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MOVIES - ALAN RICKMAN'S NOT JUST IN LOVE, ACTUALLY

Sure, Miracle on 34th Street, Home Alone, Elf and that one with Tim Allen are great, but how many times can you watch the same story over and over? Here's the solution. 

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)

Kooky murder mystery with petty crook Robert Downey Jr and Val Kilmer as a gay detective solving a case at Christmas. Michelle Monaghan even rocks up in a Santa-ish slip. It's director Shane Black also gave us the outstanding Christmas movie, Lethal Weapon, which opens with Jingle Bell Rock.

The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

Tim Burton's masterpiece is as much Halloweeny as it is Christmasy and brilliant, featuring Jack Skellington exploring the wacky world of Santy Claus and the elves. The brilliant stop-motion animation makes it totally timeless. Burton's Edward Scissorhands is too obvious. 

Die Hard (1988)

Bruce Willis being awesome, explosions and nonsensical stunts aren't just for Christmas. Sure, Alan Rickman's in the excellent Love, Actually, but he's superb here as the baddie.  

In Bruges (2008)

All carolled out but non-Christmas entertainment is out of the question? Here's the solution. Christmas has little to nothing to do with the plot here, other than the fact there are Christmas decorations in the stunning Belgian city. If you haven't seen it, do yourself a favour.

Rocky IV (1985)

Rocky avenges his friend Apollo's death against Russian Ivan Drago... on Christmas Day! And basically ends the Cold War with an inspirational mumbling about everyone changing, and saying happy Christmas to his kid. And there's a Christmassy robot - you'll be a heavy weight champ suggesting this one. 

Close but no Santa cookie: Woody Allen's musical Everyone Says I Love You with Drew Barrymore and Edward Norton; Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal classic When Harry Met Sally; and Go, a bit of a smokey but a cracking teen caper about a drug deal gone wrong at a rave called Mary Christmas. 

SONGS - WE WISH YOU A MARIA CAREY FREE CHRISTMAS

As for tunes, Christmas songs have been tainted over the years by sing-every-note-in-one-hit types like Maria or schmaltzy fools like Cliff Richard - now we're not against mistletoe and wine or anyone who just wants you for Christmas (but be realistic, they're probably lying), but you can do better. Start here...

How to Make Gravy, Paul Kelly

Hits right at the heart of a family Christmas and as Kelly's said it himself, intensifies the feeling by the protagonist not being there - like White Christmas. And a gravy recipe, which works, we tested it. 

2000 Miles, Adalita 

A classic from The Pretenders that's been covered by many, including the outstanding KT Tunstall. But we went with the Magic Dirt singer from the awesome Rockwiz Christmas special. All songs on this are brilliant.  

Frosty the Snowman, Fiona Apple

This list is supposed to avoid the trite and nauseating elements of the festive period, but when indie darling Fiona Apple bashes out a Frosty ditty it's hard to go past.

I Hate Your Family, Tripod

Festive comedy classic from the Aussie trio that, let's face it, everyone can relate to a bit. We'll leave it at that.

Fairytale of New York, Ed Harcourt and KT Tunstall

OK, so we have a crush on the Scot, but it's a worthy alternative to the original and best by The Pogues. Harcourt also does a corker of a version with Martha Wainwright.

Close but no cracker: Fountains of Wayne's I Want An Alien This Christmas; The Futureheads' Christmas Was Better In The 80s and Run-DMC's Christmas in Hollis (which is also in Die Hard); The Arcade Fire's Jinglebell Rock,  Sarah Silverman's Give The Jew Girl Toys, Blink 182's Happy Holidays, You Bastard and, Bamboula's I'm Getting Pissed for Christmas. 

Image via Youtube


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Escape the schmaltz: TNT's top 5 Christmas movies and songs good enough for all year round
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