Favorite Holiday Adjacent Films


If you’re anything like us, the second Thanksgiving passes, you’re ready for the holidays. The tree comes out, decorations go up, music starts playing, and you want to start watching all of your holiday favorites. Sometimes though, you don’t want to watch all of your favorite holiday films the first two weeks of December and leave yourself with nothing fresh to watch in the actual days leading up to Christmas. Lucky for you, we’ve compiled a list of some of our Holiday Adjacent films. Here are some of our favorites, touching on the holidays and feeling seasonally appropriate without actually being about the holidays.

  • You’ve Got Mail, Nora Ephron (1998) You’ve Got Mail may be the ultimate autumn film with its bouquets of newly-sharpened pencils, but it also has its scenes of Christmas, and let’s face it, it’s perfect to watch year-round.
  • Serendipity, Peter Chelsom (2001) Do you love your romantic comedies? This was one of my favorites as a teen, and I rewatched it for the first time in over a decade this week, and it stands the test of time. Beginning and ending with Christmas, Serendipity is as good, if as outlandish, as a frozen hot chocolate.
  • Little Women, Gillian Armstrong (1994) What fills your soul with more warmth and family feeling than Little Women? I caved and did my rewatch in mid-October, and I wish I’d kept it for early December. Few things make me think of the holidays more than Beth and her piano. (It also doesn’t hurt that my current favorite edition of Little Women is as Christmas-y as they come.)
  • Sleepless in Seattle, Nora Ephron (1993) It’s no secret we have something for Nora Ephron here at the Attic, and it’s no secret Nora Ephron has something for featuring scenes of Christmas in her films. Sleepless in Seattle begins with Christmas and there’s just something about the hope and belief of the story that fits with the seasonal magic.
  • North and South, BBC (2004) By North and South, I obviously mean the BBC’s 2004 adaptation of Elizabeth Gaskell’s Victorian novel and not the Civil War documentary. But seriously, this Industrial Age Pride and Prejudice screams winter to me with all the looking back in the snow.
  • A Little Princess, Alfonso Cuarón (1995) A children’s film, certs, but I reread this Frances Hodgson Burnett classic last winter, and it’s just so seasonally appropriate. All about the importance of kindness and sharing, the story captures the spirit of the season and it also just makes me think of bundling up away from the snow.
  • When Harry Met Sally, Nora Ephron (1989) One of Fashion Editor Raquel’s favorites, When Harry Met Sally follows the title characters over several years and “there is definitely loads of Christmas goodness along with all of the ‘Autumn in New York’ aesthetic Ephron does so well. It also ends on NYE, so there’s plenty of festivity to last through December.”
  • Stuart Little, Rob Minkoff (1999) What are the holidays without children’s films? This was one of my favorites as a child. Family, fun, and an amazing New York brownstone. I’ll be rewatching it this year.
  • Moonstruck, Norman Jewison (1987) "A quintessential New York movie, takes place in winter." Lifestyle Editor, Lee Clark, tells us. "We watch it at least once a year, it’s funny and charming. Cher and Nicholas Cage May be the headliners but Olympia Dukakis is really the star. Try not to fall in love with her. This film also reminds me to make egg (toad) in the hole because I don’t make it nearly enough."
  • Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Michel Gondry (2004) Another of Raquel’s faves, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is “not your typical romantic comedy and probably off beat for this list, but definitely something for those cold weather blues. I'd recommend for the sort of day when you're stuck in bed with a flu and just wanting to cry your heart out. Definitely worth it though, I promise you won't be miserable by the end.”
  • The Magnificent Ambersons, Orson Welles (1942) A warm recommendation from Lee. “It’s a classic film that takes place in the winter in the beginning and it’s really about the rise and fall of a classic American family. It’s by Orson Welles and really, Booth Tarkington, the author of the book it’s based off of, wrote it about Welles’s family. It’s a classic film that I find easy to watch, though, be warned: it is in black and white.”
  • The Royal Tenenbaums, Wes Anderson (2001) Mirroring the title of The Magnificent Ambersons, The Royal Tennenbaums is greatly inspired by the Welles film and is another favorite from Lee. “Another eccentric family, all-star cast in a touching and funny film in New York City. I like how Royal Tenenbaums has a slight 70s washed-out feel to it. The color palette is also so beautiful. The pale pinks and blonde-ish neutrals are so gorgeous. I know after seeing Margot Tenenbaum for the first time I had to wear as much eyeliner as she did. Though not nearly as well.”
  • The Darjeeling Limited, Wes Anderson (2007) “This particular film doesn't feature any holidays, but it's just always inexplicably been a personal tradition of mine to watch this and The Royal Tenenbaums at Christmas. I think it feels holiday-adjacent because the plot features a group of brothers reuniting after a long period of time and journeying together to find their mother, dispersed with flashbacks to turmoil they're each facing outside of the running plot. It all feels very ‘going home for Christmas’ to me.” – Raquel

What are your favorite holiday adjacent films to watch at this time of year?