Jeremiah’s Top 5 Christmas Films for People Who Hate Christmas Films

Written by Jeremiah Greville December 16, 2019

I’m really not a fan of Christmas movies. Like Christmas music, I can only withstand their red-and-green omnipresent fury for a few days a year at most, and unless those days are Christmas or Christmas Eve, I spend the duration eyeing the exits and planning my escape. Over the last couple of years, I’ve built up a list of non-Christmas Christmas Movies to get me through the holidays. Things like Batman Returns, Die Hard, and pretty much any movie written by Shane Black. Yet, there are in fact some films that seem to cut through nonetheless. These are movies that truly celebrate Christmas without mocking it. They’re not anti-Christmas, and they’re not merely set during Christmas (I see you, Shane Black!), but are full on Christmas films in their own right. Is that enough times to write Christmas in one paragraph? Here are my top five Christmas movies for people who hate Christmas movies:

5) It’s A Wonderful Life (1946)

We’re starting with the biggies, folks! This is one of the most classic Christmas films ever made, and a perennial television mainstay each holiday season. I’m sure it’ll still be playing on a speck of dust somewhere in space on December 24th of whatever year the sun swallows up the Earth. It’s that good. What makes this film accessible for non-Christmas fans is that the Christmas portions of the film are really a framing device for the larger tale of a good man’s life. And considering that the film opens with a man about to commit suicide on Christmas Eve, it’s startling to even consider how inspirational the whole thing is. It’s A Wonderful Life is a wonderful film, and one that even non-Christmas fans can adore each year. The only reason it’s at the bottom of this list is that it may still be too classic Christmas-y for some.

4) Scrooged (1988)

But if the previous entry was too Christmas-y, then this may be the one for you. This classic Bill Murray dark comedy is a modern spin on The Christmas Carol set in the coke-fuelled TV-obsessed Eighties. It’s as funny as it is darkly cynical, and yet it ultimately still stands as a celebration of the holidays. Scrooged isn’t anti-Christmas, but it is anti-commercialization. For people who are wary or just plain tired of holiday cheer, this is the flick for you. It starts grouchy (or Grinchy) and ends up cheerful, yet never overwhelms with saccharine sentimentality. By the time the inevitably happy ending comes, it’s a welcome one that feels earned through the raucous, mean-spirited, delightful excess that preceded it. As if the Eighties could give us anything more pure.

3) The Nightmare before Christmas (1993)

You can’t get any further from Christmas than Halloween — at least in spirit. And yet these two opposites came together to create one of the most wonderful Halloween AND Christmas movies ever made in The Nightmare before Christmas. It’s a Halloween movie for those too timid for normal horror films, and it’s a Christmas movie for people who only dress in black. This goth-kid Christmas fantasy is an extraordinary achievement in film and holiday genre fare, buoyed throughout by Danny Elfman’s incredible music (and voice-work!). Everyone’s seen this movie, and it often pulls double-duty as duel holiday viewing each year. If you saw it in October, now’s the perfect time to see it again. Though you don’t need me telling you that — you’re probably watching it already, aren’t you?

2) Home Alone & Home Alone 2 (1990 & 1992)

Ah, and now we’re getting into the good stuff! For all of the movies on this list, Home Alone and Home Alone 2 feel the least like Christmas films. When you think back on them, you remember the scary older characters, the hilarious Wet and/or Sticky Bandits, Macaulay Culkin screaming into a mirror, and enough PG violence to kill an entire platoon of Loony Tunes characters. But each of these films are both pure-Christmas joy, and if you go back to watch them you may be surprised to realize just how much of the holidays are in there. The original and the sequel are basically the same film, and thus I’ve included them here together. For your own safety, stop at the second one. Though they’re meant for kids, Home Alone and Home Alone 2 still hold up surprisingly well for adult fans. I’m still upset that Angels with Filthy Souls isn’t real…

1) A Christmas Story (1983)

Finally, we’ve arrived at the greatest Christmas film for people who hate Christmas films, and this one is, ironically, the one entry on this list most about Christmas. While the others on this list have found ways to skirt the holiday focus, A Christmas Story dives right in. What makes it so accessible even to non-Christmas fans is the simple, pleasant reality of it all. Here is a tale of an average family having a series of successful and not-so successful holiday experiences, entertainingly told through the eyes of a nine year old boy (as reminisced by his older self). It lacks all of the sheen and faux-gloss of modern holiday films. The family isn’t perfect, and their Christmas experiences aren’t perfect either. It’s entirely ordinary, yet presented with a light touch and charm that makes it feel magical. Disappointment, family squabbles, consumerism, and blatant (if hilariously obscured) profanity come together to create a genuinely funny and heart-warming Christmas tale. It promises what it delivers on the box: A Christmas Story is the Christmas movie for people who don’t like Christmas movies.

But what do you think? Do you love Christmas movies? Would you rather have seen National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation or Bad Santa on this list? Or are you going to do a holiday Shane Black marathon just to stick it to all of those Christmas-chumps out there? Let us know in the comments below!

And to everyone out there, whether you celebrate Christmas or not, whether you celebrate the holidays or not, whoever you’re with or whatever you’re doing, I hope you have all the happiness you deserve.

Spread a little cheer, and watch some good movies!

Happy Holidays, from all of us at We Eat Films!

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About Jeremiah Greville

Jeremiah Greville is a pretty rad beard that's attached itself to a human face. The beard likes movies, television, comic books, and gentle finger rubs. The human likes pizza and sleep. When they work together, they write reviews. Hope you enjoy them!

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