Christmas is simply the coziest time of year with greenery, cheer, twinkling lights and the belief that anything is possible. Every year my mom and I spend the season, snuggling up by the fireplace and watching movies that inspire us.
Movies are a big part of my life and they probably are for yours too. Movies help us learn and reflect. They mark certain pivotal moments in our lives and they change our culture in lasting ways.
So this year I’m inspired to share my list of 12 movies that unconventionally capture the Christmas spirit of the underdog, redemption, grace, and sacrifice. 12 movies, one for each of the 12 days of Christmas.
Sometimes I see movies that have nothing to do with Christmas in any way but they somehow still speak a message of hope and redemption. And I think to myself, this story is an incredible metaphor for the story of God’s rescue plan for us, which is what Christmas is about. If you don’t celebrate Christmas, I still think these movies would be really great to watch during this season. They are deeply inspiring and harrowing, funny, touching, and will leave you feeling motivated to start a new year in a state of hope and wonder.
Little Women is just simply the best. It’s deeply touching, and the novel was an instant classic way ahead of its time. That’s why it’s my #1 pick.
I’ve seen this movie countless times and every time I watch it, I’m still moved to tears. It not only reminds me of my childhood (I was 9 when it came out) it also reminds me of all the women in my family. This movie is really about an amateur writer embracing her story and then discovering that was the gift all along.
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
“Life is about courage and going into the unknown.”
There’s so much to love about this movie. It’s funny. The soundtrack is amazing. It’s incredibly inspiring. And a large portion of it takes place in Iceland. Travel tip: if you want to head to Iceland there are super cheap flights on Wow Air, so you can have your very own adventure.
I love that this movie revolves around a lost negative and a dying publication. If you haven’t seen the movie I won’t spoil the ending for you. But one of the most satisfying parts of the movie is the ending.
I relate so much to Walter, the main character. He lives in a dream world. But comes to realize that life can be an adventure if we’re willing to take some risks and open ourselves up to the people around us.
Bridget Jones Diary
A modern spin on the literary classic, Pride & Prejudice, Bridget Jones Diary is strictly hilarious.
There’s definitely an element of Christmas season in this movie, so you will feel the cheery vibes. Plus it’s not a very heavy movie so you can find some time to relax and enjoy Bridget’s embarrassing hijinx.
There’s nothing better than a women “getting a grip on her life” through the power of journaling. What’s not to love about this silly movie?
Bridget learns to break her bad habits and grow as a person. As she does, she makes her own way on a new career path and falls in love with a great guy. Of course, this isn’t about pie in the sky ideals. It’s about, in my humble opinion, being deeply flawed, but still being totally loved.
Seven Years In Tibet
This film is about a real-life explorer who disappeared for 7 years while climbing the Himalayas. However, I believe this movie is really about personal transformation, letting go of greed, fame, and self-reliance and learning to give of yourself.
Brad Pitt’s German accent isn’t doing anyone any favors but still, this is a great flick that inspires me to climb my own spiritual and emotional mountains.
“Every day of freedom is an act of faith.”
Remember this is a list of unconventional Christmas movies. Defiance is based on the true story of 3 brothers, ordinary people, who decide to stand up and do the right thing in spite of taking an enormous personal risk.
The visuals are very bleak and at times you really feel how cold and cruel the winters must have been hiding in the forest. If you’re a WWII movie fan and haven’t seen this, then you will really appreciate this story.
“There is something inside they can’t touch. Get busy living, or get busy dying.”
One of the best movies of all time in my opinion. You could see this entire movie as a metaphor for what life in this world is like for creatives. We are all trying to tunnel our way to our dreams and we need unbelievable and seemingly unending hope that one day, we will make it…if we never give up.
If you have time, determination, and a plan you can create radical change in the end. I adore the message of this film.
It’s A Wonderful Life
This is obviously a classic Christmas movie, but if you haven’t seen it then you really need to. If we’re being honest, we all have hard times where we think, for just a moment, about what things would be like if we weren’t here.
I really believe this movie was way ahead of its time because of the fact that the main character is a suicidal family man who is suddenly rescued by a ragtag angel in training. For 1946, this was a seriously heavy topic.
I can see why the theme of sacrifice, financial trouble, family, and love made this movie an instant classic in post-war America. It became a huge hit and endures to this day as one of the most iconic films in American Cinema. I never go a single Christmas without watching it.
A Little Princess
Hooray! Another 90’s movie! I remember getting the VHS of this movie when I was in elementary school. It came with a cheap brass locket like the one the main character owned.
This is a powerful movie that, although is technically a children’s movie, has themes of overcoming racism, ageism, classicism, and sexism.
Even watching the trailer as I write this post, makes me well up with emotion!
Pretty intense stuff for a kid, but totally awe inspiring. Oh gosh, that scene at the end with her dad! Still gets me every time.
The message I hear when I watch this movie is how much our Father loves us and if we continue to believe in our true identity we can make it through the most challenging times. Our value comes from nothing other than being who we are.
Liam baby. Liam.
Les Mis is one of the most important novels ever written. Victor Hugo’s funeral was attended by over two million people, which ought to tell you that anyone who can communicate a picture of true Grace the way Hugo did, should be a national treasure.
I prefer this version because of the scene where you can actually see the work of Grace happening in the face Jean Valjean as the Priest covers for Jean in front of the French police.
Fried Green Tomatoes
If you can believe it, this is a Christmas movie. The mystery unfolds in the form of a flashback an old lady has during holiday visiting hours while living in a nursing home.
One of my all-time favorite movies!
Another classic 90’s movie that stirs my heart because of the powerful female cast, and suspenseful and powerful storytelling. Also, the fashion is amazing.
Another Liam movie. And another movie about a Father rescuing his child at any cost.
Taken is definitely a terrifying movie and most certainly doesn’t come across as a Christmas movie. However, the image of a Father seeking his lost child at all costs is the picture of God seeking after us. There are a few lines in this movie that are so powerful.
The Lives of Others
The final film on my list is a German film that a friend in college gave to me. It takes place in cold-war Berlin. The Stasi or Secret Police were at the height of power in the 70’s and 80’s. Artists, writers, and creatives of any kind were heavily censored and monitored to control the message that influenced the East German people.
The ending in this film is one of the best I have ever, ever seen. In fact, the entire movie hinges on less than one minute at the very end. It’s revealed that doing the right thing may never be appreciated by the masses. You may take huge personal risk and live a normal life with no reward even though your actions had a massive impact on countless people.
If there is one movie on this list that you absolutely have to watch it is this one.
If you’re tired of watching the same old movies every Christmas, give these unconventional Christmas movies a chance to put you in the spirit. Watch these to gain a deeper motivation to ring in the new year. Let me know what you think of this list and please do let me know what movies you would recommend!