We all have those Christmas movies that we watch every year. Films such as A Christmas Story, Elf, and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer have established themselves as entertainment stables for countless families during the Christmas season. However, for every film that manages to be seen as a Christmas classic, there are several more that arguably don't get the attention they deserve. These are films that, for whatever reason, are not typically a feature of Christmas marathons, but can achieve such distinction if only they are given more mainstream attention. Here are five Christmas movies that deserve more attention.
5. Krampus (2015)
Nightmare Before Christmas is seen as the go-to scary-ish movie to see during Christmas. While this film isn't nearly as iconic as Nightmare, it is definitely a solid Christmas movie in its own right. Based on the European folk companion to Santa Claus, this movie revolves around a boy who tears up his wish list after a less-than-stellar visit from his extended family. This action leads to the infamous half-goat, half-demon and his demented Christmas-themed minions attacking him and his family. The film has a very dark comedic edge to it, which makes some of the more horror-centric moments a little easier to bare for people who can't get into that genre. Without giving too much away, the ending is actually very clever in fooling you into thinking it will turn out a certain way, before providing a satisfying twist in the final moments.
4. Trading Places
The debate of Nature vs Nurture has persisted through many generations. Do people end up where they are because they're born (or not born) with necessary qualities and skills, or because their environment enables (or restricts) success? John Landis's 1983 film Trading Places offers some intriguing commentary on this issue. In this movie, the greedy Duke Brothers wager a bet on this debate that involves framing their top commodities broker (Dan Aykroyd) of a crime, and replacing him with a homeless street hustler (Eddie Murphy). This film brings across the message that even though "natural" qualities are useful, the environment in which one operates in is crucial in the outcome of success. The film is incredibly hilarious, as you would expect with actors such as Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy at the peak of their powers. The film also features some incredible images of Philadelphia around Christmas time (the beginning of the movie is practically dedicated to showing off said images). On top of it all, the reward at stake in the Dukes' bet is hilariously despicable.
A Christmas Carol is arguably the most popular Christmas story of all time, with countless film and TV adaptations to its name. However, one adaptation that stands out to me is this one starring Albert Finney. This musical adaption of the beloved story features many wonderful song numbers, including the famous "Thank You Very Much" song. The makeup for this movie is especially well done, as you would never guess that Albert Finney was no where near as old as Scrooge is supposed to be at the time of filming. If you're like me though, you will fall in love with Scrooge's "I Hate People" song number.
2. The Small One
This cartoon by Disney is a short, but effective piece of animation. The story revolves around a young boy who travels to Nazareth to sell his aging donkey. However, he constantly struggles to find someone who is kind and generous enough to take care of it, all while the donkey is constantly mocked and ridiculed by onlookers. Without giving too much away (though seeing as the story takes place in Nazareth, you probably know where its going), the ending is very uplifting after seeing the two characters going through so much hardship. The short was directed by animation legend Don Bluth, the mind behind classics such as An American Tail and The Land Before Time. It has often been claimed that Bluth's philosophy when making films was that you could show a child anything as long as it has a happy ending. This short is evident of that philosophy, as the upsetting hardship that the main characters go through are offset by the story's heartwarming finale.
1. Joyeux Noël
One on hand, you can understand why this film remains relatively unknown to mainstream audiences. It is a slower film, and it is not exactly filled with bright Christmas images. However, on the other hand, it is absurd that this film does not get much attention when you look at its subject matter. The film is based on the famous "Christmas Truce" of World War 1, in which French, British, and German officers along the western front agreed to an informal ceasefire for Christmas. Soldiers from the trenches mingled with those on the other side, as they shared drinks and chocolates, played soccer, and even shared a Christmas mass. This film is simply powerful, as it shows that the values of Christmas are so strong that they were able to bring one of the deadliest wars the world has ever known to a temporary halt (at least in one spot). More people need to know about this often overlooked moment in history, and the increased exposure of this film should do just that.