This holiday season, cue up these classic films on Netflix

This holiday season, cue up these classic films on Netflix

Netflix's streaming library includes classics like White Christmas and—let’s call it a modern classic—Lindsay Lohan’s Falling For Christmas

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Netflix holiday films: White Christmas (Paramount/Getty Images), Klaus (Netflix), The Christmas Chronicles (Netflix), Falling For Christmas (Netflix)
(Clockwise from bottom left:) White Christmas (Paramount/Getty Images), Klaus (Netflix), The Christmas Chronicles (Netflix), Falling For Christmas (Netflix)
Graphic: The A.V. Club

What makes a classic holiday film? Browsing Netflix’s options, it seems a malleable term; 1954’s White Christmas is as classic as they come, but what about Kurt Russell’s modern hit The Christmas Chronicles? Or Lindsay Lohan’s newly released comeback, Falling For Christmas? And yes, you’d better believe we included Eyes Wide Shut on a list of watchable holiday films. As The A.V. Club prepares for the holidays and a new year, we’re rounding up the best viewing options for you, your family, and friends. Read on for our recommendations and keep your Netflix browsing time to a minimum!

This list was updated on November 23, 2022.

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A Bad Moms Christmas

A Bad Moms Christmas

A Bad Moms Christmas Trailer #1 (2017) | Movieclips Trailers

Like its title characters, the original Bad Moms may not have been perfect, or even especially good. But it clearly struck a nerve and served its audience, and it’s difficult to begrudge the success of a movie with three talented female leads and plenty more women in prominent supporting roles (if not behind the scenes)... Just as semi-sardonic Amy (Mila Kunis), semi-dippy Kiki (Kristen Bell), and genuinely foulmouthed Carla (Kathryn Hahn) think they have a handle on their imperfect parenting, the holiday season rolls around to send them into stress overdrive. And just as they make a pact to do the holidays their own way this year, all three of their own mothers turn up in ways that are confusingly unexpected given that it’s the week before Christmas. [Jesse Hassenger]

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Black Mirror: “White Christmas”

Black Mirror: “White Christmas”

Channel 4 - Black Mirror: White Christmas

[Jon] Hamm’s knack for creating likable weasels is a good fit for Black Mirror, a show that regularly applies imagined technology from the not-so-distant future against the cracks of human weakness. In “White Christmas,” the show’s extra-long Christmas special, Hamm plays Matthew, a seemingly friendly communication facilitator with ulterior motives. (I say “communication facilitator” because that’s about as close as I can come to describing the jobs we see him doing over the course of the episode. Basically, he’s a guy who’s good at manipulating people to do things other people want them to do.) Matthew is, at the start of the episode, inside a cabin in some undesignated frozen wasteland, sharing room and board with Joe Potter (Rafe Spall), a taciturn young man with his own dark past. Things are, of course, not what they seem… [Zack Handlen]

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The Christmas Chronicles

The Christmas Chronicles

The Christmas Chronicles | Official Trailer | Netflix

Kurt Russell could’ve just cashed the check. It would’ve been so easy for him to sign on the dotted line, grumble his way through some dinky Netflix movie, and go home to Goldie. What makes the actor a consummate professional and The Christmas Chronicles significantly more watchable than the endless ocean of Hallmark-adjacent dreck filling the streaming platform’s Holiday section is that he nobly refuses to give himself that pass. It makes no difference to Russell if the prestige level isn’t quite at “Quentin Tarantino.” He still summons all the booming brio he brought to the hangman John Ruth, right down to the little mustache-flip. He commits every fiber of his being to conjuring that ineffable Yuletide magic as a newfangled Kris Kringle one long sleigh ride from your daddy’s Santa Claus… [Charles Bramesco]

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A Christmas Prince

A Christmas Prince

A Christmas Prince | Official Trailer | Netflix

If we had a holiday romance TV movie bingo card, Netflix’s A Christmas Prince would have us collecting our winnings about 10 minutes in. Young, poor, yet plucky heroine: Rose McIver, star of iZombie. Remote, blandly handsome prince: Experienced The White Queen royal Ben Lamb. Ridiculously fake-sounding name-of country: Aldovia. Adorable moppet: check. Stern royal staff member who gets turned around at the end: check. Conniving romantic hurdle who wants the prince just for the crown: Lady Sophia. (This is the second one of these we’ve seen recently where the prince asks his supposed betrothed if she only wants him for the title and they don’t even have the decency to deny it: “It’s part of who you are!”) Picturesque, postcard-worthy yet nondescript castle: The one in A Christmas Prince was even already used in A Princess For Christmas. [Gwen Ihnat]

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Eyes Wide Shut

Eyes Wide Shut

Eyes Wide Shut (1999) Official Trailer - Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman Movie HD

Stanley Kubrick became a secular American saint long before his recent death, so it’s appropriate that legions of filmgoers have anticipated the release of Eyes Wide Shut with a zealous fervor. Loved and revered perhaps more fiercely than any other non-commercial filmmaker of his time, Kubrick was a true iconoclast, a cinematic rebel who could command as much artistic control as any other major director. And, perhaps more than his other films, Eyes Wide Shut epitomizes Kubrick’s commendable and audacious willingness to venture into unexplored territory and risk making a fool of himself… [Nathan Rabin]

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Falling For Christmas

Falling For Christmas

Falling For Christmas | Lindsay Lohan | Official Trailer | Netflix

It may not surprise you to learn that Falling For Christmas, starring Lindsay Lohan, is not a good movie. Yet, endearingly, nobody involved pretends that it is, and they do their best anyway. The actors understand the assignment, Netflix makes jokes at its own expense, and in the end, the streaming service has at least one formulaic holiday rom-com to compete for eyeballs in what’s become an increasingly crowded, and seemingly insatiable market for them. Slamming a movie like this for not being particularly great would be like punching a mall Santa Claus over his inability to do actual magic... [Luke Y. Thompson]

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Holidate

Holidate

Holidate starring Emma Roberts | Find Your Perfect Plus-One | Official Trailer | Netflix

From the opening shot of Emma Roberts’ Sloane stubbing out a cigarette on a plastic Santa and sighing, “Fucking holidays,” Holidate takes great pains to set itself apart from the wholesome side of Netflix’s holiday output. Though the film marks the official launch of an expansive Netflix holiday slate that also includes sequels to Vanessa Hudgens’ cheesy romance The Princess Switch and Kurt Russell’s family adventure The Christmas Chronicles, Holidate is more in line with the bawdy ethos of Office Christmas Party or A Bad Moms Christmas—at least until it fully embraces the rom-com hokiness it lampoons at the start. Like so much of Netflix’s quantity over quality output, Holidate is broad, unsubtle, and seemingly designed to be half-watched, phone in hand. Yet within that framework, it finds a unique comedic spark that keeps it zipping along. [Caroline Siede]

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Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey

Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey

Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey | Everything is Possible | Official Trailer | Netflix

Netflix’s Jingle Jangle may be the newest addition to this list, but it’s the one I’m going to fight for the hardest. Written and directed by playwright David E. Talbert, Jingle Jangle is a musical fantasy about a toymaker (Forest Whitaker) who loses his gift after being betrayed by someone very close to him. It isn’t until his estranged granddaughter Journey (Madalen Mills), an inventor in her own right, comes to stay with him for the holidays that he starts to realize the good he was doing and why the science (and magic) needs to return. It’s a beautiful, heartwarming adventure with gorgeous songs and a wonderful message about family, like a modern Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. [Beth Elderkin]

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Klaus

Klaus

Klaus | Official Trailer | Netflix

Oscar-nominated for Best Animated Feature in 2020, Klaus is an imaginative origin story for Santa Claus and an instant holiday classic. The key to the Netflix original’s success is its seamless blend of cartoony characters, in both physicality and personality, and surprisingly sophisticated cinematic choreography. Director Sergio Pablos’ “camera” swoops through magical snowy landscapes, illuminates the dark corners of toy workshops with candlelight, and generally demands the audience’s full attention. The cherry on top is an all-star cast delivering spot-on vocals: Jason Schwartzman, J. K. Simmons, Rashida Jones, Joan Cusack, and more. [Jack Smart]

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A Very Murray Christmas

A Very Murray Christmas

A Very Murray Christmas | Trailer: First Day [HD] | Netflix

There’s an almost necessary element of fraudulence to hosting a television program. It requires being “on” and being yourself simultaneously—or at least seeming to. The gap between those duties is something Bill Murray has exploited brilliantly over the years, an irony that’s imbued some of his best comedy creations, like lounge singer Nick Winters. And now, when it comes to fronting his very own holiday special for Netflix, Murray doesn’t want to give up the game. It results in a special that spits and sputters when the star is required to play-act himself, but comes breezily to life when he dispenses with the semi-serious put-on, and goes full raconteur. The ghost of Nick Winters haunts the proceedings of A Very Murray Christmas more than a little. [Alex McLevy]

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White Christmas (1954)

White Christmas (1954)

WHITE CHRISTMAS | “White Christmas” Clip | Paramount Movies

Few Christmas classics are more classic, or more Christmas-y, than 1954’s White Christmas. It represents the peaks of all four of its cinema icons, Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, and Vera-Ellen, and catchy tunes that have endured in our cultural consciousness for a reason. Centered on a group of entertainers whose simple quest—spread the holiday spirit amid the tensions of World War II—involves delightful diversions of the romantic comedy variety, White Christmas has just the right amount of zippy comedy to cut the sentimental treacle that makes it an annual favorite. Fun fact: Crosby and Kaye’s comedic “Sisters” number wasn’t originally in the story, but was added with little rehearsal—the laughter between the two of them isn’t acting, they’re genuinely cracking each other up. [Jack Smart]

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