Upon our 36th viewing of the Last Christmas trailer, holiday-movie fever has firmly set in. From romcoms to gothic fantasies, here are 10 flicks (with bonus double-feature options) to watch while wearing elf pyjamas and eating Toffifee for breakfast. No judgment.
The Knight Before Christmas
The most romantic Christmas movies have certain tropes we’ve come to recognize: villages decorated to the hilt, fluffy falling snow (but no dirty snowbanks) and a fantastical plot involving a fish-out-of-water character who begrudgingly falls in love with a local townsperson. The Knight Before Christmas (starring Vanessa Hudgens), about a handsome medieval knight who finds himself in modern-day life, ticks all the boxes and has “new Christmas classic” potential. Stream it on Netflix Canada as of November 21.
Make it a double feature: Sleepless in Seattle
If an established romcom is next on the wish list, consider the lovable Sleepless in Seattle, which begins on Christmas Eve when widower Sam (Tom Hanks) becomes America’s most eligible bachelor thanks to a radio call-in show, and cross-country stranger Annie (Meg Ryan) falls in love with his story. Stream it on Crave.
Greta Gerwig’s Little Women hits theatres on December 25th, and as the ninth film adaption of the classic novel, it will have a hard time living up to the homey 1994 version starring Winona Ryder and Kirsten Dunst. The film begins at Christmastime as the March family contends with poverty and war in rural America. Stream it on Netflix Canada.
Make it a double feature: Edward Scissorhands
Pair it with another Winona Ryder classic that takes place around Christmastime: Edward Scissorhands. Stream it on Crave.
Bridget Jones’ Diary
This charming comedy starts right after Christmas (January 1, to be exact) and follows Bridget Jones’ romantic and professional mishaps over the course of a year, from her relationship with office scamp Daniel Cleaver to repeat run-ins with stoic attorney Mark Darcy, who basically pioneered the ugly sweater trend. She’s a lovable anti-heroine who drinks, swears, smokes, hosts disastrous dinner parties and is unapologetically single in a world of smug marrieds. She also has the most realistic underwear drawer ever portrayed on film. Stream it on Netflix Canada.
Make it a double feature: The Holiday
The Holiday is all about navigating the Yuletide season with a broken heart. In an effort to escape their messy break-ups, two women (played by Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet) swap their LA/London homes for a week. Heartwarming hilarity ensues. Stream it on Amazon Prime.
A criminally underrated movie, Last Holiday stars Queen Latifah as a shy department store worker and gourmet home cook who seizes her last chance for adventure by travelling to the decadent Grandhotel Pupp (yes, it’s real) in the Czech Republic, leaving behind her humble life and unrequited crush (played by LL Cool J). As she wins over everyone at the hotel, from posh guests to the ornery head chef (played with French perfection by Gérard Depardieu), she indulges her every want (shopping sprees! decadent meals!) with infectious glee. It’s a fun and heartwarming romp with a good dose of travel and food porn. (It’s also safe enough to watch with younger cousins and older grandparents.) Stream it on Amazon Prime.
Make it a double feature: The Family Man
The Family Man follows a cut-throat corporate exec who is shown how his life would have turned out if he had chosen his girlfriend over his career. Nic Cage as a fish-out-of-water suburban dad is surprisingly loveable. Stream it on Crave.
You’ve Got Mail
Meg Ryan’s Kathleen Kelly owns a beloved neighbourhood bookstore on the Upper East Side that is threatened by a big-chain store that’s opening around the corner. The chain’s owner, Joe Fox (Tom Hanks), and Kathleen start off as adversaries but eventually build a tentative friendship as, unbeknown to them, they fall in love with each other through AOL messaging. (Hey, it was the ’90s.) While it’s not strictly a Christmas movie, there are enough seasonal elements (like tree trimming and carols) to give it just the right amount of festive feels. Stream it on Amazon Prime.
Make it a double feature: The Shop Around the Corner
Track down the wonderful black and white film The Shop Around the Corner (on which You’ve Got Mail is based) to see how pen-pal relationships were analogue Tinder. Stream it (for a rental fee) on YouTube.
Sure, there are the black and white Christmas classics like It’s A Wonderful Life and Miracle on 34th Street, but The Apartment, set in 1960s New York City, isn’t just about Christmas. Jack Lemmon plays Baxter, a go-getting but lowly office worker who allows upper management to use his apartment for their various affairs. He falls in love with one of the mistresses, played by Shirley MacLaine, and themes of corporate ambition, big-city loneliness and mental health play into their protracted courtship. Stream it (for a rental fee) on Amazon Prime Video.
Make it a double feature: The Great British Baking Show Masterclass
If nerves are jingle-jangling from all the holiday stimuli, take it down several notches with the most soothing special on TV: The Great British Baking Show Masterclass. Stream it on CBC Gem.
Bill Murray is the go-to boomer for directors like Sofia Coppola and Wes Anderson for his off-kilter persona, which is on full display in Scrooged. An ’80s update on A Christmas Carol, Murray plays a modern-day curmudgeon who works as a TV executive and alienates all the people who love him. On Christmas Eve, he receives a couple of unwanted visitors who force him to re-evaluate his life choices. Stream it on Amazon Prime.
Make it a double feature: The Grinch
If bah-humbug is a little more your speed than jingle bells, cozy up to the meanest and greenest holiday curmudgeon in the game: The Grinch. The 2018 animated version will bring you right back to the book. Stream it on Crave.
In the most drunk and debauched take on St. Nick to date, Billy Bob Thornton plays a small-time thief who uses his holiday job as a mall Santa to scope out targets. His plans are waylaid by a vulnerable young boy who, despite Santa’s worst efforts, he just can’t shake. Beware if there are little ears around: There’s a heavy amount of cursing and some sex jokes that are definitely 18+. (There’s also the unrated cut, Badder Santa.) Stream on Netflix Canada.
Make it a double feature: A Bad Moms Christmas
For some more f-bomb high jinks, there’s A Bad Moms Christmas, which finds the “bad moms” from the original (Kristen Bell, Mila Kunis and Kathryn Hahn) facing their own, badder moms over the holidays. Stream it on Crave.
The Night Before
Taking arrested development to a new level, three childhood friends (Seth Rogen, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Anthony Mackie) spend their last Christmas Eve together scoring drugs and looking for an epic secret party, the Nutcracker Ball. As each person struggles with big life changes (like impending fatherhood), the trio are stalked by a Christmas-hating marijuana thief (Ilana Glazer) and an unexpected angel who guides them through their wild night, dropping adulting lessons along the way. Stream it on Netflix Canada.
Make it a double feature: The Best Man Holiday
The Best Man Holiday gathers together old college friends for an emotional holiday reunion 14 years after The Best Man. The ensemble cast (Taye Diggs, Sanaa Lathan, Regina Hall, Terrence Howard) has spectacular chemistry. Stream it on Netflix Canada.
The Family Stone
If an abundance of “family time” can feel overwhelming, escape with a different family (at least for a couple of hours). When the four adult Stone children descend on their childhood home in New England, there’s tension when the oldest brother (played by Dermot Mulroney) reveals he is going to propose to his uptight girlfriend (played against type by Sarah Jessica Parker). The family generally disapproves of her, and watching four siblings regress into their childhood selves as they push one another’s buttons is definitely more entertaining on film than it is IRL. Stream it (for a rental fee) on iTunes.
Make it a double feature: Home Alone
Home Alone is the ultimate Christmas family movie (minus the family). Kevin McAllister is a Yuletide folk hero. Stream it (for a rental fee) on Google Play.