Christmas movies are about shameless joy, uninhibited sweetness, and guaranteed happy endings. We don’t always have to be challenged. We don’t always have to learn more about the human condition. Sometimes we just want to be happy, and this list of yuletide films, from the classics to the unconventional, are sure to spark that cozy feeling of twinkling lights and sugar plum dreams in your tired, old candy cane bones.
The best part? They’re all streaming on Hulu, so you can watch ’em ASAP, from the comfort of your very own Grinch cave, er, couch.
1. Elf (2003)
Will Ferrell in “Elf.”
Credit: Alan Markfield / New Line Prods / Kobal / Shutterstock
Will Ferrell’s Buddy will stand for no man sitting upon a throne of lies and pretending to be his beloved Santa, and he will launch into a full-on brawl in front of children to prove it. Ferrell playing a full-grown adult man who’s spent his life believing he was an actual elf in the North Pole in Jon Favreau’s Elf is, undoubtedly, peak Christmas comedy. When Buddy finally learns he’s a human who was an orphan, he sets out to find his real father in New York City — and it turns out he’s a workaholic publishing exec played by James Caan. There’s epic snowball fights, a romance with Zooey Deschanel, and every kid’s dream: spaghetti candy breakfast. With any other actor in the lead, Elf could have easily been an obnoxious, forgettable family comedy, but it’s Ferrell’s goofball antics and total commitment to the bit that make the film funny as heck, even 20 years later. — Oliver Whitney, Freelance Contributor
How to watch: Elf is streaming on Hulu.
2. Die Hard (1988)
Forget fresh baked cookies and decorating the tree. The one true way to tap into the Christmas spirit each year is watching Bruce Willis climb elevator shafts and run barefoot through broken glass.
It’s December 24, 1988, and NYPD detective John McClane (Willis) has just arrived at the Nakatomi Corporation Christmas party to reconnect with his estranged wife (Bonnie Bedelia) — ya know, to come out to the coast and have a few laughs. Unfortunately (or rather, fortunately for our viewing pleasure) Alan Rickman’s Hans Gruber has decided to crash the party with his long-haired German henchmen to steal some bearer bonds. “It’s Christmas, Theo,” Hans tells his safecracker. “A time for miracles!” Too bad for him this Christmas miracle arrives in a bloody tank top and sporting a cranky disposition; McClane won’t let these thieves get away easily. — OW
How to watch: Die Hard is streaming on Hulu Live TV.
3. How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966) & (2000)
Have yourself a Grinch double feature this holiday with the original animated TV special and the Jim Carrey-led film. There’s something undeniably comforting about watching Chuck Jones’s classic How the Grinch Stole Christmas! as the angry green creature meticulously steals gifts, scoops up each and every lightbulb, and attempts to deprive Whoville of all joy. In the Ron Howard-directed live-action film, Dr. Seuss’s quaint animated world comes to life with fantastical sets, wacky hairdos, and tons of elaborate prosthetic makeup. It’s hard to imagine a more fun version of the Grinch than what we get with Carrey, who brings his signature mania to the character. Somehow, he’s just as delightfully bonkers to watch now as he was 23 years ago. And of course, we mustn’t forget Christine Baranski’s Whoville icon, Martha May Whovier — easily the best Christmas movie character cinema has ever seen. — OW
4. The Preacher’s Wife (1996)
Credit: Touchstone / Kobal / Shutterstock
In Penny Marshall’s The Preacher’s Wife, Courtney B. Vance’s Reverend Henry Biggs is having a rough time. He’s spread himself so thin helping out his parishioner community, struggling with dwindling membership, and battling a real estate mogul trying to buy up his church that he’s hardly present for his family. It’s almost Christmas and he can’t make time for his wife, a singer named Julia (Whitney Houston), or take his son shopping. He prays for help, and suddenly, God delivers the greatest gift of all: a wide-eyed, buoyant angel in the form of Denzel Washington. Washington’s Dudley tries his hardest to provide guidance to the stubborn reverend, but he soon finds himself also growing quite fond of Julia, because you simply can’t put Denzel Washington and Whitney Houston in a movie together and not have romantic chemistry.
The Preacher’s Wife is a touching Christmas story that celebrates the importance of family over all else, but the real standouts are, of course, every time we get to hear Houston sing, and a delightful series of moments where a goofy Washington loses his mind when eating New York pizza and halal. — OW
How to watch: The Preacher’s Wife is streaming on Hulu Live TV.
5. The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)
There have been dozens of iterations of Charles Dickens’s timeless A Christmas Carol, but none are as unique and utterly enjoyable as the Muppet version. Honestly, you could put the Muppets in a remake of any story and it would be a thrill to watch, but here the charm and silliness of Jim Henson’s characters are a perfect fit for the story of Ebenezer Scrooge.
Michael Caine plays the grouchy old Christmas-hater in this version, and Kermit is his good-hearted employee Bob Cratchit. The humble Bob just wants to take the holiday off to be with his family, which includes Miss Piggy as Mrs. Cratchit (of course!) and precious Robin the Frog as Tiny Tim. The cantankerous Statler and Waldorf are Scrooge’s dead business partners who sing about their days evicting orphans, while Rizzo and Gonzo provide comic relief as narrators. It’s the ideal Christmas comfort movie that you could never tire of rewatching. — OW
How to watch: The Muppet Christmas Carol is streaming on Hulu.
6. Home Alone (1990) & Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992)
Macaulay Culkin inspired an entire generation of ‘90s kids to think up innovative ways to turn their homes into massive booby traps, and to ask for a Talkboy for Christmas. When Kevin McCallister (Culkin) wakes up one morning in this quintessential holiday comedy, he soon realizes his entire family has left for their Paris Christmas trip without him — a dream, honestly, for any kid sick of their parents and desperate to waltz around the house solo. But Christmas Eve turns into all-out warfare when Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern’s Wet Bandits decide to burglarize the McCallister home, coming face-to-face with Kevin’s sneaky traps utilizing everything from a blow torch to icy stairs and a tarantula.
Follow up Home Alone with its equally iconic sequel, Lost in New York, for more shenanigans, Tim Curry’s Plaza Hotel concierge, and Catherine O’Hara’s famous “Kevin!” scream. Merry Christmas, you filthy animals. — OW
7. Tangerine (2015)
It’s Christmas eve in a Hollywood donut shop and Sin-Dee Rella (Kitana Kiki Rodriguez) has just gotten out of jail, unfortunately a normal occurrence for trans sex workers like her. Now her best friend Alexandra (Mya Taylor) is telling Sin-Dee that her boyfriend and pimp Chester (James Ransone) has been cheating on her the whole time, and with a cis woman. She sets out on a mission to track him and his other girlfriend down.
Sean Baker’s ultra-low budget Tangerine, which he famously shot entirely on iPhones, captures a gritty reality that’s rarely seen in traditional holiday movies, which usually center well-off families with stable incomes and cozy romances. Here, Sin-Dee’s family is Alexandra and other trans sisters along the stroll, and the men they interact with are sneaking away from their wives and children at home for sex. But don’t mistake Tangerine for a gloomy downer. Baker’s film is bursting with comedy, energy, and heart, all thanks to Rodriguez and Taylor’s radiant performances. Ultimately, Tangerine is a moving story about surviving with chosen family, something queer and trans audiences could surely use more of. — OW
How to watch: Tangerine is streaming on Hulu with a Showtime add-on.
8. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)
Credit: THA / Shutterstock
The third installment in the National Lampoon’s Vacation series opens with the only Griswold family vacation in the film: a trip to a forest where Clark (Chevy Chase) gleefully drags his family out into the snow to cut down their own Christmas tree. From there, many classic Griswold hijinks ensue as Clark goes out of his way to plan the most over-the-top Christmas of all time. That includes decking out his roof in hundreds of string lights to the point of knocking out the entire city’s power grid, the unexpected arrival of his wife’s cousin and her cigar-smoking husband (Randy Quaid), an indoor squirrel attack, a cat wrapped inside a gift box, a very pissed-off Julia Louis-Dreyfus as his snooty neighbor, a SWAT team storming the house, and so much more. It’s total Christmas chaos, Griswold style. — OW
How to watch: National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation is streaming on Hulu.
9. Moonstruck (1987)
Credit: MGM / Kobal / Shutterstock
Few movies capture the magical atmosphere of Christmas in New York City like Moonstruck does. Sure, the beloved 1987 rom-com isn’t about the holiday itself, but that hardly matters since it gives us a love story set amid the twinkling string lights, decorated Christmas trees, and cold December streets of Brooklyn and Manhattan. We even get a trip to Lincoln Center, all dressed up for the holiday season.
Cher stars as Loretta, a superstitious widow whose boyfriend Johnny Cammareri (Danny Aiello) has finally popped the big question, but he soon runs off to Sicily to be with his dying mother. In the meantime, she’s promised Johnny she’d pay his estranged brother Ronny (Nicolas Cage) a visit and invite him to the wedding. At Ronny’s bakery, Loretta discovers her fiancee’s little brother is a tempestuous young man with a big chip on his shoulder and a wooden hand — and neither of them can simply “snap out of it!” More drama ensues with Loretta’s own family, building up to a big confrontation, and honestly, what’s more Christmas-themed than that? — OW
How to watch: Moonstruck is streaming on Hulu with a Showtime add-on.
10. Spencer (2021)
If you dread spending the holidays with your in-laws, Spencer is here to give you some modicum of relief — at least you’re not Princess Diana, forced to make merry with the Royal Family just as your turbulent marriage has begun to disintegrate! Pablo Larraín’s Spencer offers a fantastical and haunting look into the mind of Diana over the course of three days during the holiday season in 1991.
It all starts off on a sour note when Diana (played exquisitely by Kristen Stewart in her best performance yet) arrives late to the Queen’s estate on Christmas Eve day after getting lost. From there, her mental health splinters as anxiety and depression take over. Prince Charles (Jack Farthing), who Diana knows is having an affair (the affair with Camilla Parker Bowles), is cruel and harsh towards her, her only companion among the staff (Sally Hawkins) is sent away, and Diana begins having ghostly visions of Anne Boleyn throughout the estate. It’s an eerie gothic Christmas tale with loads of excellent Kristen Stewart brooding and all the jaw-dropping hats and ’90s suits you could dream of. — OW
How to watch: Spencer is streaming on Hulu.
11. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
Credit: Touchstone / Kobal / Shutterstock
Tim Burton and director Henry Selick’s stop-motion masterwork isn’t a Halloween or a Christmas movie: It’s a spectacular fusion of both in the best of ways. The Nightmare Before Christmas is the perfect film for those who prefer their yuletide delights to come with a side dish of spookiness — and songs. Sick of movies where kids greedily open presents? Great, please enjoy a giant black and orange snake gobbling up gifts whole, along with the entire dang Christmas tree. Family comedies where a jolly old Santa rides his magical sleigh — yawn! How about one where Santa gets kidnapped and a kid gets a shrunken head for a gift? That’s exactly what happens when Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King of Halloween Town, loses his, well, joie de mort. Wandering sadly through the woods, Jack stumbles into a series of parallel worlds, each dedicated to a different holiday. When he lands in Christmas Town, his bony little mind is blown, and he dedicates himself to learning everything he can about this warm and magical place, and its strange leader named Sandy Claws. There’s mischief and romance, a mad scientist and a singing boogeyman, not to mention a voice cast that includes Chris Sarandon, Catherine O’Hara, and the late, great Paul Reubens.
Brilliant in everything from its stunning animation and clever story to its detailed world-building and endlessly catchy music, there’s nothing quite like the haunting magic and whimsy of The Nightmare Before Christmas. — OW
12. It’s A Wonderful Life (1946)
In It’s A Wonderful Life, Jimmy Stewart’s George Bailey is the type of man who always puts his community first, even using his honeymoon savings to keep his father’s local bank afloat so residents can finance their homes. But on Christmas Eve, the menacing board member Mr. Potter (Lionel Barrymore) intends to shut the bank down. When the money to keep it running gets misplaced at the last minute, a completely devastated George steps onto a bridge and prepares to jump. But suddenly, an angel named Clarence (Henry Travers) appears to show George what his beloved town would be like had he never been born, and it’s not a jolly picture.
Frank Capra’s holiday staple may be a saccharine Christmas tale, but it tells a bigger story beyond its holiday framing. It’s not only about the importance of gratitude and family during the Christmas season, but more broadly, it’s a story about the power of community and everyday people supporting one another across shared struggles. It’s a reminder of the significant impact every person has on those around them, and while that may be cheesy, it’s a poignant and forever-relevant thing to be reminded of, even beyond Christmas. — OW
How to watch: It’s A Wonderful Life is streaming on Hulu Live TV.
13. The Family Stone (2005)
The Family Stone is a crucial holiday movie for one very important reason: Afterwards, you will forever be haunted by the fear of dropping the casserole all over the kitchen floor on Christmas morning. Personally, I think of Diane Keaton, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Rachel McAdams every time I bake a casserole, and thankfully, I’ve yet to drop one. But that’s just one of the many devastating moments in this dramedy about a dysfunctional family reuniting for the holidays. Parker plays Meredith, who’s visiting her boyfriend Everett’s (Dermot Mulroney) family for Christmas, which of course means chaos. There’s arguments at dinner with Everett’s gay brother who announces plans to adopt a child, there’s a car crash, more arguments, and a developing love triangle. It’s the perfect taste of comedic familial mayhem to distract you from your own dysfunctional family this holiday season (and, of course, to remind you to save your precious casseroles). — OW
How to watch: The Family Stone is streaming on Hulu.
14. Dashing Through the Snow (2023)
Credit: Photo by Steve Dietl. © 2023 Disney Enterprises, Inc.
In the new family holiday comedy from director Tim Story (Barbershop), Lil Rel Howery is Santa Claus, or at least he says he is. Technically, his name is Nick, and everything is going wrong this Christmas Eve. After getting stuck in a chimney and rescued by a Christmas-hating social worker Eddie (Ludacris!), Nick tries his best to convince Eddie and his daughter that he’s the real Santa and not just some burglar. Unfortunately, there’s not much time to convert anyone into believers since the trio soon become embroiled in a criminal scheme run by a local congressman who’s chasing them down.
Dashing Through the Snow is a mix of Miracle on 34th Street and a Scrooge tale that finds playful ways to modernize Santa lore — like the fact that he sweats glitter and keeps his naughty and nice list on an iPad. Howery’s casting, along with the giddy energy he brings to the role, add a fun edge to the usual jolly-old-white-man Santa we’ve long seen in the movies. It might not be wholly original, but it’s light and chipper in all the ways you’d want a family Christmas movie to be. — OW
How to watch: Dashing Through the Snow is streaming on Hulu.
15. The Christmas House (2020)
While there are dozens of cheesy Hallmark movies you could choose to watch this holiday season, The Christmas House happens to be the network’s first holiday film to feature a gay couple. Jonathan Bennett — yes, Aaron Samuels from Mean Girls — plays a baker named Brandon, alongside Brad Harder as his husband Jake. They’re struggling to adopt a child but keeping it a secret from the family. That’s not the main plot of this movie though, which is called The Christmas House for a reason. Brandon and his brother Mike (Robert Buckley) return home to learn that their parents are selling the family house, but first, they’ll complete one final family tradition: converting the home into a literal Christmas house, decked from floor to ceiling with decorations. There’s a lot of other family drama going on and a bunch of plot points that make no sense, but that’s not the point! We’ve gotta watch this family build their dang Christmas house, and for some reason, it’s impossible to look away from. — OW
How to watch: The Christmas House is streaming on Hulu Live TV.
16. Christmas in Connecticut (1945)
In Christmas in Connecticut, Elizabeth Lane (Barbara Stanwyck) is a magazine columnist who writes about her days as a loving housewife and mother and the recipes she cooks in her dreamy Connecticut farmhouse. Too bad Elizabeth is actually a single woman living in New York City who can’t cook for her life. Now her publisher, unaware of the lie, wants her to host a Christmas dinner for a returning war hero. Elizabeth quickly scrambles to fashion a plan to keep up the charade by agreeing to marry a friend with a farm, finding a cook to make the meals, and borrowing a neighbor’s baby. Of course, it all hilariously falls to pieces in a series of mishaps including baby swaps, stolen horses, and a night spent in jail. All the while, a romance is brewing. Christmas in Connecticut hits all the notes you’d want from a delightful screwball romcom with a great comedic Stanwyck performance. — OW
How to watch: Christmas in Connecticut is streaming on Hulu Live TV.
17. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (2005)
What’s more magical than playing hide and seek with your siblings, only to stumble upon an old wardrobe that transports you to a wondrous new world full of talking animals? The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, the first film in the big-screen adaption series of The Chronicles of Narnia books, taps into that childhood fantasy of escaping the tragedies of reality to experience the magic of a winter wonderland. In the book and film’s fictional world, the kids are living through WWII, but Narnia isn’t entirely joyful either. Lucy (Georgie Henley) and her siblings soon discover that the snowy land of Narnia has been cursed by the evil White Witch (Tilda Swinton) to be forever winter but never Christmas. Thankfully, the kids do get some holiday cheer in the form of an encounter with Father Christmas himself. — OW
18. Edward Scissorhands (1990)
Credit: 20th Century Fox / Kobal / Shutterstock
Most people may not think of Edward Scissorhands as a Christmas movie, but I’d argue it still counts. One of the most visceral and memorable moments from the beloved Tim Burton film is Winona Ryder’s Kim twirling in the ice falling from Edward’s (Johnny Depp) angel sculpture as Danny Elfman’s ethereal score plays. It’s that beautiful, magical, heart-swelling moment that sticks in Kim’s memory, and is what frames the opening and closing of Burton’s tale. That snowy moment is also the beginning of the end of joy for Edward.
In Burton’s film, Christmas isn’t a time of warmth, acceptance, or kindness, but it’s marked by cruelty and isolation. It’s when Frankenstein’s monster with blades for hands is cast out from the normalcy of a pastel suburb and driven into the dark mansion above. It’s lonely, sad, and heartbreaking, and there’s something incredibly relatable about that for anyone who’s never had an easy relationship with or a comfortable home during the holidays. Who needs Santa when we can tell bedtime stories about Edward, up in his castle creating snow flurries and sculpting away. — OW
19. The Nutcracker and the Four Realms (2018)
You know those houses that go all out for Christmas? The types that spend what seems like thousands of dollars to create the most extra, over-the-top Christmas universe? Now imagine that as a big-budget, CGI-laden movie. Turn up the theatrics to 100, and you’ve got the world of Disney’s The Nutcracker and the Four Realms.
In this big-screen retelling of the classic Tchaikovsky ballet, we follow Clara (Mackenzie Foy), a young girl from Victorian London as she drops into an alternate fairytale Christmas universe, Alice In Wonderland-style. She meets Mother Ginger (Helen Mirren), Richard E. Grant as a man with icicles for hair, Eugenio Derbez (whose entire face is blooming with flowers), Misty Copeland as Ballerina Princess, and, most notably, Keira Knightley in the most deranged role of her career — the Sugar Plum fairy with a voice of sucked helium. The plot may be overstuffed and jumbled, but The Nutcracker and the Four Realms sure is a nutty and eye-popping spectacle to behold. — OW
How to watch: The Nutcracker and the Four Realms is streaming on Hulu.
20. The Santa Clause (1994)
Ah yes, the classic ’90s movie where Tim Allen accidentally kills Santa. In The Santa Clause, the first of what would soon become a trilogy, Allen’s Scott is a divorced marketing exec who doesn’t believe in Santa. After Scott spooks the old guy mid-present delivery, Santa tumbles off the roof to his death. Dark! When Scott puts on the magical suit to please his young son Charlie (Eric Lloyd), he becomes bound by the holy North Pole contract stipulating that he now must carry the mantle as the new Saint Nick. He isn’t exactly up for the job and ends up being a pretty grouchy Santa, not to mention a lactose-intolerant one, much to the disappointment of one little girl expecting him to drink his customary glass of milk. Despite some icky fatphobic jokes over Scott’s Santa weight gain, The Santa Clause is a delightfully strange and charming family movie with a clever story and some signature sardonic Tim Allen humor. — OW
How to watch: The Santa Clause is streaming on Hulu Live TV.
21. Miracle on 34th Street (1994)
In the 1994 remake of the 1947 classic Miracle on 34th Street (which is also streaming on Hulu), Richard Attenborough is the loveliest of Santa Clauses, only no one believes he is. He’s a sweet old man named Kris Kringle who gets hired to play Santa in the Thanksgiving Day parade. He does such a good job that Dorey (Elizabeth Perkins), the department store director, keeps him on for the holiday season. Only thing is, this old guy keeps telling everyone that he’s the actual Santa. It causes quite a stir, especially for Dorey’s six-year-old daughter Susan (played by beloved ’90s child actor Mara Wilson) who refuses to believe in the whole Santa thing. Even worse, two rival department store execs plot to have Kris institutionalized for telling people he’s Santa so they can crush Dorey’s business and steal her customers, because it always comes back to capitalism. Thankfully Dorey’s neighbor (and love interest) is a lawyer played by Dylan McDermott. Miracle on 34th Street is wholesome and touching and will probably make you cry, as any saccharine holiday film should. — OW
How to watch: Miracle on 34th Street is streaming on Hulu.
22. Eastern Promises (2007)
Nothing says holiday cheer like Viggo Mortensen as a Russian gangster casually blow-drying a frozen corpse in front of a strand of Christmas lights. Eastern Promises doesn’t have anything to do with the holidays directly, but it is set during Christmas in London, where the atmosphere of hope and celebration is juxtaposed with violence and deceit.
David Cronenberg’s violent crime drama — perfect for those looking for something intense and dark in place of the usual light holiday entertainment — follows Naomi Watts as a midwife who discovers the diary of a young Russian girl who died in childbirth. That diary leads her to the local headquarters of the Russian mafia, and a dark scheme led by top boss Semyon (Armin Mueller-Stahl), his loose-cannon son (Vincent Cassel), and their newest recruit and fixer Nikolai (an excellent Mortensen covered in tattoos). A suspenseful and gory mystery unfolds as Watts’s Anna gets closer to the truth, and Nikolai balances carrying out his boss’s orders with helping her. Morality and corruption constantly bleed into one another in Cronenberg’s fantastic crime fable, which features an all-timer nude fight sequence in a bath house. — OW
23. The Polar Express (2004)
Leave it to filmmaker Robert Zemeckis to bring the wonder of a children’s book to vivid life on screen. The Polar Express expands Chris Van Allsburg’s beloved Christmas story into a film about a young boy who boards a magical train on its way to the North Pole. Tom Hanks plays and voices a handful of roles, including the train’s conductor, a Scrooge puppet, and Santa Claus himself. What’s most notable about The Polar Express is the visual world it creates, converting the quiet classicism and awe of the book’s illustrations into a CG world. Back in 2004, it was the first feature-length film to be shot entirely using motion-capture, and the first big studio IMAX 3D movie to ever hit screens. While those visuals have certainly not aged well with time, The Polar Express still manages to capture the magical spirit of Christmas viewed through the eyes of a child. — OW
How to watch: The Polar Express is streaming on Hulu.
24. Holiday Affair (1949)
In Holiday Affair, a young Janet Leigh (years before her most famous role in Psycho) plays a woman caught in a love triangle. In this 1949 rom-com, Leigh’s Connie is a mother and a widow of a war veteran, and she’s just accepted a marriage proposal from Carl (Wendell Corey). He’s a nice, reliable guy and a successful lawyer, but man, is he a boring dud. Then Connie meets the handsome and charming Steve (played with warmth by Robert Mitchum) at a toy store while buying her son a train set for Christmas — there’s just something undeniably romantic about trains at Christmas! He doesn’t hesitate to woo her, and Connie begins to question if Carl’s the guy she really wants to be with.
Holiday Affair is classic rom-com setup about a woman torn between one suitor offering passion, and the other promising stability. It’s a testament to the power of a great story and strong performances in an early iteration of a rom-com narrative that’s been revamped dozens of times since. — OW
How to watch: Holiday Affair is streaming on Hulu Live TV.
25. The Happiest Season
An excellent cast for this modern Christmas flick.
The perfect Christmas rom-com for the 2020s, The Happiest Season follows young couple Harper (Mackenzie Davis) and Abby (Kristen Stewart) as they head to Harper’s family’s home for Christmas. The only issue is that Harper has yet to come out to her family, which leaves Abby in the uncomfortable position of having to lie about herself for the holidays. The cast here is top notch. Kristen Stewart and Mackenzie Davis shine in their lead roles, and the internet had a complete breakdown about how magnetic Aubrey Plaza is as Harper’s ex-girlfriend, Riley. Alison Brie, Dan Levy, Mary Holland, Victor Garber, and Mary Steenburgen round out the sparkling cast in this film co-written and directed by Clea DuVall.
It’s a much-needed and utterly modern take on the holiday romance. And what’s more, it feels believable, which is almost unheard of for a Christmas movie! Don’t waste another second waiting to watch this intelligent, funny, and cheerily sincere film. — Kristina Grosspietsch, Freelance Contributor
26. Dear Santa
We know what the people want for Christmas: an informative documentary! Dear Santa delves into the U.S. Postal Service’s 100-year-old “Operation Santa” program, which enables members of the public to fulfill the Christmas wishes of needy kids country-wide. Every year, thousands of children drop off letters to Santa at the post office, and Dear Santa takes us on a journey across the country to show how they facilitate making those kids’ dreams come true. The documentary floats on the kindness and magic of this massive USPS program and is certain to fill your heart with yuletide warmth. – KG
27. The Mistle-Tones
Tia Mowry is Holly, a bubbly woman whose greatest dream in life is to join the local Christmas cover group, the Snow Belles, and spend every Christmas Eve… checks notes … singing at the mall. But when Holly is denied a spot in the group by Snow Belle queen and diva Marci, played by none other than Tori Spelling, she starts her own singing group and competes with the Snow Belles for the coveted mall gig.
The Mistle-Tones is fun and fluffy, and it stays engaging thanks to its multiple Christmas medley performances. There is romance here for Holly — her boss is a standoffish workaholic? I bet that’s about to change!!! — but Mowry and Spelling are both so accustomed to the camera, their casual self-assurance tends to steal most of their scenes. – KG
UPDATE: Dec. 8, 2023, 2:15 p.m. EST This list has been updated to include the latest Hulu offerings.