Typically, films like “Miracle on 34th Street” and “A Christmas Story” are at the top echelon of Christmas movies. Mainly because their synopses revolve specifically around the cherished holiday. That being said, some of the best Christmas movies aren’t always about Christmas. Films that are either partially or entirely set on this time of year and capture the various meanings of it. In honor of the Yuletide tradition, here’s a list of ten of the best Christmas-adjacent pictures.
dir. Lorene Scafaria
A seriocomic depiction of the Wall Street crisis might not scream holiday cheer at first glance. Yet, the movie’s Christmas sequence that warrants its placement on its list. The main characters are like family to one another. So, as they showcase their family dynamic and do the traditional gift-giving during that pivotal moment, they capture the true purpose of Christmas.
9“Sugar & Spice” (2001)
dir. Francine McDougall
“Sugar & Spice” remains an underrated gem within the teen movie canon. It’s a witty dark comedy about a group of bank robbing cheerleaders that hasn’t enjoyed “Bring It On“-level fame. It’s also a doable holiday watch since the six cheerleaders plot their robbery around Christmastime. Plus, it emphasizes on the sisterly bond the cheerleaders have and as previously mentioned, Christmas is about the importance of family.
8“Catch Me If You Can” (2002)
dir. Steven Spielberg
Although Christmas is meant to be a happy time, “Catch Me If You Can” masterfully captures its melancholic notions, showing how bad it can be for those who feel alone. In the case of Frank Abagnale, Jr. (Leonardo DiCaprio), he lives a life of never ending solitude as he runs from law enforcement. So much so that he always converses with Carl Hanratty (Tom Hanks), the man continuously pursuing him, on Christmastime.
7“Little Women” (1994)
dir. Gillian Armstrong
Besides getting and giving presents, Christmas is also about charity. As the March sisters celebrate the holiday, they give their planned feast to a needy family. Even though they’re not necessarily well off, they still exercise an act of kindness for a family less fortunate than they are. If anything, “Little Women” gives viewers some perspective. Treat little things like a proper home as a gift because not everyone has the same luxury.
6“Batman Returns” (1992)
dir. Tim Burton
All the Penguin (Danny DeVito) wants is love and acceptance. While he may antagonizes Gotham City, he does so in order to enact revenge against the citizens that don’t make him feel welcome. The story taking place during Christmas, a time of love and acceptance, gives him an added incentive. Even his fellow villain Catwoman (Michelle Pfeiffer), who cherishes her life of slight solitude, can’t help her own loneliness.
5“The Lion in Winter” (1968)
dir. Anthony Harvey
In “The Lion in Winter,” King Henry II (Peter O’Toole) must decide which son will succeed him to his throne. He does so on Christmastime with the help of his wife Eleanor of Aquitaine (Katharine Hepburn). What follows is a series of arguments and schemes. Essentially, what some families call a typical Christmas gathering. Even those not involved in monarchy or politics can slightly recognize the bickering that goes on with their clan.
dir. Martin Scorsese
Similar to “Hustlers,” “Goodfellas” depicts its antiheroes getting festive after pulling off a big robbery. Jimmy Conway (Robert De Niro) and his crew are celebrating at a Christmas party after the Lufthansa heist at JFK. Although some crew members break Conway’s one simple rule of no buying expensive things after the heist, Conway can still somewhat enjoy the holiday before what transpires after.
dir. Todd Haynes
First off, the film is called “Carol” which fits the Christmas theme. Also, the main protagonist Therese (Rooney Mara) finds love as she works in a department store during the holidays. Carol Aird (Cate Blanchett), the object of her affection, expresses relatable frustrations of having to buy lavish presents. Carol’s woes slowly vanish once she and Therese find bliss after “accidentally” leaving her gloves at Therese’s workplace.
2“Edward Scissorhands” (1990)
dir. Tim Burton
As it turns out, Tim Burton is a master at making festive odes to outcasts. Edward Scissorhands (Johnny Depp) might not be villainous, but he struggles easing his way into an environment different from his own. In more ways than one, he brings Christmas to the suburban neighborhood he is brought into. In addition to making his own snowstorm as he carves ice sculptures, he tries teaching the neighbors about embracing one’s differences.
1“Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” (2001)
dir. Chris Columbus
Almost all the “Harry Potter” films acknowledge the holiday. However, the first one is the most heartwarming depiction of it. It’s hard not to smile seeing Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) express joy when he gets presents on Christmas morning. He’s an orphan who has been mistreated by his abusive aunt and uncle. But on this time of year, he thankfully gets to have a moment of pure happiness and appreciation.