Is it still October? August? December? Surely it’s not mid-November with only about two weeks until Thanksgiving. Up remains down, down remains up, and now it’s (almost) officially Christmastime. Or it isn’t, really whatever you’re feeling.
Regardless, in this wild year, it isn’t too soon to start watching Christmas movies.
Netflix has already begun debuting new Christmas movies in the last couple of weeks and has many more to come throughout November. And subscribers are clearly ready, as Netflix’s top 10 popularity rating has started to feature more and more holiday films. But, let’s be honest, most of these Christmas movies aren’t that good.
So what should you watch?
Netflix doesn’t have a library of “classic” Christmas movies, unfortunately. You’ll have to go to Apple TV+ for “A Charlie Brown Christmas” or Amazon Prime for “It’s a Wonderful Life.” But the service still has a few films worth recommending. I’ve compiled eight such Christmas movies below.
Premise: This animated film is based on the beloved 1957 book by Dr. Seuss, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” In the well-known story, a furry, green monster-like creature with a heart “two sizes too small” lives as a hermit with his dog. The creature gets irritated by the cheeriness of the local townspeople, especially around Christmastime. Reaching a breaking point, the creature decides to pose as Santa and steal Christmas from the locals in the hopes of making them as upset as he has become.
Notable voice cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Rashida Jones, Angela Lansbury, Cameron Seely and Kenan Thompson
Runtime: 1 hour, 25 minutes
“The Christmas Chronicles” (Netflix)
Premise: Two kids are having a hard time getting into the Christmas spirit, given the recent loss of their father. The older brother has started doing petty crimes and is at risk of slipping into more dangerous criminal fare. By seeming chance, they discover Santa is in their house on Christmas Eve and sneak into his sleigh, which ultimately malfunctions and crashes into Chicago. Santa and the two kids must figure out how to save Christmas.
Notable cast: Darby Camp, Goldie Hawn, Judah Lewis and Kurt Russell
Runtime: 1 hour, 44 minutes
“A Very Murray Christmas” (Netflix)
Premise: This has little plot but essentially features Bill Murray playing himself trapped in a fancy hotel due to a snowstorm on Christmas Eve. He hangs out with similarly trapped guests and sings songs with musicians at the hotel. Murray works his charm on guests grieving about being stuck at the hotel, which translates to Murray’s charisma jumping out of the screen.
Notable cast: Bill Murray with many celebrity guests, including Michael Cera, George Clooney, Miley Cyrus, Rashida Jones, Amy Poehler, Chris Rock, Maya Rudolph and Jason Schwartzman
“Let It Snow” (Netflix)
Premise: This is based on a young adult novel co-written by John Green, Maureen Johnson and Lauren Myracle. The movie tells multiple stories of young adulthood that play out on Christmas Eve in a small town and ultimately weave together. The characters range from a rising pop star, someone potentially heading to New York’s Columbia University, and those who have the more typical teenage experience of working in a waffle house. Various love connections happen on the snowy day, as well as general reaffirmations about life.
Notable cast: Kiernan Shipka leads a group of young actors. Joan Cusack also appears.
Runtime: 1 hour, 32 minutes
Premise: This movie is based (loosely) on the 1970 Donny Hathaway song of the same name. The comedic reunion story centers around a family reconvening for Christmas. Various family members have kept secrets from each other, which come out as everyone spends the long days and nights leading up to the holiday in the same place.
Notable cast: Idris Elba, Regina King and Delroy Lindo
Runtime: 1 hour, 57 minutes
“Operation Christmas Drop” (Netflix)
Premise: A congressional aide accepts an assignment to gain information about a long-running Air Force tradition of dropping gifts to underprivileged areas around Christmas time. This aide’s boss wants her to uncover that the operation is an example of government waste and make the case for cutting it out of the budget. While at the Air Force base, a good-looking pilot shows her the importance of the operation. The two start falling for each other, just like the presents falling from the sky.
Notable cast: Kat Graham and Alexander Ludwig
Runtime: 1 hour, 35 minutes
Premise: This animated movie earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Animated Feature. It tells an alternate origin story for Santa that takes place in a sleepy, unhappy 19th-century town. A mailman befriends a reclusive toymaker named Klaus, and the two team up to deliver gifts.
Notable voice cast: Joan Cusack, Rashida Jones, Norm Macdonald, Will Sasso, Jason Schwartzman and J.K. Simmons
Runtime: 1 hour, 36 minutes
Premise: This British comedy tells the story of a father who gets out of prison on parole and immediately is told by his son that Santa is hiding in their shed. According to this man who looks like Santa, the sleigh crashed and the police took the reindeer into custody. The father finds that there is, in fact, a man who looks like Santa in the shed, but he assumes the man is a liar and tells him to get lost. Santa tries to free his reindeer but gets arrested in the process, leading to the kid wanting to visit him in jail with his recently released father. To win over his son’s heart, he decides to go along with the kid’s wishes, and they visit Santa in jail. It slowly dawns on the father that the man actually is Santa, and they should try to help him.
Notable cast: Jim Broadbent, Warwick Davis and Rafe Spall
Runtime: 1 hour, 42 minutes