There are 12 more days until Christmas and not nearly enough Christmas classics. Many of us have already gone through our favorites, watched all the ones that are played on TV, and are now left with repeats. There’s nothing wrong with watching the same films to put you in the spirit of the season, but if you want something new here are eight equally seasonable suggestions…
3 Days of the Condor (1975)
A thriller in the manner of 60s’-70s’ films such as The Parallax View and The Manchurian Candidate it stars Robert Redford as an analyst for the CIA who, after his office is attacked and everyone else murdered, works to uncover the reasons why. A wonderful spy movie all on its own it also qualifies for Christmas as carolers appear more than once, singing of tidings and joy, while Redford’s character tries to figure out who wants him dead and how to survive the next potential hit. This film is a great way to mix your conspiracy films with Christmas time.
The Verdict (1982)
The only Christmas movie most can think of that takes place in a courtroom is Miracle on 34th Street, but there is another. Paul Newman stars in 1982’s The Verdict as a down-on-his-luck alcoholic lawyer who catches a medical malpractice case that starts as a chance for a quick cash-grab settlement, but turns into something more as he finds himself increasingly invested in doing what’s best for his client. Not only is it a surprisingly uplifting story, The Verdict also takes place during the holidays with subtle hints of lights and songs that give nod to the season.
GoodFellas (1990) & Casino (1995)
For those who enjoy watching The Godfather trilogy during the holidays and want more crime bosses with their Christmas there are two great mobbed-up options. First is Goodfellas‘, which covers the true rise and fall story of Henry Hill, a man connected to the New York mob in the 1950s through the 1980s. His tale of gangster crime includes the infamous Lufthansa heist committed on December 11, 1978 at John F. Kennedy International Airport (which was the biggest on record at that time) and it’s this event that leads to a crucial scene occurring around Christmas time.
Casino focuses on the rise and fall of Sam “Ace” Rothstein and numerous associates of his after he’s given control of Tangiers casino in Las Vegas by the Chicago Italian mob. Like Goodfellas it comes from a true story; that of Frank Rosenthal, who ran the Stardust, Fremont, and Hacienda casinos in Las Vegas for the Chicago mob from the 1970s until the early 1980s. Also like Goodfellas it starts Robert DeNiro and Joe Pesci in top gangster form…the holiday aspect is slightly less, true, but there are enough bright lights and green bills to make a few hundred Christmas themed money-trees.
L.A. Confidential (1997)
Before Australian actors Russell Crowe and Guy Pearce became big names in the States they starred together in the noir crime film, L.A. Confidential. Based in 1950s’ Los Angeles it revolves around their two characters – police officers Bud White and Ed Exley respectively – attempting to get to the bottom of murder and corruption in the wicked wonderland of the LAPD. Mixed in is the glitz and glamor of Hollywood, the nastier aspects of fame, and, of course, Christmas…complete with a key police incident referred to as “Bloody Christmas”.
Joyeux Noël (2005)
For anyone who loves war movies and/or historical films Joyeux Noël is perfect. Taking place during the real life WWI Christmas truce in December 1914 the film explores the event through the eyes of both sides including British, French, and German soldiers. While maintaining certain classic war film scenes of gunfire and explosions, this movie stands out when its characters embrace the spirit of peace and loving your fellow man that is the cornerstone of the holidays. Putting aside orders soldiers lay down their guns and pick up their voices (and bagpipes) to share songs and cultures with one another, eventually turning the traditional “no-man’s land” into a safe zone where they share chocolate, champagne, and family photos with one another. A remarkable film about a remarkable incident in which the Christmas spirit overcame the harshness of war.
Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (2010)
Before 2015’s hit, Krampus, there was another holiday horror movie that involved a creature who was super into killing humans for the holidays called Rare Exports. The Finnish movie twists classic traditions – such as reindeer, Santa’s sack of presents, and gingerbread men – in unique and disturbing new ways as a young boy, Pietari, tries to catch the creature terrorizing his village at Christmas time. …Sadly, explaining anymore may give the wonderful and frightening twists away, but if you enjoy those creepy and deadly creature-features this movie is perfect excuse to watch horror during the holidays.
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011)
Nothing says Christmas quite like the Cold War, am I right? Maybe not. But in the film Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy the two events collide in the hunt for a double agent in British intelligence. Based on the book of the same name by famous spy novelist, John le Carré, it follows a number of different spies working for the British government…or are they? With enough twists and turns you’ll be on the edge of your seat and before-they-were-famous leads you’ll be smiling in recognition upon meeting every other character this is an amazingly entertaining departure from the traditional seasonal film. As dark, deep, and intriguing as a snowy night and with a holiday party being a cornerstone for certain events you can certainly get away with watching this film at Christmas time.
What are some of your favorite non-traditional holiday films?? Share your suggestions in the comments!