A definitive ranking of every Netflix Christmas movie, to help you prioritize your holiday streaming
There’s no better way to get into the holiday spirit than by consuming every Christmas movie available. But as December 25th approaches, you may be overwhelmed by your many, many options—there seem to be about a gazillion new ones on Netflix alone. That’s why we put together this definitive ranking of every Netflix Christmas movie—to help you pick the most important holiday films to watch as the Christmas season reaches a fever pitch. Because between Freeform, the Hallmark Channel, and now Netflix, you might not have time to watch them all.
Netflix first got into the holiday movie game in 2017 with the delightfully corny A Christmas Prince. Since then, the streaming site has only amped up its creation and distribution of Christmas movies, with Vanessa Hudgens joining in on the fun for The Princess Switch. But it’s not just cheesy rom-coms that Netflix has made for the holidays—there are also movies about a cool AF Santa Claus, a child trying to keep a Jesus doll warm in his manger, and even a liquor store hostage situation.
For the sake of this list, we only watched movies that are officially labeled “a Netflix film” and left out any specials or Christmas movies that are part of an animated TV show. So that means no A Very Murray Christmas, no Super Monsters holiday special, and none of those other hilariously amusing romantic holiday films that Netflix wasn’t responsible for creating. That leaves the total list to less than 10 movies, so might actually have time during holiday gift wrapping to assess each and every one yourself…or just watch A Christmas Prince for the 100th time.
8A Christmas Prince: The Royal Wedding
Everyone knows in their hearts that the original A Christmas Prince isn’t actually a good movie. But there was something magical about Netflix’s first foray into holiday movies. Its sequel, though, A Christmas Prince: The Royal Wedding, is just flat-out bad. Sure, it’s nice to see the characters again (even if Amber’s dad was recast—because, no, it’s not just the goatee that’s different). But part of the original movie’s charm was seeing Amber and Richard fall in love with each other. Having Richard ignore Amber for most of the movie takes away from the fairytale, and it hurts. So even with journeying back to Aldovia and all the very unsubtle nods to the first Christmas Prince movie, The Royal Wedding won’t fill you with the holiday cheer that the original did. And, again, it’s just real bad.
Christmas Inheritance has all the ingredients for a truly good-bad Christmas movie: A spoiled city girl goes to a small town to learn the meaning of Christmas. Then there’s Jake Lacy of The Office, Obvious Child, and Girls. Plus, Andie MacDowell is even there to offer sage advice and sing a Christmas song! But even though Lacey has never failed us as a love interest before, his romance with undercover heiress Ellen Langford just doesn’t land, and since that’s pretty much the whole point of the story, the movie doesn’t land either.
6El Camino Christmas
While the events of El Camino take place on Christmas Eve, it’s not really your warm and fuzzy feel-good Christmas movie. Instead, you can sense Tim Allen is doing all that he can to wash the cheerful The Santa Clause and its sequels from his résumé as he portrays a bitter alcoholic involved in a hostage situation. The whole way the holdup goes down is pretty baffling, but if you go into El Camino Christmas knowing that this isn’t your typical Christmas movie, you might be willing to go along for the ride. The cast isn’t half bad either, since Allen is joined by Kurtwood Smith (aka Red from That ’70s Show), Jessica Alba, Vincent D’Onofrio, and a bumbling yet oh-so-lovable Dax Shepard. Even with all that said, it’s best to keep your expectations low.
5The Holiday Calendar
Ah, a classic tale about how the love of your life was right in front of you all along. Kat Graham is charming as a photographer who gets a mysterious Christmas calendar that helps her find her true love. There are references to other Christmas movies, a stupidly nice apartment (how does struggling artist Abby afford it??), a wise older person to guide the protagonist (Ron Cephas Jones of This Is Us!), and a loving family. The Holiday Calendar truly has all the ingredients for the perfect Christmas romance—and bonus: it has the most diverse cast of all of Netflix’s holiday movies.
4The Christmas Chronicles
Although it seems to be striving for a Home Alone-like vibe (both Christopher Columbus and Mark Radcliffe of Home Alone are producers), The Christmas Chronicles does not live up to the Macaulay Culkin classic. But the new film does offer a unique takes on Santa Claus—with an always-entertaining Kurt Russell in the role—and Santa’s elves. There’s plenty of holiday spirit to go around as two kids who lost their dad learn what it means to be “true believers” in Santa. And it’s truly a family affair with Russell’s stepson, Oliver Hudson, in the movie, and a cameo that’s worth the wait.
Even if you haven’t read Frank McCourt’s Angela’s Ashes, you can still enjoy this animated short film based on another one of McCourt’s stories about his mother. A young Angela feels bad for the Jesus doll that’s in her church’s nativity scene and takes it home to keep him warm on Christmas Eve. Along with that magical feeling that kids get on Christmas Eve, the 2017 movie has a sweet (and politically relevant) message of never taking children away from their families. The late Dolores O’Riordan of the Cranberries also performed “Angela’s Song” for the movie, so it’s certainly worth the 30-minute watch time.
2The Princess Switch
Netflix decided to recreate the success of A Christmas Prince with a brand new holiday romance involving fake royal countries and mistaken identities in The Princess Switch. Just like A Christmas Prince, this Prince and the Pauper story has its laughably bad moments. But there’s no denying the allure of Hudgens in the dual roles of Chicago baker Stacy De Novo and Lady Margaret, the Duchess of Montenaro who’s about to marry the prince of Belgravia. Let’s just hope that if Netflix does decide to make a sequel, as Hudgens mentioned to Glamour, it can do the OG version justice.
1A Christmas Prince
Since A Christmas Prince premiered, Netflix has stepped up its rom-com game significantly with movies like Set It Up and To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. And while A Christmas Prince will never be regarded as a quote-unquote good movie, it transported us all to the winter wonderland of Aldovia where a normal (but very serious) journalist—just look at those notes!—from New York ended up becoming engaged to a prince. There’s sledding, political intrigue, and, of course, kissing in the snow. A Christmas Prince is what holiday movie dreams are made of.
Dishonorable mention: 5 Star Christmas
This Italian film is more a political farce with some Weekend at Bernie’s antics involving a Santa Claus thrown in than a legit holiday movie. It’s especially worth avoiding, though, because the women in it are continuously objectified (seriously, one female character spends a significant chunk of the 95-minute film in her bra and underwear). So since you won’t get any holiday spirit out of 5 Star Christmas anyway, just skip it.
As the holiday seasons come and go, you can expect Netflix to continue creating and releasing Christmas movies. But this list can serve as your guide through the snowy terrain of Netflix Christmas movies before the 2018 holiday season is over.