Hooray, the holiday season is upon us! A time to spend with loved ones, give gifts, be merry… And maybe watch a festive film or two? Now if you’re like me and would rather not rewatch How The Grinch Stole Christmas or Home Alone on TV for the umpteenth time, you’re in luck! Here are a few of my favorite holiday movies that either flew under most people’s radars, are overshadowed by the all-time classics like Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer, or aren’t thought of as holiday movies for one reason or another. Some of these are more obscure than others, but all of them come to my mind when I think of the most wonderful time of the year.
Honorable Mention: The Christmas Chronicles
This Netflix Original just recently dropped (in November, which annoys me far more than it should), and is a slightly generic, but easily enjoyable family-friendly film. What earns it the honorable mention spot is an incredibly enthusiastic Kurt Russell as old Saint Nick. The amount of holiday cheer he doles out (both in the the movie and to the audience) is surprisingly high, making The Christmas Chronicles a must-watch movie for fans of the actor and one I’ll probably revisit every year from now on.
I’m not really sure if they celebrate the same holidays we do in Neverland, but the tale of an older Peter Pan saving his children from his one-handed archenemy is a solid pick to watch by the fireplace during this cold season. With its whimsical and emotional story that ends up reminding a workaholic Pan of what’s really important life, and some fun hijinks thanks to Tinker Bell and the Lost Boys, Hook will always hold a special place in my heart.
Elf is probably the most popular film on this list, but I still don’t think it’s garnered the attention it really deserves. This light-hearted comedy that follows an “elf” as he leaves the North Pole to meet his biological, scrooge-ish father in New York is a hilarious and heartwarming holiday romp. James Caan is great as always, and Will Ferrell’s Buddy is practically the embodiment of holiday cheer. Heck, I know people who normally hate Ferrell that love this movie!
The Nightmare Before Christmas
One of the most interesting things about Tim Burton’s stop-motion fantasy musical is that it works as both a Christmas movie and a Halloween movie. That’s not all though, as it also has a bunch of ridiculously catchy songs, some great laughs, and a few mild scares throughout. This may not be a good choice for younger children, but it’s THE holiday movie for some.
Die Hard & Die Hard 2
I honestly don’t give a candy-coated fudge about what anyone else says, Bruce Willis included, the first two entries in the Die Hard series are Christmas movies. John McClane is only at the Nakatomi building in the first movie because he’s visiting his kids and estranged wife for Christmas, and the whole (terrible) ordeal kinda brings the family closer together. In the case of Die Hard 2, poor John is only at the airport because his wife is visiting him for another Christmas! It’s also worth noting that Die Hard 3, the first one that doesn’t take place around Christmas, is the one where John’s marriage is over. Coincidence? Probably, but I’m gonna use it to support my stance anyway.
Now Krampus is DEFINITELY not a good holiday choice for everyone, but it’s a great option for those who enjoy a horror flick anytime of year. It’s also one of the very, very few horror comedies that manages to balance the laughs and scares equally. Krampus is one of my favorite holiday movies, and one of my favorite underrated horror movies to boot.
I saved the best for last, my favorite holiday movie of all time. My whole family really likes The Ref, as the snarkiness and brilliant banter from its characters speaks to us on a certain level. I wouldn’t expect anyone who hasn’t seen this foul-mouthed, crude crime comedy to think of it as a holiday film at first, but trust me on this: If you’re cool with a bit of crassness, The Ref is immensely entertaining, one of the funniest films of all time, and great movie to watch over the holidays.