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3 underrated Christmas movies you should check out this December 25th

There’s a lot of Christmas movies out there. From Hallmark’s assembly line of G-rated junk to a streaming catalog of holiday perennials like A Christmas Story and How the Grinch Stole Christmas, there’s a lot to choose from in December.

While Digital Trends has covered the essential Christmas movies to stream right now, some underrated gems are worth checking out. From a superhero movie classic that unabashedly celebrates the holidays to a Swedish film that’s one of the most gorgeous movies ever shot, these Christmas movies are underrated, atypical, and definitely worth your time this season.

Batman Returns (1992)

Onlookers look at a Christmas tree in Batman Returns.
Warner Bros.

Everyone champions Die Hard as the action movie that’s actually a great Christmas movie, but I prefer Batman Returns as my go-to for unconventional holiday entertainment. It’s not only one of the best superhero movies ever made, but it’s also the one most steeped in all things Christmas: holly, presents, giant pine trees in crowded city squares, and a climactic kiss from “Santa Claus” that’s, erm, electrifying.

Also, the movie takes place during the holidays in Gotham City, which is covered with snow and plagued by the crimes of the Penguin (Danny DeVito) and Catwoman (Michelle Pfeiffer). It’s unusually festive, and the great production design by Bo Welch and score by Danny Elfman really sell the holiday atmosphere. Plus, like all great Christmas movies, it’s about family, with hero and villains searching for the mothers and fathers they lost long ago. It’s a great movie to watch any time of the year, but Batman Returns truly comes alive when it’s watched closer to Christmas.

Batman Returns is streaming on Max and for free on Tubi.

This is Christmas (2022)

A man and woman smile in This is Christmas.

This is Christmas sounds just like every other holiday movie, yet it’s probably one you haven’t watched. Released without any fanfare in 2022, this unassuming British comedy is one of the most charming movies you’ll have seen in a while. Harry Potter actor Alfred Enoch stars as Adam, a somewhat depressed commuter stuck in a dead-end relationship, who is tired of taking the same train every day with the same people and not knowing any of them. One day, he impulsively decides to invite them all to an impromptu Christmas party.

What follows is a sweet journey as Adam and fellow passenger Emma (Kaya Scodelario) get to know each of their fellow commuters as they all plan for the party. Of course, this being a Christmas rom-com, Adam and Emma begin to develop feelings for each other, which complicates things. Although it sounds like a typical Hallmark Christmas movie, This is Christmas manages to rise above the clichés to deliver a crowd-pleasing good time that will win over even the most cynical viewer.

This is Christmas is streaming on Prime Video

Fanny and Alexander (1982)

A man talks to a woman in Fanny and Alexander.
The Criterion Collection

It’s hard to call Fanny and Alexander “underrated” as it won four Oscars in 1984 and was directed by Ingmar Bergman, one of cinema’s most recognized geniuses. Yet, chances are Fanny and Alexander isn’t on your Christmas movie watching list. It should be, as it’s one of the warmest depictions of family during Christmas ever made.

That’s solely due to the movie’s first act, which depicts the titular children attending a large family gathering during the holidays in early 20th-century Sweden. Gifts are exchanged, pleasantries are delivered, and scrumptious food is served up as Bergman and frequent cinematographer Sven Nykvist (he deservedly won an Oscar for his efforts) create a lush, almost sentimental portrait of a family that is contrasted greatly with the rest of the movie, which is colder, whiter, and more spare. That’s because a death occurs, Fanny and Alexander are displaced, and familial bonds are tested by tragedy and unfortunate circumstance.

Fanny and Alexander isn’t for everyone; it’s long (the version streaming on Max is 190 minutes; the complete version, available on Blu-ray, runs 312 minutes), and the second act can be tough to sit through, but it’s worth your time as it’s one of the greatest movies ever made about family, spirituality, and the power of a child’s imagination.

Fanny and Alexander is streaming on Max.

Editors' Recommendations

Jason Struss
Section Editor, Entertainment
Jason is a writer, editor, and pop culture enthusiast whose love for cinema, television, and cheap comic books has led him to…
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