Why do people find it so comforting to watch American and British people celebrate Christmas on screen? Is it because they do a cheesy Christmas movie well? Is it the snow and mittens? The turkeys to be carved? The real Christmas tree, laden with ornaments (puss never brings down a tree in these movies) or the log fires for drinking copious amounts of eggnog in front of?
Or is it because it’s the complete opposite of an Australian Christmas? We like ours with plenty of sunblock as we sit around in very uncomfortable, ripped and sweaty coloured paper crowns that we have just pulled out of a bonbon, scarfing down as much seafood as possible while drinking icy cold beers and champers. There is not a mitten or a woolly Christmas sweater to be seen – except maybe in the boot of my mother’s car in case someone gets chilly!!
These days, with streaming platforms at our beck and call, we can watch any Christmas movie we want, whether it’s a madcap kind of Christmas movie like National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation or Elf, or something a bit more nostalgic like It’s a Wonderful Life or Miracle on 34th Street or even a much-loved classic like Love Actually.
But I’m not here to go on about Christmas movies. Let’s talk about a little-known category of movies I like to call Christmas-adjacent movies – movies that aren’t technically Christmas movies, but have some kind of tenuous Christmas link. Best watched at Christmas or even on Boxing Day, these movies are not cheesy. So I’ve done all the hard work and have come up with a great list of Christmas-adjacent films to watch this holiday season.
Edward Scissorhands (1990)
What an absolutely genius movie by Tim Burton. Watching this as a kid, I was utterly terrified and it wasn’t till I was an adult that I could fully appreciate it. The entire movie is framed by the story that a very old Winona Ryder tells her granddaughter about why it snows at Christmas, and it has quite a magical feel for a movie considering the main action doesn’t happen around Christmas.
The first time we meet one of the main characters, she is wearing an elf hat and working at a toy store. Christmas sets the stage for a romantic encounter and later a love affair, with a stunning Cate Blanchett starring as the Carol of the title. All the best Christmas (and Christmas-adjacent) movies start with someone wearing an elf hat.
I think its safe to say this is definitely not a traditional Christmas movie, but all hell breaks loose when a Christmas gift goes wrong after specific instructions are not followed and a hapless teenager is forced to defend his home from an eye-patch-wearing silver-streaked gremlin and his minions. As a kid I vaguely wondered if that was going to happen to our cat if I accidently poured water on her and fed her after midnight!!
When Harry Met Sally (1989)
We all know what this movie is famous for and it’s not Christmas. What else can I say? I’m calling this ‘adjacent’ because they at some point struggle with a Christmas tree on the snowy streets of New York.
The Family Stone (2005)
This is one of my favourite movies and while it is set at Christmas, it’s about so much more. It’s moving and more than a little bit sad, plus it’s got a great cast including Sarah Jessica Parker, Rachel McAdams and Luke Wilson. It captures the ins and outs of a family coming together for the holidays beautifully.
Home Alone (1990)
Now, this one is up for debate. Lots of people would say this is a Christmas movie in its own right, especially since it always plays on Christmas Eve, but I still think it’s ‘adjacent’. Maybe, just maybe, I think the sequel set in New York is better!!