The best Christmas movies on Netflix, ranked from worst to best

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The best Christmas movies on Netflix, ranked from worst to best

The best Christmas movies on Netflix, ranked from worst to best 🎅

Kurt Russell in The Christmas Chronicles

Michael Gibson / Netflix

Search “Christmas” on Netflix and you’ll get an overwhelming number of results. But tiny thumbnails emblazoned with snow, bows, and bad Santa beards often don’t reveal much about the films within.

Once you’ve exhausted the mainstream classics Netflix has to offer (this year you can stream Rise of the Guardians and Nativity!), which of the lesser-known movies are worth getting to know? Here’s our pick of Christmas films available on Netflix – from worst to best.

17. 48 Christmas Wishes

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At first you might assume that children were chosen to play Santa’s elves in this 2020 movie because their in-built shortness saved on CGI costs, but later we see actual adult elves too – leaving us with gaping questions about the North Pole’s labour laws. The story follows three hapless elves and a human boy saving the big day by gathering up a small town’s Christmas wishes, but the main cast of kids leaves it with a distinct “school play” vibe, rendering it irredeemable unless you happen to be related to Elf #8.

16. The Christmas Wedding Planner

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This isn’t a spoiler – because it’s impossible to spoil a film as predictable as this – but at the end of the movie (which is about a wedding planner organising a wedding at Christmas, à la the title), the couple who were supposed to get married don’t, so another couple takes their place at the altar instead.

Just for once, I want the priest – with the power vested in him – to say no. Absolutely not. You met this man three days ago, and I refuse to marry you in front of a congregation of your friend’s friends just because you don’t want to waste the catering.

All this is to say: this movie is bad. Is it so-bad-it’s-good? Extremely hard to say, but the genuine line of dialogue: “You’re late” / “Only if you’re looking at the clock,” might answer that question for me.

15. The Knight Before Christmas

What promises to be a whimsical film combining a Christmassy romance with Arthurian legend turns out to be just plain weird. Why isn’t Vanessa Hudgens more freaked out that an actual knight has come to town? Why does her family just accept that she’s invited a strange man to live with her? And since when did a knight’s quest involve travelling to the future to fall in love?

It might appeal to some, but we want more drama from a film other than weird men trying to swordfight strangers and little girls getting stuck on frozen lakes. The Knight Before Christmas definitely brings the Christmas vibe but forgets that to be a good movie it should really have a viable plot.

14. A Wish for Christmas

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Santa gives Gretchen Wieners 48 hours of courage so she can finally stand up for herself at work, making this film a confusing mess of morals. Is it still feminism if you’re relying on an old white dude to sort stuff out? Why is capitalism shilled so hard in this movie that we’re supposed to be happy that the marketing department (marketing department!) are forced to work on Christmas Day, just because the boss brings in a platter of cold turkey in the final scene? Much to think about – little of it Christmassy.

13. Once Upon a Holiday

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Within the first 56 seconds of this film, you see ice skating, a toy train, Christmas trees and snowmen, which thankfully establishes just which “holiday” we’re going to once upon. Her royal highness of Montsaurai is in New York City for Christmas, where she eschews her princess-ly duties to fall in love with a lowly hunk.

There are plenty of tropes in this movie, but they’re rendered funnier by being ever-so-slightly off. “I’m perfectly capable of taking care of myself,” sasses the princess, establishing herself as strong independent woman who doesn’t need anyone’s assistance – to a man who is offering to help her call the police mere seconds after she’s been mugged. You think you’re stronger than the NYPD? Rude, and extremely arrogant.

12. Angel of Christmas

Cynical ‘n’ sassy copy editor Susan wants to be a writer, but the editor – as editors do – rejects her pitches with the words “bring me an idea with some magic”. Sue decides to write a story about her family’s wooden Christmas angel that allegedly “brings people together” and the editor calls the pitch “perfect”, which goes some way to explaining the recent decline of the print press.

Susan must then choose between two potential love interests: an artist character with actual paint in his hair and a serious man with a tie who is serious because he’s a man with a tie.

Watch for the cameo of a September 2020 issue of The Times, with the headline “BBC ignores Osborne’s warnings to launch Ideas Service” inexplicably dominating a shot for 30 seconds.

11. Free Rein: The Twelve Neighs of Christmas

This Netflix Christmas special isn’t so bad it’s good; it’s so bad it’s great. It’s so bad it exposes the Oscars as a fallacy. It is the emperor, except this time with clothes. A special seasonal episode of a show I can never forgive myself for not knowing about before, the movie follows the “pony squad” as they reunite with an estranged, grumpy uncle and date boys who look way, way too old for them. If you think about it, that’s exactly what Christmas is about.

10. A Christmas Prince: The Royal Wedding

A Christmas Prince: The Royal Wedding


This year’s sequel to 2020’s wildly successful Netflix Original A Christmas Prince is unexpectedly a morality tale about the benefits of unionisation. While our protagonist Amber gets ready to marry the eponymous Christmas Prince (now king), the nation of Aldovia is on strike because their wages haven’t been paid. Even though the royal family is very sad about this (at one point the queen sighs at a Christmas card sent by a worker who is living in poverty), they spend money they could pay wages with on an extravagant school play, champagne and a large inflatable Santa. What’s Aldovian for “liberté, égalité, fraternité”?

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9. Christmas Inheritance

Budgets have never stretched far for Christmas TV films, but the fourth wall is shattered, ground to dust, and buried in the dirt when one character praises the other for his artistic “talent” in this 2020 film about a flighty heiress. The camera pans to a picture this so-called artist has drawn of Santa Claus in which St Nick has three dots for eyes and a nose, and a line for a mouth. As you will no doubt agree, this scene alone makes this movie an unmissable watch.

8. The Princess Switch

Vanessa Hudgens plays a duchess and a baker who switch places because, duh, if you found someone who looked exactly like you, what would you do?

The weirdest part of this film is that it’s implied a kindly old man who speaks sagely to the characters about the meaning of Christmas is Santa Claus, but then this – like the last-minute candle you bought Aunt Karen on Christmas Eve – is literally never wrapped up. Like, he doesn’t even wink at the end or anything. So he was just a really weird old man.

7. The Man Who Invented Christmas

A Christmas Carol remakes are a staple of the holidays, and this one – which portrays Charles Dickens struggling to write the classic novel – does not disappoint. However, as a technically good movie when it comes to scripting, acting and special effects, it really isn’t in the Netflix holiday spirit. As a world-renowned social critic and artist once wrote: thank u, next.

6. A Christmas Prince

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If you haven’t watched this film yet: How does it feel to have wasted the entire last year of your life? Bad, I hope. This story of an undercover reporter who falls in love with a prince is the perfect slice of cheese to add to your festive cheeseboard: easy to digest, soft and sweet, with strong hints of nonsense.

5. Angela’s Christmas

This 30-minute computer animated Christmas film is actually about baby Jesus, making it extremely avant-garde. An adaption of Frank McCourt’s 2007 children’s story, the plot follows six-year-old Irish Angela as she tries to warm up the Jesus doll from her church’s nativity scene. Beautifully animated, funny and charming, this will warm your heart even if you think Christmas is more about the big tin of Quality Street than the Big Guy.

4. The Holiday Calendar

Remember the international bestselling 2014 novel The Miniaturist? This is it, but with an advent calendar. Abby, a struggling photographer, receives her grandma’s antique wooden calendar, and each toy within foreshadows what will happen to her that day. Obviously everything about it (from ice skating to soup kitchens to the “it’s snowing!” finale) is incredibly predictable, but that’s what makes it perfect. (Also, it inexplicably features extensive product placement for Apple. A Christmas mystery.)

3. A Christmas Prince: The Royal Baby

If you thought this list was going to be anything other than telling you about all the iterations of A Christmas Prince, think again. Having watched the latest installment in the saga, I can confidently say that The Royal Baby is the best. As the title suggests, the happy couple are expecting, and of course she’s ready to pop at our favourite time of year. The king and queen of a neighbouring country are visiting to sign a very important treaty, which goes missing and if it isn’t found and signed by the end of Christmas eve, Amber’s baby will be cursed. Go figure.

2. Let It Snow

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All the most popular young actors from the past couple of years, from Sabrina the teenage witch to Spiderman’s best friend, have gathered for a festive feast of a film. It’s based on a book co-written by John Green, and is full of teenage drama. Julie meets a popstar on the train and takes him home to meet her family, Dorrie’s crush Kerry is ignoring her and Tobin wants to tell his best friend that he likes her but she’s flirting with another man. Any film where Joan Cusack rocks up in a tin foil hat is a win in my books.

1. The Christmas Chronicles

The Christmas Chronicles

Michael Gibson / Netflix

Don’t be fooled by the crappy preview of a vlogging child that Netflix tries to sell this movie with: this Kurt Russell-fronted Santa movie is an unexpected delight. From genuinely witty dialogue (“What’s that sound?” / “Sleigh bells!” / “Are you listening?”) to beautiful prop and set work in Santa’s Hall of Letters, this film is stocking-stuffed with Christmas charm.

St Nick sings a song with Silvio from The Sopranos! There are creepy elves with cat tails! It’s strongly implied that Santa caused World War Two because he failed to deliver presents in 1938! It’s not often that a Netflix film looks like it will become a Christmas classic, but if any can, this is it.

After all that, if you’re not in the mood for a Christmas movie there’s plenty of other choices available. Check out WIRED’s guide to the best films on Netflix UK, the best sci-fi movies or the best documentaries.

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