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Cozy up with coffee and a Christmas Movie for Haters

My name is Jackson.  By day, as Peace’s Coffee Ambassador, I test out how our coffees taste on various brewing devices, teach classes, and write about how to be the best barista you can be.  By night– especially when it gets bitterly cold–I like to watch movies. 

My favorite kinds of movies are ones that have a very specific time and place attached to them. If the story is simply “the hero left their home and quested to slay an evil monster”, I’m interested in the festivals and customs of the home they left behind. I want to know if it’s a place of rolling hills or one of the prairies or one of deep woods, and how that geography shapes who the hero is.

The Best Films Give a Sense of Place

I love the way that a movie like Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing will convey how hot and oppressive the Brooklyn summer is. I love the way that Joel & Ethan Coen’s Fargo communicates the alienation and isolation of a Minnesota winter. I love the way that Jonathan Demme’s Rachel Getting Married depicts the fragile beauty of a New England autumn.

A lot of the movies I like to watch at Christmas though aren’t ones you’ll find in your standard “Top 10 Christmas Movies Of All Time” articles. When one says “Christmas movie”, one very often thinks about romantic comedies where the protagonists learn how to open their hearts and experience love again. One thinks of family comedies where kids (and the adults attached to them) find themselves in zany situations in search of merriment. Or, of course, one thinks about the gazillions of adaptations and takes on Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, where the grizzled callous rich man learns about the spirit of giving. There are plenty of great examples of all of these that are worth one’s time, don’t get me wrong. I’ll watch Scrooged or Christmas Vacation or Christmas in Connecticut happily, but there’s a lot about the experience of December in America that doesn’t get addressed by this kind of art.

This is why for years now I’ve cultivated a list that I refer to as Christmas Movies For Haters.

So…what is a ‘Christmas movie for Haters’?

It’s not that I hate Christmas! It’s that I welcome into my heart that sometimes the holidays aren’t exclusively about joy and family love and presents, and I like to hear stories about this time of year from all different experiences. 

As I gaze out onto a gorgeous snow-covered landscape through my window, I might put on Shane Black’s Kiss Kiss Bang Bang to see a story about how hard it is to be cozy and jolly when you’re in Southern California and there aren’t seasons, much less snow. I’ll put on Sean Baker’s Tangerine to experience a story of Christmas when you’re flat broke and your chosen family is a little dysfunctional.  I’ll put on Terry Gilliam’s Brazil to remind myself how hollow the consumerism of the season can get.

If you’re a fellow traveler who appreciates that Die Hard is also a Christmas movie, but like me finds that take old and tired, I’ve been counting down and commenting on some of my favorite Christmas Movies for Haters on my Instagram @sprobeforebros.

2023 Christmas Movies for Haters (So Far)!

8 Femmes, Blast Of Silence, The Sure Thing, The Apartment, Three Days of the Condor, The Lion In Winter, Trading Places, The Dead, The Man Who Came To Dinner, The Ice Harvest, Some Girls, Invasion USA, Carol, A Midnight Clear, Metropolitan, The Green Knight, Little Women, The Desk Set, Better Off Dead, Go, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Spencer….

Photo of Jackson O'Brien

Published by Jackson O'Brien on December 19, 2023.

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