The Best Not-So-Traditional Holiday Movies

December 22, 2016

Everyone has their own traditions when it comes to the holiday season and movies are no different. Of course, there are the old classics like White Christmas, Miracle on 34th Street, and It’s A Wonderful Life. As time goes on, there are even newer classics like A Christmas Story, Elf, and Christmas Vacation. Some have different traditions and take it in a completely different direction.

These days, you have more options which include comedies, action, and even horror. Whatever your genre of choice may be, here are some of the favorites that people have decided to call “holiday classics.”


The Ref: Denis Leary is a thief on Christmas Eve who is trying to get out of a wealthy neighborhood, which he has been terrorizing for some time. His less than competent side kick has abandoned him at the fear of getting caught so he is now stuck. Unfortunately, the couple that he chooses to take hostage brings him more than what he expected and he finds himself in the middle of a dysfunctional family drama no one wants to be a part of. Also starring Kevin Spacy and Judy Davis, this film will make you love your family that much more.

When Harry Met Sally: Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan star as two people who continually cross each other’s paths over the years trying not to be friends. They finally give in and ultimately sort out that they mean more to each other than they thought. Encompassing one of the greatest lines in film history, the story comes to its pivotal end at midnight on New Year’s Eve, satisfying any romantic watching.

Love Actually: Okay, this isn’t really that unique as it is quickly becoming a favorite of most households for the holidays. The film follows eight couples in intertwining stories in the weeks leading up to Christmas. Some are happy and some are not. Life isn’t perfect but it’s pretty great when things go right. Emma Thompson brings a heartbreaking performance along  with Liam Neeson as a grieving widow and Colin Firth in a highly romantic tale. It’s a bittersweet film that doesn’t guarantee a big red bow at the end, but still makes you smile.

Mixed Nuts: A lesser known Steve Martin film, he stars as the head of a crisis-hotline business during the Christmas season. When else would you be the busiest than during the holidays, right? It’s a funny and touching film about strangers helping each other at a difficult time of year. Containing an all-star cast, with some early in their careers, it brings the true meaning of Christmas to the forefront and will be a great addition to any holiday movie viewing spree.

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles: Steve Martin and John Candy star in this Thanksgiving comedy about two strangers who are unexpectedly left to travel together to get home for the holiday. As they become unlikely friends, Martin’s character grows empathetic to Candy’s lonely life as a travelling salesman and the silly comedy turns heartwarming.

The Family Stone: All families are different, right? The Family Stone brings a new couple into a “meet the family” situation. Sarah Jessica Parker stars with Dermott Mulrooney and is invited home for the holidays. Being a proper city girl, she is throw into the mix of his very eclectic and free family to find that people are different, but family is family.


Gremlins: Ever since I was a kid, this has been one of my favorite movies around Christmas. Entertaining? Yes. Good? That might be debatable- but I love it. It is always a movie I think of when the holidays arrive. A travelling salesman goes into Chinatown looking for a unique gift for his son for Christmas. The “pet” he brings home ends up being much more than what he expected.  It’s more of a lighthearted horror flick as it tries to balance out the scary with the cute and silly.

Edward Scissorhands: Why does it snow at Christmas? Tim Burton frames the film around that very question as a grandmother tries to explain why. Johnny Depp plays Edward as he is discovered by an Avon lady after his creator passes away just moments before giving him hands. This poor soul is stuck with scissors for hands and is brought into the candy colored world of the suburbs that only Burton can give you. Edward is subjected to all of the people who may be weary of him at first, but then discover they all want something from the spectacle with a heart. Don’t expect a fairy tale ending, but anything with Alan Arkin is brilliant, right?

Batman Returns: Another Tim Burton favorite for the season, his second (and last) go at the Batman franchise starring Michael Keaton as the caped crusader introduces us to Catwoman, played beautifully by Michelle Pfeiffer. With mistletoe tempting the two antagonistic characters, chaos otherwise ensues in this Christmas tale in Gotham thanks to the Penguin, brilliantly played by Danny DeVito. As the film concludes with a cliff-hanger ending, you are left with hope for love, Gotham, and cats everywhere.


Die Hard: Arguably one of the best action films ever made, it is at least a favorite. Bruce Willis stars as John McClane, a cop who ends up fighting terrorists that take a Christmas party hostage while trying to pull off a heist. What could be more Christmas-y than that? Probably a lot of things, but that doesn’t change the fact that this is one of the most watched films over the holiday season. McClane always gets his man, which makes him the ultimate “hero,” so there will be time to celebrate after all of the machine gun action. Alan Rickman, of course, serves as the fantastic villain to shake up your holiday.

Lethal Weapon: Yes, this is a buddy movie but it’s one of the best ever made. Set during Christmas, two detectives are teamed up to work together whether they want to or not. Mel Gibson and Danny Glover have some of the best chemistry on screen as Riggs and Murtaugh, respectively. As they work a drug case together, they become unlikely friends and start to become more like family. Riggs is getting over the death of his wife and trying not to kill himself while Murtaugh is just trying to get to retirement. You do get a happy ending, but there is lots of action before you get there.

Did we miss any of your not-so-traditional holiday movies? Let us know!