Christmas is almost upon us and when it comes to films, you probably think first of films such as Home Alone or It’s A Wonderful Life or Elf. Whilst they’re all classics in their own right, it’s always nice to have a change and watch something new from the usual catalogue. So here are five alternative Christmas films that you may not initially associate with the festival. These are not in order of quality or alphabeticised, but in order of obscurity.
Bad Santa was and continues to be a great Christmas film – it manages to subvert the genre by essentially being an anti-Christmas film and is suitably raunchy and shocking. It also features a great central performance by Billy Bob Thornton as the titular character who really makes the character his own and as an audience, for all the character’s flaws, one can empathise with him. It has numerous standout sequences and is a film that holds up well to repeat viewings. Just ignore the sequel, which is a lazy, puerile and hateful film.
As well as a brilliant action film, Die Hard is also in my opinion, a Christmas film with its setting and how this impacts on its characters. Bruce Willis is excellent in his inaugral outing as the wisecracking John McClane and the late Alan Rickman plays Hans Gruber, an evil German terrorist who takes a building and its employees hostage. Gruber is perhaps one of the best film villains of all time. Whilst the sequels are so-so, the original is a masterpiece.
To compliment Die Hard, the original Lethal Weapon also implores a Christmas setting and is a fantastic action film. Compared to its sequels (which are also great), Lethal Weapon is a far more serious affair and certainly not all that comedic. There are some really dark moments in this film and the violence is very nasty at times. Mel Gibson and Danny Glover as the leads are fantastic, particularly Gibson’s turn as the suicidal Riggs.
Iron Man 3
A superhero film at Christmas? Yes, there are quite a few of them and to add to this list, Tim Burton’s Batman films can also be regarded as Christmas films. My pick though would be Shane Black’s Iron Man sequel, a delightfully subversive film in the series and the Marvel canon in general. Black’s film takes a lot of risks and didn’t particularly go down well with audiences, but I’d strongly recommend watching this if you want a different Marvel film to the majority of the collection that has variations in its narrative. Oh, and it’s also got a great Guy Pearce performance and an even better Ben Kingsley one…
I might be cheating here a bit as this film’s connection with Christmas is through the characters description and likeness of the Belgian city to the festival.Regardless, In Bruges is one of my favourite films of all time so I had to try and get it in here somehow. Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson and Ralph Fiennes are perfect in their roles and the film is very darkly comedic and is endlessly quotable. It’s shot beautifully and Carter Burwell’s score is superb. And with the Awards-nominated Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri due for release in a few weeks time, what better way to get started with Martin McDonagh’s filmography and watching a Christmas film at the same time…?
What are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments or tweet @TheFilmMeister