It’s the most wonderful time of the year, but for some, the Christmas films that are paraded out every December have all become a bit much. Considering people flock to certain films for the festive period, there aren’t many alternatives out there.
But even the Scrooges can get behind some of these cinematic classics that happen to be perfect for the Christmas season, without actually being straight up films made for the holidays. From family favorites to action films that somehow managed to align themselves with Santas and sleighs, there’s a little something for everyone amongst these hits.
10 Mean Girls (2004)
Mean Girls has very obvious connections to Christmas thanks to its iconic dance sequence, but the film is so much more than the festive period. In fact, it’s probably one of the most beloved teen films of all time.
People still wear pink on Wednesdays thanks to the influence of a film that has come to define many teenage years. With huge stars like Lindsey Lohan and Amanda Seyfried, this charming film is perfect for anyone who wants to relive the 2000s this December.
9 Die Hard (1988)
There’s a constant debate over whether Die Hard really is a Christmas film. There’s certainly no debate whatsoever though over whether the film could be considered an action classic. It launched Bruce Willis to the next level and has always been heralded as one of the greats.
Plus, since it can just about get away with being a Christmas movie, it’s one for the action lovers who don’t fancy watching Elf once again and instead want to enjoy one of the career-defining performances of the late Alan Rickman.
8 Iron Man 3 (2013)
With no other Christmas films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Iron Man 3 perhaps comes the closest to bringing some festive cheer. It’s hardly a surprise that the third installment in the franchise when this route, considering Shane Black is the director.
While there may be a lot of arguments over whether the movie is actually fantastic or ruined by that controversial twist, the minor Christmas scenes definitely give Marvel fans an excuse to skip The Knight Before Christmas and enjoy some Tony Stark action instead.
7 Rise Of The Guardians (2012)
One of the most underrated movies from DreamWorks, the visually striking Rise of the Guardians wowed audiences by bringing together classic fantasy characters like the Easter Bunny, Sandman and Santa Claus, in a thrilling family adventure.
Based on the classic novel The Guardians of Childhood, the movie has just enough festive elements but also takes them in a completely new direction. With a completely stacked cast, Alec Baldwin’s Santa is unlike anything in cinema today.
6 Harry Potter And The Sorcerer’s Stone (2001)
The Harry Potter franchise can be and should be enjoyed at any time of the year, but something about the Sorcerer’s Stone feels a little extra Christmassy. Perhaps it’s the long sequences playing wizard chess in the Great Hall, or the snowy fields that surround the castle.
The movie is a great family classic and for fans of the series in the UK, it’s also a film that seems to be featured on TV on repeat throughout the festive period. Plus, the movie really captures the magic of the season in a unique way.
5 Frozen (2013) And Frozen 2 (2019)
Frozen and its sequel Frozen 2 were never meant to be Christmas films. Sure there are festive spin-offs featuring the same characters, but the sequel was even released in the middle of summer; of course only matching that original summery song.
Due to the movies finding their inspiration in the story of the Ice Queen, it’s difficult not to connect the reindeer and snow to Christmas. For families that haven’t had this move played on a constant loop throughout the year though, December may be a great time to visit Arrendelle once again.
4 Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)
Another Shane Black classic and this is perhaps one of his most famous incidences of using Christmas as part of the narrative despite the plot not necessarily calling for it. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is also the film that helped secure Robert Downey Jr’s role as Iron Man!
For murder mystery fans and those who love a bit of extra violence to break up this joyful period of time, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang contains the blood and gore of great action films, while also adding in some crime elements linked to a few big twists.
3 Batman Returns (1992)
Tim Burton may be linked to a different film that’s part Halloween, part Christmas, but fans of his work seem to overlook the Yule time elements included within Batman Returns. The Penguin can already be considered to be a festive foe.
But linked with the huge Christmas tree, Alfred’s shopping trip, and the snowy scene across the city and suddenly it becomes clear that this is Burton’s take on how Gotham would celebrate the time of year. Of course the holidays do not stop Bruce Wayne from suiting up and probably should stop fans from watching!
2 The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe (2005)
The Narnia series may have petered out before all of the novels could be adapted, but it was not intended to be a Christmas franchise. However, the first installment is the perfect wintery movie for the family to enjoy.
With a magical world inside a wardrobe that has been taken over by the White Witch, this is a fantasy epic unlike any other. Let’s not forget that a version of Santa Claus actually turns up in the film, although the gifts he dishes out aren’t exactly child friendly.
1 Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Princess Leia; they are all characters that have somehow become associated with Christmas. Perhaps it’s the recent winter release dates for the new Star Wars films, or maybe it’s the mania linked to the toys back when the movies were first released which made every parent dread going to the store.
Empire Strikes Back seems especially festive, because despite its grim ending the movie does open up on the snowy planet of Hoth, which is just brilliant for the winter season. There’s certainly plenty of households that have come to visit the galaxy far far away as a yearly tradition.