The Best 'Christmas Adjacent' Movies That Aren't About Christmas
The holiday season means its time to return to some of the best Christmas movies of all time, including go-tos like Christmas Vacation, Elf, and Love Actually. But what about non-Christmas movies to watch this holiday? Films like The Apartment, Trading Places, and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang are some of the best Christmas-adjacent movies, even if their plots aren't exactly all tinsel and cheer (Gremlins is definitely more of a scary Christmas movie).
Like long-established Christmas classics, many of the best non-traditional Christmas movies are about families coming together, involve romance, and follow characters that learn valuable lessons in the spirit of the season. Why aren’t they considered part of the holiday movie canon? Maybe they’ve just yet to find their role. Every year, for instance, fans debate whether Die Hard is a Christmas action movie or not (perhaps it’s the “Yippee-ki-yay” line that turns off some people from associating this film with a nominally religious holiday).
So if you're tired of watching Kevin McCallister dupe Harry and Marv in his house of horrors for the upteenth time in Home Alone, you may want to pop in or stream these greatest holiday movies that aren't about Christmas.
- 1400 VOTES
The Christmastime setting isn't integral to Die Hard's success. In fact, you could probably place the terrorist-hostage plot during anytime of the year and it would still work. But the holiday definitely elevates the crisis. Not only is John McClane (Bruce Willis) trying to save the day, but he's trying to make sure everyone gets home to open their presents on Christmas morning.
- Actors: Bruce Willis, Alan Rickman, Bonnie Bedelia, Reginald VelJohnson, Alexander Godunov
- Released: 1988
- Directed by: John McTiernan
- 2294 VOTES
Unlike Santa, Gremlins shouldn't be given late-night snacks. The most wonderful time of the year is the least likely time for all hell to break loose. What starts out as a Christmas present for a son (Zach Galligan) ends up unleashing a batch of monsters on an unsuspecting town. In fact, maybe Gremlins is the perfect Christmas movie for people who hate Christmas, like Phoebe Cates's character.
- Actors: Zach Galligan, Phoebe Cates, Hoyt Axton, Frances Lee McCain, Polly Holliday
- Released: 1984
- Directed by: Joe Dante
- 3297 VOTES
Trading Places has kind of the perfect theme for a holiday film. The plot revolves around the switching of two people's places in society (hence the title). Dan Aykroyd's well-educated businessman Winthorpe trades places with Eddie Murphy's street-smart hustler Valentine and hilarity ensues. And isn't being thankful for what you have (or had) and helping those who don't have a lot a lesson in line with the spirit of Christmas?
- Actors: Dan Aykroyd, Eddie Murphy, Ralph Bellamy, Don Ameche, Denholm Elliott
- Released: 1983
- Directed by: John Landis
- 4302 VOTES
Tim Burton may as well have called this one A Batman Christmas, as the holidays are all throughout this superhero flick. Max Shreck (Christopher Walken) makes a speech in front of a Christmas tree; Batman (Michael Keaton) warns Catwoman (Michelle Pfeiffer) how deadly mistletoe can be. Catwoman even has a tiny Christmas tree in her apartment that you can spot as she's smashing everything with a pan. Gotham City is like a snow globe, with beautiful snow falling as the Bat signal lights up the sky. Batman Returns is one superhero genre film that satisfies fanboys and holiday nuts alike.
- Actors: Michael Keaton, Danny DeVito, Michelle Pfeiffer, Christopher Walken, Michael Gough
- Released: 1992
- Directed by: Tim Burton
- 5170 VOTES
This might be one of your mom's favorite non-Christmas movies to watch this holiday. It involves one amnesiac's (Geena Davis) realization that her life as a homemaker is really a lie. In her previous life, she was an assassin. Of course, she makes this discovery during the Christmas season, when her the pressure is really turned up on her personal life.
- Actors: Geena Davis, Samuel L. Jackson, Patrick Malahide, Craig Bierko, Brian Cox
- Released: 1996
- Directed by: Renny Harlin
- 6167 VOTES
Shane Black directed Iron Man 3, but it wasn't his idea to have it set at Christmas. Screenwriter Drew Pearce said that he set the film during the holiday season to heighten the loneliness of characters, and felt that Christmas added more resonance to events. Plus, who doesn't want to see Tony Stark get down to "Jingle Bells"?
- Actors: Robert Downey, Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Guy Pearce, Rebecca Hall
- Released: 2013
- Directed by: Shane Black