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Five (Alternate) Films To Watch At Christmas

Ronita Mohan

'Tis the season to be jolly. And what better way to be jolly than to sit down with your favorite festive films. Most will enjoy family favorites − It's A Wonderful Life and Miracle On 34th Street while others enjoy more romantic fare such as Love Actually.

However, I sometimes find myself veering away from the sub-genre of ‘Christmas Films’. A film doesn’t have to be about Christmas to be festive. Films from several different genres which are set around the same time, featuring many of the usual elements associated with Christmas - snow, Christmas decorations, themes of loss and redemption – can be just as much fun to watch during the festive season.

Here are my top alternate picks for films to watch at Christmas:

5) Crash

Not exactly a joyful choice but Academy Award-winning Crash has the redemption part pinned down. It’s almost like a dark version of Love Actually, which was released a year before Crash. Interconnecting stories of cops, filmmakers, a family under threat and a politician and his lonely wife chart a tale of racism, grief, loss and liberation, all set against the backdrop of Christmas in Los Angeles. If you’re in a more maudlin mood during Christmas, this is definitely the film for you!

4) Die Hard

Another off-beat choice but perfect for action film-lovers. The Die Hard films pit Bruce Willis’ Officer John McClane against a series of villains with plans for world domination. The first film was released in 1988 and became an action hit for the ages. Following the luckless McClane as he singlehandedly battles the terrorists that are holding an entire building, including McClane’s soon-to-be ex-wife, hostage, Die Hard is as full of heart as it is with gunfire.

3) Iron Man 3

Marvel’s superhero films have taken the world by storm over the last few years and its success can mainly be attributed to the Iron Man films. Director Shane Black made the unusual decision to set the film during Christmas despite its summer release in 2013, and it now makes for fun viewing during the winter months. There’s nothing quite like watching Iron Man amongst the snowy landscape, Christmas trees and carolers as he fights the evil Mandarin, his own PTSD and his penchant for self-destruction.

2) The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

The only film on my list that actually has a direct link to Christmas, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is an adaptation of C.S. Lewis’ classic children’s series. The story follows the four Pevensie children as they discover the secret land of Narnia and learn that they are actually the key to saving Narnia and bringing back its true ruler, Aslan. The film, like the books, has an undercurrent of Christian symbolism, and even includes a meeting with Father Christmas himself, though your presents are probably much better than the ones he gives the Pevensie children.

1) The Harry Potter Series

Christmas features often in the Harry Potter series as almost every film in the series covers a year of the characters’ lives. The Harry Potter books and films have been a part of many people’s childhoods and adult lives. Over the last couple of years, I’ve found myself re-watching the Harry Potter films during Christmas and it’s becoming quite the Christmas tradition. The films evoke a range of emotions – joy for Harry’s triumphs over Voldermort, sorrow over the deaths of our favorite characters and so much more. Eight films is a lot to get through over Christmas day but, trust me, you will enjoy every moment of this intense and fun ride.