The best alternative Christmas films, from American Psycho (seriously) to Bridget Jones


Sick of booting up the same old Christmas films over and over again? So are we!

Fortunately, there's hope yet: we've collated a list of the best alternative films which should keep any grinch-like tendencies firmly at bay. They're still on theme, but they're also a little off-piste; read on for inspiration.

American Psycho (2000)

We’re starting out our alternative Christmas list with a real doozy; director Mary Harron’s ice cold take on Bret Easton Ellis’ dark cult novel is sick, slick, twisted and hilarious. The story follows Patrick Bateman, a wealthy investment banker who is far more concerned about getting a good table at the latest hip restaurant than he is about the bodies of women hanging in his wardrobe. Up until now he has been picking on vulnerable, unknown sex workers, and so his heinous crimes have gone under the radar; but everything changes for the psychotic serial killer when, around Christmas, his infuriation towards colleague Paul Owen boils over. It’s one murder too many, apparently, and a private detective starts poking around. How festive!

Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001)

Sharon Maguire’s 2001 take on Helen Fielding’s 1996 book is undoubtedly one of the best British comedies ever made. Not only is it full of all the good stuff – from excruciating mishaps to truly heart-warming exchanges – but it has Hugh Grant and Colin Firth in their prime, literally fighting over Renée Zellweger’s Bridget Jones in a street brawl. What could be more fun? Adding to the merriment, Jim Broadbent plays Bridget’s dad, with Gemma Jones as her mum. Shirley Henderson plays one of her best friends. Thanks to being bookended by scenes that are set during the festive period, this one more than makes the cut.

Scrooged (1988)

In a way, all Billy Murray films are Christmas films: just a glance of the comedian conjures up the feeling of being wrapped up and cosy under a wool blanket, hot toddy in hand. But Scrooged, an Eighties update of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, is a particular hoot of a festive flick. Murray plays miserly TV exec Frank Cross who is visited by a series of ghosts - all of whom happen to be rather zany - on Christmas Eve. Naturally, they have been sent by his old dead mentor, Lew Hayward, to try and save his soul.

Eyes Wide Shut (1999)

This erotic mystery from Stanley Kubrick tells the story of husband and wife Bill (Tom Cruise) and Alice Hartford (Nicole Kidman) whose sexual fantasies start to have real-life consequences. Bill ends up being drawn into an underground sex cult after Alice admits she has been feeling unfulfilled by their love life. It gets a seasonal pass because all of this originally kicks off at a Christmas party.

Tangerine (2015)

Raucous and melancholic, Sean Baker’s award-winning 2015 comedy-drama follows transgender sex worker Sin-Dee who, freshly out of jail on Christmas Eve, finds that her boyfriend and pimp has been cheating on her. Sin-Dee sets out to find the girl he's been messing around with, which takes her on a chaotic journey around some of the less recognisable corners of LA: settings include a donut shop, a cab, a brothel at a motel and a laundromat.

Mean Girls (2004)

Who would have thought that this comedy about a girl learning to fit into an American High School would become such an important entry into the pop culture canon? But nearly two decades after its release, Tina Fey’s laser sharp analysis of school hierarchies, the pressures teenagers face to fit in, and how catty behaviour can spiral out of control, remains an enduring favourite of the genre. It brought us the unforgettable lines “I’m not a regular mom. I’m a cool mom”, “On Wednesdays, we wear pink”, and “Stop trying to make fetch happen”. It also brought us that Jingle Bell Rock dance scene, officially making it a Christmas film.

The Godfather, Part One (1972)

Even if The Godfather didn’t feature a Christmas scene, the iconic 1972 gangster film still earns a place on this list. There’s something weirdly festive about this film’s luscious colours (Michael’s dark chocolate hair, the heavy shadows in Vito Corleone’s office) along with iconic lines such as ‘leave the gun, take the cannoli’. Not to mention the dramatic soundtrack. Despite all the violence, it's a sumptuous festive watch.

Batman Returns (1992)

Tim Burton’s second Batman film divided both critics and fans, with some arguing that the director’s signature eccentricities were glaringly missing from the mega film’s final cut. But for action, Batman and DC fans, the film’s Christmas backdrop, plus the starry cast – including Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman, Michael Keaton as Batman, Danny DeVito as Penguin and Christopher Walken as industrialist Max Shreck – make it a stellar alternative holiday choice.