It’s that time of the year when we all search streaming platforms for Christmas movie gems. However, we often turn to the annual classics for our entertainment, rather than picking some of the lesser-known Christmas movies from down the years. So why not ditch your annual treats this year and settle down with some highly underrated Christmas movies, some of which were panned by critics, while others have fallen into the mists of time or failed to make the annual festive list.
Christmas with the Coopers (Love the Coopers) 2015
Slated by critics on its release, Christmas with the Coopers (Love the Coopers) suffered from a highly misleading pre-release ad campaign, one that saw the movie painted as a lightweight Christmas comedy, when in fact, it’s very much a family drama. The core of its narrative, based on the importance of human connection, belonging and hope. Here, its message is even more profound in a year when COVID 19 has stripped us of hugs, conversation, and physical contact. And when viewed from this perspective, Christmas with the Coopers is a joy in both performances, screenplay and charm. And its intelligent and sharp commentary on family life, friendship and human psychology makes it one of the most underrated Christmas movies of the past five years.
Watch Christmas with the Coopers now on Amazon Prime Video
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969)
George Lazenby’s first and only outing as James Bond is also the spy’s only festive-themed adventure. In what is undoubtedly Flemings finest novel and the most underrated of the on-screen Bond outings. The film’s criticism on release in 1969 centred on the fact that Sean Connery was missing, rather than the epic, high octane and polished final movie. However, the film would only find its place in the Bond hall of fame many years later, as new audiences cast their eye over Lazenby’s solo outing. In truth, though 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 this Boxing Day and settle in for one hell of a ride with one of the best James Bond movies.
Watch On Her Majesty’s Secret Service now on Amazon Prime Video
One Magic Christmas (1985)
Taking its cue from It’s a Wonderful Life, One Magic Christmas fell foul of critics on its release. Many of them felt the Disney film was too depressing and dark for a family audience. However, in truth, One Magic Christmas is no darker than A Christmas Carol, while its message of hope and rebirth is equally as strong. And while it may not break new ground in its story, it is a warm and inspirational Disney outing that deserves far more positive attention. The final movie, without a doubt, is one of the most underrated Christmas movies from Disney’s back catalogue.
Watch One Magic Christmas now on Disney +
All I Want for Christmas (1991)
A 1990s 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, many critics were not impressed with this 90s slice of Christmas cheer. In fact, many felt the subject of divorce was too depressing for a kids movie. While at the same time, others pointed to the films soft, feel-good conclusion as a weakness. But, while not perfect, many critics missed the point of All I Want for Christmas. After all, this is a film about childhood dreams in the face of reality. While also reflecting the growing teenage realisation that wishes only come true if you work to make them real.
Watch All I Want for Christmas now on Apple TV
Joyeux Noel (2005)
Joyeux Noel received positive reviews on its release in 2005 but has since drifted into the mists of time. Its tale of humanity in the face of abject destruction and death is utterly compelling, emotional and brave. On Christmas Eve of 1914, in the trenches of Europe, 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 one day. Joyeux Noel never shies away from the brutal reality of war. While at the same time demonstrating that peace is always possible when we listen, talk and build a bridge of understanding across nationalistic divides.
Watch Joyeux Noel now on YouTube
Christmas movies don’t have to be full of tinsel, elves and snow to remind us of the importance of togetherness. Shot entirely on the iPhone 5, Tangerine may glow with the sunshine and heat of Los Angeles in December. But, it is a sublime and heartfelt reflection of Christmas on the margins of society. Its screenplay is layered with delicious, biting humour, while its heart sits firmly in the importance of friendship and belonging. Here two transgender sex workers, Alexandra (Mya Taylor) and Sin-Dee (Kitana Kiki Rodriguez), rampage through the backstreets of L.A. on Christmas Eve in a movie that shines with humour, meaning and heart.
Watch Tangerine now on Amazon Prime Video
Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984)
It’s fair to say Silent Night, Deadly Night caused more than a stir on its limited cinema release in 1984. Its screenplay not only tore up the Christmas horror movie rule book but subverted the jolly image of Santa Claus for a whole generation. However, beneath the cheap slasher horror, Silent Night, Deadly Night is a taut, compelling and downright chilling psychological thriller. And while its cinematic release found it engulfed by protests and anger, it would find its audience years later on video, becoming a Christmas slasher cult classic. So if you fancy a dark, at times silly but also unsettling slasher horror this Christmas, you won’t go far wrong with Silent Night, Deadly Night.