20 ‘Christmas Movies’ That Aren’t Actually Christmas Movies At All

There are some movies that are completely synonymous with Christmas, but have you ever stopped to think about whether your favourite Christmas movie is even a Christmas movie at all?

Granted, there are some movies that are as festive as Christmas itself. Ones such as Santa Claus: The Movie (1985) and The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992), that are not only set around the date itself, but also have stories that feature Santa Claus, elves, presents, or other Yuletide-centered plot-lines.

But then there are the movies that, despite jumping into our minds every single time we get to December, and despite appearing in every Christmas TV Guide that has ever been created, really aren’t Christmas movies at all. So unbuckle your sleigh’s seatbelt, take off your Santa hat, and join us as we take a walk through these films that really can’t be called Christmassy.


20. Die Hard

8 20 'Christmas Movies' That Aren't Actually Christmas Movies At All

Yep, we went there – and for the very first point on the list! Don’t get us wrong, Die Hard (1988) is one of the most important action films ever made, almost singlehandedly spawning a slew of films featuring an everyday hero fighting against overwhelming odds.

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

But much as it might have been revolutionary, and still a brilliant watch today, is it really a Christmas movie? Let’s settle this once and for all.

Alan Rickman 20 'Christmas Movies' That Aren't Actually Christmas Movies At All

It’s certainly set at Christmas. John McClane barges in on the office Christmas do, ends up filling a bad guy with lead and dressing him as Santa, and the whole thing ends with Let It Snow.

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

But where’s Santa Claus himself? No, Reginald VelJohnson doesn’t count. And, more importantly, what about the spirit of Christmas? The festive season is a time to put your grievances aside and come together with your family. Maybe we’ve missed it in the small print, but launching a terrorist off a skyscraper doesn’t seem very Christmassy to us.

56798bb12340f827018b786b 20 'Christmas Movies' That Aren't Actually Christmas Movies At All

Die Hard is simply a brilliant action movie, but there’s nothing Christmassy about it. They couldn’t even find space for a manger!

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

19. The Railway Children

7 1 20 'Christmas Movies' That Aren't Actually Christmas Movies At All

The Railway Children (1970) is a film about some posh children slumming it up in Yorkshire whose petticoats help stop a train crash. Of course, it’s also full of nostalgia: who doesn’t love a bit of Bernard Cribbins? He’s truly a a national treasure.

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

But let’s be honest: the only reason The Railway Children is ever included in lists of Christmas films is because it’s so often screened during the holiday season.

MV5BMTQwNzk5NjYyNV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMDE1NjIwMjE@. V1 SY1000 CR0012581000 AL e1578409732938 20 'Christmas Movies' That Aren't Actually Christmas Movies At All

Exactly why the film graces our screens every December isn’t quite clear, but we’re going to narrow it down to two (potentially symbiotic) theories. The first is that it’s a quintessential family film, with no more drama or violence than a train almost hitting someone. It’s not like Jenny Agutter ever rips out Bernard Cribbin’s spine like it’s Mortal Kombat.

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

Secondly, trains just feel festive. They’re so Christmassy, in fact, that they made an entire film about a Christmas train: The Polar Express (2004).

MV5BZDgzYzFkMjEtMWQ2Ni00ZjQxLThjOTMtNmYxNjM3N2YzNGQ2XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyODIxMjk4Ng@@. V1 SX1777 CR001777999 AL e1578409778623 20 'Christmas Movies' That Aren't Actually Christmas Movies At All

Is that enough to make The Railway Children a Christmas film? Absolutely not. We can’t exactly deny other films Christmas status and then give it to The Railway Children – which mentions the holiday not once – just because it’s on the telly. But that doesn’t mean we don’t love it all the same.

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

18. Trading Places

9 1 e1578409899841 20 'Christmas Movies' That Aren't Actually Christmas Movies At All

Often called a modern take on Mark Twain’s classic 19th-century novel The Prince and the Pauper, the plot of Trading Places (1983) involves an upper-class commodities broker (Dan Aykroyd) and a homeless street hustler (Eddie Murphy) crossing paths and unknowingly being made part of an elaborate bet.

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

Much like Die Hard, this is a film that’s definitively set at Christmas, and even has integral scenes at the firm’s Christmas party. But stop to think for a moment, and you’ll realise that trading futures and commodities really has very little to do with the festive season.

trading places ralph bellamy eddie murphy don ameche e1578409926267 20 'Christmas Movies' That Aren't Actually Christmas Movies At All

In defence of the film, its broader themes do align with what sticklers like us would call Christmassy: a focus on homelessness and poverty, and the alleviation of these evils, has been a focus of Christmas stories going all the way back to Dickens, and Valentine and Winthorpe do take on a couple of Scrooges in the Duke brothers.

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

But the lack of typical Christmas fare does come back to the bite the film, and it seems that Trading Places is just another film made Christmassy by its regular appearances on TV over the holidays. This is especially the case in Italy, where it has been shown on TV every single Christmas since 1997!

trading places 1200 1200 675 675 crop 000000 20 'Christmas Movies' That Aren't Actually Christmas Movies At All

In all fairness, Trading Places is probably about as close as you can get to being a Christmas film – the only trouble is, it isn’t one.

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

17. Batman Returns

5 1 20 'Christmas Movies' That Aren't Actually Christmas Movies At All

Would it really be Christmas without enacting vigilante justice on the ne’er-do-wells of a corrupted city brought to its knees by drugs and crime? Yes. Yes it would.

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

Batman Returns (1992) is of course the follow-up to Tim Burton’s acclaimed revival of the Dark Knight, and sees Michael Keaton’s Bat come face to deformed face with Danny DeVito’s exuberant Penguin. With its dystopian set design and star turn from Christopher Walken, what’s not to like?

Shreckchristmas e1578410023607 20 'Christmas Movies' That Aren't Actually Christmas Movies At All

The film has a better claim to Christmas-dom than most, with its uproarious decorations and moody scenes of snow in dark alleyways. It even features a pageant queen called The Ice Princess and a few quippy lines about the reason for the season, especially when Batman and Catwoman end up under the mistletoe.

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

Unfortunately for Tim Burton’s sophomore Bat-flick, all of that Christmassy work is undone by the story, which sees the Penguin plot to kill all of Gotham’s firstborn children in revenge for being abandoned by his parents.

97310 full 20 'Christmas Movies' That Aren't Actually Christmas Movies At All

Now, you might argue that the Penguin’s scheme mirrors Herod’s execution of children after Jesus’ birth. And what we say is: yes, after Jesus’ birth, so that’s probably more of a New Year plot device than anything else!

16. Lady and the Tramp

4 1 20 'Christmas Movies' That Aren't Actually Christmas Movies At All

What could be more adorable than dogs eating spaghetti? Well, what about reindeer eating spaghetti? Ever think of that? Still, Lady and the Tramp (1955) is a classic animated film that we recently saw remade for Disney+ in glorious live action… animation.

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

Following the touching romance between a posh dog and a dog that isn’t posh, many of you will undoubtedly have fond memories of sitting down to watch the film at Christmastime – but, unfortunately, that alone doesn’t make it a Christmas film.

open uri20150608 27674 6wkzhb a2904189 e1578410158472 20 'Christmas Movies' That Aren't Actually Christmas Movies At All

Before you thinking about urinating on the carpet in protest, we haven’t forgotten that Christmas does figure in the film – in fact, the story takes place over exactly a year, between two celebrations of the festive season.

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

It’s true, also, that Christmassy themes (about those with much helping those with little) come to the fore, but that doesn’t change one hugely important fact that should disqualify this film from any Christmas list.

screen shot 2019 08 22 at 3.39.03 pm e1578410309437 20 'Christmas Movies' That Aren't Actually Christmas Movies At All

Since the majority of the action takes place at a time when it isn’t Christmas, how could you possible call this a Christmas film? In fact, simply by virtue of most of the film taking place on every day that isn’t Christmas, Lady and the Tramp might secretly be the least Christmassy film of all.

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

15. The Sound of Music

3 1 20 'Christmas Movies' That Aren't Actually Christmas Movies At All

The Sound of Music (1965) is a film about a nun who doesn’t quite fit in, who falls in love with a naval officer while working as a governess. We can hear those sleigh bells already!

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

It may not be all that Christmassy, but the film is certainly a worldwide phenomenon, and somehow manages to have both a scene about yodelling puppets and a scene about being pursued by Nazis without the entire movie collapsing in on itself.

46637a7e 60a1 11e6 ae3f 77baadeb1c93 e1578412050872 20 'Christmas Movies' That Aren't Actually Christmas Movies At All

That’s not to say that Christmas goes completely unmentioned: Julie Andrews chirping about warm woollen mittens and sleigh bells does rustle up a certain festive hygge.

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

There’s something to say about escapism at Christmas, especially when we’re normally on a break from work, much as Maria is on a break from the strictures of the nunnery – and who doesn’t love a good old Christmas sing song?

ss01 sound of music vf e1578412138994 20 'Christmas Movies' That Aren't Actually Christmas Movies At All

But as much as we love the film, there’s no way of sugar-coating it: The Sound of Music has nothing to do with Christmas, and frankly doesn’t belong on our screens in December.

14. The Lord of the Rings

1MV0c3d6cd1783c58c16b99f0df47a29dec e1578412191796 20 'Christmas Movies' That Aren't Actually Christmas Movies At All

There’s nothing more escapist than high fantasy, and there’s not a Christmas that goes by without catching at least some of Peter Jackson’s incomparable adaptation of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Do note: it’s been proven scientifically impossible to watch all three films over Christmas, what with all the food and alcohol leading you to doze off just after Isengard.

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

Regrettably, besides being plastered on television over the holidays, The Lord of the Rings contains – count them – zero mentions of Christmas in any of its films.

Dominic Monaghan Merry scene Elijah Wood Frodo e1578412228303 20 'Christmas Movies' That Aren't Actually Christmas Movies At All

Granted, this might be because the story takes place in a completely separate dimension which has no use for petty Earthly customs, but even The Chronicles of Narnia managed to squeeze in Santa Claus! Peter Jackson really must try harder.

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

You can, however, see why The Fellowship of the Ring (2001) in particular evokes the feel of wintertime. Courtesy of Saruman, the party is beset by snow in the mountains.

2 1 20 'Christmas Movies' That Aren't Actually Christmas Movies At All

Gandalf is an old man with a beard, and he even could have had those enormous eagles pull a sleigh. Truly a missed opportunity.

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

13. The Great Escape

1 1 20 'Christmas Movies' That Aren't Actually Christmas Movies At All

Against all odds, The Great Escape (1963) marks the second instance on this list of running away from Nazis. It’s not exactly Frosty the Snowman, is it?

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

The Great Escape is of course the landmark prisoner of war film from John Sturges, a film that has – perhaps unhealthily – become cemented in the national consciousness, owed in part to its frequent screenings on Christmas Day.

MV5BMjEzMTQxNTg1NV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwODg4MTkzNA@@. V1 e1578412288253 20 'Christmas Movies' That Aren't Actually Christmas Movies At All

In fact, in 2006 the film came third in a poll of viewer’s preferred Christmas Day films, finishing a hair behind It’s A Wonderful Life (1946) and The Wizard of Oz (1939), both of which are equally Christmassy.

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

Unfortunately, beyond prolific viewing during Yuletide, there’s not much Christmassy about The Great Escape. True, the prisoners do sing The 12 Days of Christmas to mask some deft slat thievery, but that’s about it.

GreatEscape Thumb e1578412361201 20 'Christmas Movies' That Aren't Actually Christmas Movies At All

Even worse, the film’s sombre ending – in which, spoiler alert, most of the prisoners are executed – falls short of the kind of heartwarming Christmas morals we’ve come to expect. There’s certainly room for improvement on the Clausometer.

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

12. Home Alone

https blogs images.forbes.com robcain files 2017 10 Kevin Home Alone e1578478814875 20 'Christmas Movies' That Aren't Actually Christmas Movies At All

Let’s get really controversial. Many list Home Alone (1990) as their top festive film, but it actually has a lot less to do with Christmas than you might think.

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

Home Alone sees delinquent Kevin McCallister left behind by his family while they jet off on a Christmas Vacation to Paris. Home alone, Kevin must face off against a pair of mean burglars with nothing more than his wits and various household objects to defend himself.

rjIEeFh e1578478866837 20 'Christmas Movies' That Aren't Actually Christmas Movies At All

First of all, let’s be clear: there’s a fair amount of Christmas in this film. From the period in which the action takes place, to the scene in which Kevin listens to carols at a church, it’s not like you could watch this film and think it’s a summer flick. Kevin even meets Santa Claus – just not the real one.

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

At the same time, the main thrust of the film leaves a lot to be desired in terms of Christmassy feelings. The most memorable and marketable moment of Home Alone is Kevin applying cologne to his face, and the other famous scenes involve Joe Pesci getting totalled by Micro Machines and buckets of paint.

MV5BZWYxYTYwNWUtOTBlZC00MzU4LTk0NjUtMGQ0ZTZjMGUxM2IzXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNzQ1NjgzOTA@. V1 SX1777 CR001777960 AL e1578478909301 20 'Christmas Movies' That Aren't Actually Christmas Movies At All

Now, Home Alone 2: Lost In New York (1992) – that’s an honest-to-goodness Christmas film, and sees the Wet Bandits attempt to rob a Christmassy toy store on Christmas. But Macaulay Culkin’s first outing? Not so much.

11. Gremlins

Gremlins 3 1 e1578478961384 20 'Christmas Movies' That Aren't Actually Christmas Movies At All

Gremlins (1984) is another film typically seen as a Christmas classic, but unfortunately we’re about to unmask your fluffy festive memories as the scaly monsters they really are. Gremlins isn’t a Christmas film.

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

One of the films that led to the creation of a PG-13 rating, Gremlins sees a struggling inventor give his son a present, a mysterious Mogwai, but all hell breaks loose once the Mogwai reproduces and transforms into a horrifying lizard-like creature.

unnamed 2 20 'Christmas Movies' That Aren't Actually Christmas Movies At All

Much of the film’s Christmas credentials hinge on the fact that Gizmo the Mogwai is given as a Christmas present, and there’s a scene in which Kate describes how her father died and rotted in a chimney while dressed as Santa Claus. But apart from these points, Christmas is largely irrelevant. As for an excuse for Gizmo to be given as a present, it might as well be a birthday.

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

It’s worth remembering that the film wasn’t even intended as a Christmas flick: Gremlins was released in the summer of 1984, and became embroiled in controversy for its violence, heightened by the fact that the film had partially been marketed as a follow-up to Spielberg’s family-friendly ET: The Extra Terrestrial (1982).

merlin 147983274 e87d17c7 5196 4c75 99d0 c66f83d8ed3f superJumbo e1578479037546 20 'Christmas Movies' That Aren't Actually Christmas Movies At All

After the controversy subsided, the film was released again in 1985 – in summer. So, even when distributors had a chance to more firmly plant Gremlins’s flag as a Christmas film, they declined to do so. That says it all!

10. Jumanji

Jumanji 1995 e1578479085605 20 'Christmas Movies' That Aren't Actually Christmas Movies At All

Christmas is a time for board games, but we’re taking about old school family favourites like Monopoly and Cluedo, rather than one that sucks you into a dangerous jungle. Still, Jumanji (1995) has become a classic festive film for many due to its winning combination of thrills, spills, and a real-life Santa Claus in star Robin Williams.

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

Transported to a mysterious, deadly jungle by an old board game, two children must finish the game that Alan Parrish (Williams) started, so he  can be released from its dimensional clutches after 26 years.

9fd20ffc0b9568eac8b4457fba48b663 e1578479166187 20 'Christmas Movies' That Aren't Actually Christmas Movies At All

So far, so not Christmassy. But apart from the festive themes inherent to a family adventure, it’s worth remembering that the film actually ends at a Christmas party once Alan has been restored to the real world.

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

Alan reunites with the children who saved him, and in turn manages to save their parents from death by offering them a job. All’s well that ends well! But then we see the Jumanji box poking out of a beach, ready to ensnare more board game enthusiasts.

Supernatural Jumanji Boardgame 926x1024 e1578479246837 20 'Christmas Movies' That Aren't Actually Christmas Movies At All

As much as we love the film, there just isn’t enough here to call it a Christmas film, but we certainly wouldn’t say no to rewatching it whatever time of year.

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

9. Rent

How Do I Love a Problem Like Rent e1578479310451 20 'Christmas Movies' That Aren't Actually Christmas Movies At All

Rent (2005) ends up being a blend of a few other films on this list, combining the sing-song fun of The Sound of Music and the timeline of Lady and the Tramp – namely, that the plot of Rent takes place between Christmas Eve 1989 and Christmas Eve 1990. A year or, famously, 525,600 minutes.

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

There’s no question that there are some memorable winter moments in the film, which sees a group of misfits living their bohemian lifestyle and struggling with the AIDS crisis.

88133e48 0a97 493b b58a dda818f8f1ec rent e1578479388355 20 'Christmas Movies' That Aren't Actually Christmas Movies At All

There’s also something to be said for the storyline of togetherness and battling against the odds: these are certainly Christmassy themes, but watching vibrant characters succumb to a degenerative disease doesn’t make for a holly jolly Christmas.

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

What’s worth noting is the iconic number performed by drag queen Angel in full Santa get-up, but given Angel’s fate it’s hard to have fuzzy festive memories of their screen-time.

Wilson Jermaine Heredia Angel Dumott Schunard e1578479337877 20 'Christmas Movies' That Aren't Actually Christmas Movies At All

Ultimately, Rent is another good example of a film set between two Christmases that fails to live up to the jollity of the season. That’s not to say it should abandon its weighty themes, but it definitely sacrifices a festive joie de vivre!

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

8. The Nightmare Before Christmas

5bab86fb9c888d8d528b4568 e1578479431356 20 'Christmas Movies' That Aren't Actually Christmas Movies At All

This is a complicated one. For one thing, according to its Wikipedia page at the time of writing, The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) is a “stop-motion animated musical Halloween-Christmas dark fantasy film.” So there’s a lot to unpack there.

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

Jack Skellington, the king of Halloween, stumbles into Christmas Town and hatches a dastardly plan to take over the festivities himself, since he’s so bored of the macabre. From its Danny Elfman score to its unique visual style, the film is an absolute classic.

nighmare before hed e1578479481666 20 'Christmas Movies' That Aren't Actually Christmas Movies At All

As for its status as a Christmas film, or a Halloween film, that’s been subject to debate since the film released. Why not ask a work colleague what they think, and watch the sparks fly? There are great arguments on both sides: there’s a whole sequence in Christmas Town, Jack dresses up as Santa Claus – and of course the real Santa Claus features.

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

At the same time, we do spend most of the film watching all sorts of gruesome creatures make gruesome presents, and who can forget the finale in which Oogie Boogie is unzipped, revealing a writhing mass of red-nosed reindeer – just kidding, he’s full of horrible bugs.

maxresdefault 27 e1578479505284 20 'Christmas Movies' That Aren't Actually Christmas Movies At All

So, overall, the film is far more concerned with the aesthetics and gothic horror of Halloween; if we had to pick a side, and this article insists we do, then The Nightmare Before Christmas is more of a Halloween film than a Christmas one.

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

7. Iron Man 3

scale e1578482118111 20 'Christmas Movies' That Aren't Actually Christmas Movies At All

You tend not to hear people going around saying Iron Man 3 (2013) is their favourite Christmas film. In fact, there aren’t many who’d say it’s even their favourite Iron Man film. Still, it does tend to crop up in conversations about lesser known Christmas films, so let’s put to rest the insulting suggestion that this should be in the leagues of festive classics.

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

The conclusion to Marvel’s Iron Man trilogy sees Tony Stark battle against the devious Mandarin and his attempt to assassinate the president. Except the Mandarin turns out to be not as he seems.

iron man 3 mandarin wallpaper 1024x768 e1578482196783 20 'Christmas Movies' That Aren't Actually Christmas Movies At All

Director Shane Black has commented on the film’s technical status as a Christmas film, saying that “I think it’s a sense of if you’re doing something on an interesting scale that involves an entire universe of characters, one way to unite them is to have them all undergo a common experience.”

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

“There’s something at Christmas that unites everybody and it already sets a stage within the stage,” Black continues, “that wherever you are, you’re experiencing this world together.”

iron man 3 christmas movie snow e1578482250358 20 'Christmas Movies' That Aren't Actually Christmas Movies At All

Much as the film might be set at Christmas, its plot really doesn’t match with anything Christmassy. For one thing, it’s about people being filled with goo that makes them super strong and fast. When we fill ourselves with mince pies, we get a lot slower!

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

6. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

Philosopher stone e1578482380234 20 'Christmas Movies' That Aren't Actually Christmas Movies At All

There’s little to say about Harry Potter that hasn’t already been said. It’s a series of books and films that has affected people so profoundly that die-hard fans are just as die-hard today. They’ve even found a way to talk about war with Iran through the lens of Harry Potter.

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

But what about the films’ status as Christmas films? From the winter wonderland of Hogsmeade to the cosy firesides of Hogwarts itself, there are certainly strong arguments to be made.

image 7 e1578482467840 20 'Christmas Movies' That Aren't Actually Christmas Movies At All

In fact, one of the most memorable moments from the first film is the castle’s transformation into a Christmas extravaganza, and Ron receiving a monogrammed jumper. And Harry receiving a uniquely powerful magical artefact, the privileged so-and-so.

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

But even though Christmas really does happen in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (2001), you’d be hard pressed to argue it’s a Christmas film overall. Not only is the franchise its own beast, but there are far more memorable moments than the Christmassy parts.

EAZlmtiUEAEddfQ e1578482490966 20 'Christmas Movies' That Aren't Actually Christmas Movies At All

After all, who could forget the troll – the troll! – in the dungeon! The first Harry Potter film just can’t be called a Christmas film – we thought you ought to know.

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

5. It’s A Wonderful Life

its a wonderful life jimmy stewart donna reed nbc getty 20075320 1280x0 e1578482827419 20 'Christmas Movies' That Aren't Actually Christmas Movies At All

Are you incandescent with rage? True, maybe it’s ambitious to disqualify what many see as the greatest Christmas film of all time from the festive rankings – but hear us out on this one.

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) is a bonafide Frank Capra classic, and follows George Bailey – played by the ineffable Jimmy Stewart – whose near-suicide summons his guardian angel. Proving that Bailey has in fact made the world a much better place, the angel gains his wings and the credits roll.

its a wonderful life 1946 4 e1578482861284 20 'Christmas Movies' That Aren't Actually Christmas Movies At All

It’s a heartwarming story of how each human life has value, even if sometimes imperceptibly. The trouble is, it doesn’t have much to do with Christmas

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

Sure, George Bailey contemplates suicide on Christmas Eve, and the idea of an angel coming down from heaven fits with the classic nativity story, but otherwise the plot of It’s a Wonderful Life is far more concerned with the life of one man and the fate of a local building society. You wouldn’t go see Darren at Nationwide and tell him he’s God’s gift to Christmas.

its a wonderful life 1947 006 lionel barrymore on wheelchair and james stewart shake hands 00m d52 e1578482890497 20 'Christmas Movies' That Aren't Actually Christmas Movies At All

We have to admit that the world isn’t really on our side with this one. Even Frank Capra himself revealed that he screened the film for his family every Christmas, and his opinion is probably worth more than ours.

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

4. Mean Girls

NINTCHDBPICT0004387108671 e1578486277267 20 'Christmas Movies' That Aren't Actually Christmas Movies At All

Mean Girls (2004) isn’t a film you’d immediately associate with Christmas – but, given that the high school clique comedy has legions of adoring fans, there are a sizeable number who insist it counts as a Christmas film. And we’re here to tell them that they’re wrong.

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

The film sees Cady Heron, played by Lindsey Lohan, transfer to a toxic high school with several competing social factions. It covers the full school year – which, naturally, includes Christmas.

Cady smiling e1578486362235 20 'Christmas Movies' That Aren't Actually Christmas Movies At All

Mean Girls does feature Damian dressing up as Santa Claus, and a relatively risqué rendition of Jingle Bell Rock, which form the cornerstone of arguing that this is a Christmas film. But, beware, as not all is as it seems.

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

It’s been argued – in the Metro, no less – that Mean Girls is the perfect film for fooling others into thinking that it’s Christmassy. “The aim is to trick your loved ones into watching a movie that has Christmas in it but is not too Christmassy at all,” says the article. “But when they start giving you a side eye during the 30-minute mark you can shrug and say ‘but they are wearing Santa-girl outfits. Can’t you see!?’”

1d1519db96cce7a3749980e62eb0ba9b e1578486228299 20 'Christmas Movies' That Aren't Actually Christmas Movies At All

The audacity of this argument is really something else: their supporting argument is that Christmas is listed as a genre on the official soundtrack. Stop trying to make a Mean Girls Christmas happen!

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

3. Eyes Wide Shut

eyes wide shut 01 e1578486755756 20 'Christmas Movies' That Aren't Actually Christmas Movies At All

As Stanley Kubrick films go, we still think the most Christmassy film is 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). Just kidding! In fact, the only Kubrick film to feature Christmas in any prominent way is his final work, Eyes Wide Shut (1999).

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

Focusing on the marital discord of a couple, played by then-couple Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise, the film involves the infiltration of a secret society for a masked orgy. ‘Tis the season!

78bedcc1126122c0080ff1d5d47752fc e1578486779726 20 'Christmas Movies' That Aren't Actually Christmas Movies At All

Importantly, the film is set at Christmastime, and this was a deliberate decision by Kubrick: the short story on which the film is based takes place during Mardi Gras, presumably due to its connotations of hedonism and excess. Instead, it’s thought Kubrick chose Christmas because of its sense of rejuvenation.

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

So if the film is set at Christmas, and it’s far from coincidental, and actually fits with the themes of the film, doesn’t that make it a Christmas film? Well, not quite.

a85b0ea7b30a0592a6c774b67ac3f585 e1578486734398 20 'Christmas Movies' That Aren't Actually Christmas Movies At All

The Christmas setting is included as a foil. Compared to the purity of Christmas – its innocence joy, the virgin birth, and so on – the events of Eyes Wide Shut are positively Satanic. It would be like setting fire to your local nativity scene and flipping off any low-flying aircraft, then claiming you were just celebrating Christmas.

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

2. Edward Scissorhands

761492 edward scissorhands e1578487269579 20 'Christmas Movies' That Aren't Actually Christmas Movies At All

Yet another collaboration between Tim Burton and Danny Elfman to make the list, Edward Scissorhands (1990) is a favourite of both the director and the composer. But for those insisting that this is a Christmas film: cut it out.

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

Johnny Depp stars as the eponymous artificial man, an unfinished creation who’s adopted scissors for hands. It’s quite a simple conceit, but there’s a lot of heart and classic Burton weirdness in a story about how the townspeople fear, reject, and love Edward.

Master e1578486925540 20 'Christmas Movies' That Aren't Actually Christmas Movies At All

The basis for Edward Scissorhands being considered a Christmas film is mostly down to Edward’s creation of an ice sculpture modelled on Winona Ryder’s Kim Boggs. With each snip of his scissors, he casts some ice into the air, and it begins to snow.

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

In an otherwise snowless town, the falling ice becomes a symbol of Edward’s presence, as recounted by the older Kim at the end of the film.

d5e52870 6a0e 0133 0c2b 0e34a4cc753d e1578486888584 20 'Christmas Movies' That Aren't Actually Christmas Movies At All

But, come on now, you can’t say that’s something’s a Christmas film just because there’s snow! You wouldn’t call Snowpiercer (2013) a Christmas film, would you? Please don’t.

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

1. Jaws: The Revenge

MV5BOTY0OTA0MjctM2IwMC00OWZhLWEwNDUtZDYxZTMwNmMyZTZiXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTIzOTk5ODM@. V1 e1578487394540 20 'Christmas Movies' That Aren't Actually Christmas Movies At All

The fourth Jaws film, The Revenge (1987) is the most notorious of the big shark films, probably most famous nowadays for the (slightly edited) Michael Caine quote: “I have never seen it, but by all accounts it is terrible. However, I have seen the house that it built, and it is terrific.”

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

Completed in only nine months, Jaws: The Revenge sees a widowed Ellen Brody face off against, you guessed it, a rather large shark.

1 ZAl33n QXq RAND67P vvQ 20 'Christmas Movies' That Aren't Actually Christmas Movies At All

And, since it’s the film that keeps on giving, you could argue that it’s a Christmas film. In the opening scene, Sean Brody is slowly killed by a shark – and he might have been saved had his pleas for help not been drowned out by accursed carolling!

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

A generous viewer might note that the Christmas setting does serve a purpose: Ellen is convinced the shark killed her son as revenge for the shark’s children being killed. And Christmas, after all, is the marquee time of family togetherness.

jawsrevenge3348 20 'Christmas Movies' That Aren't Actually Christmas Movies At All

But you’d have to be an utter contrarian to genuinely argue that this is a Christmas film. Put the shark in a Santa hat, though, and we might have a rethink.