christmas

7 Non-Christmas Movies to Watch During the Holidays

Some funny, others suspenseful, but all random recommendations from people in need of some counterprogramming in December.
December 17, 2020, 7:40am
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Images: Joshua Herrera, Unsplash and PNGio

It’s the evening of Dec. 25, you just ate a Goliath-sized turkey, and all you really want to do is sit down and watch a good movie. As you scroll through the usual options — The Grinch, Home Alone, The Nutcracker — you suddenly realize that you have zero vibes for any of them. They’re cute and all, but do you really need to see Jim Carrey do all his Jim Carrey antics as a hairy pot-bellied green creature yet again? Probably not — especially if you’re not in a festive mood because of how 2020 has been. What you need is some good counterprogramming, even if that means turning into The Grinch yourself. 

It may feel like a sin to watch non-holiday movies in December but a lot of people have actually turned this into a tradition of their own. See: people who watch Die Hard every Christmastime. So we asked people: What non-Christmas Movies would you watch during the holidays

But first, let’s start off with my suggestions. 

London Has Fallen

I love a good action movie and on the top of my list is London Has Fallen, which has non-stop twists and turns. 

It’s the second installment in a series of action thrillers, coming after Olympus Has Fallen and followed by Angel Has Fallen. Secret Service agent Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) has to protect the United States President (Aaron Eckhart) at all costs after a terrorist group attacks and kills several world leaders at the funeral of the United Kingdom's Prime Minister. Watching an action film helps give me a hint of adrenaline to an otherwise slow and mellow Christmas dinner. If you like explosions and extremely cliché lines like “fighting ‘til the end of the line,'' you will love this. 

Life in a Year 

Life in a Year is about 17-year-old Daryn (Jaden Smith), who falls in love with Isabelle (Cara Delevingne) after meeting at a concert. When Daryn finds out about Isabelle’s terminal illness, he sets out to give her a lifetime's worth of experiences in the year she has left to live.

Noah Elisha, 19, described it as an absolute tear-jerker.

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“I love watching the latest films and the fact that this features two of my favorite actors — I’m totally down for it,” he told VICE. “This film also taught me to value the people around me while they’re still around, especially during Christmas, where you meet friends and family that you only see during the holidays. Makes it much more meaningful.”

2020 has been an absolute rollercoaster of emotions, many a time making us feel as if the apocalypse was creeping around the corner. This movie perfectly captures the spirit of “living everyday as if it's your last.” Although not Christmassy at all, it is touching and shows one of Smith’s best acting, ever.

She’s Out of My League 

If you want to save yourself from a cheesy Christmas movie but still want something comforting and pleasantly familiar, a rom-com is the way to go. Srri Ramm, 19, suggests She’s Out of My League. 

Kirk (Jay Baruchel), an average dude who works as a TSA agent at an airport accidentally meets the beautiful Molly (Alice Eve) while on the job. Kirk asks Molly out and, to his surprise, she actually says yes. All his friends say she’s out of his league, so Kirk does everything to try to make it work. 

“I guess I like these movies because they are all filled with joy, hope, and love,” Ramm said. “And these are the things I wanna feel and experience during the holidays. Overall, rom-coms just hit different, man.”

She’s Out of my League movie still

Photo: COURTESY OF NETFLIX

The Devil All The Time

Ever wanted to watch Spider-Man and Batman in the same movie? Well, you can gift yourself with that this Christmas (kind of) when you watch The Devil All The Time. The psychological thriller stars current Spidey Tom Holland and future Dark Knight Robert Pattison.

Holland plays Arvin Russel, a local in the remote town of Knockemstiff, Ohio who just wants to protect his family from Reverend Preston Teagardin (Pattinson), a preacher who sexually abuses young girls.

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Ethel Poh, 19, said this movie was “out of my comfort zone” and “extremely thrilling.”

“I mean, sometimes, you just want a break from typical Christmas movies; you want something that excites you. I don’t like to watch shows that are comfortable to watch. And it’s a plus point if you’re watching a thriller with a few friends and you guys are screaming at the top of your lungs at every jump scare and shocking reveal. It’s more fun this way,” Poh said.

The Devil All The Time movie still

Photo: COURTESY OF NETFLIX

The Untouchables 


With Christmas always comes a tinge of nostalgia. For Anthony Mok, 25, a throwback comes in the form of the 1987 crime drama The Untouchables

“Nothing beats a classic crime film and I would say The Untouchables is one of the best,” he said.

“Christmas to me feels like the perfect time to watch old school Hollywood films, and why I say that is because the holiday season just has this vintage feel to it. These types of movies will never get old, just like Christmas itself — both magical and timeless.”

Set in Chicago, the film is about real-life Prohibition agent Eliot Ness (Kevin Costner), who handpicks a team of elite lawmen to go after gangster Al Capone (Robert De Niro). The film also stars the late Sean Connery, who recently died in October.

Untouchables movie still

Photo: COURTESY OF NETFLIX

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

The Chronicles of Narnia is an absolute classic and something about it says “Christmas” in the most subtle way possible. Maybe it’s the snowy landscape or Mr. Tumnus the mythical faun. The White Witch herself gives evil Santa vibes. Whatever it is, Narnia is a magical world that’s impossible to get sick of. 

“Christmas is a time for awe and wonder and Narnia is full of it,” Alfred Mok, 21, said. “I mean first of all, there’s snow in it so it’s automatically a Christmas movie, but I guess what I love about this is how there is a multitude of characters who all intertwine to beautifully tell an extraordinary story.”

“I feel like going into the holiday season is much like stepping into that wardrobe. Once December kicks in, I’m just automatically happy and I kind of get transported into ‘another world’, a happy magical place like Narnia.”

Set in World War II, four english siblings are sent to a deserted safe house. The youngest, Lucy (Georgie Henley), finds a wardrobe that transports her to a magical world called Narnia. After coming back, she soon returns to the fantasy realm with her brothers, Peter (William Moseley) and Edmund (Skandar Keynes), and her sister, Susan (Anna Popplewell). There, they join the magical lion, Aslan (Liam Neeson), in the fight against the evil White Witch, Jadis (Tilda Swinton).

Those in a bingeing mood can watch the entire series — there’s also The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian and The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader — with their cup of hot chocolate and gingerbread cookies. 

Hairspray 

If all you want for Christmas is to never hear that Mariah Carey song again, then skip Love Actually and drown in a movie musical instead. For Natania Low, 22, it’s the movie Hairspray that gets her up and dancing.  

Set in the 60s, high school student Tracy Turnblad (Nikki Blonsky) turns into an overnight sensation after landing a spot on The Corny Collins Show and joins a bunch of kids — including Link Larkin (Zac Efron) — in dancing to the latest hits. That is until she finds herself fighting against body shaming and racial discrimination in her city Baltimore, Maryland. 

“Besides teaching audiences you don't have to be a certain ‘fit’ to achieve your dreams, it also shows us the power of unity despite the color of our skin. It is an inspirational and empowering film spoken through song and dance,” Low said. “[Also], who doesn't love Zac Efron?”