Unconventional Christmas Movies: The Honorable Mentions

When it came time to narrow down the picks for Five Unconventional Christmas Movies list, there were inevitably a handful of films that did not quite make the cut. Those reasons for why ranged from their subjects being too sorrowful to others not featuring quite enough Christmas content. Nevertheless, below are seven movies that came close to making the list and why they deserve to be seen.

Honorable Mentions

Director David Cronenberg’s gritty Euro crime thriller “Eastern Promises” occurs during Yuletide. It chronicles Anna (Naomi Watts), a nurse, whose search for the maternal family members of an orphaned baby. In an unfortunate side effect of her quest, Anna gets entangled with the Russian mob.

Viggo Mortensen was nominated for the Best Actor Oscar for his performance as the tatted-up cleaner to the Russian mob family central to the story. The violence might have been the most buzzed-about aspect upon its release. To this viewer, it is the gentle romance between Watts’ valiant nurse and Mortensen’s intimidating mobster that really steals the show. 

If you need something more lighthearted, Eclectic Pop has you covered with “The Matador.” At this point in their careers, Pierce Brosnan and Greg Kinnear have not found better buddy chemistry than what they manage to strike up together here. How is Christmasy? The second half of the terrific dark comedy takes place during Christmas. 

In the mood for another comedy? How about the Nicolas Cage starrer “Trapped in Paradise”? The flick follows a trio of brothers (played by Nic Cage, Jon Lovitz, and Dana Carvey) pulling off the most straightforward robbery of their criminal careers in Paradise, PA. What they think will be an easy breezy job is foiled by a surprising source: the Christmastime kindness of the citizens in town.

Writer/director Courtney Hunt’s searing debut drama “Frozen River” centers on a single mom (Melissa Leo) driven to drastic measures as she desperately tries to provide for her family days before Christmas. Featuring tour de force performances from Melissa Leo, Misty Upham, and Charlie McDermott, the film’s stark portrayal of its character’s hardscrabble existence is as inescapably haunting as it is genuinely poignant.

While not a straight-up Christmas movie, Steven Spielberg’s “Catch Me If You Can” features quite a few memorable scenes set during the season. One of those notable sequences is a sad scene that plays out amidst Nat King Cole’s classic “Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire).” There are not many uplifting Christmastime moments in “Catch Me If You Can.” However, the majority of the movie carries itself on a lighthearted breeze. 

CliffsNotes Version

In all, there are 7 honorable mentions. There is (1) crime thriller (“Eastern Promises”), (2) comedies (“The Matador” and “Trapped in Paradise”), (2) superhero movies (“Batman Returns” and “Iron Man 3”), (1) dark drama (“Frozen River”), and (1) biographical dramedy (“Catch Me If You Can”).