Tuesday, December 14, 2010

10 truly odd Christmas movies that capture the spirit

I have nothing at all against the traditional holiday favorites when it comes to movies and specials. I tune in every year for "A Charlie Brown Christmas," and always watch one of the 1,000,000 or so times that TBS airs "A Christmas Story."

But as with most categories of movies, I like my Christmas flicks with at least a few drops of odd, so here are my 10 favorite Christmas-related movies that you might not always think of this time of year.

"A Midnight Clear:" Before the two sides inevitably get back to, well, war, this Peter Berg movie has plenty of Christmas spirit as an American intelligence squad comes across a German platoon wishing to surrender in 1944 France, and everyone enjoys a good holiday feast before they get back to battling.

"Bad Santa": Not only easily the funniest Christmas movie (but certainly not one for the kids), I'd also argue that Billy Bob Thornton's mall Santa has his very drunk, extremely foul-mouthed heart still mostly in the right place. After all, all he wants to do is get his new friend a pink elephant (of course) for Christmas.

"Eastern Promises": OK, this gangster movie might only take place between Christmas and New Year's Eve and have little else to do with the holidays, but David Cronenberg's flick is still here because I wouldn't mess with Viggo Mortensen's Nikolai and tell him otherwise, would you?

"Die Hard": What could exemplify the Christmas spirit more than Bruce Willis' dream of spending the holiday with his estranged wife - even if he has to blow up half of Los Angeles to make it happen?

"In Bruges": Talk about a bummer: Not only does Colin Farrell's hit man end up accidentally killing a child, he then has to spend Christmas in the most boring place on Earth, Bruges (having been there, I can tell you it's far from that, but that's just one of the things that make this wickedly funny movie one of my all-time favorites).

"The Nightmare Before Christmas": Though its full title bears the name of Tim Burton and its in fact based on a poem Burton wrote, this tale of what happens when Jack Skellington opens the portal between Halloween Town and Christmas Town is pure Henry Selick, and that's what makes the stop-motion animated tale a timeless treat.

"Trading Places": Though I like presents as much as anyone, what's Christmas if we can't occasionally poke fun at all our excess, as this '80s flick starring Eddie Murphy and Dan Akroyd (easily one the best movies either of them ever made) does so well.

"The Muppet Christmas Carol": Of course Michael Caine (as Ebenezer Scrooge) just wants poor Bob Cratchit (Kermit the Frog, naturally) to work on Christmas - does that man ever stop working? Just in time for Christmas next year - or maybe a little earlier - we'll get a great gift, a new Muppets movie. Bully.

"Go!": Another one that's not for the kids, but Christmas is definitely a time to party, as Sarah Polley, Katie Holmes and others do as they rave their way through a chaotic Christmas Eve.

"Life of Brian": Sacrilegious? Most certainly, but the Monty Python take on the life of Jesus Christ is of course extremely funny too. And believe it or not, I really did first see this at an Episcopal youth group gathering when I was a teenager.

Merry Christmas to everyone!


Bob said...

"Die Hard" is easily my favorite Christmas movie. Nice inclusion of "In Bruges" and "Life of Brian," two I wouldn't have actually thought about in that category. I haven't seen "Midnight Clear" but "Joyeux Noel" about the WWI Christmas truce is one of my annual go to Christmas movies.
Also, "Lethal Weapon," "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang," "Scrooged" and "Love Actually" are among my favorites. And though it certainly couldn't be considered an odd one, "A Christmas Carol" with George C. Scott is outstanding. And every time I revisit "It's a Wonderful Life" it seems to reveal itself more and more as a truly one of a kind film and not just for Christmastime.

Bob said...

Oh! "The Lion in Winter" too.

Reel Fanatic said...

I had completely forgotten that "Lethal Weapon" was a "Christmas" movie, or else it probably would have found a home on this list ... and you're certainly right about "It's a Wonderful Life" ... I have yet to find a person who actually claims to not like that movie, but if I ever do, I'd have to immediately both their head and heart

jeremy said...

Personally, I'm a "Gremlins" kinda guy. Something about that Phoebe Cates monologue--you know the one.

Reel Fanatic said...

I do indeed, and if I had a little more time on my hands and was able to take this list to 15 .. or maybe just 11 ... Gremlins certainly would have made the cut

Bob said...

How could I forget "Gremlins"? For shame.

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