With the holidays just around the corner, it is the perfect time to prepare your Christmas movie list! If you’re bored of the same old “Home Alone” or “Love, actually” and are looking for something completely different, try watching one of the unconventional Christmas movies. Luckily for you, there are plenty of them!
Some of these movies are set at Christmas time but do not revolve only around the holiday cheer, some are original twists on the well-known Christmas tales, and some are just good old but not as cheesy classics. From romantic comedies and horror movies to spy thrillers and even war stories, here are 14 alternative Christmas movies that you cannot miss.
Trading Places (1983)
“Trading Places” might not be the first name that comes to mind when making your Christmas movie list, but this hilarious comedy is loaded with Christmas hints as well as good laughs. The story follows a wealthy broker and a homeless street hustler (played by Dan Aykrouyd and Eddie Murphy respectfully) who switch places when the former is framed by his bosses. An original screenplay and brilliant acting are what make “Trading Places” one of the greatest comedies of all time.
“Carol” is an adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s novel “The Price of Salt” that portrays a love story between Carol, a glamorous woman played by Cate Blanchett, and Therese, a lonely shop girl and an aspiring photographer, played by Rooney Mara. The two meet during the Christmas season of 1952 when Carol is searching to buy a doll for her daughter. One of the best unconventional Christmas movies with an intense romantic spell, “Carol” will give you all the feels.
Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (2010)
If you’re looking for the best non-traditional Christmas movies, “Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale” should definitely be on your list! From Finnish director Jalmari Helander, the film is set in the snowy mountains of Finland and tells the story of a different kind of Santa… Apparently, according to the local folklore, Santa Claus is a monstrous being that is more interested in kidnapping naughty children than bringing them presents. Chilling, captivating, and even comedic, “Rare Exports” bring an original twist to the classic Christmas tale.
Another Christmas movie that combines horror with dark comedy, “Krampus” follows a dysfunctional suburban family that gets together over the holidays. The tensions between family members and the lack of Christmas spirit accidentally unleashes Krampus, the mythical demonic creature that comes to punish all non-believers. This comic thriller will definitely convince you not to be bitter on Christmas!
You’ve Got Mail (1998)
“You’ve Got Mail” is not a textbook Christmas movie, but rather a good romantic classic that will warm the hearts of even the grumpiest Grinches. It follows two characters played by Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks, who are rivals in real life but fall in love with each other over the Internet. The story takes place from fall to spring, though some of the most important scenes happen during Christmas time, and there are enough snow-covered streets and Christmas decorations to feel the holiday spirit.
Hold the Dark (2018)
Available on Netflix, “Hold the Dark” is a suspenseful thriller set during the snowy Alaskan winter. The film follows Russell Core, an investigator that was hired by a young woman to track down the wolf responsible for the disappearance of her 6-year old son. Things get even weirder and more violent when the boy’s father returns from Iraq. This very alternative Christmas movie will hold your attention until the last second.
While You Were Sleeping (1995)
“While You Were Sleeping” is a classic and very charming movie that is often missed during the holiday season, even though its storyline begins just before Christmas and ends just after New Year’s Eve. Lucy Eleanor Moderatz, the main character played by Sandra Bullock, is a lonely dreamer that usually has to work during the holidays. Everything changes on Christmas day when Lucy rescues her crush from a mugging.
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)
Part action movie and part comedy, “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” is Shane Black’s murder mystery set around Christmas time. The story follows Harry, a thief posing as an actor (played by Robert Downey Jr.) who finds himself in the middle of a murder investigation along with his childhood crush Harmony (played by Michelle Monaghan) and a private investigator “Gay” Perry (played by Val Kilmer) who’s been hired to train Harry for his screen test.
The Ice Harvest (2005)
Another great Christmas-themed comedic thriller, “The Ice Harvest” follows a lawyer and a strip club owner (played by John Cusack and Billy Bob Thornton respectfully) as they team up on Christmas Eve to steal $2 million from a local mobster. Their job seems successful, but soon events take a different turn. If you’re into non-traditional Christmas movies that are not so much about the holiday cheer but are still super fun – “The Ice Harvest” might be it!
Christmas, again (2014)
“Christmas, again” is an emotional independent Christmas-themed movie that shows New York without the usual holiday glamor and captures the unique character of the city. It tells the story of a lonely Christmas-tree salesman who returns to New York hoping to turn his life around and meets a mysterious woman that saves him from self-destruction. “Christmas, again” is definitely one of the best lesser-known unconventional Christmas movies that will make you think about the reality of life.
A Christmas Tale / Un conte de Noël (2008)
French comedy-drama “A Christmas Tale” might look like one of those big family Christmas movies that you’ve seen a hundred times before, but it is much more than that. The story follows a dysfunctional Vuillard family that reunites for Christmas when their matriarch requires a bone-marrow transplant. The estranged characters, their secrets, and complicated relationships as well as great acting make this movie a classic Christmas drama.
The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996)
What can be better than an action-packed spy movie mixed with some Christmas spirit? “The Long Kiss Goodnight” follows Samantha Caine (played by Gena Davis), a small-town teacher who eight years earlier was washed ashore pregnant and completely amnesiac. During the Christmas holidays, Samantha gets involved in a car accident, and soon after, weird things start happening in her life.
Joyeux Noel (2005)
If you’re looking for alternative Christmas movies to watch this holiday season, Joyeux Noel should definitely make your list. This epic war drama depicts the events of Christmas 1914 when an unofficial truce was made between the opposing sides during the First World War. The movie revolves around the experiences of French, Scottish, and German soldiers as they spend Christmas night on the front and get a chance to gain insight into each other’s way of life.
“C.r.a.z.y.” is a French-Canadian drama, directed by Jean-Marc Vallée (his other work includes “Wild”, “Dallas Buyers Club,” and HBO’s Emmy-winning “Big Little Lies”). It tells the intimate story of a young gay man Zac who was born on Christmas and grew up with his conservative family. The plotline of the movie jumps through time and depicts Zac’s experiences during Christmases in different years.