There are doubts that films not about Christmas can be labeled as a Christmas film. However, these 10 films, skew that criteria with compelling stories and a dash of Christmas spirit. We can totally debate later.
10. Edward Scissorhands
The first collaboration between director, Tim Burton, and Johnny Depp. Edward Scissorhands tells a story about Edward (Depp) who’s isolated from the town due to his hands made out of sharp, large scissors. He befriends an Avon saleswoman (Diane Wiest) and learns to adapt to being part of her family while falling for her daughter, Kim (Winona Rider). Though Christmas is featured towards the third act, the movie gives a feeling of holiday wonder to the uptight suburbs.
9. When Harry Met Sally
Harry Burns (Billy Crystal) and Sally Albright (Meg Ryan) go through the motions of a relationship. Throughout the movie’s 10-year time span, they go from hating each other, being friends, starting a long-awaited romantic relationship, ruining it, and getting back together. The film only has two holiday seasons. It’s to help narrate the passage of time and the holiday activities Harry and Sally do to enhance their bond. Makes sense is to the saying, “The holidays bring people together”.
8. The Star Wars Sequel Trilogy
The Star Wars Sequel Trilogy films have mixed reactions for all fans and general audiences. So where is the tie into the holiday season? Each (including the spin-off Rogue One: A Star Wars Story) all premiered during the holiday season. The Force Awakens premiered on December 18, 2015. The Last Jedi on December 15, 2017. The Rise of Skywalker wrapping it all up on December 20, 2019. Throughout the four to five years, these films became Christmas films on a marketing standpoint. From Christmas decorations, gifts, and a slightly better holiday special on Disney+, The Star Wars Sequel Trilogy and Christmas are forever bonded by force.
7. The Harry Potter Saga
The saga that tends to rerun on cable twice as much as the Star Wars Saga during this time. Unlike Star Wars, the Harry Potter films include scenes revolving around the holidays. Every year brings different ways to interpret the season. From Harry being gifted with the invisible cloak to dancing at the Yule Ball, the theme of Christmas has always played a factor into each story. It’s meant to be the scenes of showing the kids mature but gives plot details to prep Harry and his friends.
6. Less Than Zero
The 1987 film is loosely based on the novel of the same name by Bret Easton Ellis. It follows college freshmen, Clay (Andrew McCarthy), returning home to L.A. for the holidays. He meets up with his high school best friends, Blair (Jami Gertz) and Julian (Robert Downey Jr.). The more they hang out, the more he realizes that both have fallen into heavy drug addictions. This film is heavy and exudes the essence of the darkest point in the ‘80s. But it’s also a movie how the holidays is the factor for Clay to return and stand by his friends through thick and thin.
5. Iron Man 3
Even the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has a holiday movie. Director, Shane Black, tends to set most of his movies during the Christmas season as a backdrop, and this was one of them. Set after Avengers, Iron Man 3 follows Tony Stark as he struggles with his P.T.S.D. from the battle of New York, and the threat of Aldrich Killian. But even through regaining his tech, sanity, and the love of his life back, Tony does perform one holiday gesture by giving small town kid, Harley Keener (Ty Simpkins), the Potato Gun Mark II. So, a bit of the Christmas spirit gives this film some form of merit.
4. Rise of the Guardians
Every childhood folkloric figure is real in this family film. Rise of the Guardians has North a.k.a. Santa Clause (Alec Baldwin), Tooth a.k.a. Tooth Fairy (Isla Fisher), Bunny a.k.a. Easter Bunny (Hugh Jackman), and Sandman recruiting Jack Frost (Chris Pine) into their society of Guardians. They are threatened by Pitch a.k.a. the Boogeyman (Jude Law) with nightmares and darkness. This prevents the children in believing in these figures, causing them to be powerless in serving their respective holidays. They team up to defeat Pitch and protect the children by keeping their belief in them strong. This is close to a holiday movie due to the characters and encouraging kids to believe in these them to spread light and goodness around the world.
3. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
This is another insertion from Shane Black starring Robert Downey Jr. (yet again). Pre-Iron Man Downey plays Harry Lockhart, a failed robber turned accidental actor. He teams up with Detective Gay Perry (Val Kilmer), and struggling actress/childhood friend, Harmony Faith Lane (Michelle Monaghan), to solve a mystery Hollywood homicide. The film has that Shane Black style. We’re talking witty banter, fast-talking, and slight chaos with Harry’s flashbacks and fourth wall breaking. Where’s the Christmas spirit? It’s in the background and costumes.
2. Batman Returns
Batman Returns isn’t just the sequel to 1989’s Batman. It’s actually a hidden Christmas film. The story revolves around Batman (Michael Keaton) trying to take the Penguin (Danny DeVito) and his gang down after sabotaging Gotham city during the holiday season. In between crime fighting, Batman/Bruce Wayne finds himself falling for and fighting with Selina Kyle/Catwoman (Michelle Pfeiffer). Before Iron Man 3 and recently Shazam, Batman Returns was the first superhero movie to incorporate Christmas as the backdrop to an exciting adventure.
1. Die Hard
Die Hard is indeed a Christmas flick since it takes place exactly on Christmas Eve. Visiting Los Angeles for Christmas, NYPD’s John McClane (Bruce Willis) struggles to saves his wife (Bonnie Bedelia) and other hostages from German terrorist, Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman). This is basically adult Home Alone. So, if you just watched most of the family-oriented Christmas films with the kids, give yourself two hours for some violent action while keeping the Christmas spirit.