Now that Thanksgiving is out of the way, it’s time to turn our focus to Christmas. And what could be more in the spirit of the holidays than streaming a Christmas movie on Netflix while drinking a glass of eggnog and turning on the lights to the Christmas tree? With that in mind, here are ten of the best Christmas movies streaming on Netflix in December.
#1: Dr. Seuss “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” (2000)
While many people still think of the 1960’s era animated cartoon version of “How The Grinch Stole Christmas,” there’s a strong case to be made for Jim Carrey’s stylish live-action update of this film. The details of Whoville are lovingly recreated in this film, and, of course, Jim Carrey’s manic, over-the-top style of acting is perfectly suited for his role as the Grinch (although you might not at first recognize him under all that green makeup and special effects).
#2: “White Christmas” (1954)
It just doesn’t get any more all-American than this – “White Christmas” is full of romance, humor and beloved song-and-dance numbers that most of us probably have already memorized by heart. And, of course, it stars some of the biggest icons ever to appear on the silver screen – Bing Crosby, Rosemary Clooney and Danny Kaye. This nearly 65-year-old classic will warm your heart every time you watch it.
#3: “Legend of Frosty the Snowman” (2005)
This is an updated take on the classic Frosty tale. If your kids want to believe that magic is real, they need to watch this If you listen carefully, you’ll recognize the voice of Bill Fagerbakke (of “Coach” fame) as the voice of everyone’s favorite snowman. As an added bonus, the narrator of this classic Christmas tale is none other than Burt Reynolds.
#4: Disney’s “The Santa Clause” (1994)
If you enjoy Tim Allen’s style of comedy, you’ll be glad to know that the full “Santa Clause” trilogy is now available for streaming on Netflix. The first of these “Santa Clause” movies was easily the best, however, as we watch Tim Allen magically taken away to the North Pole after accidentally taking out the real Santa Claus on Christmas Eve.
#5: “The Radio City Christmas Spectacular” (2007)
OK, from a purely technical standpoint, “The Radio City Christmas Spectacular” is not a movie. But the show is so cinematic and so well acted that you could easily call it a movie. There are so many timeless elements here – not just the dancing and singing Rockettes, but also the classic music from “The Nutcracker” and other holiday favorites. If you’ve ever dreamed about spending a white Christmas in New York and making the trip to Radio City Music Hall for this show, then you have to watch this special.
#6: “Bad Santa” (2003)
By the time Christmas actually rolls around, you may be getting a bit tired of all the holiday cheer and the same holiday songs played over and over again, on constant rotation. Enter “Bad Santa,” perhaps one of the darkest Christmas movies ever made. It stars Billy Bob Thornton as a criminal mastermind robbing department stores on Christmas Eve. And it also features a fair share of profanity-laced humor and adult situations – but there’s still a happy ending to all this. Maybe this is the type of Christmas movie to stream after the kids have gone to sleep.
#7: “The Ref” (1994)
In a similar way, “The Ref” is another of those Christmas dark comedies that suddenly came into vogue in the mid-1990’s. This one stars Denis Leary as a criminal who takes a family hostage on Christmas, only to find how exactly how insane and dysfunctional they really are. And, making this film even darker, it also stars Kevin Spacey – once one of the hottest actors in Hollywood, but now forever disgraced by sexual harassment allegations. You really have to be in the mood to watch this film.
#8: “Ernest Saves Christmas” (1988)
Back in the 1980’s, Jim Varney’s bumbling, goofy character of Ernest P. Worrell captivated TV audiences – so it’s perhaps no surprise that he eventually got a Christmas special of his own. This movie is actually a re-telling of “Miracle on 34th Street,” in which Ernest plays a starring role in helping Santa Claus bring the magic of the holidays to children everywhere.
#9: “Trading Places” (1983)
While the film is not specifically about Christmas, it’s set during the holidays. It’s hard to believe that this film is already 35 years old – it seems like just yesterday that Eddie Murphy, Dan Aykroyd and Jamie Lee Curtis collaborated on this all-time comedy classic.
#10: “Gremlins” (1984)
Finally, what would the holidays be lie without this fabulous film from Steven Spielberg? Back in the 1980’s, “Gremlins” completely changed our ideas of what a holiday film could be. For good reason, “Gremlins” always gets voted on to the list of “underrated” Christmas movies, and so it’s great to see that Netflix has made it available for streaming this year. It’s even more relevant this year, given that the popular Netflix show “Stranger Things” features plenty of 1980’s-style nostalgia, and one of the films that it references is “Gremlins.”
By now, you’ve probably noticed that some of the all-time great Christmas movies are not on the list. What happened, you might ask, to “It’s a Wonderful Life” or “A Christmas Story” or “Miracle on 34th Street”? What happened to movies like the Will Ferrell Christmas comedy “Elf”? Sorry, that’s not an oversight – it’s a reflection of the fact that Netflix does not have every great Christmas movie in its vast archive. (The good news, though, is that if you really want to watch those films, you can stream them on iTunes and YouTube.)
This Christmas, it’s time to “Netflix and chill.” There are plenty of great Christmas movies to stream, and if you get started now on these all-time classics, you might just be able to watch them all before Jolly St. Nick slides down your chimney.