Vote For The Best Offbeat Holiday Films

Vote For The Best Offbeat Holiday Films

Whether it’s a 24-hour marathon of “A Christmas Story or a late-night screening of “It’s A Wonderful Life,” everyone has their favorite holiday movie tradition. But sometimes it’s nice to mix things up a bit, too, with an offbeat holiday film. So, vote for which of these unconventional holiday films reigns supreme — and maybe add a new undiscovered gem to your holiday movie rotation.

Action Favorites

“Die Hard” (1988) vs. “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” (2005)

If you’ve been anywhere on the Internet in the past few years, you’ve probably seen someone cite “Die Hard as their favorite Christmas movie. The iconic action thriller takes place on Christmas Eve with Alan Rickman’s Hans Gruber as the ultimate Grinch. When Gruber takes Nakatomi Plaza hostage, Bruce Willis’ John McClane must use all his ingenuity to save the day — and the holiday season. While this action classic has inspired dozens of copycats, none can hold a (Christmas) candle to the original.

Few filmmakers love Christmas as much as Shane Black, who sets most of his witty, subversive action films during the holiday season — from “Lethal Weapon to “Iron Man 3.” One of Black’s best is his directorial debut “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang,” which stars Robert Downey Jr. as a thief who’s accidentally mistaken for an actor and whisked away to the glamorous world of Hollywood. By placing the classic beats of a hardboiled noir in the sardonic world of modern-day L.A., Black creates a totally unique black comedy crime thriller with just a touch of Christmas flair.   

“You’ve Got Mail” (1998) vs. “Carol” (2015)

Unlike “Love Actually”, Nora Ephron’s rom-com classic “You’ve Got Mail only features a handful of scenes that are actually set at Christmas. But they’re crucial to the cozy, comforting tone of the entire film. Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan play two business rivals who unknowingly fall in love over anonymous emails. And Ephron uses bookshops, snowy New York City streets, family memories, and Joni Mitchell songs to deepen their connection and lovingly evoke the Christmas season. 

The dreamy love affair at the heart of “Carol” kick starts at Christmas when glamorous Carol Aird (Cate Blanchett) meets shy aspiring photographer Therese Belivet (Rooney Mara) in the toy section of a department store. In 1952, their romance is a forbidden one, but the two women nevertheless strike up a passionate connection. This Oscar-nominated film marked a game-changing moment for lesbian representation and doubles as a lovely Christmas romantic drama.

Raunchy Comedies

“Bad Santa” (2003) vs. “The Night Before” (2015)

Christmas isn’t just a time for sugar plum treats and feel-good family stories. In 2003, “Bad Santa” turned the holiday genre on its head with an R-rated edge that’s far more naughty than nice. Billy Bob Thornton plays an alcoholic, sex-addicted, foul-mouthed thief who takes a job as a mall Santa in order to rob the place. The film’s rude, crude, gleefully offensive style earned it a legion of fans (not to mention a sequel) and changed the Christmas movie genre forever.

The Night Before” balances its raunchy tone with just a touch more sweetness. Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen and Anthony Mackie play three childhood best friends who spend each Christmas Eve partying their way across New York City. As they head into their mid-30s, they agree to leave the tradition behind. But not before one last epic night involving drugs, dick pics, Miley Cyrus, and some hilarious jokes about Rogen’s Jewish perspective on Christmas.

Classic Hollywood

“Meet Me In St. Louis” (1944) vs. “The Apartment” (1960)

As the movie that first introduced the song “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas,” “Meet Me In St. Louis earns major holiday points, even if only part of it is actually set at Christmas. The classic MGM musical stars Judy Garland as a young woman who can’t wait for the 1904 World’s Fair to arrive in her hometown. “Meet Me In St. Louis is bursting with Technicolor joy, including Garland’s iconic performance of “The Trolley Song.” But it also offers a surprisingly poignant look at the ups and downs of family life.

The Apartment” is an even more bittersweet reflection on the holiday season. The black and white Best Picture winner stars Jack Lemmon as a lonely insurance employee who loans out his apartment for his bosses’ extramarital affairs. At least until an unexpected encounter with his office crush (Shirley MacLaine) inspires him to rethink his life. With its unique blend of sweet and sour tones, “The Apartment” is a particularly grown-up take on the holiday season.

Holiday Horror

“Krampus” (2015) vs. “Black Christmas” (2019)

For those who really like something different around the holidays, there’s nothing better than a little holiday horror. Based on the German folktale of a half-goat, half-demon who punishes naughty children during the Christmas season, “Krampus” follows a dysfunctional family as they’re picked off one by one by the terrifying creature. The film blends its Yuletide scares with wicked dark comedy, creating a totally original Christmas package—if you’re brave enough to unwrap it, that is.

Black Christmas,” meanwhile, uses its holiday slasher scares for some pointed social commentary about rape culture and toxic masculinity. When a group of sorority sisters finds themselves being stalked by mysterious killers during their school’s Christmas break, they team up to take down the corrupt fraternity they think might be responsible. This remake from Blumhouse Productions is actually the second reworking of the 1974 cult classic of the same name. Which means there’s a whole world of “Black Christmas” films to be enjoyed during the holidays.

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