Monday, December 9, 2013

My Fave Out-of-the-Ordinary Holiday Movies

out of the ordinary holiday movies_header_Meet Me in Philadelphia
How do you get into the holiday spirit? One of the most popular, never-fail ways to turn any Scrooge into Buddy the Elf is with classic holiday films. But, we've all seen "It's a Wonderful Life" and "A Charlie Brown Christmas" enough to recite them, right?

Today, I'm sharing 10 out-of-the-ordinary films that--while not typical "holiday" films--have each have a hearty dose of Christmas cheer.

Witty Yuletide Banter
I love t.v. shows and movies with smart, witty dialogue delivered in rapid fire succession (namely "Gilmore Girls"). If that's your speed too, check out one of my favorite films: "The Thin Man" (1934) featuring one of the best screen pairings to come out of Hollywood, William Powell and Myrna Loy. They drink, they solve crime, and they do it all with panache.

Another option with quick-tongued, clever dialogue is Whit Stillman's "Metropolitan" (1990). It centers around a group of yuppie college students who fill their Christmas break with idle chatter and banal debutante balls. It is a riot.
out of the ordinary holiday movies_witty yuletide banter via Meet Me in Philadelphia
All About Family
I'd never call myself a schmaltzy person but I weep like a baby at certain movies, namely "Stepmom" (1998) and "Little Women" (1994). You know they affect you too! It just so happens that these two movies 1) focus on family; 2) feature serious illness; and 3) star Susan Sarandon. 

Christmas isn't central to either of these movies, but the holiday is the happy backdrop to important scenes in both. I mean, the quilt Jackie makes Anna in "Stepmom" makes me cry every time and I've probably seen it at least 20 times.
out of the ordinary holiday movies_all about family via Meet Me in Philadelphia
Festive Fantasy
The holidays are the perfect time of year to believe in all things fantastical, like gentle recluses with pruning shears for hands and furry creatures that turn evil when doused with water. The first, "Edward Scissorhands" (1990), was a childhood favorite of mine. Dianne Wiest's character reminds us to see the potential in all people, even if they look like a scarred Robert Smith in head-to-toe black leather. 

"Gremlins" (1984) also strikes the perfect balance between comedy, fantasy and horror in a Christmas setting. Plus, who doesn't love Gizmo?
out of the ordinary holiday movies_festive fantasy via Meet Me in Philadelphia
Christmas, '80's Style
I have a soft spot in my heart for the '80's and not just because it's the decade of my birth. Two movies from the "Me Decade" that prominently feature Christmas are "Funny Farm" (1988) and "Better Off Dead" (1985).  "Funny Farm" is your typical 'fish out of water' story with the added benefit of Chevy Chase in his prime. 

Before he charmed us all as Lloyd Dobler, John Cusack was Lane Meyer in "Better Off Dead", a sad sack who's been dumped and (humorously) contemplates ending it all. He doesn't, thankfully, discovering a new love and his courage on the ski slopes. 
out of the ordinary holiday movies_80s comedies via Meet Me in Philadelphia
Black & White and Red & Green
I love the sincerity of old Hollywood films, so TCM is on regularly in our household. If you love heartwarming holiday movies like "Miracle on 34th Street," you'll love these two. In the 1940 film "Remember the Night," Barbara Stanwyck plays a shoplifter granted bail during the holidays on the condition she travel with her prosecuting attorney to his family's farm. Stanwyck and Fred McMurray are lovely together, as are the supporting actresses in this film. 

Most of "Since You Went Away" (1944) takes place before Christmastime during WWII, but the final scenes occur on Christmas Eve as the Hilton family faces the possibility of spending the holiday without their patriarch, who's away fighting in Europe. Look for a teenage Shirley Temple!
out of the ordinary holiday movies_black and white and red and green via Meet Me in Philadelphia
(all via Meet Me in Philadelphia)

As I mentioned before, most of these films aren't actually in the holiday genre but they do feature hilarious or touching Christmas scenes that will brighten the month.

Have you seen any of these 10 movies? What are some of your favorite out-of-the-ordinary holiday movies to watch this time of year?


  1. This is such a great list - so many of them are new to me! Can you believe I've never seen Edward Scissor Hands?! I had no idea it was (even peripherally) related to the holidays!

    1. How have you NEVER seen "Edward Scissorhands"? It was one of my favorite movies as a weird in some scenes, so heartwarming in others. Plus, I think you and Peter will love "The Thin Man" and "Metropolitan".

  2. Better of Dead. Best. movie. ever. We quote that sucker all the time. ANd Step Mom, I forgot all about that movie. So good, and I love her house!!

  3. This list makes me want to get on the couch with a cup of hot chocolate ASAP!

  4. "I want my two dollars!!" . . . Better Off Dead came along when I was about my daugther's age now (almost 12) - such an impressionable age. Never think of it as a Christmas film but yes it is at Christmas time and it is a classic very quotable movie. "Sorry your mom blew up, Ricky." I've also seen Stepmom - weepfest - and Little Women (love that young Christian Bale). I have the soundtrack to Little Women somewhere - love that music, so moving! And of course, I've seen Gremlins and Edward Scissorhands and Funny Farm. Oh, and Metropolitan (have you seen Barcelona with the same guys?). I haven't seen the old movies though - need to remedy that. For a current holiday flick, we always watch Love Actually every year. Puts me in the spirit. Great post, Ashley!

    1. Yay! I'm so glad someone loves these movies as much as I do! Every time the Phillies play the Dodgers I say "Dod-jer Stay-di-um" in Monique's funny French accent. No one gets it but me, but I love it.

      I haven't seen "Barcelona" but I'll have to check it out! Thanks for the rec's, Kathy!

  5. Hi there! I'm a new follower over from Cottage an Vine! Come by and say hi if you have time :)


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