Seen enough traditional Christmas films by now? Here are some alternatives

Virgin Radio

22 Dec 2022, 14:04

Credit: Miramax / Paramount / StudioCanal

Have you had your fill of festive films yet? Sure, you enjoyed watching Elf and The Muppet Christmas Carol for the millionth time, but perhaps you’re now on the lookout for something a little different.

Well, there are plenty of movies that are set at this time of year which, despite some having fairly prominent Christmas iconography, aren’t your traditional festive fare. So, if you want to watch something that is broadly Christmas-based, but has a bit of an edge, then here, in no particular order, are a few for your consideration.

Die Hard

Is it a Christmas film? Is it not a Christmas film? Online - where everyone argues about everything - debate continues to rage. So, let’s look at the evidence. The soundtrack contains Christmas music, the action begins at an office party in the festive holidays, and it snows at the end. Oh, and protagonist John McClane’s estranged wife is called Holly! 

We reckon this qualifies as a Christmas movie, and what a cracking blockbuster it is, with Bruce Willis looking fine in his white vest, doing his best to stop Alan Rickman’s villain Hans Gruber in Nakatomi Plaza.

Batman Returns

The drama is set against the backdrop of Gotham at Christmas, but what happens isn’t especially festive. 

This 1992 classic was the second of Tim Burton's Batman films, and featured Michelle Pfeiffer's amazing performance as Catwoman and Danny DeVito’s iconic turn as the Penguin. 

Michael Keaton was the caped crusader. 

In Bruges

December in the picturesque city of Bruges? How festive. Well, no actually. Whilst this movie is set over Christmas, it focuses on two hitmen, Ray and Ken, who find themselves stuck in Belgium after an unsuccessful mission. 

The situation becomes complicated when their boss asks Ken to kill Ray. 


Who wouldn’t want a cute little Mogwai as a present? Well, anyone who has seen what happens when it gets wet, probably.

The action climaxes on Christmas Eve in this cult movie which, on one hand, is a swipe at commercialism over the festive period and, on the other hand, is just an absolute romp.

Bad Santa

The title kinda says it all really. Billy Bob Thornton plays a drunk, philandering petty thief called Willie T. Soke, who masquerades as Father Christmas to enable his planned thievery.

He ends up - somewhat reluctantly - befriending a kid, and, yes, there is Christmas redemption, but via a lot of bad language and some even worse behaviour. 


This 1985 movie is one of the defining works of Terry Gilliam. The satirical sci-fi story follows a daydreaming bureaucrat in a dystopian future.

It’s a pure feast to look at, and is regarded as one of the all-time greats, so why not give yourself a treat and watch it this Christmas?

Lethal Weapon

Yes, it is set at Christmas. 

What’s more, Martin Riggs, played by Mel Gibson, goes from being in a very dark place to becoming a happy man, reminiscent of It's a Wonderful Life, as he teams up with Danny Glover’s Roger Murtaugh to uncover a massive drug-trafficking ring.

Definitely a Christmas movie.


Therese Belivet (Rooney Mara) works at a department store in Manhattan where she first meets housewife Carol (Cate Blanchett), who’s out doing some Christmas shopping. 

Things take something of an unexpected turn when she develops feelings for her.

This film features stunning performances from the two leads, and is a beautiful depiction of love against the odds.

Trading Places

Eddie Murphy is wily street con artist Billy Ray Valentine, Dan Aykroyd is snobbish investor Louis Winthorpe III. The pair end up, well, trading places thanks to a somewhat cruel wager by brothers Mortimer and Randolph Duke.

While Billy is catapulted into the highlife, Louis goes the other way, where he meets kind-hearted sex worker Ophelia (Jamie Lee Curtis).

The Long Kiss Goodnight

This is a funny, violent action film featuring Geena Davis as a woman with amnesia who suddenly remembers she used to be a trained assassin. 

Teaming up with a private eye played by Samuel L. Jackson, she sets off on a search to discover her true identity.

Hopefully these films will give you a slightly different take on the classic Christmas story over the holiday period, if you’re bored of straightforward festivities.