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 25 best alternative Christmas movies and links to stream or buy them. Merry Christmas!
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!
Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang
Director Shane Black's fast-paced, postmodern action film was unjustly overlooked on its release, but it's built up a cult following in recent years. Robert Downey Jr stars as Harry Lockhart, a small-time crook who's mistaken for an actor and paired with Val Kilmer's exasperated Hollywood private eye "Gay" Perry.
What follows is an entertaining, self-aware romp through the cliches of film noir, complete with femme fatale (Michelle Monaghan sporting a Santa hat) and more twists and turns than a Curly Wurly.
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.
Terry Gilliam's Orwellian satire opens on an idyllic Yuletide scene – a mother telling her child about Santa's impending visit down the chimney. "But Father Christmas can't come if we don't have a chimney," says the youngster. Whereupon paramilitary police descend through the ceiling, grab the kid's father (and put him in a sack, of course) before hauling him off for questioning.
Later scenes savage the consumerist nature of Christmas, before Gilliam wheels out a Santa who advises the luckless Sam Lowry (Jonathan Pryce) to give in to his torture at the hands of Brazil's faceless bureaucrats.
Bruce Willis at his best in a vest, wading about knee-deep in dead terrorists. Nakatomi Plaza didn’t know what hit it when – full of bad guys – it got between John McClane and his family Christmas dinner.
C4 explosives, Steyr machine guns and a rocket launcher later, a sequel was inevitable. Plus Run D.M.C’s Christmas In Hollis brought the streetwise Ho, Ho, Ho to this all-time action great.