Don't watch these again this Christmas...

David Levy (Staff Writer)

Very few films don't fit neatly into a box. Spielberg's Jaws is clearly for miswired teens who like scaring themselves for fun, and baggy-jean-wearing, art-gallery-enjoying twenty-somethings have obviously marked their territory over Wes Anderson's Grand Budapest Hotel. There is, however, one film which transcends these neat categories - Home Alone.  

It's fans range from adoring 7-year-olds who hate their parents to said hated parents, 40-year-old bankers who watched it when it was first released. But I have a problem with this unanimous assent for a little American boy with gun skills. As everyone watches 8-year-old Kevin stave off two robbers, Home Alone's fans seem to ignore one important question: why didn't he call the police?

Maybe the phone lines were dragged down by a thunderstorm? Maybe Kevin had a deep mistrust for the cops? But I think there's a more obvious answer... Kevin's a psychopath. Though he knew of the robber's plans before they arrived, it's only after branding them with hot metal, punching nails into their feet, and maniacally spraying them with BB gun pellets, that he decides to finally call the police for help. Only when their defenceless and adorned with third-degree burns. Home Alone isn't the survival story you think it is: Kevin is the criminal.

Kezia Kurtz (Film and TV Editor)

Love Actually! Richard Curtis's British classic released in 2003 and watched every winter since. The film is an anthology, showcasing nine parallel stories about love at Christmas time. It does have its charms, from Hugh Grant's endearing fumbling over his words to a young Thomas Brodie Sangster's confident professions of puppy love. So, what stops the movie from being an innocent and enjoyable watch?

The film repeatedly fetishizes dodgy workplace romances between sleazy male bosses and their young female colleagues. Case in point - The Prime Minister and his maid, a regressive representation of 'modern' love that belongs in Downton Abbey. Any nod to homosexuality is a joke - the film is so fiercely heterosexual that it offers a sympathetic portrayal of sleazy men who cheat on Emma Thompson! The token black protagonist is also cheated on. Actually, all cheating in the film seems to evade proper interrogation, like every hint of a nuanced plot line.

To fit all nine stories into the two hours leaves each lacking in character development. The anthology form becomes perfect because most of the plots are simply not interesting enough to carry a movie alone. The film merely caters a romanticised presentation of love and family to an anxious and lonely post-9/11 Britain. There's not much to love, actually.

Instead, tune into...

 Ellie Kennedy (Staff Writer)

The Nightmare Before Christmas. Hands down. Whilst some might question how a Halloween film could also be the best Christmas film ever, this Tim Burton hit sparks hits the mark. The film follows Jack Skeleton, the King of HalloweenTown, as he stumbles upon Christmas Town and attempts to bring its joy to his own community back home. Yes, the film's protagonist may be a skeletal figure who attempts to steal Christmas, but when you boil it down to its basics, it is a story of the glee of discovering Christmas. It's a Halloween v. Christmas story - and Christmas wins. 

This is my annual Christmas-eve watch. This atypical portrait of the festive season stands out amongst the hoards of badly written and unimaginative Christmas films. When it was released in 1993, the curious world Burton created pushed the limits of stop-motion animation, and almost three decades on, there is still nothing quite like it. If you're tired of scrolling through a plethora of Hallmark Christmas movies that reel you in with their reds and greens and monotonous happy endings, then watch Tim Burton's classic - you won't regret it. 

Oliver Bevan (Staff Writer)

The Holiday. So bad that it's good. A classic in which two women decide to swap houses with one another after going through messy breakups. It's like house swaps before Airbnb. Oh, and it's at Christmastime. Cameron Diaz plays a rich and successful Angeleno with a mansion plus an inability to cry. Kate Winslet is Bridget Jones reincarnate, who does nothing but cry in her woolly jumpers and cute cottage in the Cotswolds. 

The film is slow-paced and relaxing. Not much really happens - which is just what I need after a hectic Michaelmas term. The sunny Californian set soothes my winter-induced, vitamin D deficient sadness, while the snow-clad English village makes it feel like Christmas. Hot cocoa is aplenty. 

Winslet forms a budding relationship with a down-to-earth American Jack Black. Diaz falls in love with a British guy, complex with the cute accent and distinguished charm. And for a romantic comedy, The Holiday is surprisingly sincere. The love stories feel genuine - Kate Winslet and Jack Black actually have chemistry! For all we know, they might be nothing more than holiday flings to help these heartbroken women heal, but isn't this what Christmas is all about? Taking a break from life? And some thousands of miles from home, it's refreshing to watch a Christmas film that resists the conventional idea that it's a time to spend with family.