Not Your Typical Top 10 Holiday Movie List
Offbeat Holiday Favorite Films
Looking for the typical holiday picks like A Christmas Carol and It’s a Wonderful Life? Don’t look here. Those are great movies—but they’re on every list. Here are a few of our more offbeat favorites.
Number 1: The Nightmare Before Christmas
Produced by Tim Burton, this stop-motion film is as much a celebration of Halloween as Christmas. Jack Skellington, the scion of Halloween Town, tries to take over Christmas—with disastrous results. The cast includes Catherine O’Hara, Chris Sarandon, Danny Elfman, and Paul Reubens.
Number 2: Die Hard
Retired New York City cop John McClane (Bruce Willis) plans to spend an awkward Christmas reconciling with Holly, his estranged wife. When an organized criminal gang takes her hostage, McClane is forced to face off with criminal mastermind Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman). Why Die Hard? Because it features Bruce Willis at his best and who doesn’t love Alan Rickman.
Number 3: Elf
Buddy (Will Ferrell), a human raised among Santa’s elves, travels to New York to find his biological father. Along the way, he meets Jovie (Zooey Deschanel), a less-than-enthused department store worker with a serious lack of Christmas cheer. Buddy has more than enough for her—and a jaded New York. Peter Dinklage fans will enjoy his cameo as the hard to please uptight best selling author, Miles Finch.
Number 4: The Hebrew Hammer
A hilarious parody of Blaxploitation cinema, this movie stars Adam Goldberg as a self-styled Jewish action hero who must rescue Hanukkah from Santa Claus’s evil son (Andy Dick) who wants to make Christmas mandatory.
Number 5: Bad Santa
This NSFW comedy has it all—binge drinking, profanity, hot tub hijinks, and Billy Bob Thornton. Thornton plays Willie Stokes, a mall Santa Claus who moonlights as a con man. Other comedy greats in this movie include John Ritter as a beleaguered mall manager and Bernie Mac as a hard-bitten mall security guy
Number 6: A Christmas Story
This hilarious holiday movie follows 9 year old Ralphie Parker’s (Peter Billingsley) winter time adventures spent dodging the local bully, staying out of the way of his ever-cranky father (Darren McGavin), and obsessing over the only gift he wants for Christmas – a Red Ryder Carbine Action 200-Shot Range Model Air Rifle. You probably know what happens next, but why pass up the opportunity to relive the dreaded Triple Dog Dare and dad’s hilarious leg lamp.
Number 7: Scrooged
The iconic Bill Murray portrays Frank Cross, a cynical, selfish and very successful TV executive who is visited by 3 spirits on Christmas Eve. Bobcat Goldthwaite, Karen Allen, and Alfre Woodard co-star.
Number 8: The Family Stone
Everett (Dermot Mulroney) brings his uptight, socially awkward fiancee Meredith (Sarah Jessica Parker – her performance gives new meaning to the term home for the holidays to meet his eccentric family. Featuring thoughtful performances by Rachel McAdams, Diane Keaton, Craig T. Nelson, Claire Danes and Luke Wilson.
Number 9: A Muppet Christmas Carol
The muppet adaptation of the Charles Dickens classic stars Michael Caine as tight-fisted moneylender Ebenezer Scrooge. The ghosts of Scrooge’s past, present, and future inspire a massive, hilarious change of heart.
Number 10: A Christmas Tale
The Criterion Collection’s A Christmas Tale, directed by Arnaud Desplechin, features a riveting performance by Catherine Deneuve as the matriarch of a dysfunctional, emotionally volatile and often hilarious family.
Did we mention this list is ‘no so typical? and that it had 10 movies? Well… as Nigel Tufnel said, “…it goes to 11!”
Number 11: A Little Princess
Critically acclaimed and nominated for 2 Academy Awards, this visually stunning remake of the childhood classic by Frances Hodgson Burnett is directed by none other than Alfonso Cuarón. A great holiday classic for the entire family featuring Eleanor Bron as the headmistress and Liesel Matthews as Sara Crewe. Really, all you need to know is C.U.A.R.O.N.
Grab the Popcorn and Find a Comfy Seat
Don’t get stuck in a holiday-movie rut. Whether you like action-adventure, romantic comedy, dark fantasy, horror, or something in between, there’s something for everyone on this list. These movies are sure to inspire holiday spirit—and not just on Christmas.