I don’t know about you, but my Christmas usually consists of two things: eating an unhealthy amount of food and watching an unhealthy amount of films (well, this goes on throughout the whole year, but still). And because there’s already tons of lists with “perfect Christmas movies”, this one will be a bit different. So, if you’re looking for films like Home Alone, Die Hard, Bad Santa, Elf, Gremlins etc., you’re going to be disappointed. However, if you’re in the mood for somewhat different and a bit unconventional Christmas films, you came to the right place.
- Fanny and Alexander (1982, dir. Ingmar Bergman) – there’s two versions of this film: one is 321 minutes long and the other runs for 188 minutes. I’ve only seen the longer version, but if you’re not yet familiar with Bergman’s films, maybe start with the shorter one. After all, his films aren’t exactly what one would call “merry and joyful”.
- My Night with Maud (1969, dir. Eric Rohmer) – this film will definitely not be everybody’s cup of tea. Because even though it’s all happening around Christmas, the holiday doesn’t have a particularly important role in the story. Film mostly consists of (as one would expect from a Rohmer film) long debates about Catholicism, Marxism and philosophy.
- Eyes Wide Shut (1999, dir. Stanley Kubrick) – erotic thriller set on a particularly adventurous Christmas night.
- The Shop Around the Corner (Ernst Lubitsch, 1940) – this one’s a classic, so I don’t think it needs any introduction. You don’t know it? Have you ever seen You’ve Got Mail? Well, this is the original, much much better version of that film.
- Metropolitan (1990, Whit Stillman) – everyone who knows Stillman knows this film is about semi-intellectual, privileged, young and oh-so-white upper-class Menhattanites talking about everything (and yet about absolutely nothing). Not very different from Baumbach’s Kicking and Screaming or already mentioned Eric Rohmer’s films.
- In Bruges (2008, dir. Martin McDonagh) – not a typical Christmas film, but if you’re in the mood for something darker, this is definitely the film to watch.
- Tangerine (2015, dir. Sean Baker) – this Christmas story is also one of the best (and most underrated) films released in 2015. The casting shatters pretty much all casting conventions (there’s two incredibly talented Afro-American trans protagonists), but that’s not even the most unbelievable thing about it: the whole film was filmed with an iPhone, and it looks fantastic. Not to mention the soundtrack that is absolutely dope.
- The Apartment (1960, dir. Billy Wilder) – a holiday classic with Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine.
- Babette’s Feast (1987, dir. Gabriel Axel) – this holiday film, set in 19th century Denmark, won an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film in 1988. Still, it has since became relatively unknown, although I don’t really understand why. It’s a wonderful drama/comedy film, perfect to watch around Christmas.
- It’s a Wonderful Life (dir. Frank Capra, 1946) -I think I’m the only one who doesn’t consider this one to be the best Christmas story ever made. It’s a wonderful family film, though. One of the best ones for Christmas Eve if you have little kids/nephews/cousins at your house.
- Joyeux Noël (2005, dir. Christian Carion)
- Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence (1983, dir. Nagisa Oshima)
- Brazil (1985, dir. Terry Gilliam)
- Edward Scissorhands (1990, dir. Tim Burton)
- Little Women (1994, dir. Gillian Armstrong)
- A Christmas Tale (2008, dir. Arnaud Desplechin)
- Christmas, Again (2014, dir. Charles Poekel)
- 8 Women (2002, dir. François Ozon)