By Lee Parham

It's the most wonderful time of the year to snuggle up by the fire, drink some hot cocoa, and put on a holiday flick, unless it's not one? Here are the best Christmas movies up for debate.

It's A Wonderful Life

While some movies such as Elf, It's a Wonderful Life, and How The Grinch Stole Christmas are unapologetically Yuletide, other films are harder to define despite their winter wonderland backdrops.


Easily the most iconic up-for-debate Christmas movie is 1988's action classic Die Hard, starring Bruce Willis in his career role as NYPD detective John McClane.

McClane finds himself amid a terrorist attack led by Hans Gruber, played by Alan Rickman, in Los Angeles on Christmas Eve as he tries to reconnect with his estranged wife, Holly.

Despite an obvious holiday setting, themes of family, and a plethora of Christmas references, Die Hard's action genre and violent nature have sparked a debate about its genre for over 30 years.

But before Die Hard, there was Mel Gibson and Danny Glover's beloved buddy-cop comedy Lethal Weapon in 1987, featuring the same highly disputed genre issue.

And before those films, horror-comedy Gremlins drew similar comparisons. However, with the central narrative revolving around a Christmas gift, it had more leeway for being touted as an Xmas pic.

Tim Burton has wrapped his quirky sensibilities around the Christmas genre a few times, first with Edward Scissorhands in 1990. Christmas, snow, and ice were critical elements in the film’s story.

Next, his 1992 Batman sequel Batman Returns had a Noel narrative, featuring cold weather-loving villain Penguin and even a bat-vehicle designed for chilly water and ice environments.

Tim also wrote the story of The Nightmare Before Christmas, which, despite the word Christmas in its title, is often considered a Halloween movie, as the October 1993 release date would suggest.

While his biopic tick, tick… Boom! is gaining popularity; the late Jonathan Larson's most iconic play, Rent, had a film adaptation in 2005 that could also be considered a Christmas story.

Even some of the most iconic film franchises have pseudo-Christmas movies in their catalog, like Jurassic World, which features a surprising and nearly forgotten Xmas vacation to the dino park.

The Harry Potter franchise has featured Christmas a lot, but a large portion of The Sorcerer's Stone's most iconic moments take place in the winter, so perhaps the film's genre should be questioned.

While the MCU's latest TV show Hawkeye is all-in on holiday cheer, their first Christmas story was the controversial Iron Man 3, but the May release date and Miami setting didn't feel very festive.

While all these films have a holiday theme, should they be considered Christmas movies? That's up to you to decide, but your enjoyment of them this holiday season shouldn't be affected either way!

The Grinch