Nothing brings the fam together at Christmas like a good movie – whether it’s a Christmas Eve tradition, a way to get you through the post-turkey stupor or something to snuggle up with on Boxing Day, we all love getting stuck in to great stories at this time of year.
But if you’re over the usual Crimbo classics and looking for a movie that doesn’t involve green hairy fingers, Will Ferrell in tights or ghosts of Christmas past (though we love those too, obviously) – here’s some festive(ish) film recommendations to keep you entertained this week!
In Bruges is an extremely witty black comedy starring Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson and Ralph Fiennes, and is the brainchild of playwright Mark McDonagh.
Set in the picturesque city of Bruges (unsurprisingly) at winter time, we follow two Irish hitmen as they hide out after a job gone wrong. Whilst awaiting further instructions they explore the Christmassy city, and get up to no good.
It is an incredibly funny film, with so many unforgettable scenes and even shocks you won’t be expecting. One for the adults only, this is a must-watch on your Christmas list.
Tim Burton’s magnum opus is an absolute modern classic, and where it may not be the most “alternative” film on this list, it is certainly not often considered a Christmas film.
However, there is nothing more heart-warming and beautiful than Winona Ryder spinning in a shower of snow and ice falling from Edward’s beautiful ice sculpture.
Essentially a story of love and acceptance in a mass-produced world, Edward Scissorhands is the ultimate bit of festive cheer to cosy up to during the winter months.
The weird and wonderful Brazil is a mind-bending masterpiece from former Monty Python member, Terry Gilliam. Centred around the Christmas period, this is the only thing that really makes it a “Christmas” film, but you can’t get more alternative than this.
Its themes focus a lot on the materialistic nature of society and the influence of corporations on our everyday life – a different way to look at the profiteering nature of Christmas and what we do to fit in.
Notorious for being a film that takes viewers a couple of watches to really grasp what the hell is going on, it has cemented itself as a memorable piece of cinema history, especially British cinema history.
If you truly want to feel the blistering cold seeping through the screen this Christmas, then look no further than the Coen Brothers’ classic dark comedic thriller, Fargo.
Set in the vast wintery landscapes of Minnesota, with snow as far as the eye can see, Fargo is the ultimate winter movie.
Perhaps not the “feel-good” movie you’re after at this time of year, but with plenty of laughs and an unforgettable scene involving a woodchipper, it is a film you will want to watch over and over.
The second entry from Tim Burton in this list is (what we consider to be) the best Batman film from the first cycle of the DC vigilante.
Taking place over the Christmas period, Batman Returns follows our beloved Bruce Wayne (Michael Keaton) as he attempts to take down the evil Penguin whilst battling his love/hate relationship with Selina Kyle, aka Catwoman (so brilliantly played by Michelle Pfeiffer).
The film replicates the Christmas scenes in New York, with giant Christmas trees, excessive celebrations and a snow dusted skyline. Packed with plenty of action, fun and sexiness, Batman Returns is an excellent alternative to watch this Christmas
An alternative Christmas list would be incomplete without an addition from the horror genre.
Where Christmas is usually a time for loving and giving, and for feeling at home with all the family, European folklore created a story to add fear into children. It warns them of an evil horned creature called the Krampus that punishes those who are naughty – far more effective than the threat of a lump of coal in your stocking.
Okay, okay – let us off with this one.
We know it’s the most obvious-but-not-obvious entry on the list, often causing debate about whether it’s actually a Christmas film or not (we’re abstaining from this argument!) – but it does make for a good way to break up the twee and the heartwarming we see everywhere this time of year.
When an office Christmas goes horribly wrong – after being invaded by German terrorist scrooges, the usual – John McClane (Bruce Willis) must put an end to the destruction and save his wife and her colleagues from a brutal death.
Die Hard is an action packed classic and is one of the most quotable films in history, especially McClane’s “now I have a machine gun, Ho Ho Ho!”.
Also containing one of Alan Rickman’s most memorable performances as the notorious Hans Gruber, Die Hard cannot be missed this Christmas.
Planes, Trains and Automobiles
Although this film is set the night before Thanksgiving rather than anywhere near Christmas, it’s still centred around the idea of getting home in time for the holidays.
Planes, Trains and Automobiles is a John Hughes classic starring the hilarious Steve Martin and John Candy as they make their way across the country, by any means necessary, to make it home to see their families.
It is one of the best buddy movies around, with such contrasting personalities between the two characters – an angry and cynical Steve Martin paired with a jolly, eccentric John Candy – and so the hilarity is inevitable.
So what’s on your watch list this Christmas? If you have any other alternative festive films you like to watch at this time of year, let us know! Tweet us at @thecineblog.
Some other honourable mentions that didn’t quite make the main list: