Maybe it’s the Christmas cheer that makes our hearts more open to movies with cookie-cutter narratives and manufactured sentiments. Or, maybe it’s just that our holiday party benders have us mentally sedated enough to enjoy Hallmark movie marathons. Either way, while there are plenty of Christmas classics for those with a more refined taste in films, it’s no secret by now that most of us are prone to getting a cinematic sweet-tooth for the holiday season.
Formulaic happy endings with paper-thin characters and hardly any substance? Yes, please! Luckily, Netflix has caught onto this trend, and is ready to fill our insatiable appetite for corny movies with a catalogue of Hallmark-esque originals like The Holiday Calendar and The Knight Before Christmas. Looking for something with a bit more to it? Fret not. Netflix has plenty of Christmas staples to please the film snob Scrooges in your house. Here are the best Christmas movies on Netflix.
Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey
One of Netflix’s newest holiday films has all the hallmarks of a perfect Christmas tale: someone who has lost faith in the holiday, loneliness, and then the resurgence of the spirit, thanks to the love and company of a long-lost family member. Plus, bonus points for not just regurgitating the same, whitewashed Christmas narrative overused every year.
Nostalgic for a good old-fashioned 2D-animated Christmas movie? Klaus is Netflix’s first ever Academy Award-nominated animated film, offering an alternate backstory behind Santa Claus featuring a reclusive toymaker.
The Grinch (2018)
Before you write off The Grinch as a Seuss story that’s been adapted far too many times, let us just drop some names. This new computer-animated spin on the classic tale features performances from Benedict Cumberbatch, Rashida Jones, Kenan Thompson, and Angela Lansbury, along with narration from Pharrell Williams, and original music by Tyler the Creator. Let your heart grow three sizes with this third edition of everyone’s favorite Christmas villain.
Nothing says spreading the holiday cheer like seeing indie sweetheart Emma Roberts in a Christmas rom-com. Roberts stars alongside Luke Bracey as two singles who agree to be one another’s plus-ones through the holiday season.
Operation Christmas Drop
Loosely based on the U.S. Air Force’s humanitarian tradition of the same name (Google it), Operation Christmas Drop is an offbeat rom-com about a congressional assistant assigned to investigate a U.S. Air Force base in Guam. Intent on finding information to justify shutting it down, her plans take a turn when a charming commander takes it upon himself to show her around and convince her otherwise.
The Knight Before Christmas
A gorgeous woman disillusioned by the prospect of finding true love meets a gorgeous man who just might change her mind? I’ll be damned. Regardless of how trite the plot might be, this movie does bring a fresh new spin on the classic rom-com trope. Vanessa Hudgens stars as a school teacher who finds herself being courted by a time-traveling knight.
A Christmas Prince
This 2017 holiday movie proved the point that the people of Netflix appreciate sap this time of year. As soon as it premiered, this one quickly became a favorite (admittedly bad) movie. Even Stephen Colbert hilariously admitted to being obsessed with the story about an ambitious American journalist who goes to a fictional European village to cover the royal family. Shocker: She falls in love with the prince.
A Christmas Prince: The Royal Wedding
Last year, after the surprising success of the first movie, the universe of A Christmas Prince got a second story. This time, the story picks up one year later when journalist Amber and her prince are having an inevitable Christmas wedding. So, it’s the same thing, but filled with all the stereotypes of weddings and Christmas. There’s also the plot point of a crashing economy that makes for some shockingly heavy issues to throw into the mix.
Santa crashes his sleigh and then asks a father and son to help him evade the police and get back to the North Pole. A family plot and some anti-police action—something for everyone.
Pee Wee’s Playhouse: A Christmas Special
Take it back to 1988 when Pee Wee’s Playhouse was a favorite of the children of America. In classic Christmas-special fashion, there is a true grab bag of stars, including Oprah, Dinah Shore, Joan Rivers, and k.d. Lang.
El Camino Christmas
So you hate Christmas movies but still want to be included? Great. Get to know El Camino Christmas—a tonally skewed hostage-turned-Christmas movie that stars Dax Shepard (??) and Tim Allen (?!) in a gritty stand off with police.
The Christmas Chronicles
There is a confusing fascination in American holiday culture with wanting to either capture Santa, help Santa escape the law, or in the case of 1994’s The Santa Clause, tend to Santa’s mortality. In this 2018 film, Kurt Russell plays Santa Claus, who finds himself in the crosshairs of two kids who want to capture him.
The Princess Switch
Vanessa Hudgens plays a baker who goes to yet another made-up village in Europe for a baking contest and in the process meets a princess who looks just like her (also played by Vanessa Hudgens). When her royal doppelgänger proposes they switch places, things go awry. Is it terrible? Sure. Is it wonderful? Also, sure.
The Holiday Calendar
A photographer inherits a seemingly magical Advent calendar that predicts her future—right down to her dating life. This one definitely aims for the Hallmark quality of holiday movie, and it gets pretty close. Bring on the corniness.
Holiday in the Wild
Rob Lowe is a man of many talents, so why wouldn’t a new holiday Netflix movie be one of them? In this one, Lowe is somehow a tour guide in Africa who meets Kristin Davis, who’s there on safari. She agrees to help at an elephant sanctuary alongside Lowe’s character. There’s a lot of the usual “We’re just friends.”
How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Jim Carrey’s take on the Dr. Seuss story involves full green body makeup, realistic whiskers, and more improvisation than anyone could ever want in one film. Come for the retelling of a classic Christmas story. Stay for the Faith Hill power ballad.
Hilary Weaver is a freelance writer based in New York who writes about politics, queer issues, Meryl Streep, Glenn Close, and every woman the Queen has ever made a dame.
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