Want to watch something that isn't too Christmassy? Look no further.
Some people don't like to watch Christmas films, and that's fine. But what can you watch that isn't directly a festive flick? Lucky for you, I've compiled a quick list of feel-good alternatives, and here are some of them.
Sleepless in Seattle (1993)
A classic ‘90s Hanks and Ryan film, Sleepless in Seattle has quite a few seasons covered. Tom Hanks’ character, Sam has lost his wife to cancer and his young son, Jonah can see how sad his dad is and wants to find him a new partner. Queue a phone call to a local radio station from the eight-year-old and there begins the love story. Sam captures the hearts of all the single women in Seattle, and Meg Ryan’s Annie is brought in to cover the story for her newspaper in Baltimore.
It’s the perfect feel-good movie for a dark, cold night in with your significant other. It’s aged pretty well, apart from the technology but never fails to pull on those heartstrings. The cosy atmosphere and weather of Seattle make this a great alternative.
Knives Out (2019)
When a wealthy novelist dies, the police question the many people in attendance at a party that night. The film features an ensemble of household names, from Jamie Lee Curtis as the oldest daughter, to private detective Benoit Blanc played by Daniel Craig, and everyone else in between. It has a Poirot “whodunit” feel to it and includes some beautiful cinematography. The locations used are also gorgeous, and you'll likely spend some of the film looking up where they shot most of this movie.
Filmed in Massachusetts, the film includes wide-open leafy spaces, roaring fires and many big coats and scarves. You’ll spend two hours going back and forth in your mind about who committed the crime and will likely not be surprised when the credits roll, but it’s an easy watch for a Sunday afternoon as the sun sets.
You’ve Got Mail (1998)
I know, another Hanks vs Ryan film, but you know? They’re both valid entries.
Filmed in 1998 (a simpler time), the AOL-based romantic comedy shows millionaire Joe Fox (Hanks) and small bookstore owner Kathleen Kelly (Ryan) who fall in love online, but it turns out, they’re real-life business rivals in the book industry.
While Kathleen Kelly’s choices aren't necessarily right, it’s a great film. Set in New York, you get the autumnal colours and a touch of Christmas. It’s a feel-good watch that will make you want to read more. Bonus; there's an excellent dog in a lot of the scenes.
Note: The book, Parfumerie, is also great and worth a read if you get the chance. The original remake of the book, Shop Around the Corner, filmed in the 1940s is also a joyous watch, although different to the Hanks/Ryan remake. Margaret Sullavan, James Stewart and Frank Morgan star in this romantic comedy and it's listed in the Times All-Time 100 Movies.
Gilmore Girls (2000–2007, plus a 4 episode mini-series)
With 154 episodes, you’ll be sorted for a while with this pick. Gilmore Girls follows a mother (Lauren Graham) and daughter (Alexis Bledel) team who live in a small town in Connecticut. With fast dialogue, quick wit and overarching comedy throughout, it’s an easy watch, wherever you are.
You are guaranteed at least a few episodes of autumn and winter in every single season. The township they live in is incredibly cozy and it has a cast of well-known stars early in their careers including Jared Padalecki, Milo Ventimiglia and Melissa McCarthy. There’s also the added bonus of Edward Herrmann.
St Elmo’s Fire (1985)
The movie follows seven recent graduates who’ve remained friends despite their different intentions for the future. The plot revolves around a journalist with hidden feelings (Andrew McCarthy), bad boy Rob Lowe and a cocaine-fuelled rich girl who’s run out of money (Demi Moore). The cast also includes Judd Nelson, Emilio Estevez and Ally Sheedy (The Breakfast Club gang).
This film has ups and downs throughout. The struggle to grow up is real and there are elements of suicide, however, this film can only work as a raw adaptation. It works as a pick because of the big ‘80s sweaters, the frosted windows and indoor smoking at St Elmo’s Bar and the heavy breathing in the cold air.
Jonathan Creek (1997–2016)
One of the better mystery shows to come out of the U.K, Jonathan Creek is a magician’s assistant who lives in a Windmill, while he solves impossible puzzles across the country. With many familiar British faces throughout its 32 episodes, it’s a cracking murder mystery.
The number of good roll-neck jumpers alone should be enough to entice you, but if that’s not enough, there are special episodes throughout the seasons and lots of cozy ‘90s pubs throughout. The perfect evening watch in the run up to the festive period.
My Neighbour Totoro (1988)
A Studio Ghibli classic, My Neighbour Totoro is the epitome of a feel-good film. Satsuki, her little sister Mei and their father move closer to their mother’s hospital in 1950s Japan, while she recovers. Their new home is surrounded by a forest, full of magical creatures who transport the girls into their strange world throughout the film.
Complete with Soot Sprites, Catbus and stunning animation, this film will keep you warm inside and smiling on the outside. The perfect film to watch with children and other adults, the movie doesn’t have any villains nor do the adults think the children are lying about their new friends.
Other alternatives to festive films and television include Babe, Friends, the Vicar of Dibley, Absolutely Fablous, Homeward Bound, and An American Tale.
So, will you be watching any of these during the festive period? Let me know your alternatives to Christmas films and TV, below.