The holiday season is in full effect, especially with the end of school/university semesters in sight and finals season wrapping up. People are getting into the holiday spirit with good cheer all around, and a huge part of that cheer is Christmas movies.
Imagine sitting in a cozy blanket with a peppermint hot chocolate in front of your TV/screen with the reflection of the Christmas tree twinkling in the background. All you need is a Christmas movie playing on said TV/screen to complete the quintessential image. However, let’s be honest, picking a Christmas movie to watch is no small feat to conquer--it can take hours, but I’ve got you covered.
You can’t go wrong with your time honoured classics like Home Alone, Elf, Love Actually, How The Grinch Stole Christmas, and Polar Express, to name a few. Even die hard fans of Die Hard (pun intended) have petitioned and argued their top pick onto the classic Christmas movies list. Everyone has their own personal list of classics that they have curated over the years, and revisit every Christmas, and those classics speak for themselves.
I am here to potentially add to your list because there’s no point in reiterating what everyone already knows--but what’s new in the Christmas movie scene?
To be completely honest, I was a little naive when I thought of doing a compilation because I did not know at the time how hard Netflix was coming with their Christmas movie game. I suppose they’re trying to monopolize and make the most of the pandemic induced lull in Hollywood.
I tried to watch as many movies as I could so I could truthfully stand behind my recommendations, but at this rate, if I wanted to watch all the movies--including rewatching the classics--it would have to be my full time job for November and December. It’s very overwhelming, to put it delicately.
Alas, I was committed and I tried my best to bring you a comprehensive overview of what to hit and what to miss.
I would argue that Netflix has a bottomless pit in the name of production budget for Christmas movies. There are just so many that I could spend an entire lifetime watching them, so I tried to narrow it down based on what enticed me the most and captured my attention amidst the never ending scrolling.
I also took into account what Netflix recommended to me, and cross referenced some lists to determine the most popular ones. These movies took over my life and I was very close to creating a very extensive excel sheet until I realized this was supposed to be fun. I guess potentially some people would consider excel sheets fun, and maybe I am people, but still.
1. Love Hard
This is my favourite Netflix Christmas movie that came out this year starring Nina Dobrev, Jimmy O. Yang, Darren Barnet. It’s cute, endearing, and very predictable, as all Christmas movies should be. It has new age elements such as online dating, and catfishing which adds a new twist and make it stand out from the older bunch. I appreciated the incorporation of interracial dating without being too on the nose while also straying away from Asian stereotypes. The movie depicts an Asian family celebrating Christmas but it didn’t feel like they were trying to make a point with it, which in fact was the point--it’s normal.
2. Single All The Way
Single All The Way stars Michael Urie and Philemon Chambers in lead roles. It is Netflix’s first gay rom-com, and as much as I love the representation, I didn’t love this movie. It’s a 10/10 on the cute and predictable factor but something just felt off about it. It felt a little too long and the characters seemed underdeveloped. I felt like they could have done more and added somewhat of a comedic element; even a more dramatic climax would have helped. It needed a little... je ne sais quoi, but... it’s still a cute watch.
3. A Castle for Christmas
I really enjoyed A Castle For Christmas, so much so that it rivaled the above mentioned Love Hard for my favourite spot. It stars veteran actors Brooke Shields and Cary Elwes, who know what they’re doing. I liked that it was an older couple, and I am a complete sucker for a royalty element--Cary Elwes plays the Duke of Dunbar who falls in love with a “commoner”. They’re an unlikely match who fall in love despite it all--that is my kryptonite. The story is heartfelt and a 10/10 on the predictability scale, which is a good thing when it comes to Christmas rom-coms.
4. The Princess Switch 3: Romancing The Star
This is a triple whammy because it is a series and the first installment was released on Netflix 3 years ago. There was a sequel last year, and this year marks the third installment--with three Vanessa Hudgens. This series will take up your whole day, and it comprises all the perfect Christmas movie elements, including my favourites--royalty, cute factor, predictability and overall superficial shenanigans that are far removed from reality. The British Downton Abbey/Bridgerton-esque vibes are immaculate and appreciated. All in all, this is a good movie for the whole family.
I wanted to feature the movies released in 2021 in particular, but Netflix has been releasing Christmas movie gems for a few years now, and this list wouldn’t be complete without some honourable mentions from previous years:
- For fans of animation, you can’t miss the simplicity of Arthur Christmas, and Klaus, which is bright and colourful, and fun for all ages.
- If you love rom-coms (as much as I do) then you have to add Holidate, Let It Snow, and Last Christmas to the list. Last Christmas made the list mainly because of my slight obsession with Henry Golding ever since I saw Crazy Rich Asians for the first time (and then 5 times since), so take that with a grain of salt.
- For the one looking for less sap and more laughs, you can’t go wrong with the Bad Santa series
- Dash & Lily hits high enough on the cute and predictability factor while also being a little different and quirky. It’s perfect for those looking for something a little more off-beat but it is more of a teenage love than a full blown rom-com.
There’s so many more, I’m sorry if I missed your favourite--feel free to let me know and I’ll add it to my list that will most likely take me until next Christmas to get through. Who knows, maybe by next year I will be prepared to write my 500-page-minimum Christmas movie review manifesto.
For now, I personally feel like this is a good list to start with, especially because deep diving into the Netflix pool of Christmas movies can be overwhelming. Once you start, just relinquish your power to the Netflix Gods and they will take you on a Christmas movie journey of your own.
Shoutout to complicated algorithms and computers knowing what we like before we do. Cheers!
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