Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo
Culture > Entertainment

10 Christmas Movies You Need To Watch That Aren’t Super Cheesy

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCLA chapter.

With the festive season inching closer every day, it’s the perfect time to start thinking about Christmas movies in preparation for the holidays. We all know the classic Christmas films, but sometimes they can get a little too corny. Here are 10 movies that have a bit of the festive spirit we all need, without being ridiculously cheesy.

1. Harry Potter And The Sorcerer’s Stone

For some reason, all the earlier Harry Potter movies give me a tingly feeling that I usually only get around the holidays. Something about the nostalgia I always feel about Harry Potter, mixed with the over-the-top Christmas decorations in the Great Hall just makes the series the absolute best to watch. I chose the first movie as my personal pick because it depicts Harry’s first real Christmas, and his reaction to the love he feels is bittersweet and heartwarming at the same time.

2. Rent

Rent is one of the most well-known musicals of all time. It’s a story containing very serious issues, and has some sad scenes, but it is optimistic as a whole. Starting on Christmas day and ending a year later, the movie covers topics like AIDS, drug abuse and prostitution, while lifting it up with singing, dancing and love. Though definitely not your typical holly jolly Christmas movie, it serves as a good reminder that not everyone is lucky enough to have a cheery holiday season.

3. Little Women

Little Women by Mary Louise Alcott is a classic novel for young girls growing up. The 1994 film adaptation is another favorite of mine. The storyline does not center around Christmas, but it has ample winter moments, with ice skating, sledding and snowball fights, as well as an incredibly warm, loving Christmas scene. However, the film manages to weave in these warm moments without being overly cliche. It deals with poverty, war and the struggles of remaining positive during difficult times.

4. Home Alone

This is definitely considered a holiday classic, but I included Home Alone anyway because though a bit unrealistic, it’s just a fun movie to watch. It follows 8-year-old Kevin through an action-packed holiday as he fends off two robbers after his parents accidentally leave him home. It lacks the depth of some other films, but there’s nothing wrong with wanting to watch a little kid booby trap his entire house and trick two grown men.

5. Carol

Carol is a holiday romance, just not the way you’d expect it to be. Carol and Therese meet while Carol is holiday shopping and Therese is wearing a Santa hat, but that’s where the similarities between this and other romances end. Instead of the instant happiness most others of its genre relies on, Carol is filled with longing and restraint. It is almost mournful at times with the intense loneliness and repression that Carol and Therese each face, but it’s a piece of art that touches on the sadness that holidays can bring when you are not truly happy.

6. Edward Scissorhands

This movie is the exact opposite of what you’d normally want a Christmas movie to be. It depicts a standard suburban family that is interrupted by the oddness of Edward Scissorhands. He falls in love with the daughter, Kim, but is so strange that he remains in isolation at the end of the movie, though he manages to find peace with himself. The film ends at Christmastime, and brilliantly illustrates the awkwardness and discomfort that the holiday season may bring for those of us who don’t do well with Christmas. Edward Scissorhands embraces the bizarre, a rare concept among Christmas movies that are usually all about tradition.

7. A Christmas Story

A Christmas Story is another classic I wanted to include. It is a whimsical movie that captures all the struggles of being a kid, while managing to retain the joy that Christmas should be about. The family’s disastrous Christmas dinner is humorous and shows us all that even when things go horribly wrong, it’s still possible to have a good time as long as you are with people you love. The family members have their disagreements, as do all families, but they clearly love each other all the same. A Christmas Story includes all of the quintessential parts of growing up, and is a wonderful movie for all ages.

8. Fanny And Alexander

This film opens on Christmas Eve and follows the Ekdahl family for a year. It is told through the eyes of 10-year-old Alexander and mixes together the innocence of childhood with the heaviness that comes with loss and drama. It includes lavish Christmas feasts and snowy scapes, but focuses much more on the confusion that all children go through as they are forced to grow up.

9. Tangerine

Tangerine is a work of indie genius. Filmed entirely on the iPhone, the movie follows transgender prostitute Sin-Dee Rella after she is released from prison the morning before Christmas. It is poignant and moving, and the fact that it was shot on a phone makes it feel much more raw and realistic. The quieter, more intimate moments in the film make it all the more touching in the way the best Christmas movies should be.

10. Metropolitan

Whit Stillman’s Metropolitan follows a group of rich Upper East Side kids through their winter break, and offers a different take on the classic Christmas film. The characters debate ethics, gossip and talk about literature in the way only the super rich do when they have no other way to spend their time. It does not have the bustling crowds or the touristy shots that most New York movies possess, but instead illustrates the awkward waiting that occurs after the holiday season.  

Rachel was the Co-Campus Correspondent and Editor-in-Chief for Her Campus at UCLA in the 2021-2022 academic year. In her free time, she loves hanging around flea markets and exploring different neighborhoods in LA!
Her Campus at UCLA is a proud Elite Level Chapter in the Her Campus. Our team consists of talented writers, content creators, photographers, designers, event planners and more! Follow us @HerCampusUCLA and check out HerCampus.com/school/UCLA for more articles! Feel free to contact us at hc.ucla@hercampus.com for any questions.