My Favorite Non-Traditional Christmas Movies

Every year I have my select group of Christmas movies that, if I don’t get to watch, I consider a tiny Christmas failure. Of course, my list is mostly made up of the Christmas classics: A Christmas Story, Christmas Vacation, Elf, The Santa Clause, and Scrooged. There’s also the new semi-holiday classic of Love Actually (which I might have watched a few days prior to Thanksgiving–don’t tell anyone) that I have to fit in each year.

In addition to these mainstream holiday classics, I have a small list of Christmas-esque films I like to watch this time of year. Films that don’t scream “CHRISTMAS!” but instead nicely nod to the holiday. It’s not a tragedy if I don’t get these into my already busy cinematic film stretch, but it’s lovely if I do. Here they are:

The Family Stone PosterThe Family Stone: I really love this movie, mainly because it has such a fantastic ensemble cast. Sarah Jessica Parker, Rachel McAdams, and Diane Keaton should be enough of a reason to watch. The film follows a a semi-disasterous Christmas gathering of the Stone family, whose eldest son, played by Dermot Mulroney, brings home his uptight girlfriend (SJP) in hopes of acquiring “the family stone” to give her. But the family is less than receptive. Yeah, it’s a little bit romance. But it’s definitely not a standard romantic comedy and it weaves in comic elements with poignant, dramatic moments about family and life in general. I love the feel of the film and it’s certainly up there on my list of Christmas-esque movies.

Just Friends: What’s Christmas without a little Ryan Reynolds eye candy Just Friends Posteracting ability? Reynolds plays a former high school dork out for a chance with his former best friend when an emergency plane landing puts him in his hometown at Christmas. This movie is a whole lot of silly and yeah, it’s a romantic comedy. But it’s got enough guy humor to please a date and enough romance to charm the girls.

Sleepless in Seattle PosterSleepless in Seattle: Sleepless in Seattle is a cinematic movie classic, but it’s a perfect overall winter holiday movie seeing as it spans from Christmas to Valentine’s Day. In case you’ve never caught the film in TBS reruns or been forced to watch it by you mother/sister/girlfriend/wife/female pet, the film tells the tale of a widower (Tom Hanks) whose son calls a radio psychologist on Christmas Eve to say he thinks his dad needs a new wife. Women from all over the country send mail by the bagful to the charming stranger, including Annie (Meg Ryan), a Baltimore journalist who feels oddly captivated by his story. What unfolds is a non-traditional romantic movie that makes you ponder fate and signs.

While You Were Sleeping: Christmas is ruined for the wacky Callaghan family While You Were Sleeping Posterwhen their son is pushed onto a set of Chicago train tracks by two muggers. Luckily Lucy (Sandra Bullock), a toll booth operator with a longtime crush on her regular patron-turned-mugging-victim, (literally) jumps to his aid by getting on the tracks and dragging him away from an oncoming train. After a hospital mix-up, the Callaghan clan takes in the family-less Lucy with the belief she’s their comatose son’s fiance. Yeah, it’s pretty much a chick flick through and through, but I like it. Don’t judge.

Mona Lisa Smile PosterMona Lisa Smile: I don’t know if it’s because it was originally released at Christmas time (why I remember this, I don’t know) or because Macy Gray has a version of “Santa Baby” on the soundtrack, but for me there is something lovely and Christmas-y about this film. Julia Roberts stars as a Wellesley art history professor out to show her students–Kirsten Dunst, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Julia Stiles, and Ginnifer Goodwin among others–that there’s more to life than getting married and having lots of offspring. If you love Mad Men and the recent retro obsession, then you’ll love looking at the fashion of this 1950s-set film. It’s one of my favorite films.

Little Women: If you’ve ever read Little Women (which, I admit, I’ve never actually finished, but that’s for Little Women Poster another time and post…) then you might remember that the first line of the book is “Christmas won’t be Christmas without any presents.” The famous tale covers a few Christmases through its unfolding of the March family saga (and just look at that cover–totally Christmas-y!). I prefer the Winona Ryder, Susan Sarandon, Kirsten Dunst, Claire Danes version, and if you don’t tear up even a little when they give Beth (Danes) a piano at Christmas, then, to steal a line from one of my former columnists (the one of Sara Heutsler fame), you might not have a soul.

What do you think? Any non-Christmas classic movies you love watching at this time of year?

I’m off to drink hot chocolate and watch a movie get some work done.

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