Last Updated: December 18th
Christmas movies are a staple of the holidays. Whether it’s enjoying the same films you watched when you were little or just finding something to bring your relatives together for 83 minutes, everyone has a different reason to love those movies. The bad news is that Netflix is really lacking in (classic) holiday spirit nowadays, at least the spirit we grew up with. Unless you grew up on Puppy Star Christmas.
That doesn’t mean that there aren’t some worthwhile titles hidden out there, though. They’re few and far between, but here are the best Christmas movies on Netflix right now.
How The Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)
Run Time: 104 min | IMDb: 6.1/10
The Ron Howard adaptation of the Grinch tale gets a bad rap, but it faced a nearly impossible task: How do you make a movie out of a short Dr. Seuss story? The solution was to pack it with as many Jim Carrey antics as possible. It didn’t jibe with some audiences, but for any fan of Carrey in his heyday, Seuss/Christmas meta humor, and unusually-sized explosions of tiny cars, this movie is a Christmas must. The title of the movie pretty much explains it all, but the movie adds surprisingly emotional depth with Cindy Lou Who’s search for the meaning of Christmas.
Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch (2018)
Run Time: 85 min | IMDb: 6.3/10
Some would say Jim Carrey was born to play the green-tinted Scrooge of Whoville, to which we would graciously point to this animated update voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch. Carrey’s great, but the artwork lends itself to the whimsy needed to really pull off this Seuss-imagined world and Cumberbatch, who lends The Grinch a bit more grump and cunning than Carrey did, should play every animated bad guy until movies are no longer made.
Run Time: 96 min | IMDb: 8.4/10
Normally, Christmas movies trademarked by Netflix come with sappy romances, mistaken princesses, and Vanessa Hudgens but this original animated feature is the exception, and the best holiday flick the streaming platform has given us yet. It imagines a different origin story for Saint Nicholas, one that involves an eager-to-please postman voiced by Jason Schwartzman and an isolated, gruff Santa voiced by J.K. Simmons. The two go on a toy-making adventure together that ends up mending old wounds and bringing entire villages together. Oh, and the animation is a visual feast. Prepare yourself.
White Christmas (1954)
Run Time: 120 min | IMDb: 7.6/10
White Christmas is one of those holiday movies that many casual Netflix watchers have probably never gotten around to watching. It was 1954’s most successful film, however, and it’s packed with some of the biggest stars of the era. It’s that one with Bing Crosby tap-dancing with Danny Kaye you may have heard about. When their army buddy characters join a sister act of performers, they’re forced to sing and dance their way to saving an unsuccessful inn run by their old military general. It’s a lovely, light vehicle for Crosby and Kaye along with Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen to just do what they were known for, and the undeniable charisma of each lead carries White Christmas during the brief times between tunes.
I’m Thinking Of Ending Things (2020)
Run Time: 134 min | IMDb: 6.8/10
Charlie Kaufman’s latest film is based on a book of the same name and stars Chernobyl’s Jessie Buckley as a young woman meeting her boyfriend’s parents for the first time, which normally would be a happy event except she’s secretly been planning to break up the with the guy. That guy is Jesse Plemons, who seems to be in everything these days, and along with Toni Collette and David Thewlis who play his parents, they make for hellish dinner mates. There’s a sinister vibe permeating everything about this straightforward plot, so if you think you know how this ends, let us be the first to tell you: you don’t have a clue. And yes, at first glance it’s a weird choice for a Christmas movie, but the couple is heading home in the dead of winter and going through all the rituals associated with returning to your hometown during the holidays. Plus, some people just can’t get behind all the cheer this year, so this one’s for them.
Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey (2020)
Run Time: 122 min | IMDb: 6.5/10
Set in the gloriously vibrant town of Cobbleton, the film follows legendary toymaker Jeronicus Jangle, whose fanciful inventions burst with whimsy and wonder. But when his trusted apprentice steals his most prized creation, it’s up to his equally bright and inventive granddaughter (and a long-forgotten invention) to heal old wounds and reawaken the magic within. Any movie that has the gall to give a main character such a blatantly fictitious, wholly ridiculous name as Jeronicus Jangle is sipping the kind of Christmas-flavored Kool-Aid we want to be high on this year. Will it give us a steampunk-themed Willy-Wonka holiday adventure? Is Jeronicus Jangle the new Grand Moff Pascal Tarkin? So many questions will be answered.
A Bad Mom’s Christmas (2017)
Run Time: 104 min | IMDb: 5.6/10
Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell, and Kathryn Hahn reprise their roles at the titular sh*tty maternal figures: Amy, Kiki, and Carla. The ladies struggles with crafting the perfect holiday experiences for the families, a problem made worse by the arrival of their own mothers: Amy’s high-maintenance mom (Christine Baranski), Kiki’s over-involved mom (Cheryl Hines), and Carla’s unreliable drifter mom (Susan Sarandon). The humor is slapstick, but the chemistry between the three leads and the overall message about what’s really important during this time of year is worth it.
The Christmas Chronicles (2018)
Run Time: 104 min | IMDb: 7.5/10
Look, we know what you might be thinking. and yes, this does follow the Hallmark holiday template. It’s got corny dialogue, cheesy jokes, and plenty of plot holes. It’s also got Kurt Russell putting in a performance no one saw coming. Russell plays the Big Man himself, Santa Claus, and other than giving us a modernized version of Jolly Old that millennials will thirst over for years to come — finally, a DILF Santa everyone can get behind — the actor sells the sh*t out of this thing, rocking out in jailhouses, giving us manic car chases, and playing a Papa Noel that seems just a bit unhinged, and all the funnier for it.
A Very Murray Christmas (2015)
Run Time: 56 min | IMDb: 5.5/10
Okay, technically this is a Christmas special, but it’s got enough holiday cheer (and famous guest stars) to warrant a spot on this list. Bill Murray stars as his charming, self-deprecating self, trying to stage a Christmas TV special despite a rather worrisome snowstorm threatening his act. As the show descends into chaos, Murray helps marry an on-the-rocks couple, sings a duet with Chris Rock, and plays a few tunes with Miley Cyrus while George Clooney stirs him a cocktail. Who would resist?
Run Time: 84 min | IMDb: 5.3/10
You may have heard about the weirdest Christmas movie ever, but even if you have, it’s probably worth a refresher since the whole thing feels like someone picked words out of a hat and made a feature out of it. Pottersville centers on a man named Maynard Greiger (Michael freakin’ Shannon) becoming a town hero after being mistaken as Bigfoot during a drunken romp after discovering his wife (Christina Hendricks) is engaging in a furry affair with Ron Perlman (he has a character name but come on). Also Ian McShane is in it and Thomas Lennon plays a villainous Bigfoot hunter. Just watch it. You have nothing to lose other than 84 minutes and a little bit of your sanity.
Christmas At Pee-Wee’s (1988)
Run Time: 49 min | IMDb: 7.7/10
Look, some of us want to celebrate the holidays in the traditional way: hot cocoa, gift wrapping, and sappy, sentimental Christmas movies. But some of us want a bit of weird injected into our seasonal fun and that’s where Pee-Wee Herman comes in. This Christmas special’s the hottest thing in town: it’s got Little Richard learning how to ice skate, Magic Johnson taking a magical sleigh ride, Frankie Avalon crafting Christmas cards, and Charo. Look, far be it for us to judge how you choose to privately celebrate the most wonderful time of the year.