Not Your Grandma’s Holiday Movies: Six Alternate Picks

Posted by David Winnick

No matter your faith, creed, or religion, there’s one altar we all worship at come December: the television. It’s the time of year when people around the world hunker down with a nice cup of eggnog or a spiced cider and watch holiday movies as a family. It’s almost impossible to avoid the classics: White Christmas, It’s a Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street, A Christmas Carol, The Star Wars Holiday Special…I could go on, but you’re already yawning.

Don’t get me wrong, all of these films are fine if you want traditional fare, but tradition is boring. Fortunately, there are some great movies that take place around wintertime holidays that are completely free of jolly fat men in red suits, snow covered fields, heart warming family reunions and important lessons about the spirit of giving. Here are TK movies for your family viewing that are—technically!—holidayesque.

Die Hard: It would be impossible to ignore this great action movie. John McClane is by far, one of Bruce Willis’s most memorable characters. Poor John flies to L.A from New York to be with his family at Christmas only to find himself fighting a group of international terrorists in a high rise building. Though this film never forgets it takes place on Christmas, it sure isn’t about holiday cheer.

Go: Director Doug Liman’s film about a drug deal gone horribly wrong is a star-studded romp through the holiday season.

The movie follows three interweaving story lines which all revolve around selling illegal substances, and while the holiday references are few and far between, keep an eye peeled and you’ll catch Timothy Olyphant in a Santa hat.

Prometheus: Not one of the most critically-acclaimed Ridley Scott movies, but still worth a watch.

With really neat special effects and a story line that leads into the fantastic movie Alien, Prometheus is a must see. The holiday angle comes at the hands of the always -fantastic Idris Elba, who decorates a very tiny Christmas tree in one scene. If you want to freak out the whole family for the holidays, this is the movie to watch.

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang: A murder mystery/action comedy that takes place over what has to be the most depressing Christmas ever.

Writer/Director Shane Black has a thing about the holidays—every one of his movies includes something about that special time of year—and this little gem showcases two amazing performances by Val Kilmer and Robert Downey Jr. If you haven’t seen it yet, go out and get it by Christmas Eve for some seasonally-appropriate viewing.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo: The holidays are hardly even mentioned in the adaptation of Stieg Larsson’s novel, but there’s enough snowfall in them to make even a sun-soaked Californian feel the cold.

Touted as the “feel-bad movie of Christmas,” this is an intense ride through a world full of killers and sexual deviants. It didn’t blow away the competition at the box office, but sequel speculations still abound.

The Thin Man: The Thin Man follows the exploits of husband and wife detectives Nick and Nora Charles over the holiday season. When murder most foul rears its ugly head, it’s up to the two gumshoes to solve the case.

When at last they figure out the solution, they reveal everything in a classic parlor scene, as cleverly put together as a holiday party.

The Addams Family: This is such a perfect Halloween film, it is almost impossible to remember that the whole thing starts on Christmas Eve. But it does!

The movie kicks off with the family pouring a giant cauldron of hot liquid onto the heads of carolers singing “Deck the Halls,” and the holiday spirit flows onward from there. In its own way, this movie is all about the holiday spirit: loving your family and their creepy, kooky, mysterious, ooky selves, no matter what.