Underrated Christmas Movies to Check out this Year

Some Christmas films you may have missed out on that flew under the radar.

With Christmas just a month away, many people are already preparing, putting up decorations and getting into the holiday spirit. This means preparing eggnog, putting up a Christmas tree, and of course, watching some good ol’ fashioned Christmas films. We are all familiar with the classics of Christmas. Home Alone 1 & 2, A Christmas Carol, A Christmas Story, The Nightmare Before Christmas, and of course, Die Hard are all classics which have well-earned their rank in the Christmas movie pantheon. However, there are quite a few Christmas films that you might have missed out on due to them receiving poor reviews, or just flying under the radar. So, let’s take a look at a few underrated Christmas movies that are worth checking out.

Reindeer Games (2000) 

Reindeer Games (or sometimes titled Deception) is John Frankenheimer’s final feature film. Released in 2000, two years before the director’s death, the movie stars Ben Affleck, Charlize Theron, Danny Trejo, and a few other notable actors. The film was neither a commercial nor a critical success, with even Charlize Theron saying it was the worst film she has ever done. However, we are here to argue that Reindeer Games went somewhat underappreciated. The film is sort of bogged down by a last-minute twist that didn’t need to happen and some questionable story decisions. But overall, it provides a fun romp to put on in the background during a Christmas dinner.

The film’s plot revolves around Rudy Duncan, who just got out of prison. Having very little to live for, Rudy assumes the identity of his dead cellmate, Nick Cassidy, in an attempt to get together with his girlfriend. Sadly, it all goes awry, as Duncan finds out that Cassidy and his girlfriend were planning an elaborate casino heist. Sadly, back in 2000 casinos with fast withdrawals were still not popular online, so land-based establishments were the only option.The film has some alright acting, an interesting plot, and some rather memorable scenes. It certainly isn’t a masterpiece, but it is far from one of the worst films of all time.  

Trading Places (1983)

Christmas is the season of peace, love and respect for fellow humans. Which is why it is so incredible when we see Christmas movies deeply steeped in cynicism. Trading Places is one such film. Starring Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy, the film tells the story of two people, on the opposite sides of the social ladder, who are forced to switch places due to a bizarre social experiment perpetraded by a pair of rich brothers who want to settle a bet. 

Deeply critical of the upper class, steeped in cynical humor, and starring two of the funniest people of the 1980s, Trading Places is certainly one of the best Christmas films you’ve likely never heard of. Unlike our previous entry, Trading Places received generally positive reviews and was a huge box office success. However, 40 years later it has largely been forgotten. 

Sleepy Hollow (1999)

Perhaps one of Tim Burton’s most underappreciated films, Sleepy Hollow tells the timeless tale of Ichabod Crane who travels to the town of Sleepy Hollow. As most of Burton’s films do, Sleepy Hollow stars Johnny Depp in the leading role, who brings his typical, quirky acting style to the table. However, unlike in most films today, Depp is restrained, at least to a point, so that he just barely straddles the line of quirky and grating. 

Cold, with a wintery atmosphere, and revolving around themes of witchcraft and spirits, Sleepy Hollow doubles as both a horror film for Halloween, and an excellent Christmas movie. Even those who are not horror fans will enjoy this movie, as it is more of a tribute to cheesy, 70s horror films, than a horror film proper. And with excellent performances from Christopher Walken, Christina Ricci, and Miranda Richardson, you will have something to enjoy.