These are in no particular order of preference. How many have you seen?
Get Santa (Netflix) – charming Christmas movie with a Paddington-esque quality (they were both released in 2014) where things go quite afoul for Santa. But with a little help from his friends he manages to make his deliveries on time. With Jim Broadbent as Santa Claus.
A Child’s Christmas in Wales (YouTube) – Starring Denholm Elliott and Mathonwy Reeves. This link is to the full film.
Godmothered (Disney+) – Starring Jillian Bell, Isla Fisher, and Jane Curtain.
The Holiday Movies That Made Us (Netflix)
Last Holiday (Peacock TV Premium) – Starring Queen Latifah, LL Cool J, Timothy Hutton, Alicia Witt, Giancarlo Esposito, Gerard Depardieu, and Susan Kellermann.
Elf: Buddy’s Musical Christmas (HBO Max) – Starring (the voices of) Jim Parsons, Mark Hamill, Gilbert Gottfried, Jay Leno, Fred Armisen, and Ed Asner reprising his role as Santa.
Disney’s The Nutcracker and the Four Realms (Disney+ and Netflix) – Starring Mackenzie Foy as Clara with Matthew Macfadyen, Morgan Freeman, Helen Mirren, Omid Djalili, Richard E. Grant, Keira Knightley, and Misty Copeland.
LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special (Disney+) – Billy Dee does Lando’s voice!
It’s a Wonderful Life (Prime Video) – Starring Jimmy Stewart, Donna Reed, and Lionel Barrymore.
The Happiest Season (Hulu, begins streaming on November 24th) – Starring Dan Levy, Alison Brie, Kristen Stewart, Mackenzie Davis, Aubrey Plaza, Mary Steenburgen, Victor Garber, and Ana Gasteyer.
Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey (Netflix) – Starring Phylicia Rashad, Forest Whitaker, Madalen Mills, Anika Noni Rose, Keegan-Michael Key, Hugh Bonneville, and Ricky Martin. (Lisa Davina Phillip, who plays Ms. Johnson, is hilarious!)
Dolly Parton’s Christmas on the Square (Netflix) – Starring Dolly Parton, Christine Baranski, and Treat Williams.
Noelle (Disney+) – Starring Anna Kendrick, Shirley MacLaine, Bill Hader, and Kingsley Ben-Adir.
Holidate (Netflix) – Starring Emma Roberts, Luke Bracey, Kristin Chenoweth, and Frances Fisher.
Miracle on 34th Street (Disney+) – Starring Maureen O’Hara, John Payne, Edmund Gwenn and Natalie Wood.
The Princess Switch (Netflix) – Starring a double dose of Vanessa Hudgens, Sam Palladio, and Nick Sagar. There is a sequel (also on Netflix) that began streaming on November 19th called The Princess Switch 2: Switched Again.
Last Christmas (HBO Max) – Starring Emilia Clarke, Henry Golding, Emma Thompson, and Michelle Yeoh.
The Man Who Invented Christmas (Hulu) – starring Dan Stevens.
The Holiday Calendar (Netflix) – Starring Kat Graham, Quincy Brown, Ethan Peck, and Ron Cephas Jones.
The Santa Clause (Disney+) – Starring Tim Allen, David Krumholtz, Judge Reinhold, Wendy Crewson, and Eric Lloyd. (There are two sequels, also on Disney+, with the same original cast: Santa Clause 2 adds Elizabeth Mitchell as the future Mrs. Claus and Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause adds Martin Short as Jack Frost and Alan Arkin and Ann-Margaret as the new Mrs. Claus’s parents who don’t have a clue who their son-in-law is.)
The Bishop’s Wife (Prime Video) – Starring Cary Grant, Loretta Young, David Niven, and Monty Woolley. (There was a remake with Denzel Washington and Whitney Houston called ‘The Preacher’s Wife’ and it was just okay. I mean, I’m a HUGE Cary Grant fan so it’d be difficult for anyone to top him in my book.)
A Bad Mom’s Christmas (Netflix) – Starring Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell, Kathryn Hahn, Christine Baranski, Susan Sarandon, and Cheryl Hines. (You can watch this without having seen the original ‘Bad Moms’ but it’s better if you have. Unfortunately the original isn’t streaming for free.)
Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas (Disney+) – Starring Chris Sarandon (Jack Skellington’s speaking voice) and Catherine O’Hara (Sally and Shock’s voice)
White Christmas (Netflix) – Starring Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, and Vera-Ellen.
A Christmas Movie Christmas (Prime Video and Hulu) – Starring Lana McKissack, Kimberly Daugherty, and Brant Daugherty (Kimberly’s real-life husband.) (FYI, little Cleary Herzlinger, who plays London, steals every scene she’s in.)
Disney’s A Christmas Carol (Disney+) – Starring (the voices of) Jim Carrey (who not only does Scrooge at all ages but all three Ghosts as well), Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Cary Elwes, Robin Wright, Bob Hoskins, Lesley Manville, and Molly Quinn.
A Christmas Prince (Netflix) – Starring Rose McIver, Ben Lamb, Alice Krige, and Sarah Douglas. There are two, count ’em TWO sequels (also on Netflix): A Christmas Prince 2: The Royal Wedding and A Christmas Prince 3: The Royal Baby.
Santa Claus: The Movie (Peacock) – Starring David Huddleston, Burgess Meredith, Judy Cornwell, Dudley Moore (if someone else had been cast in Moore’s role this movie would have been so much better) and John Lithgow.
Holiday in the Wild (Netflix) – Starring Kristin Davis and Rob Lowe (I didn’t think I’d like this as much as I did but between the African scenery and the elephants, well, the baby elephants totally put it over the top)
Klaus (Netflix) – Starring (the voices of) Jason Schwartzman, J.K. Simmons, Rashida Jones, Will Sasso, Norm MacDonald, and Joan Cusack.
A Charlie Brown Christmas (Apple TV+ and PBS)
To complement its release on Apple TV+ this holiday season, “A Charlie Brown Christmas” will air on PBS and PBS KIDS on December 13, 2020 at 7:30 pm local time/6:30 pm CT (check local listings). And it will also stream in HD on Apple TV+ from December 11 through December 13 for free.
The Knight Before Christmas (Netflix) – Starring Vanessa Hudgens and Josh Whitehouse.
Home Alone (Disney+) – Starring Macaulay Culkin, Catherine O’Hara, John Heard, Daniel Stern, Joe Pesci, and of course our beloved John Candy. (There is also two sequels (both available on Disney+) but only Home Alone 2: Lost in New York is worth it. Tim Curry, Dana Ivey and Rob Schneider are fantastic in HA2 as staff at the Plaza Hotel. Sadly, the Orange Monster owned the real Plaza Hotel at the time the film was made and makes a brief cameo, so be forewarned.)
Dash & Lily (Netflix) – Starring Austin Abrams and Midori Francis note: this is an eight-episode series based on the novel by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan but it definitely is Christmas-centric. And if you love bookstores, particularly the Strand in NYC, you’re gonna wanna watch this.
And of course….
Die Hard (HBO Max) – Starring Bruce Willis, Bonnie Bedelia, Reginald VelJohnson, and Alan Rickman.
Course a lot of the best Christmas movies aren’t available on a streaming service for free:
Elf – Ed Asner is definitely one of the best Santas ever and Bob Newhart as an elf is pure genius. (Also, how many of you knew that Ralphie from ‘A Christmas Story’ was in this movie???? That’s him standing next to Buddy in the photo below. He played Ming Ming.)
Happy Christmas – not free anywhere but it only costs $4.99 to buy from AppleTV or Prime, which is a dollar more than it costs to rent. I still don’t understand why anyone would rent a movie that only costs a buck more to buy. I love a realistic, dysfunctional, midwestern Christmas, don’t you? (Plus, Melanie Lynskey, damn I love her.)
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation – “Hurry up Clark, I’m freezing my baguettes off.”
Love, Actually – I mean really though, this movie is worth an investment. Surely you watch it every year?
Polar Express – I really liked this movie but similar to the Disney Christmas Carol it takes some adjusting to get used to seeing the animations where the voices are completely familiar (Tom Hanks) but the face looks a little off. You’ll see what I mean.
Scrooged – a classic.
A Christmas Story – so quotable.
Planes, Trains, and Automobiles – god I miss John Candy. But at least we still have his movies!
Christmas in Connecticut – I adore Barbara Stanwyck. And if you like the combination of Frank Capra and Barbara Stanwyck you should try Meet John Doe. Technically it’s not a Christmas movie but it has a climatic ending on Christmas Eve so I always think of it as a holiday film. It’s one of my favorites.
Arthur Christmas – from the Wallace & Gromit people!
Miracle on 34th Street – this is the 1994 version. I don’t think it’s fair to try to compare a black & white film to a color remake. The tone and mood and atmosphere of a b&w film is going to always be different, simply because of the lack of color – and that’s not a bad thing. It’s just, it’s like trying to compare oranges and limes, they are both citrus but they are not completely interchangeable. I hope that this makes sense (I’m doing my rambling thing now). The bottom line is, I love both versions.
Joyeux Noel – you may not have heard of this French film but most likely you have heard the story of the truce that took place for one night on Christmas eve during World War I. This is the story of that event. Nominated for an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film in 2006.
The Ref – if you can handle watching a movie with Kevin Spacey (sadly so many things are ruined for me now, but he does get terrorized for a while so that helps,) Dennis Leary is freaking brilliant. So are Judy Davis and Christine Baranski. (And if you happen to click on the photo below it’ll link you to a great review but ignore where it says it’s currently streaming on Netflix. The review is from 2016 and the movie has been pulled since then.)
Wishing everyone a very Safe, Healthy and…