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If Die Hard Is a Christmas Movie (and It Is!), Then So Are These 7 Movies

Tom Cruise surrounded by Christmas lights in Eyes Wide Shut.

image: Warner Bros.

The conversation around whether or not Die Hard is a Christmas movie has reached mythic proportions in recent years. Those arguing against its inclusion in the genre have fine points, namely that a Christmas movie should be about Christmas. But for those in favor, Die Hard is set at a Christmas party and that should be enough. Throw in the fact that the whole movie is centered around the importance of family as John McClane tries to demonstrate his love for his wife–a distinctly Christmasy theme!–and why wouldn’t this be a Christmas movie?

I’m of the opinion that Die Hard most definitely is a Christmas movie, but also that its place at the very center of this conversation is unwarranted. If Die Hard is a Christmas movie (and I think it is!) then there are so many more films that also fit that description.

Eyes Wide Shut

Nicole Kidman drinks champagne at a Christmas party in Eyes Wide Shut

image: Warner Bros.

Are you looking for a Christmas movie that really underscores the bleakness of the holiday, marriage and family, and life in general? Maybe this is the first holiday you’re not spending with your family and you want to go all in with full nudity and discomfiting sexual politics. This is the movie for you!

Night of the Hunter

A still from Night of the Hunter featuring a boy and an older woman cooking together with Christmas decorations in the background

image United Artists

This 1955 movie is basically a handful of short films mashed together to form one complex classic. After watching two orphans escape their villainous, pathologically misogynistic stepfather, the film turns into a full-on Christmas movie–not just because of the timing of its setting but it really embraces some hard themes of family of loss and love.

Iron Man 3

Exhibit A:

Case closed.

When Harry Met Sally

Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal carry a large Christmas Tree in When Harry Met Sally.

image: Columbia Pictures

In high school, I had a friend whose parents would cue up When Harry Met Sally every year on New Year’s Eve so that Harry’s iconic, romantic NYE monologue professing his love to Sally would sync up with midnight for them IRL. So to me, this has always been a New Year’s Eve movie.

But key parts of the film also take place during various Christmases over the course of their friendship. Watching Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal walk around New York dressed in chunky sweaters, carrying Christmas trees (and then when she has to carry a tree by herself!), all over a jazzy Harry Connick Jr. soundtrack? That’s my reason for the season.

The Shining

Jack Nicholson frozen in snow in The Shining.

image: Warner Bros.

Yes, another Kubrick movie! I don’t think anyone ever actually mentions the holiday in this film, but since it takes place over a long, long winter season, it’s definitely a good seasonal fit. It’s also the ultimate 2020 Christmas movie, as some of the isolationist themes are, well, a little closer to home than usual.

Long Kiss Goodnight

Geena Davis in Long Kiss Goodnight in a Christmas parade.

image: New Line Cinema

This one almost seems too obvious since pretty much everything screenwriter Shane Black has made has a deliberately pronounced Christmas theme. But this story of an average suburban woman (Geena Davis) rediscovering her identity as an assassin–all over the backdrop of an idyllic winter holiday–doesn’t get the Christmas movie credit it deserves and should absolutely be in your holiday viewing rotation.

The Apartment

Jack Lemmon and Shirley McClain sit together in a still from The Apartment.

image: United Artists

This Billy Wilder classic is a perfect anti-Christmas Christmas movie. Sure, it’s a romantic comedy stemming from an office holiday party, but it’s also about infidelity, adultery, capitalistic exploitation, and depression. You know–Christmas stuff!

Honorable mentions: Catch Me If You Can, Gremlins, Carol, Lethal Weapon, Three Days of the Condor, and that one scene from Star Trek Generations.

What oddballs are on your holiday watchlist? We all always need more recommendations so share in the comments!

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Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.