What is a Christmas movie? That’s a debate that has long ranged. To some, it’s surface-level things – it’s about a setting, a specific tone or a genre. For others, it’s about the moral lessons the film is trying to impart.

At the very least, it seems to be a film that makes use of Christmas in its storytelling in a way that it’s a crucial component to the film, be it to the plot, the character arcs, or the overall atmosphere and mood.

Today, Dark Horizons presents its top ten Christmas movies list. We aren’t ones for sentimentality here or fans of conventional Christmas elements. As the site is run from Australia, Christmas is often defined by sweltering heat and beach time.

But hopefully you’ll find it a fun list worth the read. Let us know your favorite Christmas films in the comments below.

1. Die Hard
The quintessential Christmas movie, at this point John McTiernan’s action classic is so familiar to so many it’s now a comforting annual tradition that families bond over. That’s understandable as it’s a film that changed a genre and turned Bruce Willis into a big screen star along with delivering one of the most delicious villain turns of all time.

It’s also very much a Christmas movie, with events unfolding on Christmas Eve and at an office Christmas party, a dead body with a santa hat and a scrawled on “Ho Ho Ho” message remains one of the film’s most famous scenes, and various mentions of Christmas take place throughout.

2. Batman Returns
A Christmas movie to its core, Tim Burton’s dark psychosexual fairy tale explores a group of truly broken people dealing with their emotional trauma and trying to forge their identities and place in the social pecking order through the only way they can.

How? By splaying out their fetishism and neurosis across the city, often through violent means, resulting in a self-examination of a genre that rarely explores its weirder side to the extent this so effectively does.

The film is heavily tied to the Christmas season throughout; it’s a key part of the film’s production design, set pieces, even a major reveal hinges on some mistletoe.

3. In Bruges
Martin McDonagh’s done a few great films over the years, but in terms of sheer fun none really top this 2008 gem starring Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson as hitman hiding out in the city in Belgium

The film is not only set around Christmas but tackles themes of forgiveness, hope, and connection amidst its dark comedy stylings and superb acting turns.

4. Eyes Wide Shut
Stanley Kubrick’s final film, a dark odyssey into the fidelity, obsession and spiralling of a couple amongst New York’s one-percenters, is packed with Christmas paraphernalia throughout many shots.

Hell, the whole film works by juxtaposing this couple seemingly coming apart at the seams during a time when everyone else is coming together. There’s no sentimentality here, this is a true Christmas movie for adults.

5. The Shane Black Films
Name a film written by Shane Black, and there’s a good chance it’s set during Christmas with iconography and elements of the holiday woven in amidst the memorable dialogue, fun action and some memorable performances.

This is a big ol’ cheat but honestly, you can’t go wrong with “Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang,” “Lethal Weapon,” “Iron Man 3” or “The Long Kiss Goodnight” as a Christmas movie. Throw in “The Nice Guys” too even if its Christmas link is incredibly tenuous (just one scene).

6. Gremlins
Joe Dante’s comedy hit isn’t just a hilarious family classic but already a staple Christmas movie for many. Penned by “Home Alone” director Chris Columbus, the film works by embracing the strange sci-fi/horror/comedy and creature movie that it is and just letting its zany energy combine with its darker tone.

7. Three Days of the Condor
Sydney Pollack’s memorably premised 1975 spy thriller may not seem like a Christmas movie at first, but what it is on the surface is a superb espionage thriller that really captures a feeling of a moment in time just after the Watergate scandal.

In capturing such a tone, Christmas plays an important part throughout with three different Christmas carols in the background of scenes where Robert Redford undergoes key emotional changes. Christmas is always in the background here, but never out of sight.

8. Edward Scissorhands
Tim Burton’s beloved tale of a strange young man with scissors for hands has become something of a minor Christmas classic. The whole film’s third act centers on an annual Christmas party and multiple key scenes from the framing device, to the inventor’s death, to Winona Ryder’s dancing under the falling ice particles as a byproduct of Edward creating ice sculpture are all very Christmas-themed. Plus it remains a lovely fable from a time when Burton still had that fresh energy to him.

9. Carol
Todd Haynes adapts Patricia Highsmith’s “The Price of Salt” into an elegant and often beautiful depiction of forbidden love in this quietly devastating period romance drama.

It’s also a Christmas movie to its core – the first meeting taking place as Cate Blanchett’s Carol is in a department store looking for a Christmas gift for her daughter.

Haynes goes to great lengths to capture 1950s New York City at Christmastime, the festiveness around adding melancholy and a wonderfully wistful tone to the love affair at its heart.

10. Black Christmas
Arguably the best Christmas horror film, the original 1974 feature effectively invented quite a few of the trademarks that make up the modern-day slasher several years before John Carpenter’s “Halloween” took it into the mainstream.

Director Bob Clark, who helmed this and created some of its highly memorable visuals, is also the director of the kid-friendly “A Christmas Story” believe it or not. Wonderfully shot, really effective on atmosphere and good performances (Margot Kidder, in particular, is a blast), it’s very much worth checking out if you haven’t seen this underrated masterpiece.

A bunch of films didn’t quite make the top ten but are very worthy additions – Sean Baker’s gritty L.A. hooker tale “Tangerine,” Renny Harlin’s solid action sequel “Die Hard 2,” Henry Selick’s stop-motion wonder “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” Jim Henson’s truly iconic “Muppets Christmas Carol,” Richard Donner’s comic fantasy “Scrooged,” and Terry Zwigoff’s naughty fun “Bad Santa”.

The post Dark Horizons’ Ten Best Christmas Movies appeared first on Dark Horizons.

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