Seven Underrated Christmas Movies:
Christmas with the Coopers (Love the Coopers) 2015
Slated by critics, Christmas with the Coopers (Love the Coopers) suffered from a highly misleading pre-release ad campaign that painted the movie as a lightweight Christmas comedy. However, it is, in reality, a tender humorous family drama. Here the core narrative explores themes of connection, belonging and hope, its message even more profound in a year when COVID 19 has stripped us of hugs, conversation, and physical contact. Christmas with the Coopers is a joy in its performances, screenplay, and charm when viewed from this perspective. Here its intelligent, sharp commentary on family life, friendship and human psychology make it one of the most underrated Christmas movies of the past five years.
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969)
George Lazenby’s first and only outing as James Bond is the spy’s only festive adventure. Slated by critics on release, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is undoubtedly Fleming’s best novel and, without a doubt, the most underrated of Bond’s on-screen outings. However, the film would find its place in the Bond hall of fame many years later, as new audiences cast their eyes on Lazenby’s solo outing. While dated in parts, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is a glimmering gem in the Bond crown and one of the best Christmas themed action movies ever made. So grab the turkey sandwiches and settle in for one hell of a ride with one of the best James Bond movies.
One Magic Christmas (1985)
Taking its cue from It’s a Wonderful Life, One Magic Christmas fell foul of critics on its release, with many pointing to the film’s depressing and dark subject matter. However, One Magic Christmas is no darker than A Christmas Carol, and its final message of hope and rebirth is strong. Indeed, One Magic Christmas may not break new ground, but it is a warm and inspirational Disney outing that deserves far more attention.
All I Want for Christmas (1991)
A movie about family separation and divorce, with the kids stuck in the middle, doesn’t exactly sound like a festive fair, and as a result, critics were not impressed in 1991. Many critics would argue that the subject of divorce was too depressing for a kid’s Christmas movie, while others pointed to the film’s occasionally fall into sickly sweet territory. However, while not perfect, many critics missed the point of All I Want for Christmas; after all, this is a film about childhood dreams disrupted by family conflict. Here All I Want for Christmas reflects the growing teenage realisation that wishes only come true if you work to make them real.
Joyeux Noel (2005)
Joyeux Noel received positive reviews on its release in 2005 but has since drifted into the mists of time. However, its tale of humanity in the face of destruction is utterly compelling, emotional and brave. On Christmas Eve of 1914, in the trenches of Europe, a group of German, British and French soldiers laid down their weapons for a brief moment of solidarity in the face of hate and conflict. The result was an act of humanity, reconciliation and hope that was sadly only to last for one day. Joyeux Noel never shies away from the brutal reality of war while demonstrating that peace is always possible when we listen, talk and build bridges of understanding across nationalistic divides.
Christmas movies arent always full of tinsel, elves and snow, and Tangerine is a stunning example of a Christmas set movie wrapped in real life. Shot entirely on the iPhone 5, Tangerine glows with the winter sunshine and heat of Los Angeles, offering us a sublime and heartfelt reflection of a Christmas spent on the margins of society. Here its screenplay is layered with biting humour, while its heart sits in the importance of friendship and belonging as two transgender sex workers, Alexandra and Sin-Dee, walk the backstreets of L.A. on Christmas Eve.
Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984)
It’s fair to say Silent Night, Deadly Night caused a stir on its limited cinema release in 1984. After all, this was a slasher horror that tore up the Christmas horror rule book but subverted the jolly image of Santa Claus with an axe-wielding, abused and mentally unstable young man. However, beneath the cheap horror, Silent Night, Deadly Night is a taut, compelling and downright chilling psychological thriller. However, its cinematic release would be engulfed by protests and anger, mainly due to its deceiving TV adverts, and it would only find its audience years later on video. So if you fancy a dark, silly, but unsettling slasher horror this Christmas, you won’t go far wrong with Silent Night, Deadly Night.
Loved our list of underrated Christmas movies? Why not take a look at our Deliciously Dark Christmas Movies