The best holiday movies to watch now on Peacock

The best holiday movies to watch now on Peacock

Check out some old favorites and modern gems, and a couple of not-so-Christmasy yuletide fright fests

We may earn a commission from links on this page.
AVClub's best holiday films on Peacock: Black Christmas (screenshot), Love Actually (Universal Pictures), Miracle On 34th Street (screenshot), The Best Man Holiday (Universal Pictures)
(Clockwise from bottom left:) Black Christmas (screenshot), Love Actually (Universal Pictures), Miracle On 34th Street (screenshot), The Best Man Holiday (Universal Pictures)
Graphic: The A.V. Club

Peacock may be the ingénue of the streaming landscape, but don’t underestimate their film selection—especially this holiday season. From old favorites (Miracle On 34th Street) to modern classics (Love Actually) to a handful of twisted Christmas tales (Black Christmas!), NBCUniversal’s fledgling TV service is a reliable source of what couch potatoes want Christmas season kicks into high gear. Read on for Peacock’s best holiday movies and The A.V. Club’s thoughts on each.

This list was updated on December 16, 2022.

Advertisement

2 / 9

The Best Man Holiday

The Best Man Holiday

The Best Man Holiday Official Trailer #1 (2013) - Taye Diggs Movie HD

Taye Diggs’ toothpaste-commercial smile—wide, disingenuous, with a perfectly horizontal upper lip and impeccable teeth—gets put to good use in The Best Man Holiday, Malcolm D. Lee’s sequel to his 1999 sleeper hit The Best Man. Diggs plays Harper Stewart, a has-been novelist who’s bounced out of his cushy NYU gig by budget cuts. Unable to sell his latest manuscript, Harper happens upon the idea of writing a biography of Lance Sullivan (Morris Chestnut), an NFL superstar who used to be his best friend… Like The Best Man, the movie stakes almost everything on its superb ensemble cast, which includes Terrence Howard, Sanaa Lathan, Monica Calhoun, Harold Perrineau, Nia Long, Regina Hall, and Melissa De Sousa… [Ignatiy Vishnevetsky]

Stream it now

Advertisement

3 / 9

Black Christmas

Black Christmas

Black Christmas (1974) - Official Trailer (HD)

[Black Christmas is] a mean movie in which several people die for no reason; in which nothing is explained, no clear motive is given, and the police always arrive too late; and in which, most importantly, there is no happy ending. The horror does not stop, it barely even pauses, and as the credits roll, the only feeling left is the unresolved dread of a knife about to plunge. There is no uplift, no resolution, no reassurance that, hey, bad things happen, but it’s okay, because sooner or later the nasty man with murder on his mind will be caught and killed. That does not happen here. Santa does not save the day. Neither does John Saxon… [Zack Handlen]

Stream it now

Advertisement

4 / 9

How The Grinch Stole Christmas (1966)

How The Grinch Stole Christmas (1966)

You’re a Mean One, Mr Grinch - How the Grinch Stole Christmas 1966

The kind of TV special that rewards annual rewatching, How The Grinch Stole Christmas is proof that Christmas cheer is all the sweeter when it’s actually sour—or, as Thurl Ravenscroft sings in this film’s iconic tune, “a bad banana with a greasy black peel.” Charles Dickens understood that juxtaposition, gifting us A Christmas Carol’s Scrooge, but equally important in the curmudgeon canon is Dr. Seuss’ Grinch. As cuddly as a cactus, as charming as an eel, this green goblin with a heart deficiency continues to provide representation for the asocial and anti-commericalist among us. [Jack Smart]

Stream it now

Advertisement

5 / 9

Krampus

Krampus

Krampus - Official Trailer (HD)

Like a lot of films that come packaged as antidotes to seasonal cheer, Krampus is really a stealth Christmas carol, smuggling a pro-St. Nick message in the guise of counterprogramming for Scrooges. It’s a good ruse: The opening scene is a slow-motion lambast of last-minute shopping sprees, parents and children alike scrambling over each other to the ironic accompaniment of a Bing Crosby staple. The hatefulness holds as we meet our unlucky, unhappy family, brought together through annual obligation. Dad (Adam Scott) is a workaholic, Mom (Toni Collette) is a pill-popping stress machine, and the teenage daughter (Stefania LaVie Owen) is… well, an eye-rolling teenage daughter. That’s just the tip of the dysfunctional iceberg, as the cozy suburban home is soon invaded by dull, cruel, uncouth relatives. It’s enough to make the resident Kevin McCallister (Emjay Anthony) tear up his letter to Santa, accidentally summoning the big man’s shadow, a hooved hulk of Alpine folklore who comes charging down chimneys, malevolent minions in tow… [A.A. Dowd]

Stream it now

Advertisement

6 / 9

Love Actually

Love Actually

Love Actually (2003) Official Trailer - Colin Firth, Emma Thompson Movie HD

It takes a lot to become a new Christmas classic, so it’s doubly impressive that Love Actually managed to enter that pantheon while also holding the distinction of being one of the most divisive holiday movies ever made. Love Actually carries a lot of baggage these days, from pointed critiques about the film’s lack of diversity and questionable treatment of women to a broader sense that there’s something crassly commercial about the whole thing… For those who are able to lock into the film’s tone—or perhaps just those who saw it at the right age—writer-director Richard Curtis’ charming Christmas confection has yet to go stale, even if it very much feels like a product of its time. [Caroline Siede]

Stream it now

Advertisement

7 / 9

Miracle On 34th Street (1947)

Miracle On 34th Street (1947)

Miracle On 34th Street
Miracle On 34th Street
Screenshot: Peacock

Yes, Miracle On 34th Street is pure Hollywood hokum, a blatant piece of sub-Capra populism designed to advance the controversial proposition that Santa is real and children should be allowed to let their imaginations run free. (How did Fox keep the protestors at bay?) But the film is pretty savvy too, getting a jump on mounting anxieties about the post-war cult of consumerism, soon to be savaged by beatniks, cartoonists, and underground stand-up comics. The story of a real “Kris Kringle” (played by the inimitable Edmund Gwenn) earning the trust of upper management at Macy’s and teaching young Natalie Wood and her progressive mother Maureen O’Hara to believe in Christmas again is really an object lesson in how to put one over on the buying public. What does the Macy’s customer say when Santa sends her to another store to buy her son a fire truck? She congratulates Macy’s on “this wonderful new stunt you’re pullin’.” [Noel Murray]

Stream it now

Advertisement

8 / 9

The Twelve Days Of Christmas Eve

The Twelve Days Of Christmas Eve

12 Days Of Christmas Eve Trailer

Take morality tales like A Christmas Carol and It’s A Wonderful Life and infuse their spirit into Groundhog Day, and you’ve got The Twelve Days Of Christmas Eve. Steven Weber stars as a modern-day Scrooge whose prioritizing of greedy business dealings over his family causes divine intervention: right your wrongs with 12 Christmas Eve redos, instructs friendly Angie the Angel (played by none other than screen legend Molly Shannon), or you’ll die. This Martha Coolidge-directed 2004 TV movie makes great use of its day-repeating structure—watching someone die in increasingly wacky ways is just fun!—and manages to hit the heart-warming notes required of a holiday classic. [Jack Smart]

Advertisement

9 / 9