I’d argue that if your favorite Christmas movie is among those Christmas movie standards that run in heavy rotation every holiday season, it is quite possibly more about the personal nostalgia evoked by the act of viewing that movie, than it is about the quality of the movie itself. And no, I’m not including Die Hard among the “standards,” as it would too readily debunk my theory! The thing is, as much as I love movies, I reached some kind of saturation point years and years ago with the Xmas flicks I’d grown up watching annually, and while I do enjoy the holiday season, those movies just don’t do it for me anymore.
So who better to draw the Christmas-themed movies blogging assignment, than the guy not into the holiday classics? I thought for sure my prior attempt to identify worthwhile Halloween flicks as someone who doesn’t particularly care for the horror genre, would have excluded me from future consideration. Alas, that didn’t go to plan, and somehow, some way, it was decided the grumpy old guy should be the one to spread the holiday cheer. Talk about misfittery!
The saving grace is that I’ve deftly or accidentally (you decide) managed in the opening paragraph to weasel my way out of ranking and talking about the Christmas movies you already know and love, and can instead lean on some lesser-known titles. There’s a foreign flick or two, and a bunch of budget Indie in this collection of 8 offbeat and/or off the beaten path, break-with-tradition, Christmas movies worth a watch:
Christmas, Again (2015)
OK, so maybe a character study focusing on the loneliness of a NYC Christmas tree seller might come up a bit short on glad tidings of joy, but this microbudget movie more than makes up for it in realism and deep, subtle performances.
All is Bright (2013)
Because when you finished watching Christmas, Again, you thought the only thing that was missing was a buddy-comedy element, Pauls’ Giamatti and Rudd play a couple of shady French-Canadians trying to get rich quick and stay out of jail by. . . you guessed it. . . becoming NYC Christmas tree sellers!
White Reindeer (2013)
What starts out as a chronicle of grieving, starting with her husband being murdered right before the holiday (with additional adversities then piling on, as they so often do), manages to work its way to a somewhat heartwarming message about finding one’s way through the trials and tribulations of our so very flawed lives.
A Christmas Tale (2008)
While there are countless Christmas movies based on the big family gathering exposing secrets and strained relationships, this French film (Un Conte De Noél) stands out for being intelligent, insightful, and empathetic, making it a dysfunctional family Christmas classic.
You might not think an iPhone-shot comedy about two transgender sex workers on a manic hunt through Hollywood on Christmas Eve to find a cheating pimp really embodies the holiday season and spirit, but you’d be wrong. There’s a whole lot of heart in there too!
Comfort and Joy (1984)
A uniquely Scottish take on festive cheer, this both silly and kind-hearted absurdist comedy follows a Glaswegian DJ whose life is turned upside-down during the holidays when his girlfriend leaves, and obviously/predictably, he ends up in the middle of a turf war between rival gelato vendors.
Not many Christmas love stories are as stylish and elegantly romantic as this one. Then again, not many are set in 1950’s NYC and involve a lesbian romance between a mousy department store clerk, and a glamorous, wealthy housewife. The performances are stellar, and the ending, exceptionally well done.
Bitter Melon (2018)
Sure it’s a comedy-drama centered on a Christmastime Filipino-American family reunion, but before you start feeling too warm and fuzzy, the festivities take a dark turn as a decision is made to kill the family asshole. An unapologetically bold and daring, surprisingly heartfelt, and refreshingly unpredictable Indie film.
Got a holiday favorite that’s outside the pack of popularity and/or just out there? Let’s hear it!