How many have you seen?
My favorites have a little present 🎁 at the front.
🎁 8-Bit Christmas, 2021 (HBO Max) – With an admiring nod to A Christmas Story, the movie has an adult Jack Doyle (played by Neil Patrick Harris) reminiscing with his daughter (played by Annie Doyle) about the story of his quest to get his first Nintendo. The majority of the film is spent in 1980s Chicago and is wonderfully nostaligic. If you grew up in the 80s or have younger siblings that were kids in the 80s you’re gonna want to watch this. Starring Neil Patrick Harris, Annie Doyle, Winslow Fegley, Steve Zahn, June Diane Raphael, Bellaluna Resnick, Che Tafari, Santino Barnard, Max Malas, Brielle Rankins, Braelyn Rankins, Cyrus Arnold, and Chandler Dean. [TRAILER]
🎁 A Boy Called Christmas, 2021 (Netflix) – One of the best Christmas stories I’ve seen in years. A young boy, named Nikolas, lives in the woods with his father. They are poor but the boy is content enough because he’s with his papa. One day his father is summoned by the King to the castle (along with the other strongest people in the kingdom.) The King has chosen these individuals because he believes they are the best in the kingdom and he wants them to go to all corners of the land to search for hope. If they find hope they need to bring it back with them. Eventually, Nikolas’s father decides to take on the King’s challenge. He thinks it’s the only way to get enough money to live. He agrees to join a group that is going to travel to the mountains in search of a mythical elf land. The adventures that ensue lead Nikolas to discover information that not only changes his life but the lives of everyone. For me, the true sign of a good movie is when I’m still thinking about it days later. Now, a week later, I am still thinking about Nikolas and his father and aunt and the King and the rest – so much so that I am planning on watching it again. There are so many amazing actors in it. Starring Maggie Smith, Henry Lawfull, Michiel Huisman, Jim Broadbent (LOOOOVE him), Rune Temte (how great a name is that?), Kristin Wiig, Toby Jones, Sally Hawkins, and Zoe Margaret Colletti. [TRAILER]
The Bishop’s Wife, 1947 (Prime Video) – There was a remake of this movie titled The Preacher’s Wife, it wasn’t nearly as good as the original (and I really, REALLY wanted to like it – because I adore Whitney Huston.) I’m generally open to remakes if they are done well and somehow manage to both not copy the original while at the same time not stray from the original (a difficult task). So I find I can enjoy them as much as the originals, but the problem with this remake was that Denzel Washington was not the right fit for the role of Dudley the Angel. That role needed a person who could convey charm, charisma, confidence, assuredness, and a soupcon of innocence. Cary Grant fit the bill perfectly. Everyone in the film is enamored with Dudley – men, women, even pets. Everyone except the Bishop of course, who is jealous of his wife giving so much attention to Dudley. Denzel couldn’t pull that off. Cary Grant is Dudley in real life! Admittedly I’m a HUGE Cary Grant fan, so it’d be difficult for anyone to top him. Starring Cary Grant, Loretta Young, David Niven, and Monty Woolley. [TRAILER]
🎁 A Castle for Christmas, 2021 (Netflix) – The minute I saw the trailer for this I KNEW I was going to love it. And I wasn’t disappointed. Brooke Shields plays an author who has gone through a difficult divorce and is now in a writing funk (she writes romance novels which I’m sure is difficult to do when you hate men.) On a whim, she decides to go to Scotland to visit the castle where her father once worked. She runs into the Duke (who owns the castle) a couple of times, and well, let’s just say they’re like oil and water. But after Sophie finds out that the cash-strapped Duke had to put the castle up for sale she decides it would be a wonderful irony for her to own the place. I don’t want to tell too much of the story and it’s a romantic comedy so rest assured, it’s going to end well. The movie is set in Scotland, you have Brooke Shields AND Cary Elwes (I love them both) and the members of the Knitting Club are simply delightful. Mark my words, when we can start traveling again this movie will boost the tourism in Scotland! Starring Brooke Shields, Cary Elwes, Lee Ross, Andi Osho, Tina Gray, Eilidh Loan, and Stephen Oswald. [TRAILER]
A Charlie Brown Christmas , 1965 (Apple TV+ and PBS) – this year A Charlie Brown Christmas will air on PBS and PBS KIDS on Sunday, December 19, 2021 at 7:30 pm ET/6:30 pm CT (check local listings). If you miss the one-night only airing on PBS you can catch it on AppleTV which is now home to most of the Peanuts movies. [TRAILER]
A Child’s Christmas in Wales, 1987 (Britbox, Crackle (with ads) and YouTube) – Based on the piece of prose by Dylan Thomas, the movie is a wonderfully simple story about a Christmas spent by a young boy growing up in Wales in the 1920s. In the film, Denholm Elliott plays Old Geraint who tells the Christmas story from his childhood to his young grandson Thomas. Starring Denholm Elliott and Mathonwy Reeves. Here is the link is to the full film on You Tube.
A Christmas Movie Christmas, 2019 (Hulu Plus) – If you are a fan of Hallmark or Hallmark-like movies you are gonna LOVE this movie. After making their Christmas wishes, two sisters wake up inside a Christmas movie! (FYI, little Cleary Herzlinger, who plays London, steals every scene she’s in.) Starring Lana McKissack, Kimberly Daugherty, and Brant Daugherty (Kimberly’s real-life husband.) [TRAILER]
A Christmas Prince, 2017 (Netflix) – Articles about these movies often use the word “ridiculous” and I once read that “The Christmas Prince” is the Christmas movie that everyone loves to hate and hates to love. But no matter how much people throw shade at it or criticize it the fact is the movies have been incredibly popular. It seems the third film may have been the last though. If they had continued the pattern of release, Christmas Prince 4 should have come out in 2021 but there is no mention of any new movie coming out in the franchise. It’s possible that with the popularity of the Princess Switch movies and new Netflix stand-alone movies it may have simply run its course. 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 (2018) & A Christmas Prince 3: The Royal Baby (2019). [TRAILER]
A Christmas Story, 1983 (HBOMax) – A classic. Ralphie puts a lot of effort into trying to get word to his elders that he wants “an official Red Ryder, carbine-action; two hundred shot range model air rifle, with a compass in the stock and this thing which tells time” before being devastated by having Santa tell him, “You’ll shoot your eye out kid.” Anyone who grew up in the 40s, 50s, 60s, or 70s will appreciate this movie. Starring Peter Billingsley, Melinda Dillon, Darren McGavin, Ian Petrella, Scott Schwartz, R.D. Robb. and Zack Ward (as Scut Farkus – I just love saying that name. Oh, and by the way, check out what Zack Ward looks like now. [TRAILER]
Dash & Lily, 2020 (Netflix) – 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. Starring Austin Abrams and Midori Francis [TRAILER]
Dear Christmas, 2020 (HBOMax) – Natalie Morgan (Melissa Joan Hart) is a podcaster specializing in true-life stories of holiday romances. She drives home to Lake Tahoe for Christmas but right before getting into town she gets a flat tire. She calls for a repair truck and to her rescue comes “Mr. Christmas” (Jason Priestly) – an attractive and charming man who swoops in, changes her tire, and even lets her sit in his truck (where he has a mini hot cocoa station set up and phone charging cables). A DREAM repair truck driver! As they are ready to part ways she thanks him and he says he’ll see her tomorrow. She replies, “You seem pretty sure about that.” His response, “Pretty sure.” Well, he was pretty sure because Mr. Christmas knew who she was even though she didn’t recognize him. Turns out they went to high school together and he knew he had a job at her house the next day. A romance blossoms, but can Mr. Christmas be Natalie’s “true love” when she’s only “known him” for a week (or has she actually “known him” longer?) I also loved the bookshop in this film and the cast was fantastic, Jason Priestly looks damn good! Starring Melissa Joan Hart, Jason Priestly, Ed Begley, Jr., Faith Prince, and Nicky Whelan [CLIP}
Disney’s A Christmas Carol, 2009 (Disney+) – I personally have not seen a version of ‘A Christmas Carol’ that I didn’t like, probably because I love redemption stories. And I also LOVE animated films so even though this has gotten some negative reviews, I myself enjoyed it. It’s a little disconcerting to watch at first because the animated figures are designed to look like the stars that are portraying them. So, for example, the rather rotund Mr. Fezziwig has Bob Hoskins face and the kindly nephew Fred looks a bit like Colin Firth, but not exactly like him. And of course, Scrooge has mannerisms and some features that resemble Carrey. But after a little while, you get used to it. Kind of like when you first start watching a Shakespearean play and have to adjust to the style of speaking. 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. [TRAILER]
Disney’s The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, 2018 (Disney+ and Netflix) – I can’t lie, the movie was a little disappointing but it is a feast for the eyes. Starring Mackenzie Foy as Clara with Matthew Macfadyen, Morgan Freeman, Helen Mirren, Omid Djalili, Richard E. Grant, Keira Knightley, and Misty Copeland. [TRAILER]
Dolly Parton’s Christmas on the Square, 2020 (Netflix) – I generally am not a fan of this kind of movie – it’s schmaltzy, cheesy, and a bit religious but it starred Dolly and Christine so I had to watch. Those two things were enough to land it on my list. Starring Dolly Parton, Christine Baranski, and Treat Williams. [TRAILER]
🎁 Elf, 2003 (HBO Max) – 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????) A modern classic and definitely one of my top five Christmas movies. Does it make you feel old that this will be 20 years old in 2023?Starring Will Farrell, Zooey Deschanel, Bob Newhart, Ed Asner, James Caan, Mary Steenburgen, and Daniel Tay. (I also loved the performances by Faizon Love as the Gimbel’s Manager – HILARIOUS, Amy Sedaris as Walter’s assistant Deb, and Peter Dinklage as Miles Finch.) [TRAILER]
Father Christmas is Back, 2021 (Netflix) – Starring April Bowlby (Jackie), Katy Brand (Reverend Jane), John Cleese (John Christmas), Natalie Cox (Caroline Christmas-Hope), Ray Fearon (Felix), Naomi Frederick (Paulina Christmas), Kelsey Grammer (James Christmas), Elizabeth Hurley (Joanna Christmas), Kris Marshall (Peter Hope), Amelie Prescott (Daisey Christmas-Hope), Caroline Quentin (Elizabeth Christmas), Talulah Riley (Vicky Christmas) and Oliver Smith as Henry Christmas-Hope
Godmothered, 2020 (Disney+) – Starring Jillian Bell, Isla Fisher, and Jane Curtain. [TRAILER]
The Happiest Season, 2020 (Hulu Plus) – Starring Dan Levy, Alison Brie, Kristen Stewart, Mackenzie Davis, Aubrey Plaza, Mary Steenburgen, Victor Garber, and Ana Gasteyer. [TRAILER]
Happy Christmas, 2014 (Paramount+) – After a bad breakup, Jenny (Anna Kendrick) goes back to Chicago and moves in with her brother, Jeff (Joe Swanberg) and her sister-in-law, Kelly (Melanie Lynskey). Jeff and Kelly are living a “grown-up” life. They have a two-year-old son, Jeff is gainfully employed, they are careful, responsible, all that jazz. The exact opposite of Jenny who has never really grown up, still drinks and smokes pot to excess, sleeps around and is basically just a mess. But, it turns out that everything is not so perfect in Jeff & Kelly’s world. Kelly, a novelist, is frustrated that she doesn’t have time to write because she’s become a full-time mother. As Kelly and Jenny begin to bond they help one another grow and find direction in their lives. Cast members include Anna Kendrick, Melanie Lynskey, Lena Dunham, Joe Swanberg, and Mark Webber. [TRAILER]
Holidate, 2020 (Netflix) – Fun Christmas Rom-Com where two strangers who’ve had it with love agree to be each other’s plus one for all holiday invitations so that they won’t have to deal with family asking “When are you finally going to find someone and settle down?” Obviously, as time passes they start to have feelings for one another, which was not the plan. Starring Emma Roberts, Luke Bracey, Kristin Chenoweth, and Frances Fisher. [TRAILER]
🎁 The Holiday, 2006 (Hulu Plus) – Oh to live in Rosehill Cottage. Sigh. (For photos of the interior, click here.) The exterior shots of Rosehill Cottage in ‘The Holiday’ were filmed at Honeysuckle Cottage in Holmbury St Mary. Starring Kate Winslet, Cameron Diaz, Jack Black, and Jude Law. [TRAILER]
The Holiday Calendar, 2018 (Netflix) – Starring Kat Graham, Quincy Brown, Ethan Peck, and Ron Cephas Jones. [TRAILER]
Holiday in the Wild, 2019 (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). [TRAILER]
Home Alone, 1990 (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.) [TRAILER]
🎁 How the Grinch Stole Christmas, 1966 (Peacock) – the original animated version.
Klaus, 2019 (Netflix) – Starring (the voices of) Jason Schwartzman, J.K. Simmons, Rashida Jones, Will Sasso, Norm MacDonald, and Joan Cusack. [TRAILER]
The Knight Before Christmas, 2019 (Netflix) – Starring Vanessa Hudgens and Josh Whitehouse. [TRAILER]
🎁 Last Holiday, 2006 (Showtime) – Starring Queen Latifah, LL Cool J, Timothy Hutton, Alicia Witt, Giancarlo Esposito, Gerard Depardieu, and Susan Kellermann. [TRAILER]
Love Hard, 2021 (Netflix) –
The Man Who Invented Christmas, 2017 (Hulu) – starring Dan Stevens. [TRAILER]
🎁 Meet John Doe, 1941 (Paramount Plus) –
Miracle on 34th Street, 1947 (HBOMax) – Starring Maureen O’Hara, John Payne, Edmund Gwenn, and Natalie Wood. [TRAILER]
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, mood, and atmosphere of a b&w film are 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.
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, 1989 (HBOMax) – “Hurry up Clark, I’m freezing my baguettes off.” Starring Johnny Galecki, Beverly D’Angelo, Chevy Chase, and Juliette Lewis, 1989 [TRAILER]
Noelle, 2019 (Disney+) – Starring Anna Kendrick, Shirley MacLaine, Bill Hader, and Kingsley Ben-Adir. [TRAILER]
Prep & Landing, 2009 (Disney+) – (Sequels called Prep & Landing: Naughty or Nice and Prep & Landing: Operation: Secret Santa)
The Princess Switch, 2018 (Netflix) – Starring a double dose of Vanessa Hudgens, Sam Palladio, and Nick Sagar. [TRAILER] There are TWO sequels (also on Netflix) – The Princess Switch 2: Switched Again (2020) and Princess Switch 3: Romancing the Star (2021).
Santa Claus: The Movie, 1985 (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. [TRAILER]
The Santa Clause, 1994 (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 (2002) adds Elizabeth Mitchell as the future Mrs. Claus and Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause (2006) 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.) [TRAILER]
Santa Inc, 2021 (HBOMax) –
Shaun the Sheep: the Flight Before Christmas, 2021 (Netflix) –
🎁 Single All the Way, 2021 (Netflix) –
Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas, 1993 (Disney+) – Starring Chris Sarandon (Jack Skellington’s speaking voice) and Catherine O’Hara (Sally and Shock’s voice) [TRAILER]
White Christmas, 1954 (Netflix) – Starring Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, and Vera-Ellen. [TRAILER]
And of course….
Die Hard, 1988 (HBO Max) – Starring Bruce Willis, Bonnie Bedelia, Reginald VelJohnson, and Alan Rickman. [TRAILER]
Course some of the best Christmas movies aren’t available on a streaming service for free:
Arthur Christmas, 2011 – from the Wallace & Gromit people! [TRAILER]
A Bad Mom’s Christmas, 2017 – 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.) [TRAILER] AppleTV or Prime Video
🎁 Get Santa, 2014 – A 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. Unfortunately, Netflix removed this from its library (I get why they can’t keep everything but they have so much crap!) but it is available on Apple TV or Prime Video to rent ($3.99) or buy ($5.99.) Personally, when something is only a couple of dollars more to buy I tend to go that route. In this case, you will probably want to watch this every Christmas. I know I’ll be watching it again. [TRAILER]
Last Christmas, 2019 – Starring Emilia Clarke, Henry Golding, Emma Thompson, and Michelle Yeoh. [TRAILER]
Love, Actually, 2003 – I mean really though, this movie is worth an investment. Surely you watch it every year? Hugh Grant (as The Prime Minister), Billy Campbell (as Natalie’s octopus brother) and Martine McCutcheon (as Natalie) [TRAILER]
Polar Express, 2004 – 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. [TRAILER]
Scrooged, 1988 – Frank Cross (Bill Murray) sees the light after being visited by three ghosts. [TRAILER]
Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, 1987 – god I miss John Candy. But at least we still have his movies! [TRAILER]
Christmas in Connecticut, 1945 – Stanwyck plays Elizabeth Lane, a journalist who has been faking being the perfect housewife. After getting away with pretending she has a husband, a baby, a farm in Connecticut (and using recipes from her uncle, who is a chef) she is told by her boss there’s a returning war hero who’s a huge fan and read her recipes while he was in the hospital. The publisher invites himself and the war hero to her house for Christmas. Lane jumps through hoops to carry on the charade, including [TRAILER]
(P.S. And if you like Frank Capra and Barbara Stanwyck you should try Meet John Doe. Technically it’s not a Christmas movie but it has a climactic ending on Christmas Eve so I always think of it as a holiday film. It’s one of my favorites.)
Joyeux Noel, 2005 – you might not know of this French film but you may 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. Starring Diane Kruger, Benno Furmann, Guillaume Canet, Natalie Dessay, Rolando Villazón, and Daniel Brühl. [TRAILER]
The Ref, 1994 – 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 may help,) Dennis Leary is freaking brilliant. So are Judy Davis and Christine Baranski (duh). Starring Denis Leary, Judy Davis, Kevin Spacey, Robert J. Steinmiller Jr., Glynis Johns, Raymond J. Barry, Richard Bright, and Christine Baranski. (Note: this movie isn’t available through any pay subscription services but if your local public library has Hoopla you may be able to stream it) [TRAILER]
Trading Places, 1983 – YES, Virginia, it absolutely is a Christmas movie! Starring Dan Aykroyd, Eddie Murphy, Jamie Lee Curtis, Denholm Elliott, Ralph Bellamy, and Don Ameche. [TRAILER]
Wishing everyone a very HAPPY, HEALTHY, AND MERRY CHRISTMAS!