Sara is not a huge fan of the 3 months of Xmas, but she is passionate about films. She also enjoys making lists and spreading cheer.
Tired of the Same Old, Stale Xmas Films?
Does the thought of watching the same old, boring Christmas films year after year make you want to down a bottle of peppermint schnapps and throw your t.v. out the window? Me too; I can't handle that much drama. Also, Xmas just isn't my thing. The burnout starts to set in around the time the first decorations appear in Wal-Mart garden centers during the month of October. I cope by watching mostly action and horror movies until we ring in a brand new year.
It seems as if the television stations have gotten to the point where, every holiday season, they show the same few movies (A Christmas Carol, Miracle on 34th Street, A Christmas Story, and a few others) over and over again. From November through the end of December, the networks air the same handful of movies over and over on a continuous, depressing loop. Netflix and the like aren't much better; they offer basically push the same selections.
To break out of the rut, I've put together a list of thirteen entertaining films that take place during the holiday season. That's my way of getting into the spirit. (The schnapps helps too). I tried to recall some decent movies from different genres, so there's something for everyone. If you have a favorite, feel free to post it in the comments section below.
- Die Hard
- Silent Night, Deadly Night
- Love Actually
- Die Hard 2
- Bad Santa
- Black Christmas
- The Family Stone
- Reindeer Games
- Trading Places
- While You Were Sleeping
- Bad Santa 2
1. Die Hard - 1988
Starring Bruce Willis and the late Alan Rickman. The story isn't about Christmas in any way. It takes place during the holiday season, and that's good enough for me. It's one of my favorite action movies of all time, and I love that it makes people wonder why it made this list. "Ho, ho, ho; now I have a machine gun." Enough said.
2. Gremlins - 1984
Starring Zach Galligan, Phoebe Cates and Corey Feldman. I would describe it as a dark comedy with a moral to it. Pint-sized creatures with sharp claws and fangs terrorize a small town during the holiday season. Even though it sounds like a horror film, it manages to maintain an air of lightheartedness.
3. Silent Night, Deadly Night - 1984
Here's a gratuitous slasher film for the holidays. If I haven't mentioned previously, I'm a huge fan of horror films, therefore I think there should be at least one on any movie compilation. This is not one of the best horror movies you'll ever see, but it has its moments. If you enjoy it enough to want more, there are sequels. I'm not necessarily recommending them, but there are sequels.
4. Scrooged - 1998
Here we have a modernized version of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. Worth watching more than once, this movie is laugh-out-loud funny, and it has a great cast including Bill Murray as the lovable Scrooge-like character, Bobcat Goldthwait, and Karen Allen.
5. Love Actually - 2003
If you're not into action, camp or horror, this one's for you. It is one of those movies that is sure to please everyone, and it is safe for younger viewers. You will come away from this with a warm, fuzzy feeling inside. It features an all star cast including Hugh Grant, Liam Neeson, Bill Nighy, Emma Thompson, Colin Firth, Andrew Lincoln (The Walking Dead), and a slew of other stars.
6. Die Hard 2 - 1990
Once more, our hero, John McClane is in the wrong place (which happens to be an airport) at the wrong time. Oh, yeah, and it's Christmas again. As in any good action film, it features shootouts, explosions, and all kinds of other excitement. If you watch it, it's interesting to note how different airport security was back then compared to what it is today.
7. Bad Santa - 2003
Starring Billy Bob Thornton, Bernie Mac, Lauren Graham, and John Ritter. This is certainly not for those who are easily offended, especially if you choose to watch the Badder Santa version; it is hilariously funny, but also quite crude. An alcoholic criminal works as a Santa Claus in order to rob the department store he is employed by.
8. Black Christmas - 1974
More holiday gore; an escaped lunatic is murdering sorority sisters. Here's the trailer for the original 1974 movie starring Olivia Hussey and Margot Kidder. The film was remade in 2006 and features Mary Elizabeth Winstead. I've seen both, and I don't have a preference for one over the other. I am a huge fan of horror films, and as far as slasher films go, this is certainly not the worst I've ever seen.
9. The Family Stone - 2005
Another option for those who enjoy having their hearts warmed, this is a movie about a diverse family that comes together for the Christmas holiday. It has touching moments, and there are also some laughs. The cast includes Sarah Jessica Parker, Luke Wilson, Claire Daines, Dermot Mulroney, Diane Keaton, Rachel McAdams, and Craig T. Nelson.
10. Reindeer Games - 2000
Another one for the action fans. This one got bad reviews, but in my opinion it's no worse than most of the well-loved films of the genre. At any rate, it's different, and it's worth a watch. Ben Affleck is a parolee claiming to be his dead cellmate in order to woo the guy's pen-pal girlfriend (Charlize Theron). Also starring Gary Sinise.
11. Trading Places - 1983
A hilarious classic directed by John Landis, starring Eddie Murphy, Dan Aykroyd, Don Ameche, and Jamie Lee Curtis. A couple of millionaires make a bet, forcing a common con artist and a successful investor to switch roles. Unlike other movies of this type, this one does not involve any kind of magical transformation involving two people actually switching bodies.
12. While You Were Sleeping - 1995
Bill Pullman and Sandra Bullock star in this romantic comedy. Rom-coms tend to leave me feeling disappointed, but this is one of the better ones. A woman gets in over her head while pretending to be the fiancee of a man in a coma. News of the engagement comes as a surprise, and mostly delight, of the man's family members. It's cute, funny, original, and not blatantly predictable. Also, the characters are endearing.
13. Bad Santa 2 - 2016
Willie (Billy Bob Thornton) and Marcus (Tony Cox) are up to their old tricks, and they are planning to rob a charity this time around. If you enjoyed the first film, part two is just as funny and just as crude. Also starring Christina Hendricks and Kathy Bates (as Willie's mom).
That's my list; I hope you enjoyed the trailers. Perhaps this trip down memory lane stirred up fond memories and made you want to watch some of these films again. Or maybe you just found one you hadn't previously seen that looks intriguing. Either way, thanks for stopping by, and if you enjoyed this article, be sure to check out 31 Campy, Cheesy Horror Films for Halloween.
© 2011 Sara Krentz
Sara Krentz (author) from USA on December 24, 2012:
@anonymous: Will check it out. Thank you for visiting my lens : )
anonymous on December 24, 2012:
A bunch of those are on my list too. One additional that is a family favorite is Stalag 17.
VspaBotanicals on December 21, 2012:
Wonderful choices here. I like a bit of both: some tradtional, and some not so traditional.
Sara Krentz (author) from USA on November 11, 2012:
@eightieschild: I've never seen Kiss Kiss Bang Bang; I'll have to download it. Thanks for visiting my lens : )
eightieschild on November 11, 2012:
A great lens and some great movies. Trading Places is a favourite of mine, and nobody I know seems to even remember Reindeer Games, which was fun.
I'm still a sucker for old movies though, and will never tire of It's A Wonderful Life. Remember The Night, with Barbara Stanwyck is oft-forgotten little gem from the same era.
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is a more recent unconventional Christmas movie that everyone should watch. :)
Rose Jones on April 09, 2012:
Am I missing it about Die Hard? I have to check that movie out. Thanks for the suggestions.
kimark421 on January 30, 2012:
Great lens. Interesting that Die Hard is at the top of your list, it would be at the top of mine too. (although I don't miss "It's a Wonderful Life", it's like that worn out old blanket that you love to snuggle up with.)