No matter how cheesy holiday movie tropes may be, it’s obvious we can never get enough of them as each year grants access to a multitude of more Christmas specials. Here’s a few more titles to consider putting on this year’s viewing schedule in addition to the annual must-watch classics.
- Home Alone (1990)
Starting it off easy, we have Home Alone, one of the best Christmas comedy films, so far. Starring Macaulay Culkin, the movie follows Kevin — an eight year old boy — as he attempts to protect his home against burglars during the holiday season. When his family accidentally leaves him behind as they embark on their Christmas vacation, Kevin has no choice but to set up various, quick-minded tricks and booby traps to ambush the thieves and stay safe.
As one of the most popular holiday movies to date, Home Alone is a classic that’ll never get old. With its 30th anniversary taking place this past November, it’s time to celebrate with some cookies, milk, and maybe a few tissues for the tearjerkers that are sure to come. (This film is available on Disney+!)
- The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
Although it’s hard to tell if this one is a better Halloween or Christmas movie, there’s no denying how great of a film it is either way. The Nightmare Before Christmas is a stop-motion musical directed by Henry Selick and produced by Tim Burton that tells the story of the King of Halloween Town as he encounters Christmas Town and grows obsessed with the holiday. Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King, is a charming skeleton who dons a black pin-striped suit, owns a ghost dog named Zero, and is enamored with a beautiful rag doll named Sally. As a result of his growing obsession with Christmas, Skellington attempts to bring the holiday to his own town, assigning his citizens Christmas-themed jobs to replicate the unfamiliar but mesmerizing culture.
The Nightmare before Christmas became one of Burton’s and Selick’s most popular films as it amassed a huge, ever-growing fanbase over the past few decades. Its new and peculiar take on the classic Christmas movie is one that never ceases to amaze and has since grossed over $90 million from its initial release. (This is also available on Disney+!)
- Elf (2003)
One of the most notable Christmas movies is none other than Elf, a comedy starring Will Ferrell that focuses on a human raised by Santa’s elves. Upon discovering that he’s adopted, Buddy the Elf travels to New York City in search of his biological father who he’s recently learned has earned a spot on Santa’s naughty list. In an attempt to redeem him, Buddy reconciles his relationship with his father and in the process, does his best to save Christmas.
Ferrel has often been praised for his performance as Buddy and, in 2004, won the MTV Movie Award for Best Comedic Performance and the Teen Choice Award for Choice Movie Actor in Comedy. If you’re looking for a laugh, take a trip to Hulu, Amazon Prime, or just turn on the TV for a showing of Elf which airs annually during the holiday season. (This is available on Hulu right now!)
- The Polar Express (2004)
Computer-animated film, Polar Express, is centered around a young boy who boards a train bound for the North Pole on Christmas Eve. He meets several other children on the train and as they embark on their trip, the conductor announces that one of the children will receive an early gift from Santa. The film revolves around Christmas cheer and what it means to have complete faith in the existence of Santa Claus and the merriment of the holiday.
In 2006, the movie won a Grammy for the Best Song Written for a Motion Picture and was nominated for five other awards in the Academy Awards, Golden Globes, and the Visual Effects Society. Although it isn’t a widely popular film, the visual effects and the simplicity of the story provides a sense of nostalgia that I think is worth reliving. (This is available on Youtube!)
- Rise of the Guardians (2012)
Rise of the Guardians is a computer-animated film that tells the story of the various Holiday Guardians when they enlist the help of Jack Frost. Jack is brought on the team to try and stop a mythical creature named Pitch Black who is haunting children in their nightmares and destroying their faith in legendary characters like Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and more. Upon doing so, he is drastically weakening the Guardians so it is up to Frost to overpower him and renew the belief of magic and the holidays in children all over the world.
In other tales, Jack Frost is negatively perceived as the person responsible for frosty weather and is usually depicted as sinister or mischievous. In Rise of the Guardians, however, Jack is the Young Spirit of Winter and can often be found providing snowy days and adventures for children to enjoy themselves with. Despite its large fanbase when the film was initially released, it hasn’t been a topic of conversation for a few years now so I hope you’ll give this one a chance and fall in love with the childlike glee that surrounds every holiday, not just Christmas. (This is available on Hulu!)
- Klaus (2019)
Starting the list of newer Christmas movies is Klaus, an English-language Spanish animated comedy that tells the story of a postman who befriends a reclusive toymaker named Klaus. Spoiled and lazy, the postman is sent to the town of Smeerenburg by his father and is ordered to post 6,000 letters in one year or be forever cut off from the family’s fortune. After delivering a letter to a woodsman from a young boy, Klaus — the woodsman — forces him to deliver one of his toys, in return. Postman Jesper begins delivering toys through chimneys to all of the town’s children in return for them writing letters to Klaus, but this draws the attention from the town’s feuding families: the Krum family and the Ellingboe family who are desperate to sabotage their newfound success.
Although new, Klaus has won a multitude of awards for its design and the overall animation. It was digitally released through Netflix in November 2019 and within its first four weeks, had been watched by over 40 million members. Its favorable reviews and beautiful visuals make it a movie to watch so pop some popcorn and head on over to Netflix to watch this unique and well-loved film. (This is available on Netflix!)
- Let It Snow (2019)
Let It Snow is another new Christmas movie and is the first rom-com to touch this list. Incredibly cliche, the movie follows multiple characters through their romantic hurdles and is based on a fix-up novel that comprises three holiday romance stories by Maureen Johnson, John Green, and Lauren Myracle. The stories cover multiple tropes including best friends to lovers and the “I’m not like other girls” concept where the celebrity falls in love with the one person who isn’t a fan or the paparazzi. Most excitingly, though, one of the most romances is between two girls, one of which is closeted and suffers from internalized homophobia.
This film is very much the embodiment of a Wattpad story, but maybe that’s exactly what we need during a holiday season in quarantine. While certainly not a classic or even resembling that same energy, it feels representative of the kind of stories some of us used to read back during the days of Tumblr, Wattpad, and Polyvore. I’d say it’s worth taking a peek at when you have the chance. (This is available on Netflix!)
- Holidate (2020)
Holidate is another trope-y film and maybe it’s only on this list because I secretly love the fake relationship trope but, nevertheless, this new movie focuses on a young woman who seeks out a fake boyfriend for her holiday family events… and who better to fill that position than a friend suffering from the same fate?! Starring Emma Roberts and Luke Bracey, the two enjoy each other’s company as their fake partners until they — obviously — start to develop feelings for each other and have to decide if what they’re doing is a mistake or destiny.
That last sentence was unbearably dramatic, but I actually would recommend this rom-com due to how cheesy and eye-roll-worthy it was. It’s definitely a good form of laid-back, mind-numbing entertainment that we all need every once in a while. (This is available on Netflix!)
- Happiest Season (2020)
Released on Hulu, Happiest Season follows a woman faced with the struggle of coming out to her conservative parents during Christmas in front of her girlfriend. Abby, the girlfriend (played by Kristen Stewart!!!), has disliked the holidays since her parents passed away so, in an effort to make her feel better, Harper invites her to celebrate Christmas with her family. Abby intended on using this as an opportunity to meet Harper’s parents and propose, but then Harper reveals she’s still in the closet and doesn’t want to come out until after the holidays because she fears her sexuality will jeopardize her father’s run for mayor. She then asks Abby to pretend to be her straight roommate and with that, their story begins.
Happiest Season came out on November 25th and has since earned a 6.9/10 on Rotten Tomatoes and a 69/100 on Metacritic. With that being said, this is one of the first holiday movies to feature queer leads and for it to come out on a prominent streaming service is definitely memorable. Aside from the film’s heartfelt performances and the fact that the energy does actually resemble the classic holiday cheer, the openly queer representation is one for the books. (This is available on Hulu!)
Holiday movies make memories and despite not being able to go out and surround yourself with friends and family because of the COVID-19 pandemic, I hope these movies will bring you a little more joy and comfort to your holiday season!