EJ Moreno dives into five overlooked holiday films…
For every insanely popular Christmas movie like Elf or The Grinch, plenty of stellar Christmas movies get forgotten over time. It’s also a shame since the film included here deserve their place in the yearly watches that so many do for the season.
For those who think they’ve seen it all, check out these five holiday-themed movies and see a different side of Christmas cinema. We’ve collected a bit of comedy, some horror, an animated film, and even an overlooked classic for one of the most exciting collections of Christmas movies ever.
–The Preacher’s Wife
5. The Night Before
During the mid-2010s, there were plenty of comedies to go around. It’s easy to overlook one of these entries, even if it starred the dynamic trio of Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen, and Anthony Mackie. The three actors came together for a more adult-aimed holiday tale with a stoner touch, making The Night Before stand out even more. Sadly, the film was released during a Hunger Games and James Bond weekend, so no one was ready for a touching buddy comedy set at Christmas time.
What makes The Night Before such a good viewing, even with its forgotten status, is the earnestness of it all. The story of these three life-long friends coming together to keep up the holiday spirits is a pretty basic plot, but the way the leading trio brings these characters to life makes it feel so special. Drug-filled, a little raunchy, and a bit offensive, it feels like the Christmas season for many of us outside of the traditional living situations.
If you ever wanted to see a movie with angel reveals, shroom trips, and Miley Cyrus cameos in your holiday film, The Night Before is worth the revisit and deserves a bit more of a Christmas classic status.
4. Klaus (2019)
The most recent film on the list, Klaus, came and went in 2019, and it’s so sad this stellar animated outing didn’t gain more acclaim. Yes, it made it to the awards season but didn’t find its much-needed fandom: Christmas people. Klaus was a well-made, heartfelt animated film, but it sadly didn’t connect with the people who carried How The Grinch Stole Christmas or Nightmare Before Christmas to iconic status. Klaus deserved more than an Oscar nomination; it deserved a place among the royalty for the season.
What serves as an alternate origin story of Santa Claus, we see a lovely postman befriending a reclusive toymaker. The pair grow as friends, and we see the true meaning of Christmas birthed in such a needed way. For being so modern in its brilliant animation, there’s something about Klaus that feels timeless. Maybe it’s the Norway setting or the removal of what we know from the Santa story, but it comes off like a fairytale we’ve known for centuries.
Netflix isn’t known for its stellar animated output, but Klaus shook up that notion when it was released. Use this list as a reminder to revisit one of the most heartwarming modern Christmas films.
3. We’re No Angels
Going from the newest film to the oldest, We’re No Angels comes from a time when there was so much Christmas content that it’s no surprise it was overlooked. Released in 1955, this was sandwiched in-between decades that include The Shop Around the Corner, White Christmas, The Lemon Drop Kid, and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Its generation does not entirely forget it, but it sadly never stayed a classic that everyone watches yearly. It’s a damn shame since We’re No Angels is so good.
This classic film still feels fresh with an unstoppable trio of Humphrey Bogart, Aldo Ray, and Peter Ustinov. While other films go for cheerful and cutesy, there’s an edge (for 1955) that allows the film to work for younger, older, newcomers, and lifelong fans. The dark humor and fresh plot also help the film hit different tones than its peer.
We’re No Angels did see a remake in 1989, which made even less of a pop culture splash than this. This is worth watching if you enjoy golden-age cinema for nostalgic holiday feelings.
2. Rare Exports
Christmas horror films are a sub-genre that earned its list, but sometimes a holiday horror is so good that it transcends its genre and becomes a must-see movie. Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale is precisely that type of film, a horror film so festive and so scary that it needs to be seen by everyone. Sadly, Rare Export is often overlooked by Christmas movie fans and the horror community; both feel like they’ve seen it all, but nothing comes close to the madness they craft with this film.
In Rare Exports, we follow Pietari as he tries to stop the emergence of Joulupukki, a Finnish version of Santa. Throughout the film, there’s a vibe that calls back to The Thing, which is precisely what you want when making frosty horror. All the film’s tension builds up to an intense finale that will stick with you for quite some time after viewing.
Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale is one of the best holiday horrors and an impressive Christmas film for everyone. Out of all the movies listed, this comes with the highest recommendation.
1. Mixed Nuts
We live in a society that has allowed Mixed Nuts never to hit its actual iconic status. For all the adult-aimed Christmas films out there, Mixed Nuts deserved all the acclaim things like Love, Actually received. When you have an all-star cast that includes Steve Martin, Madeline Kahn, Liev Schreiber, Juliette Lewis, and Adam Sandler, there’s almost no excuse why this isn’t the most beloved Christmas movie ever. Not only are all the actors hitting comedic gold, but the film is so wildly funny.
Mixed Nuts sees Steve Martin lead a wacky cast as he tries to handle his job at the suicide-prevention hotline Lifesavers while also navigating some serious holiday headaches. Let’s not forget the legendary Madeline Kahn, who delivers one of her last cinematic performances in the film. That alone means you need to see Mixed Nuts every Christmas season.
Released during another decade filled with Christmas movies, it’s still a shame we never saw Mixed Nuts hit the true classic status it deserves. If you’re looking for an actual laugh-out-loud holiday, check out this forgotten 90s cult classic.
SEE ALSO: The Most Iconic Holiday Horror Movies