Christmas is almost here, and between all the present buying and cookie baking, everyone could use a few peaceful hours curled up on the sofa. We've picked out the best offerings on Netflix that will get you in the holiday mood.
'White Christmas' (1954)
In my family, it's not a true Christmas party until we watch "White Christmas" and my aunts come charging in to sing along with the song "Sisters" (a tradition my sister and I have taken up as well). Musical lovers will appreciate the elaborate set pieces, the dazzling choreography and the musical stylings of legendary talents like Rosemary Clooney and Bing Crosby. I dream of "White Christmas" every year. It's a shame I live in California.
'Trading Places' (1983)
Metacritic score: 69
"Trading Places" is easily one of my all-time favorite comedies and, as some forget, a terrific holiday movie. The film has gut-busting scenes centered on Christmas and New Year's parties, including the iconic visual gag of Dan Aykroyd trying to eat an entire salmon pulled out of a dirty Santa suit. Plus, the film has a delightful comeuppance when the Scrooge-like villains lose everything at the end. Er, sorry if I minorly spoiled a 34-year-old film.
'A Very Murray Christmas' (2015)
Metacritic score: 68
I've been pleasantly surprised by Netflix's holiday variety specials (and come February you should check out Michael Bolton's Valentine's special). Bill Murray's Christmas special hits a lot of the right notes. It's jam-packed with celebrity guests, including appearances from Miley Cyrus and George Clooney, and the musical numbers make it an easy choice to play in the background of holiday parties.
'Bridget Jones Diary' (2001)
Metacritic score: 66
You might have forgotten, after getting bogged down with its mediocre sequels, that the first "Bridget Jones" is a really funny film. There's quite a bit of Christmas cheer going on here as well, from the opening shot of Colin Firth in his ugly Christmas reindeer sweater to the snowy romantic set pieces. I love cuddling up with some spiked hot cocoa and watching this every winter.
'Mean Girls' (2004)
Metacritic score: 66
Can we all agree that any film featuring a song and dance number to a Christmas song counts as a Christmas movie? "Mean Girls" will jingle-bell-rock your socks off, and if you've never seen it, you should change that immediately. When the film was first released, I dismissed it as another vapid teen movie (despite being a teenage girl myself). Yet over the years it has grown to become one of my favorite dark comedies.
'While You Were Sleeping' (1995)
Metacritic score: 67
Rom-coms set during Christmas always feel more heartfelt, and "While You Were Sleeping" bursts with genuine warmth and sincerity. I usually struggle to rally around a romantic lead who spends the entire film lying to people (Sandra Bullock pretends to be the fiancee of a man in a coma), but this film gets an understandable pass. The entire ensemble cast is delightful and you'll root for everyone to have a happy ending (except for maybe Peter Gallagher and his eyebrows).
'Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas' (2000)
Metacritic score: 46
Reviews on this film tend to be very polarized. On the one hand, parts of the plot are pretty disturbing. On the other, it's quite a visual treat. Jim Carrey is inarguably one of the greatest physical comedians of our era and he commits 100 percent to his Grinch performance.
'The Santa Clause' (1994)
Metacritic score: 57
I'll admit there are quite a few Christmas films from my childhood that I still thoroughly enjoy, even though I'm old enough to recognize them as mediocre at best. "The Santa Clause" isn't the best Christmas movie ever made. But thanks mostly to the humorous Tim Allen, "The Santa Clause" is a merry compromise between a child-appropriate and reasonably entertaining movie for adults.
'The Nightmare Before Christmas' (1993)
"Nightmare" is like a two for one: it's an excellent movie to watch during Halloween and Christmastime. If you feel like arguing that point, I'll direct you to Disney, which sees fit to run its "Nightmare"-themed Haunted Mansion through both holidays. Burton's dark and fantastical film hits all the right notes for folks who prefer a little edge during the holiday season.
'Bad Santa' (2003)
Metacritic score: 70
It might be a good idea to watch this movie after grandma and little ones are tucked into bed. "Bad Santa" isn't a traditional, warm-hearted Christmas movie, but there's adequate room in the holiday season for a good raunchy comedy. Billy Bob Thornton's portrayal of a thieving mall Santa really hits the spot after a few eggnogs.
'A Christmas Prince' (2017)
If you're looking for a Lifetime-like Christmas movie on Netflix to hate-watch, this new Netflix original takes the crown. My list of notes detailing reasons I despised the film is lengthy, and the film borrows rom-com plots left and right. Luckily I'm one of those folks who really enjoys watching bad movies, and this one is pretty easy to mock with your girlfriends over a bottle (or two) of wine.
Metacritic score: 70
If you haven't watched "Gremlins" in years, it's a terrifically dark Christmas comedy. From the caroling gremlins to the adorable Gizmo as every child's dream present, a fun spirit makes it one of the few horror films fitting for the holiday season. Plus, the story Phoebe Cates' character tells about her family's Christmas tragedy involving her father and a chimney probably still haunts your Christmas nightmares.
'12 Dates of Christmas' (2011)
Honestly, "12 Dates of Christmas" is just a watered-down Christmas-themed "Groundhog Day." The upside is that for a made-for-TV Christmas film, "12 Dates of Christmas" is actually pretty charming. I credit most of that to its very likable lead actors Amy Smart and Mark-Paul Gosselaar (to the extent I wonder why Amy Smart hasn't been given her own TV show yet). Anyway, this will tide you over till your annual February viewing of "Groundhog Day."
'Mickey's Magical Christmas: Snowed in at the House of Mickey Mouse' (2001)
For hard-core Disney fans, Christmas and Disney magic go hand in hand. My own Christmas tree could have walked itself out of the Disney store. So whether you have tiny ones and are looking for something child-appropriate to put on, or you're just a child at heart, let Mickey, Minnie, Donald and Goofy entertain you.
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