With work off the cards, the heating cranked up and a mountain of leftovers and booze to plough through, Christmas is the best time of the year to sink into the sofa and watch some films. But what if you've tired of the usual seasonanal fare?
If Home Alone no longer warms your cockles and The Santa Clause leaves you feeling decidedly un-festive, it's time for you to get your eyeballs into something a bit different. So whether you've been good or not, here's our present to you: The 17 best alternative Christmas movies and links to stream them. Merry Christmas!
Everyone wants to be in Bruges at Christmas. Everyone except Ray (Colin Farrell), who deems it a “shithole” on arrival.
There’s little evidence of the Christmas spirit elsewhere either, as Ray and fellow hitman Ken blunder their way through the darker recesses of the Venice of the North. There’s plenty of merry, though – the jokes come thick and fast.
White Christmas (Black Mirror)
Black Mirror's 2014 seasonal special is almost feature length, so we think it deserves a spot here. In a departure from the series' regular episodes, it consists of three separate tales - all all weaving together to form an overall uber-story starring Rafe Spall and Mad Men's Jon Hamm.
If you're familiar with and a fan of Black Mirror's "technology is actually bad" theme, you'll find plenty of that to feast on here, as it takes aim at augmented reality (and its potential uses for pick-up artists), smart home gadgets, digital copies of human consciousness and the ability to "block" people in real life. Merry Christmas, tech fans!
He's not fat, he's not round, and he definitely isn't jolly. Billy Bob Thornton's whiskey-drinking, womanising Santa Claus is hilarious, in a dark comedy sort of way.
A strange friend in the form of a socially inept boy called Thurman Merman makes the off-the-rails Santa see the error of his ways after years of drug abuse and robberies. Heartwarming and filthy at the same time and therefore probably the ultimate alternative Christmas movie.
Planes, Trains & Automobiles
Christmas wouldn't be complete without the traditional sibling argument, the customary crestfallen gift-face or the comparatively painless Steve Martin movie. Martin hitches a ride home for Thanksgiving with a nauseating slob of a shower ring salesman played by the late, great John Candy.
After a couple of hours of slapstick, gross-out jokes and, finally, some seasonally-appropriate heart-warming resolution, you might realise you could have had it worse with your own family.
Children of Men
There isn't a Christmas tree, jolly Kris Kringle or loop of tinsel in sight, but director Alfonso Cuaron's dystopian sci-fi nonetheless has a festive theme. As Clive Owen's Theo – get the religious reference? – struggles to protect a young pregnant mother bearing the first child to be conceived in 20 years, there are clear echoes of the Nativity story.
Directed and co-written by Alfonso Cuarón, the film depicts an Earth in which the human race is slowly dying amid the war, famine and social unrest that follow its peculiar predicament. The world it portrays is close enough to ours to be recognisable, different enough to be interesting and horrific enough to be chilling, and the gripping plot is perfectly balanced between action and intrigue. A film to make you think.
One of those finding-your-true-self-at-Christmastime absurdities – but with a violently green, Will Ferrell-shaped twist. And in spite of Ferrell's propensity to irritate, the PG-rated humour and the sickeningly festive subject matter, you'll find yourself guiltily giggling, if not snorting into your eggnog.
When Ferrell’s elf – one of Santa’s not-so-little helpers – discovers he’s in fact human, he ups sticks to New York to track down his biological father (James Caan). Holiday chaos ensues as he endeavours to bring festive cheer to all he encounters – whether they like it or not.
The Night Before
This laddish 2015 comedy sees a trio of old friends, played by Joseph Gordon Levitt, Seth Rogen and Anthony Mackie, decide to take their traditional Christmas Eve bar crawl to the next level by locating the Holy Grail of Christmas parties: the Nutcracker Ball, an exclusive New York party, invites of which have always eluded them.
Armed with a boxful of narcotics, the trio embarks on a big quest through the Big Apple, getting into all manner of scrapes involving mothers, nosebleeds, ex-girlfriends, and an enigmatic high school pot dealer played with relish by Michael Shannon.
Trading Places has all the elements of a good Christmas movie: a Christmas-y setting, the underlying fable about money not being important and of course love and family (even if it is the unconventional kind). Oh, and Santa – a drunk and depressed, salmon-stealing Santa.
A street hustler (Eddie Murphy), arrogant yuppie (Dan Aykroyd) and prostitute (Jamie Lee Curtis) aren't exactly pillars of good, but compared to a pair of ageing, sinister millionaires, this unusual trio are the film's heroes.
Gremlins introduced the world to Gizmo – the cute ball of fur you shouldn't get wet, expose to bright light or feed after midnight.
Of course, this strict set of rules is nonchalantly broken, throwing up a mixture of comedy and horror as Billy (Zach Galligan) struggles to put an end to the self-inflicted festive terror caused by the ugly and green side of the mogwai. See what happens when you defy your parents, kids?