow dancing—I can see why many would label this A Christmas Movie. But to me, it is just too good to limit to one time of year.

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