15 Christmas films to watch on Netflix

From romantic comedies to animated fare, including Kurt Russell as Santa Claus and the sequel to A Christmas Prince

Clarisse Loughrey@clarisselou
Monday 24 December 2018 09:14
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The Christmas Chronicles - trailer

The holiday season is upon us.

There will be presents, there will be (far too much) food, and there will be hours spent lounging on the couch scrolling through Netflix in search of something Christmas-themed to fall asleep to.

Well, you're in luck, as we've gathered together 15 Christmas films that will perfectly hit the spot: there are the cheesy romances (admit it, you'll watch them whether they're terrible or not), alongside the family entertainment you can use as a distraction for when the kids launch into a sugar rush rampage. Then there's Kurt Russell dressed up as Santa Claus – if that's what floats your boat. Check out the list below.

The Christmas Chronicles


Disappointingly, the decision to cast Kurt Russell in the role of Santa Claus didn't result in a vigilante tale where Jolly Saint Nick doles out punishment to those on his "naughty list" while roaming a post-apocalyptic landscape.

Instead, Netflix has created a predictable but pleasant family film for the holiday season, heralding from Home Alone and Harry Potter producer Chris Columbus. In it, two children (Darby Camp and Judah Lewis), disillusioned with the holiday, set up a plan to catch Claus on camera, before being whisked off on a grand adventure after sneaking onto Santa's sled.

There are cutesy CGI elves (is Netflix looking into merchandising options?) and Russell, complete with his own blues-inspired musical number, is reassuringly charming in the role.

The Princess Switch


The Prince and the Pauper meets The Parent Trap in a holiday-themed twin-switching movie, The Princess Switch casts High School Musical alum Vanessa Hudgens as both Chicago native Stacy and Margaret, the Duchess of Montenaro. All the expected tropes apply, including a slightly dodgy British accent.

However, you may be disappointed to learn that Netflix's cheesy holiday films don't all exist in some Marvel-style shared universe: two characters here cosy up to watch A Christmas Prince (more on that later).

The Holiday Calendar


If there was ever definitive proof that the holiday film genre is running out of ideas, it's Christmas Calendar. It's a romantic comedy that centres entirely around our hero receiving a... magical antique advent calendar that predicts the future.

Outside of the slightly baffling supernatural element, the rest of the film is comfortingly predictable, as Abby (Kat Graham) must choose between best friend Josh (Quincy Brown) or dreamy doctor Ty (Ethan Peck).

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The Holiday


A sort of modern classic when it comes to Christmas rom-coms, The Holiday is another entry into the world of "comfort blanket cinema" from one of its greatest masters, Nancy Meyers.

Two impossibly glamorous women we're expected to find relatable, Kate Winslet's British journalist Iris and Cameron Diaz's Amanda, who owns an LA movie trailer company, decide to swap homes for the holidays in order to heal from their respective heartbreaks.

Surprise, surprise, both women's international adventures result in passionate romance, after both Jude Law's Graham and Jack Black's Miles enter the picture. There's some delightful knitwear to be found here, too.

Nativity!


It's time to face the facts: there have been four of these Nativity! films – essentially a series of child actors acting their tiny hearts as a bid for their parents's love – and so it's almost become an inevitably that you will watch one of them over the course of your lifetime. In that case, you might as well watch the one with Martin Freeman in it.

Deck the Halls


From rom-com cheesiness and family fun, we now move on to a film for anyone who's feeling spiteful about the holidays. Deck the Halls was eviscerated by critics on release, thanks to its mean-spirited competition between two neighbours, played by Matthew Broderick and Danny DeVito, over their outdoor Christmas lights.

However, after you've had too much eggnog and too many screaming children on the loose, something as cynical as Deck the Halls might actually hit the spot.

Arthur Christmas


A rare computer-animated offering from Aardman Animations, best known for their stop-motion characters Wallace and Gromit, Arthur Christmas has both wit and heart to spare.

It's hardly the first holiday film to peek behind the North Pole's curtain, but Arthur Christmas throws out the idea that pure magic is the reason Santa is able to deliver presents to the world's children on Christmas, instead imagining the endeavour as a military-style operation, with elves parachuting down to homes from a massive airship.

However, even an operation this seamless will have its glitches, and it falls to Santa (Jim Broadbent)'s son, Arthur (James McAvoy), to save the day when he discovers the team failed to deliver one of the presents.

A Christmas Prince


It's the Netflix obsession that landed the streaming giant in hot water when they decided to out call out the 53 people who watched the rom-com every day for 18 days straight, announcing on Twitter: "Who hurt you?"

However, it's not that hard to see how someone might end up in a downward spiral of A Christmas Prince addiction: as a piece of holiday fluff engineering, it's almost perfect.

Rose McIver stars as Amber, a journalist dispatched to the generic European country of Aldovia for a press conference covering the country's future king, set to take over after his father's death. After a series of utterly nonsensical events, Amber and the prince just so happen to fall in love.

A Christmas Prince: The Royal Wedding


A Christmas Prince was clearly successful enough for Netflix to order a sequel for this year's holiday season, even if the follow-up doesn't quite rise to cheese levels of its predecessor.

This time around, Amber has to face her fears about whether she's fit to become Aldovia's new queen, while Prince Richard (Ben Lamb) must face a political crisis that could throw into jeopardy the entire future of the kingdom.

Last Holiday

It's a little morbid that so much Christmas fare deals with death and despair, from It's a Wonderful Life to Jack Frost, but Last Holiday works to put as cheerful a spin as possible on terminal illness.

The film is a remake of the 1950 British dark comedy of the same name, starring Alec Guinness, with Queen Latifah here playing a woman who has only has a few weeks to live, and decides to spend her last funds on a luxury trip to Europe. LL Cool J stars as the love interest.

Angela's Christmas


Angela's Christmas is a sweet, 30-minute animated short that adapts Frank McCourt's picture book, connected to his Pulitzer Prize-winning memoir Angela's Ashes. This, however, is more heartwarming than heartbreaking, with the story set in Ireland, on Christmas Eve of 1914, and following six-year-old Angela as she attempts a misguided act of kindness.

Christmas Inheritance


Though not as popular as A Christmas Prince, Christmas Inheritance may actually up the stakes when it comes to Netflix's selection of glorious holiday rom-com trash.

Partially because the plot involves an heiress being taught a lesson by her father, ahead of inheriting the company, by being sent to the small town where the business was first established. All on the flimsy premise that she needs to hand deliver a letter to her father's pen pal, because apparently the rich are now too good for the US postal service.

Love the Coopers

Rife with manipulative family drama, Love the Coopers is at least packed with so many recognisable names, you may not even mind having your heartstrings so maliciously pulled.

The plot sees Sam (John Goodman) and Charlotte (Diane Keaton) invite four generations of extended family over for the holidays, so the cast list quickly starts to fill up: Alan Arkin, Ed Helms, Jake Lacey, Anthony Mackie, June Squibb, Marisa Tomei, Amanda Seyfried, Olivia Wilde, and Alex Borstein all star.

There's even an early appearance from Timothée Chalamet as Sam and Charlotte's grandson Charlie, who uses the holiday as an opportunity to finally make the move on his high school crush.

Christmas Wedding Planner


As you may have caught onto at this point, the holiday rom-com genre is essentially a game of "what noun can we put after the word Christmas", with Christmas Wedding Planner serving as a fairly obvious entry.

Here, wedding planner Kelsey (Jocelyn Hudon) is in the middle of organising her cousin's nuptials, when the sudden arrival of a private investigator (who also happens to be a very handsome man) turns her world upside down.

Once Upon a Holiday


Holidays and royalty seem to be a popular mix, so let's throw in Once Upon a Holiday for good measure, which follows a princess (Briana Evigan) visiting New York during Christmas, escaping her entourage to explore the city and fall in love.

It's not good by a long shot, but it'll do. The holidays are a time for forgiveness and acceptance, after all.

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