Just because you love Christmas time doesn't mean you love Christmas movies. Some people enjoy the straight-to-TV (or Netflix) productions that capitalize on all the warm and fuzzy feelings folks have for the holidays. And there's nothing wrong with that, but there are some of us who'd much rather be killed by a Daewoo Lanos or dropped from the roof of Nakatomi Plaza than sit through that saccharine swill.
So what's a person who loves Christmas to do when it's time to snuggle up, settle down, and watch a movie that's got just the right tinge of yuletide cheer without a plot that'll make your eyes roll so hard you go blind?
Turn on one of these non-Christmas movies instead.
This is the obvious winner, by far. If you've never seen the movie, one: you're probably an alien from a foreign planet and we're on to you. Two: go and watch it right now. It's the reason Bruce Willis is who he is in entertainment and why the divorced-down-on-his-luck-but-good-at-his-job-and-tough-as-nails-cop genre became saturated with so many titles. Recent developments have "officially" named this film a Christmas movie, but thankfully it doesn't carry the often-lame connotations that some other "Christmas-Christmas" movies fall under.
Plus, it was Alan Rickman's first major role and he ends up portraying one of the most memorable action film villains of all time. RIP Snape, RIP Gruber.
'Kiss Kiss Bang Bang'
You're going to notice a lot of Shane Black movies on this list, and it's because Shane Black loves writing movies set during Christmastime, but don't really have that much to do with Christmas. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is the film that brought Robert Downey Jr. back into the limelight: he plays a petty thief who, while stealing Christmas gifts for a young kid, barges into an audition room to escape the police and ends up getting cast for a huge Hollywood film.
He partners up with Val Kilmer, who plays Gay Perry, a caustic but funny private investigator who's supposed to "coach" him on the role. Oh, and RDJ loses a finger after a door slams on it and a dog eats it. Spoiler, I'm sorry. Please go watch.
Oh what, you forgot that this delightfully weird Tim Burton film starring a non-speaking Johnny Depp was set during Christmas time? Before Burton was training squirrels for Willy Wonka films, he was making charming movies like Edward Scissorhands that captivated the minds of fans everywhere with their unique, somehow commercialized level of weird macabre. Depp's performance is amazing: the man barely utters a word and you totally feel for him the whole movie.
Tim Burton, again, has Christmas in the backdrop of Batman Returns, aka, "the last good Batman before the Nolan ones." Best scenes in the movie? I still remember when my cousin, Afrim, covered his eyes after watching Danny DeVito penguin bite the mayors nose. But the best scene in the movie is when Christopher Walken (Max Schreck) starts shooting Michelle Pfeiffer (Catwoman), but doesn't know she has 9 lives. So good.
Along with being the king of Christmas-as-a-backdrop-for-action movies, Shane Black is also the master of the buddy-cop-mystery formula. Lethal Weapon was such a smash success, both critically and commercially, that it spawned about a zillion clones and launched Mel Gibson's career into the super stratosphere.
'You've Got Mail'
There are a lot of action/violent movies on this list, but what about a nice romantic comedy with a plot that could stand on its own legs without having to rely on Christmas as a selling point? This Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan comedy is a great watch for two reasons. The first: it's just a solid rom-com with great writing, plus Tom Hanks is America's dad. The second: you get to see how adorable the internet and its place in society was at the time. Ahhh, the AOL days.
'Eyes Wide Shut'
This is probably the closest Stanley Kubrick has ever gotten to making a feel-good Christmas film. The only problem is that it's more about infidelity and a secret underground kink fest that turns out to be a nightmare for Tom Cruise's character. Happy Christmas, Tom! (side note: they really did him dirty in this poster — remove two of those gift boxes and extend his legs).
It only makes sense that the hottest Christmas gift for kids at one point was based on this movie. Gremlins, like the other films on this list, doesn't really center around Christmas or use it as part of its plot at all: it's more concerned with monsters sprouting off the back of an adorable little guy who was mistakenly fed after midnight.
This classic film about a nightclub owner helping an old lover and her husband escape the country is known for Bogart's cool-guy-ism and the ad-libbed line, "Here's looking at you, kid." The fact that Bogart exclusively drank whiskey on movie sets might've had something to do with that line, which really doesn't make sense when you think about it. But hey, it worked.
'Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory'
This film is more about the ills of exploiting foreign workers, crippling addiction to chocolate, and child abuse than it has to do with Christmas. But it is set during the happiest time of year, so think about that the next time you watch the horrifying scene of that little girl blowing up into a blueberry.
'Iron Man 3'
The best Iron Man film, (the first is too slow and doesn't hold up, and the second is a terrible romantic comedy) to date is also set during the Christmas season. Plus, it's got Ben Kingsley in it and a PTSD Tony Stark, who sits on top of Randy's Donuts to eat some fat-and-sugar doughballs.
The only thing worse than musicals are Christmas musicals. Thankfully, Rent is set during Christmas time, but doesn't hit you over the head with showtune renditions of Christmas classics. That would make the movie that much more insufferable.
'When Harry Met Sally'
Yet another rom-com that doesn't rely on some lame Christmas plot to get its laughs, with the sole exception of that whole Christmas-tree failure scene. The speech at New Year's Eve is a nice touch, as well.
Dennis Leary's got a married couple held hostage over the holidays, which isn't a very Lifetime movie friendly plot, now is it? Neither is the scene where a drunken Santa Claus stumbles into a Christmas party and explains to some incredulous children that he doesn't drink milk because he's lactose intolerant. He prefers champagne because he doesn't want to be "farting down everyone's chimney."