Top 7 most unconventional Christmas movies

Ahhh the holidays! The time of year where we turn on the fireplace (or turn on Netflix to have the hour-long fireplace video play), pour yourself some hot cocoa, grab a warm blanket, and watch great Christmas classic films. Families around the world will gather around the warm glow of the TV and envelope the Christmas spirit being displayed by some of our favorite characters from films such as 1946’s It’s A Wonderful LifeA Charlie Brown Christmas, Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer, Christmas Vacation, Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Elf, and so many more. Even unique films such as The Nightmare Before Christmas and The Polar Express have been adopted as a holiday classic (such as myself) and are watched religiously around this time of year. But not all films with the Christmas aspect get the recognition they deserve as holiday movies. In fact, when it comes time for movie lovers to crack open their Blu-rays (or DVDs, no judgement here), and start getting their Christmas line-up of films to start getting their binge of Hollywood Christmas spirit, I’m almost certain that a few films won’t make the cut. Well, we’re here to set the record straight on some films, and start a revolution! We’ve compiled our list of the most unconventional Christmas movies that should be up there with Frosty and George Bailey, and be made part of your holiday tradition! Now, normally, we’d have a top five, or a top ten, but hey! This is an “unconventional” list, so let’s be out of the box, shall we? So, without further ado, I present to you Nerd Reactor’s top 7 most unconventional Christmas movies!

7. Trading Places (1983)

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Starting at the top of our list is a sheer classic that enlists some of the greatest names in comedy that have graced the silver screen: Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy, respectively. This film takes place during the Christmas season, as Louis Winthorpe III (Aykroyd), a wealthy and snobbish managing director for a commodities brokerage house, has switched lives with savvy street hustler, Billy Ray Valentine (Murphy), in a bet created by Winthorpe’s scheming employers, the Duke brothers. What follows is a tale that shows that it shouldn’t be money that makes a man happy, but the fact that he shares his life with those truly love you for who you are. Sounds much like another classic Christmas film, doesn’t it? Who wants to see Jimmy Stewart cry when you can watch Eddie Murphy deliver the line, “When I was a kid, if we wanted bubbles, we had to fart in the tub.” Classic.

6. 2046 (2004)

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Here is where we start cracking the “unconventional” layer, and start the crazy train of WTF’s. 2046 is a Chinese film that takes place during several Christmas Eves. This sequel film for 2000’s In the Mood for Love is as beautiful as it is thought-provoking, as the film follows science fiction writer Chow Mo-wan’s life after his affair with former flame, Su Li-zhen. The film takes the viewpoint from three other women that Chow sees, as well as from the viewpoint of a character in the fictional world he’s created, 2046, and her love with an android. As obscure as this film is in regards to Christmas, this film is definitely a film that should be viewed around this time of year for any true movie lover. With beautiful cinematography and excellent dialogue, this film is also on hand for viewing around Christmas time.

5. Edward Scissorhands (1990)

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Ahhh, Tim Burton. The man who’s not only made a film that I could watch at Halloween and Christmas, (The Nightmare Before Christmas), but has sparked a creative vein within many nowadays artists and filmmakers. One of my most favorite films that I enjoy to see from Burton, especially around Christmas, is this one right here. One of this generations’ modern fairy tales, this film follows the story of an inventor’s greatest creation – Edward, a near-complete person. The creator died before he could finish Edward’s hands, and, instead, left him with metal scissors for hands. Since then, he has lived alone, until a kind lady called Peg discovers him and welcomes him into her home. At first, everyone welcomes him into the community, but soon things begin to take a change for the worse. The film may not entirely take place during Christmas time, but its third act, and most climactic part of the film, does, as Edward is driven to run for his life by the frightened suburbanites. This film is, overall, a story that an elderly woman is telling her granddaughter before bedtime, and with the soft snow falling outside the windows, the vibe is definitely there that this is a Christmas movie.

4. Gremlins (1984)

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Man, these are some good films on this list, huh? The next entry to our list is a film that not only made true the fears we had when our parents would tell us that if we didn’t go to bed the gremlins under our bed would eat us (was that just me? Really?), but birthed an entire toy line of miniature Gizmos, called Furbys, that people just went nuts over. Gremlins is a tale of a man trying to get his son the best Christmas present ever, and in doing so, finds a Mogwai: a creature that requires great care and responsiblity, but c’mon, the dang thing can whistle! I mean, if my dog could do that, he would be able to call himself back inside! The problem is his son, Billy, probably should have followed the instructions a bit more closely, and because of that, chaos and mayhem take over the city on Christmas Eve. This was such a great and easy choice for this list, as the chaos of the gremlins would make for one heck of a Christmas party! Plus, I’m still hoping that somebody will find me a Mogwai and give it to me for Christmas. I think of it as more of a training video than a family Christmas film.

3. Batman Returns (1992)

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Why? Because I’m Batman! No, not really, but still, this is a must-see during the holidays! The monstrous Penguin (Danny DeVito), who lives in the sewers beneath Gotham, joins up with wicked shock-headed businessman Max Shreck (Christopher Walken) to topple the Batman (Michael Keaton) once and for all. But when Shreck’s timid assistant, Selina Kyle (Michelle Pfeiffer), finds out, and Shreck tries to kill her, she is transformed into the sexy Catwoman. She teams up with the Penguin and Shreck to destroy Batman, but sparks fly unexpectedly when she confronts the caped crusader, making for a difficult Christmas season for Batman. This has to be a must-see at least during the month of December. I mean, you have to at least see what a GOOD Batman movie looks like before seeing next year’s movie. Yup, I said it.

2. Eyes Wide Shut (1999)

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These last two spots on these lists are always rough to pick, as you’re down to two really great contenders, but unfortunately, there can only be one (Highlander reference, or The One, depending on what decade you were born in). At our number two spot, we have one of the most unconventional movies altogether, let alone, Christmas movies. Eyes Wide Shut was Stanley Kubrick’s last gift to the world before passing, giving us his unique interpretation of Arthur Schnitzler’s 1926 novella, Traumnovelle (Dream Story). After Dr. Bill Hartford’s (Tom Cruise) wife, Alice (Nicole Kidman), admits to having sexual fantasies about a man she met, Bill becomes obsessed with having a sexual encounter. He discovers an underground sexual group and attends one of their meetings — and quickly discovers that he is in over his head. This film, all taking place during the peak of Christmas time, quickly dives into the interstellar storytelling that only Kubrick can provide. Interestingly enough, some may argue that Kubrick’s use of the Christmas as opposed to Mardi Gras, as in the original novella, stands to symbolize the revitalization for the season (Reverse Shot), and some believe that Kubrick used Christmas as its setting as a frame of parallelism to sexual desires, for “desire is like Christmas: it always promises more than it delivers” (Lee Siegel). Either way, this is a film that, once you’ve seen it, you’ll know why Kubrick was a master at his trade, and make it a regular at your Christmas viewing pleasure. Or possible by yourself. In a dark room. Fidelio.

1. Die Hard (1988)

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Ok, I got pretty serious on that last one, but this one can be just simply put in one word: Seriously?! Was there any other choice for this top spot? John McClane, officer of the NYPD, tries to save his wife, Holly, and several others as they are taken hostage by German terrorist Hans Gruber during a Christmas party at the Nakatomi Plaza in Los Angeles. JOHN FREAKING MCCLANE! You know, yippee ki-yay and all that? This film is such an underrated Christmas film, as who doesn’t want to gather their family together in the living room, get cozy, and watch Alan Rickman say, “Now I have a machine gun. Ho ho ho.” It’s fun for the whole family!

Well, there’s our top 7 most unconventional Christmas movies! I know, there’s probably more, and you’re right. There’s a ton out there! Luckily, it’s now your job to keep an open eye, an open mind, and an open heart to the filmmakers out there that are trying to jump on this bandwagon. Make sure this holiday season, you show some love to these movies, and hopefully, you may actually make them a part of your Christmas celebration! From all of us here at Nerdreactor, we wish you a happy holiday!

 

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Eddie Villanueva Jr.
Eddie Villanueva Jr. 313 posts

A movie connoisseur of only the finest films, and an Encyclopod of geek and nerd knowledge. And if you know what an Encyclopod is, you're cool too!