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Christmas Eve in New York and there is a power outage resulting in six separate groups of people getting stuck in lifts. Throughout the night, tensions rise to the surface, bonds are forged and they learn a lot about themselves and each other.

As Christmas movies go, this is a new favourite for me. I love movies set all in one location, and this is kind of in that genre. It’s set in six locations but all very small and exactly the same people in each setting. A great cast including Patrick Stewart, James Roday, Cheryl Hines and Gary Cole all do a fantastic job. A great, sweet and heartwarming story.

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Year of release: 2015

Director: Mitch Davis

Writers: Mitch Davies, Tyler McKellar

Main cast: Patrick Stewart, James Roday, Cheryl Hines, Gary Cole, Jon Heder, Julianna Guill

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Genre: Drama, Christmas

Highlights: Loved the shoppers and the boss and recently laid off employee. Didn’t actually dislike any of the groups

Lowlights: None. If I absolutely had to nitpick, I’d say I wished Patrick Stewart’s character had been trapped with someone rather than on his own (this happens right at the beginning of the film so it’s not a spoiler) but I imagine this was done to highlight his isolation and how he had cut off the important people in his life. But it’s a tiny niggle.

Overall: Possibly my new favourite Christmas movie, and a staple on my holiday rota from now on

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Paul Maddens (Martin Freeman) is a primary school teacher with a failed ambition to be an actor. His girlfriend Jennifer (Ashley Jensen) left him five Christmases earlier to become a producer in Hollywood, and Paul hates Christmas as a result. So he is distinctly unhappy about being tasked with creating the school nativity play, and in an attempt to win one over his former best friend Gordon Shakespeare (Jason Watkins) tells Gordon that Hollywood are coming to see the nativity play. The rumour spreads and things start to get out of hand.

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Year of release: 2009

Director: Debbie Isitt

Writer: Debbie Isitt

Main cast: Martin Freeman, Ashley Jensen, Jason Watkins, Pam Ferris, Marc Wootton

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Genre: Comedy

Highlights: Lots of humour, lots of pop up roles from the likes of Ricky Tomlinson and Alan Carr. Freeman’s role was made for him, and even the kids were really cute without a sugary overload of sweetness

Lowlights: None really

Overall: A thoroughly enjoyable Christmas movie. Very British and clearly pretty low-budget, but all the more charming for it

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Mavis Gary (Charlize Theron) is a recently divorced, borderline alcoholic, ghostwriter of a series of young adult books. When she gets an email from an old flame, announcing the birth of his and his wife’s first baby, she gets it into her head that she and the old flame, Buddy (Patrick Wilson) are meant to be together, and goes back to the small town she left years ago in an attempt to win him back.

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Year of release: 2011

Director: Jason Reitman

Writer: Diablo Cody

Main cast: Charlize Theron, Patrick Wilson, Patton Oswalt, Elizabeth Reaser

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Genre: Drama

Highlights: Excellent acting all round from Theron, Wilson and Oswalt

Lowlights: None really (except this is usually marketed as a comedy, which I would not agree with)

Overall: I really enjoyed this, although it was certainly not the comedy I was expecting. Theron is wonderful as Mavis – an unlikeable, thoughtless and sometimes downright spiteful woman with nothing going for her except her good looks. She looks down on people in the small town she came from, failing to realise that they are actually more fulfilled and happy than she can dream of. Despite this, her attempts to seduce the unwitting Buddy do elicit some sympathy because they are so transparent and pathetic (I cringed!) Wilson is also great as Buddy – the character is understated and so is his performance. Massive kudos to Patton Oswalt as Matt, Mavis’s old classmate. She doesn’t remember him at first, because she always ran with the cool crowd, while he was bullied to such an extent that one beating left him permanently disabled – it is in fact this incident which prompts her to realise who he is when she sees his walking stick – “the hate crime guy” as she calls him, and recalls that he “got to have a lot of time off school” as a result. These two very different people somehow forge a genuine friendship which is the real heart of the film. Overall, I would recommend this movie.

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Carter (Morgan Freeman) and Edward (Jack Nicholson) are thrown together when they are both diagnosed with terminal cancer. But instead of accepting their fates, they decide to complete a bucket list and do everything they’ve ever dreamed of between them, from kissing the most beautiful woman in the world, to throwing themselves out of an aeroplane. During their quest, they learn some valuable life lessons.

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Year of release: 2007

Director: Rob Reiner

Writer: Justin Zackham

Main cast: Morgan Freeman, Jack Nicholson, Sean Hayes, Rob Morrow, Beverley Todd

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Genre: Drama, comedy

Highlights: Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman are always wonderful to watch. Nice support by Sean Hayes especially.

Lowlights: Uh…none

Overall: Lovely film which will make you smile, possibly cry, and remind you to follow your dreams

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Kenny Lustig’s (Adam Sandler) daughter and Kirby Cordice’s (Chris Rock) son are getting married and in the week leading up to the wedding, the two men and their families have to spend all their time together. Tensions rise, tempers flare and things get messy.

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Year of release: 2017

Director: Robert Smigel

Writers: Adam Sandler, Robert Smigel

Main cast: Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, Steve Buscemi, Rachel Dratch, Allison Strong, Roland Buck III, Jim Barone

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Genre: Comedy

Highlights: Very few! Steve Buscemi

Lowlights: The whole thing. I love Steve Buscemi and I love Chris Rock, but even they couldn’t save this one. I don’t generally find Adam Sandler funny but thought with the rest of the cast it may be worth a go. It all feels disjointed and every attempt at a joke falls pretty flat.

Overall: I’ll give this 4 out of 10 because some of Rock’s scenes without Sandler were quite funny, and Steve Buscemi made the most of his role. But generally, I’d say don’t bother.

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When Marni Olsen (Kristen Bell) discovers that her brother Will (James Wolk) is marrying the girl who bullied and tormented Marni all through high school, she is determined to stop the marriage and make Will see what kind of person Joanna (Odette Yustman) really is.

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Year of release: 2010

Director: Andy Fickman

Writer: Moe Jelline

Main cast: Kristen Bell, Odette Yustman, Jamie Lee Curtis, Signourney Weaver, Betty White, Victor Garber, James Wolk

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Genre: Comedy

Highlights: The dance lesson! The stellar cast, lots of laughs throughout

Lowlights: None. Loved it

Overall: Thoroughly enjoyable and really funny

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Leona Stevenson (Barbara Stanwyck) is in bed with illness when she overhears a telephone conversation between two men planning a murder. Gradually she comes to believe that she is the person they are going to kill and that her husband Henry (Burt Lancaster) is involved.

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Year of release: 1948

Director: Anatole Litvak

Writer: Lucille Fletcher (original radio play and screenplay)

Main cast: Barbara Stanwyck, Burt Lancaster, Ann Richards, Wendell Corey, Harold Vermilyea, Leif Erickson, Jimmy Hunt

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Genre: Mystery, thriller, film noir

Highlights: Barbara Stanwyck is fabulous in the main part. I liked the claustrophobic atmosphere of her confinement

Lowlights: The flashback story surrounding Henry is a bit convoluted. I preferred the relationship aspect to the criminal aspect

Overall: An enjoyable film noir, which was a bit convoluted in places, but Stanwyck’s performance is fantastic as always

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