The 10 Best Holiday Movies That Are Not Holiday Movies

In the realm of holiday entertainment, there exists a delightful category of films that, while lacking the overt tinsel and carol-laden themes typically associated with the season, somehow manage to capture the heartwarming essence of the holidays. This curated list unveils the 10 Best Holiday Movies That Are Not Holiday Movies, a collection of cinematic gems that, though not explicitly Christmas-centric, embody the festive spirit in unexpected and enchanting ways. From timeless classics to modern masterpieces, these films resonate with themes of love, warmth, and joy, making them perfect companions for a cozy holiday season without the need for a Santa hat or jingling bells. Join us as we explore this eclectic mix that proves holiday magic can manifest in the most unexpected cinematic wonders.

The List of the 10 Best Holiday Movies That Are Not Holiday Movies

10. Gremlins (1984)


Starring: Hoyt Axton, John Louie & Keye Luke
Director: Joe Dante
Studio: Warner Bros.

Although set on Christmas Eve, Gremlins isn’t solely a Christmas movie, making it an ideal addition to this list. Released in 1984, this fantasy horror film revolves around a man who purchases the titular mogwai as a present for his son. Despite receiving explicit instructions—more like warnings—not to expose the creature to bright light, water, or feed him after midnight, chaos ensues when these guidelines are ignored.

Beyond its status as a horror classic, Gremlins serves as an excellent Christmas watch without being explicitly centered on the holiday. The movie seamlessly blends elements of horror, science fiction, and fantasy, introducing a uniquely captivating creature and laying the groundwork for a beloved franchise. While not a holiday staple in every household, Gremlins is a must-watch during this festive season.

9. Lethal Weapon (1987)


Starring: Mel Gibson, Danny Glover & Gary Busey
Director: Richard Donner
Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures

Released in 1987, Lethal Weapon is an action crime film featuring Los Angeles detective Martin Riggs (Mel Gibson), whose life unravels following his wife’s death. Complicating matters, Riggs clashes with his new partner, Roger Murtaugh (Danny Glover). As they stumble upon a significant drug trafficking operation, their investigation delves into the shadows, fostering an unexpected bond between them.

What ties this movie to Christmas? The narrative unfolds against the backdrop of the holiday season in Los Angeles. For those who revel in action films during the festive period, Lethal Weapon is often regarded as a contender for the action-packed Christmas charm akin to Die Hard. The dynamic partnership of Gibson and Glover, coupled with the buddy cop storyline set during Christmas, solidifies its place on this list as a perfect seasonal watch.

8. Little Women (2019)


Starring: Eliza Scanlen, Emma Watson & Timothee Chalamet
Director: Greta Gerwig
Studio: Columbia Pictures

Greta Gerwig’s cinematic gem, Little Women, has evolved into a cherished comfort movie, particularly during the holiday season, invoking warm and fuzzy feelings within us. Released in 2019, this film stands as one of Gerwig’s most acclaimed directorial achievements.

Little Women intricately weaves the intricate lives of the four March sisters—Meg (Emma Watson), Jo (Saoirse Ronan), Beth (Eliza Scanlen), and Amy (Florence Pugh). As they navigate the complexities of life and love, the movie remains a tender narrative of women’s empowerment, unwavering loyalty, and sisterhood.

Beyond Gerwig’s evident directorial prowess, Little Women possesses an indescribable allure. The already captivating storyline becomes even more engrossing as we fervently cheer for certain characters and their pursuit of happily ever afters. The film’s unparalleled casting elevates it to extraordinary heights, with each actor commanding attention and affection through their performances. If there’s a holiday to nudge you towards watching Little Women, especially during Christmas, rest assured, it will not disappoint.

7. Die Hard (1988)


Starring: Bruce Willis, Bonnie Bedelia & Reginald VelJohnson
Director: John McTiernan
Studio: 20th Century Fox

Our affection for the Die Hard franchise remains unwavering, defying any chance of fading away. While the 1988 action thriller featuring Bruce Willis and Alan Rickman might not be the typical choice for a festive viewing, it certainly holds a special place on our holiday watchlist. The plot revolves around police officer John McClane (Willis), who, while attending a Christmas Eve party with his family in a New York City high-rise, finds himself in a dire situation when terrorists seize the building and its occupants. McClane takes it upon himself to become the unlikely hero determined to rescue everyone.

If you’re seeking a dose of festivity and lightheartedness, you might want to look elsewhere. Die Hard is a film that skillfully conjures up a sense of Christmas without the traditional jingles and bells. Despite straying from the conventional holiday movie formula, Die Hard undeniably earns its place as a Christmas film, at least for the purposes of this list. While it’s tempting to immerse ourselves in feel-good holiday classics, this film offers a refreshing change of pace while still capturing the essence of the season.

6. You’ve Got Mail (1998)


Starring: Tom Hanks, Meg Ryan & Katie Sagona
Director: Nora Ephron
Studio: Warner Bros.

Who says the holiday season can’t embrace a touch of romance? Any occasion to include a romantic film starring Tom Hanks is certainly a worthwhile one. “You’ve Got Mail,” a 1998 romantic comedy featuring Hanks and Meg Ryan, stands out as a perfect match in the realm of romantic comedies. This classic narrates an enemies-to-unlikely-lovers tale where Kathleen (Ryan), a small business bookseller, harbors a strong disdain for Joe (Hanks), the owner of a corporate book chain store. However, they become entangled in an anonymous online romance, forcing them to confront the reality of their connection.

In our quest to avoid holiday blues, the duo of Hanks and Ryan is likely to lift our spirits. “You’ve Got Mail” unfolds over several months, offering a glimpse into the festive season in New York City, which adds to its appeal. Love always proves to be a delightful theme for holiday film searches, and a romantic comedy never fails to steer you in the right direction. This film is a pure feel-good experience that is bound to uplift your spirits during the holiday season.

5. Batman Returns (1992)


Starring: Michael Keaton, Danny DeVito & Michelle Pfeiffer
Director: Tim Burton
Studio: Warner Bros.

Michael Keaton reprises his role as Batman in an unconventional Christmas movie, “Batman Returns,” released in 1992. This installment introduces Danny DeVito’s menacing Penguin, who, in collaboration with Max Shreck (Christopher Walken), seeks to dismantle Batman. However, the plot takes a twist when Shreck’s assistant, Selina Kyle (Michelle Pfeiffer), transforms into Catwoman and aligns herself with Penguin and Shreck. The seemingly seamless partnership grows more intricate as her chemistry with Batman becomes a focal point.

Regrettably overlooked, “Batman Returns” stands out as one of Tim Burton’s most underappreciated projects. Despite lacking a Christmas theme, the film exudes the atmosphere of an instant holiday classic with its black-and-white aesthetic. The movie boasts phenomenal action sequences, an exceptional cast, and injects a dose of superhero excitement into the Christmas season.

4. Mean Girls (2004)


Starring: Lindsay Lohan, Rachel McAdams & Tina Fey
Director: Mark Waters
Studio: Paramount Pictures

“Mean Girls” is a film suitable for viewing throughout the entire year, but there’s a particular scene that elevates it as an exceptional non-Christmas Christmas movie in our view. Released in 2004, this teen comedy stars Lindsay Lohan, Rachel McAdams, Tina Fey, Amanda Seyfried, Lacey Chabert, and Jonathan Bennett. The narrative centers around new student Cady, who, despite forming a decent circle of friends, becomes entangled in the harsh realities of public high school popularity, leading her into a profound exploration of self-identity.

Numerous elements contribute to “Mean Girls” being a timeless comedy classic, whether it’s Lindsay Lohan’s peak career performance or the quintessential early-2000s aesthetic. This film remains a must-watch for teens and a compelling rewatch for older generations. However, to classify it as a non-Christmas Christmas movie, one cannot overlook one of the most iconic scenes in movie history: The Plastics’ performance of a suggestive dance routine to “Jingle Bell Rock.” This instantly renders the film a delightful watch during the holiday season.

3. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005)


Starring: Georgie Henley, Skandar Keynes & William Moseley
Director: Andrew Adamson
Studio: Walt Disney Pictures.

“The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” offers a snowy spectacle that’s particularly fitting for this time of the year. Serving as the cinematic adaptation of C.S. Lewis’s novel of the same name, the story unfolds during World War II, following a group of young, displaced children who chance upon Narnia, a concealed world beyond an old wardrobe. Siblings Lucy, Susan, Peter, and Edmund must rally the forces under Aslan to confront and defeat The White Witch, portrayed with expertise by Tilda Swinton.

Few films evoke a sense of coldness quite like Narnia. Watching “The Chronicles of Narnia” during the Holiday season beckons us to cozy up under a blanket and revisit childhood fantasies of hidden, fantastical universes lurking in the recesses of our closets. If you’re yearning for the enchanting magic of nostalgia to warm your spirit during the holidays, this film is sure to immerse you in the festive mood.

2. The Frozen Movies


Starring: Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel & Jonathan Groff
Director: Chris Buck & Jennifer Lee
Studio: Disney

Indulging in Disney movies is a year-round affair, in our opinion. Among Disney’s animated films and franchises that seamlessly embody the holiday spirit without overt Christmas themes, Frozen stands out. The initial release in 2013 marked Frozen as one of Disney’s most successful and iconic films, followed by its 2019 sequel, Frozen II.

The storyline of Frozen follows Anna, Kristoff, Sven, and Olaf as they embark on a quest to lift the curse of eternal winter that has befallen the kingdom of Arendelle, a consequence of Anna’s sister Elsa. In the sequel, the sisters and their friends delve into Elsa’s journey to uncover the origin of her powers and her true place in the world.

The Frozen films promise wholesome family entertainment, capturing the essence of winter and the holidays with abundant snow, ice, and the theme of sisterly love. The franchise’s ascent to Disney stardom is no surprise. Unlike traditional princess-prince romantic narratives, Frozen places emphasis on the strength of familial love and sisterhood. Moreover, both Frozen movies feature some of the most memorable songs in Disney’s extensive history. Christmas, a season of family, laughter, joy, and singing, finds a perfect match in Frozen, even though it may not be a Christmas movie per se.

1. The Harry Potter Movies (2001-2011)


Starring: Rupert Grint, Emma Watson & Daniel Radcliffe
Director: Chris Columbus, Alfonso Cuarón, Mike Newell & David Yates
Studio: Warner Bros.

Is there anything more uniquely un-Christmas yet oddly Christmassy than the Harry Potter franchise? Featuring Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson, the Harry Potter series remains a monumental film saga in cinematic history. Tracing the journey of the trio of friends from their inaugural year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, the films unfold as we witness these characters maturing before our eyes, grappling with the formidable dark wizard of their era, Lord Voldemort.

The entire Harry Potter saga is an exhilarating odyssey, a viewing experience that proves to be worthwhile in every passing moment. Whether you associate Harry Potter with Halloween, Christmas, or consider it a year-round spectacle, the enchantment of a Christmas at Hogwarts consistently rekindles the magic of our inner child. The Harry Potter universe is already steeped in nostalgia, both in the literary and cinematic realms. However, particularly in the earlier films, witnessing a young Harry unwrapping presents on Christmas morning encapsulates the quintessence of this beloved holiday.


As we conclude our exploration of the 10 Best Holiday Movies That Are Not Holiday Movies, it becomes evident that the magic of the season extends far beyond the conventional trappings of festive decor and explicit holiday narratives. These films, each possessing a unique charm and narrative brilliance, demonstrate that the spirit of the holidays can be found in unexpected corners of cinema. From heartwarming tales of love and self-discovery to comedies that evoke laughter in the coldest of winter nights, this diverse collection transcends genre boundaries to encapsulate the universal themes of joy, togetherness, and the enduring spirit of the season. So, as you embark on your holiday movie marathon, consider adding these gems to your watchlist, discovering that holiday magic can unfold in the most surprising of cinematic narratives. Cheers to a season filled with warmth, laughter, and the joyous enchantment of these non-traditional holiday favorites!

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