With Thanksgiving rapidly approaching (seriously, where did this year go), we can now finally say that holiday season is here. Some of you may have been blasting Mariah Carey for a few weeks now, but for those of you who abide by some made-up guidelines about when you’re allowed to watch Christmas movies, I hereby give you permission to begin. Every year, there are dozens of new Lifetime, Hallmark, and Netflix holiday movies, so if that’s your thing, go off—but I understand that mindless Christmas cheer isn’t for everyone. So I decided to go through all the major streaming services and choose the best holiday movies that are available this year, whether you’re trying to find something for family movie night or just getting drunk in bed by yourself.
Now, before you yell at me in the comments, let me clarify that “best” is relative, and I don’t mean these are all the highest-quality movies available. They’re all great options in different ways, just like we all have our favorite side dish at Thanksgiving dinner. If you’re about to DM me about how The Princess Switch is an objectively bad movie, I suggest you take an edible and let the spirit of Christmas take hold.
‘Knives Out’ – Prime Video
Many of the films on this list are Christmas-centric, but Knives Out feels more like a Thanksgiving movie. Okay, it’s not technically a holiday movie, but with wintry vibes and a large family all together for the first time in a while, it feels appropriate. Set at a New England mansion that will make you wish your fireplace worked, Knives Out is a thrilling murder mystery, with enough twists and turns that even your most annoying cousin at Thanksgiving won’t be able to complain that he’s bored.
‘It’s A Wonderful Life’ – Prime Video
You probably haven’t seen It’s A Wonderful Life unless your dad made you watch it every year growing up, but it’s actually pretty good. Thankfully, it’s streaming on Prime, so you won’t have to dig out the VHS tape this year—a Christmas miracle! In the movie, a guy who’s about to commit suicide on Christmas Eve is rescued by an angel who shows him how much of a difference he’s made in the world. Sounds bleak, but there’s a reason it’s been a Christmas classic for over 70 years.
‘Carol’ – Netflix
Does Carol meet the traditional definition of a holiday movie? Perhaps not, but it’s an excellent movie, and there are more than enough holiday moments for me to include it here. Cate Blanchett stars in this 1960s-set drama as a depressed housewife who has an affair with a younger woman who works at a department store, played by Rooney Mara. If you want to drink a whole bottle of wine and watch something holiday-adjacent but not like, jolly, this is a perfect choice.
‘Klaus’ – Netflix
A lot of Netflix’s holiday offerings are kind of cringe, but this animated Christmas movie from last year is adorable, creative, and was nominated for an Oscar. The voice cast includes favorites like Jason Schwartzman and Rashida Jones, and the main character is a postal worker, so we obviously stan. This is an ideal choice if you have younger kids around during the holidays, but also, you’re never too old for a good animated movie.
‘The Princess Switch’ – Netflix
Obviously, I didn’t want this list to be full of sh*tty direct-to-Netflix holiday movies, but I had to make one exception, and it’s The Princess Switch. This delightfully bad piece of cinema stars Vanessa Hudgens and Vanessa Hudgens as a regular woman and a princess who happen to look exactly alike. It’s ridiculous, and it’s perfect. And this week, Netflix is giving us a sequel! The Princess Switch: Switched Again stars Vanessa Hudgens, Vanessa Hudgens, AND Vanessa Hudgens, and as you can imagine, it looks absolutely bonkers. Sign me the f*ck up!!!
‘The Family Stone’ – HBO Max
There’s nothing like a holiday movie about a dysfunctional family to take your mind off your own dysfunctional family for a couple hours. Sarah Jessica Parker and Diane Keaton lead an all-star cast in this dramedy about spending Christmas with the in-laws. If your top holiday concern is making sure you don’t run out of alcohol at your parents’ house, you’ll definitely enjoy this one.
‘Home Alone’ – Disney+
I don’t think I need to explain what Home Alone is about, but I wanted to make everyone aware that all three movies in the series are available to stream on Disney+. Considering Macaulay Culkin turned 40 this year (still not over it), this is the perfect holiday season to revisit this classic and think about how f*cking old you are. Too real? Sorry. If you’re going to watch all three movies, just make sure to fast-forward through Donald Trump’s cameo in the second one; no one needs to see that.
‘The Santa Clause’ – Disney+
The Santa Clause happens to be my family’s yearly Christmas movie rewatch of choice, so I have seen this more times than I can count. Tim Allen stars in this family comedy about a not-very-jolly guy who, through some wild circumstances, inherits the position of Santa Claus. If you haven’t seen it, I totally recommend—it’s one of those family movies that actually has a lot of adult humor, so you won’t feel like you’re watching something for people half your age. Also, the kid is super cute.
‘Last Christmas’ – Hulu
This 2019 rom-com stars Emilia Clarke and Henry Golding, so if for no other reason, you can watch it for the hotness factor. Emilia plays Kate, a 26-year-old hot mess who works as an elf in a year-round Christmas shop (bleak). She meets Tom (Henry Golding), who is (obviously, just look at him) a handsome charmer, and as the two fall in love, things start turning around for her. UNTIL the ~dramatic twist~ happens, which I won’t go into so I don’t spoil it. I’ll say that it’s very on-the-nose given the title, and you might hate it. That’s all I’ll say!
Images: Courtesy of Netflix; Giphy (4)
As much as people love the holidays, the actual week of Christmas is kind of a weird time. Whether you celebrate it or not, everyone is in this limbo where they don’t really have anything to do. Therefore, it makes sense that it’s one of the biggest moviegoing times of the year. Whether your Jewish fam always sees a movie and gets Chinese food, or you desperately need a reason to leave the house after your family Christmas celebration, movies are the way to go.
But what to see? There are lots of choices right now, so I took it upon myself to break them down for you. Not everyone wants to see the same movies, so I organized this year’s movies based on who you’re actually going with. You might not make everyone happy, but at least you can make an informed decision.
If Your Little Sister Is Obsessed With Musicals: ‘Cats’
From the first moment I saw a trailer for Cats, I knew it was going to be a hot-ass mess. And I was right! The reviews for this have been high-key terrible, and the tweets describing the viewing experience were the only thing that got me through my holiday-party hangover last week. But if you have a younger sister whose top genre on Spotify this year was “showtunes,” you should probably suck it up and take her to see Cats. If anything, you can take an edible before and just zone out for a couple hours. Merry f*cking Catsmas!!
If Your Mom Loves Oscar Bait: ‘Little Women’
Meryl Streep. Laura Dern. Saoirse Ronan. Timothée Chalamet. The cast for this movie is a who’s who of awards season favorites, and Greta Gerwig’s new adaptation of the classic novel has a 97% on Rotten Tomatoes. Go off, sis. Really, anyone will probably enjoy this one, but it should be at the top of your list if your mom loves going to the fancy movie theatre where they serve like, charcuterie or whatever. Personally, I love Timothée an embarrassing amount, so this is definitely what I’ll be voting for as the family movie on Christmas. It’s called taste, look it up.
If You Want To Make Your Dad Happy: ‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’
Honestly, this is the easiest choice on the list. If your dad/grandpa/nerdy cousin is a major factor in your movie decision, you’re probably going to end up at the new Star Wars movie. This will be the last new Star Wars movie for the foreseeable future, so just let them have it. If you didn’t see the last one (or any of the ones before), don’t be too worried. All of these movies have pretty standard good vs. evil plot lines, so you should be able to figure out the basics. If you get confused, just remember that Adam Driver is the bad guy.
If Your Dad Isn’t Into ‘Star Wars’, But You Still Want To Make Him Happy: ‘1917’
Strangely enough, not all dads are the exact same? Weird, I know. If your dad is more into war movies that take place on our planet and not a galaxy far, far away, 1917 is what you should see. It’s a World War I drama from the director of Skyfall (say this to your dad, he’ll like it), and it’s gotten rave reviews for it’s one-shot filming style. It’s not like a regular war movie, it’s a cool war movie.
If Your Family Is All Women: ‘Bombshell’
If the theme of your family gatherings is basically “destroy the patriarchy,” load up in mom’s minivan and go see Bombshell, which tells the true story of how Fox News’ Roger Ailes was taken down. Charlize Theron is terrifyingly realistic as Megyn Kelly, and Margot Robbie is like, shockingly good as an up-and-coming reporter. Nicole Kidman is also great as Gretchen Carlson, and there are approximately 100 other people in the cast that you’ll recognize from random shows and movies. It’s a crazy story, and the way this movie tells it will keep you on the edge of your seat.
If You Have Little Siblings: ‘Spies In Disguise’
Of course, there always has to be a family-friendly option on Christmas, and if your little sister has already seen Frozen 2 several times, this year it’s Spies In Disguise. I won’t pretend I’m going to see this movie, but it’s actually gotten great reviews, so it shouldn’t be too much of a slog. Will Smith and Tom Holland star as, uh, the spies in disguise, and the rest of the voice cast has fun personalities like Reba McEntire, Rashida Jones, and DJ Khaled (yeah, idk either), so you might actually have fun.
If You’re With Your Grandparents: ‘A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood’
I mean, who doesn’t love Mister Rogers? Tom Hanks is just as lovable as you’d expect here, but the main storyline of the movie is actually really interesting and unexpected. This movie is total awards season bait, but it’s actually done really well, so I’m not mad about it. I haven’t watched Mister Rogers in at least a decade, but I still obviously cried multiple times during this, because that’s just who I am as a person. Cheers!
If No One Can Agree On A Movie: ‘Knives Out’
No matter what kind of movies you usually go for, Knives Out is just fun. It’s a classic murder mystery, with a talented ensemble cast and lots of twists and turns that you actually won’t see coming. Daniel Craig is perfect as the detective who comes to investigate the death of the patriarch of a wealthy family, and once he gets there, basically nothing goes according to plan. Knives Out is nominated in multiple categories at the Golden Globes, is both funny and emotional, and stars Chris Evans. It’s a win-win-win, and everyone should be happy.
Images: Getty Images; Giphy (8)