Ten Unconventional Christmas Films (And Where to Watch Them)

Every year, during the Christmas season, annual viewing rituals include holiday classics such as Die Hard, It’s a Wonderful Life, and A Christmas Story.  There are countless lists filled with essential viewing for the holiday season.  What follows is a list of ten Rudolphs, ten unconventional films that take place during Christmas season, but are often left out of the viewing festivities. 

Lethal Weapon

Taking a third seat to the Die Hard Films, Richard Donner’s action classic may not have aged as well as one would hope, but Shane Black’s razor sharp script continues his Christmas tradition while featuring endlessly quotable dialogue and pulse pounding action sequences. 

Where to watch: Available for digital rental. 

The Lion in Winter

An absolutely brutal examination of the crossroads of noble politics and familial relations, Winter is not only one of the greatest films ever made, it also happens to take place at Christmas.  Featuring one of the greatest casts ever assembled, this is a harrowing tale that uses dialogue as its primary delivery method, transporting the viewer across the centuries to a place of intrigue and passion.

Where to watch: Available for digital rental. 

Batman Returns

Tim Burton’s masterwork often gets forgotten every December, but there’s no denying that the spirit of Father Christmas courses through every frame of this full tilt adult superhero film.  Underneath Burton’s trademark idiosyncrasies lies a story about broken souls finding comfort and healing within one another, yet another perfect fable for the season. 

Where to watch: Available for digital rental.

Eyes Wide Shut

Kubrick’s surreal erotic odyssey, Shut examines the crucible of sexual and relationship dynamics amidst a backdrop of Christmas themed visuals.  Featuring one of Nicole Kidman’s greatest performances, this is a dream like journey into basest of human desires and fears.

Where to watch: Available for digital rental. 

The Addams Family

While the opening scene is the only “Christmas” related visual, the entire philosophy of the Addams’ is also relevant.  A devilish production design swirls around an unforgettable ensemble performance that remains a touchstone in American cinema to this day.

Where to watch: Available for digital rental.  


One of the greatest romantic films of the century, Todd Haynes' masterpiece is essential viewing for anytime of the year.  Featuring a duo of masterful performances, remarkable visuals, and an undeniable sense of Douglas Sirk’s influence, this is an excellent choice for a Yuletide date night.

Where to watch: Available on Netflix.  

I Come in Peace

An 80’s cult action trashterpiece, I Come In Peace AKA Dark Angel not only feature’s one of Dolph Lundgren’s best performances, it also takes place during Christmas.  Featuring a gang of white collar criminals that is strangely prescient for its time, a hilarious turn by Brian Benben, and a truly glorious 80’s soundtrack, this sci-fi hybrid is one of the perfect Christmas Eve present wrapping accoutrements.   

Where to watch: Available for purchase at Amazon Prime. 

Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale 

Exports is a rare adult themed Christmas offering that is both a sly critique of retail madness and a surprisingly intense horror film about the origins of the holiday.  Filmed in the blistering cold of Finland, the story revolves around a frozen life form that is haphazardly freed from its prison of ice by corporate irresponsibility.  A young boy and his father confront the terror amidst the wanton slaughter of reindeer to discover the horrifying truth behind the man in the red suit and his legions of crafty helpers. 

Where to watch: Available on Amazon Prime and Hulu. 

Die Hard 2

While the debate about whether or not Die Hard is a Christmas film rages on across the internet, Renny Harlin’s high velocity sequel often gets left out of the conversation, despite using the ridiculousness of airports and travel during the holiday season as a centerpiece to the plot.  

Where to watch: Available on Cinemax Go and for digital rental.  

Jaws: The Revenge

Considered one of the worst films ever made, Revenge also takes place during Christmas, beginning with a harrowing murder beyond the tinsel and lighted streets of Amity.  Featuring a shark that can roar underwater, ignore physics, and has a psychic connection to the protagonist, what’s not to love?

Where to watch: Available for digital rental. 

--Kyle Jonathan