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Best Christmas Films That Aren’t Actually Christmas Films

Some Christmas movies are just inevitable. Whether it’s Love Actually, The Holiday, or a back-to-back marathon of the Home Alone films, we all have our yearly viewing ritual that is guaranteed to put us in the holiday spirit.

Netflix is currently churning out more festive flicks than we can consume in a year, let alone during the month of December, adding to the ever-growing Christmas canon that we inevitably dive into every year. But what about those movies that are less synonymous with Christmas? The ones that aren’t necessarily restricted to the December window, but there’s something about them that screams  Christmastime. If you’re somewhat sick of the classics this year, cosy up to the following not-quite-Christmas movies that could certainly put up a good case for being classified as such.  


Snow is a big factor when it comes to evoking the spirt of Christmas, and Frozen offers it in abundance. Taking place in the fictitious fjords of Arendelle, where Queen Elsa has ensued perpetual winter, this modern animated classic is the perfect film to curl up to when it’s cold outside. Its heart-warming story is guaranteed defrost the coldest of hearts, making it a permanent family fixture for the festive season.  

Little Women

It was released on Christmas day in 2019 and spoils us with not one, but two pivotal Christmas scenes! So why isn’t Little Women on your watch list already? The young Marches embody the kindness of Christmas by giving up their breakfast to their starving neighbours. It’s certainly more the spirit than the setting that makes Greta Gerwig’s Little Women the perfect holiday watch.  

Mean Girls

Since Mean Girls takes place across an entire year, the teenagers take us through a fair few holidays. But the Jingle Bell Rock dance has got to be one of the most iconic scenes in the film, and dare I say, the history of cinema. It catalyses the film’s plot when Cady wins over Regina’s affections by preventing a social-suicide level disaster of a performance. But more importantly, the scene has had a lasting impact of fans, who whip out the choreography whenever the tune comes on.  


Todd Hayne’s adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s novel was a critical darling, and it’s clear to see why. It is a masterclass in sexual tension, telling the tale of two women who fall in love in the 1950s. Therese meets recently divorced Carol whilst working in a department store during Christmas. The New York snow, shop workers donned in Santa hats and a sweet piano sonata are all subtle nods to the season that make Carol the most beautifully tragic non-Christmas-Christmas movie ever.  

Iron Man 3

A Marvel film can’t be a Christmas film as well, can it? Well, the final instalment of the Iron Man trilogy has been confirmed by the studio’s president as one, even though it came out during the summer. After going through the trauma of a near-death experience, Tony Stark is separated from his loved ones and quickly realises that his armour can’t shield him from his own mind. The film tackles the subject of loneliness during the holidays, something that is too frequently overlooked. 


Sean Baker’s film is notorious for being shot in its entirety on an iPhone 5S. It is less notorious for being a Christmas film. Tangerine follows Sin-Dee as she charges through Hollywood with her best friend to track down her unfaithful boyfriend. It’s funny, heart-warming and poignant- the perfect ingredients for any good Christmas watch. And the entire film takes place on Christmas Eve! 

Edward Scissorhands

Tim Burton’s movies tend to lean towards the Halloween side of the scale, but a few of them toe the line, and Edward Scissorhands is one of them. The movie employs a framed narrative, where a woman tells her grandchild the story of why it snows at Christmas. The tale of a man with scissors for hands might not scream Christmas, but it tracks the isolation and family awkwardness so typical of the season.  


The 2005 film adaptation of the critically acclaimed musical had many critics arguing that Rent should have stayed on the stage. But if you’re a fan of the show, it’s easy to forgive the film for its flaws. Rent follows a group of bohemian artists who are struggling to survive in New York. It begins and ends on Christmas Eve, but should be avoided if you’re not prepared to cry this Christmas.  


Gremlins is another film that you could argue is better placed during Halloween, but who says you can’t be scared at Christmas? The town is decked out in festive décor, Carollers brighten up the soundtrack, and It’s A Wonderful Life can be seen playing on a TV. The entire premise is even set upon the Christmas gift that keeps on giving- a Mogwai called Gizmo. A slight bit of negligence leads to the spawning of a lot of evil Mogwai, who belt out a Christmas carol, solidifying this horror-comedy as a festive classic.  

Sound of Music

Some movies have absolutely no business being associated with Christmas, and Sound of Music might be the front runner. The summery setting of Salzburg doesn’t exactly scream Christmas, but the film is always shown on TV during the season, making it an honorary member of this club. It’s a timeless classic, and clearly this extends to any time of the year as well.  


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