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15 Best Christmas Movies on Netflix 2018
Netflix seems to understand one thing about Christmas movies: people like them corny. The Hallmark holiday formula tends to involve plots that are so predictable and so sappy they wouldn’t work at any other time of the year, and Netflix had adopted that method of filmmaking. With The Christmas Prince, a film that skirts so closely to the plot of The Prince and Me it’s insane, Netflix had a hit. And now the streaming site seems to be the one-stop shop for all the terribly written—yet surprisingly entertaining—Christmas joy anyone could ever want in one sitting.
But the beauty of Netflix is that it’s mixed in with all the classics as well. Whether you’re turning it on because you want some fluff to get you through the holidays or you just need some background noise as you’re wrapping presents (this is the real holiday past time), you’re covered with Netflix’s catalog.
If you don’t watch this movie at the holidays, then you’re missing out. Bing Crosby, Rosemary Clooney, Danny Kaye, and Vera Ellen and the most insanely elaborate dance costumes ever will charm you right back to the 1940s. Just watch it. And they sing an entire song about snow that will make even the most anti-snow and winter person feel as if they might be OK with the stuff.
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.
Miss Me This Christmas
Nothing says holidays like going down the memory lane of your romantic past. Regina and Franklin are preparing to finalize their divorce on Christmas Day (seems like most law offices would be closed, but OK). In the lead up to that day, Regina revisits the hotel where she and her husband were originally married. Here, she relives a whole lot of memories—and meets an attractive investment banker. We like our holidays complicated.
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.
This 2006 Paul Feig film takes the worst nightmare of any holiday traveler and turns it into an adventure movie. When a group of youths get stranded in the airport at the holidays, they take it as an invitation to run free and get into trouble. Not every travel mishap has to be a bummer.
The Spirit of Christmas
Here’s another holiday trope: a driven woman in a high-powered job needs to “slow down” and find love. As irritating as this plot is to anyone whose even heard of the Bechdel Test, you’ll find it repurposed again in this movie about a lawyer who finds love over 12 days (you know the song). The man she’s fallen for, it turns out, is a spirit who’s taken a human form. Classic!
A Dogwalker’s Christmas Tale
This movie could do better as far as titles go, but it’s enticing for anyone who’s spent the holidays making extra money scooping poop and being pulled along on a leash. The heroine in this story is a privileged 21-year-old who has to get a dog-walking job after she maxes out her credit card. Debt at the holiday—is this a documentary?
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.