5 Less Obvious Christmas Movies

Edward Scissorhands

There’s something magical about snow, and snow is something that films very well. Tim Burton’s Edward Scissorhands perfectly captures this facet of the Christmas season.

Actually, the movie is partially in the spirit of Rudyard Kipling’s Just So Stories. Sure, Edward’s story is a fish-out-of-water dramedy version of the Frankenstein story, but its resolution answers the unasked question: “Where does snow come from?” Just sit back, and find out.

I almost tried to describe the “Ice Dance” scene just now, but then realized that nothing would compare to simply listening to the music from it.


Edward Scissorhands is one of the few movies where you can find that serene calm that covers the world when everything is buried under a few inches of snow. Even if (like me) you’re stuck in a place that doesn’t see it very much.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

One of the essential moments of the Christmas season, especially for the younger crowd, is the excitement of opening presents. That’s what watching the first movie featuring the world’s most famous wizard feels like to me. Cheer hangs in the air, and surprises wait around every corner.

Really, the whole Harry Potter series has a wintry air about it — much of the English school year falls under colder months by default — so I had to think long and hard about which one to include in this list. In particular, Prisoner of Azkaban and Goblet of Fire gave me pause, as both of them feature great scenes set in the dead of winter. I eventually picked Sorcerer’s Stone. Mainly because, for both the audience and characters, it’s the one that has the most newness and joy hidden inside.

It also has fantastic candy, strangers bearing gifts, wrapping paper, Christmas sweaters, and Hogwarts snowfalls. Sounds like a great Christmas to me..

Batman Returns

And now for something completely different.

Tim Burton pulls heartstrings with the best of them; just look at Edward Scissorhands up there. When he’s not going for the heart, though, he’s liable to go for the throat. We recently saw this in Sweeney Todd, but his second Batman outing hides some dark shadows, too.

Even if it is set during the most wonderful time of the year, holiday cheer and presents are nowhere to be found during Advent season in Gotham City. Everything’s steely and somber on the surface, lived in by a population led by scaly villains in high towers. There’s immolation, electrocution, and kidnapping, yet somehow, this movie is hilarious. The very definition of dark comedy.

For me, Batman Returns flawlessly captures the melancholy side of winter and the Christmas season. For every beautiful snowfall there’s an iron-gray sky. For every office party there’s an awkward non-romance. For every happy family there’s an orphan fighting against evil penguins in the sewers. That sort of thing.

“Mistletoe can be deadly if you eat it. But a kiss can be deadlier… if you mean it.”

Merry Christmas.

And there you have it. Now, what movies are you watching in-between Charlie Brown and Christmas Vacation?

  • MGF

    no gremlins?

  • internet superstar

    Die Hard deserved a place on this list. Odd as it sounds, my family watches it every year around christmas.

  • Toys needs to be on any offbeat Christmas movie list.

  • monstrinho

    Somehow i always end up watching Jingle All the Way. It’s so horrible that i rather like it.

  • JW

    Just discovered The Snowman? Have you been living under a rock all these years?!

  • Straenge

    I have to agree with MGF. Gremlins is just one of those great unobvious but only slightly under Die Hard unobvious Christmas movies. Also, I am one of the few people I know that remember when The Snowman originally aired (with David Bowie narrating) yet until recently, very few people I knew had seen it and I always watch it around this time of year.

  • Straenge

    Almost forgot another of my Christmas movies is Grumpy Old Men which, for myself at least, was as much of a Christmas tradition as watching Albert Finney’s version of Scrooge.

  • Steve2

    “The Ref” with Denis Leary and Kevin Spacey.

  • Steve2, YES.

  • Johannes P Anderson

    *Philosopher’s Stone

  • erisquilty

    I prefer a classic: The Thin Man. A hilarious murder mystery that everyone forgets is set during Christmas.

  • Prometheus 😀
    (The pilot sets up a Christmas tree saying it is Christmas day)

    Either Die Hard or Die Hard 2 my bro and I watch every year. I did break tradition last year by watching Love Actually.

  • Schiapu

    I think a lot of people know Die Hard is a Christmas movie, so it’s less obvious. I too watch Die Hard on christmas, as well as Love Actually.

  • Sam Francisco

    Home Alone

  • Todd X

    I know the movie is not Xmassey and all bu there is the anecdote the character Cherish tells in Cecil B. Demented that is darkly comical and very related to Xmas.