The 25 best festive films on Netflix, Amazon Prime, and more

Looking for the best festive films to stream over the holidays? Here are our top choices from Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and more

Temperatures are dropping, everyone’s shopping, and… uhh, yes, it appears seasonal cheer truly is infectious, folks. There’s no avoiding it: we’re in the thick of the holidays now. And, depending on your temperament, that may bring a feeling of joy or a feeling of “Gah! How can I perfect my sprouts this year?!” But don’t worry, because I’m going to let you in on a little secret: *whispers* The holiday spirit is really about watching as many of the best Christmas movies possible. 

What? It is! Luckily, all the worry over a) what to watch and b) where to watch it has been taken care of by me. Yes, I’ve scoured through the best Netflix Christmas movies – seriously, they have loads – and I’ve hand-picked the best Amazon Prime Christmas movies, leaving you with this fantastic list of the best festive films you can stream right now. Whether you’re watching solo, or gathered around the TV with your nearest and dearest, there’s something here for everyone. Happy Bingei- I mean, Holidays!

25. Hector (2015)

Where you can watch: Netflix (UK, US)

Temperatures are dropping, everyone’s shopping, and… uhh, yes, it appears seasonal cheer truly is infectious, folks. There’s no avoiding it: we’re in the thick of the holidays now. And, depending on your temperament, that may bring a feeling of joy or a feeling of “Gah! How can I perfect my sprouts this year?!” But don’t worry, because I’m going to let you in on a little secret: *whispers* The holiday spirit is really about watching as many of the best Christmas movies possible. 

What? It is! Luckily, all the worry over a) what to watch and b) where to watch it has been taken care of by me. Yes, I’ve scoured through the best Netflix Christmas movies – seriously, they have loads – and I’ve hand-picked the best Amazon Prime Christmas movies, leaving you with this fantastic list of the best festive films you can stream right now. Whether you’re watching solo, or gathered around the TV with your nearest and dearest, there’s something here for everyone. Happy Bingei-I mean, Holidays!

24. Arthur Christmas (2011)

Where you can watch: Netflix (UK), Starz (US)

Children the world over have wondered the same thing at Christmas for generations; just how does Santa make all his deliveries in one night? The Aardman team decided to answer that in the best way possible, tackling the traditions within Santa’s workshop for this massively underrated festive flick. Known for their work on Wallace and Gromit and Chicken Run, Aardman packs that same feeling of fun, warmth, and frivolity into this fun tale that delves into what happens at Santa HQ when everything goes wrong. It turns out Santa’s high-tech operation goes ka-flooey on Christmas Eve, leaving one poor kid singled out with no present. This is where the loveable Arthur Christmas comes in, Santa’s youngest child, to ensure the gift finds its home. This is a good one to watch with the whole family – yes, no car chases or shoot-outs, alas – that has an absolutely cracking voice cast.

23. Ghostbusters 2 (1989)

Where you can watch: Netflix (UK, US), Now TV (UK), Sky Go (UK)

The underrated sequel to the greatest comedy of the ’80s. Ghostbusters 2 has some weird moments and fewer funnies than the first installment, but it’s still fantastic to see the whole gang back together. This time around the ghoul grabbers are chasing down a river of ooze that’s turning New Yorkers into savage rage-filled monsters. Oh, and there’s a thing with a haunted painting too for good measure. What’s that you say? It’s not a Christmas film? Sure it is, it takes place over the holidays, climaxing on New Year’s Eve. And let’s not forget we get to see the Ghostbusters wearing Santa hats. What else do you need?

22. The Holiday (2006)

Where you can watch: Netflix (UK), Amazon Prime (UK), Freeform (US)

When the wintry nights set in and the thought of snuggling up with a movie sounds like bliss after a long day, you can’t beat a good, cosy romantic comedy. Kate Winslet plays a downtrodden London editor who decides to spice things up for Christmas with a house swap. She goes to stay in sunny Los Angeles, while Cameron Diaz’s movie trailer editor (seriously, cool job) hightails it to her snug English countryside cottage. It might sound like a recipe for silliness, yet this Nancy Meyer romcom is more sweet than irritating even if it’s a tad predictable. Winslet and Diaz are terrific but the best part is the budding friendship between Winslet and Eli Wallach’s old Hollywood screenwriter. The Holiday adapts the classic “fish out of water” set-up into a feelgood festive caper that’s absolutely bursting with goodwill and merriment. 

21. Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (2010)

Where you can watch: iTunes (UK), Amazon Prime (US), Hulu (US)

Ever wondered where the myth of Father Christmas came from? Jalmari Helander’s sick rewrite of conventional wisdom suggests Santa is a nightmarish beast supported by an army of ravenous elves. This horror outing might make you reconsider leaving a mince pie for Santa that’s not laced with arsenic. True to legend, the ‘real’ Santa cares if you’re naughty or nice… but only because he kills anyone who falls into the former category. Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale is the perfect antidote if you’ve had a little too much of the saccharine-sweet holidays…

20. Happy Christmas (2014)  

Where you can watch: Amazon Video (UK), Hulu (US)

Had enough of the selfless generosity of the festive season? Then this is the film for you. After going through a painful break-up Jenny moves in with her brother, his wife and their two-year-old child. Indie queen Anna Kendrick steals the show as the trainwreck of a young woman who starts to act out in the most un-festive of ways. It’s as if the spirit of Christmas has deserted her and she’s been replaced by an egocentric, alcoholic robot. Alright, so she’s basically Bender. Drinking Buddies director Joe Swanberg enlists the always-brilliant Melanie Lynskey and Girls’ Lena Dunham to round out the cast.

19. Trading Places (1983)

Where you can watch it: Sky Go (UK), Now TV (UK), Amazon Video (US), YouTube Play (US)

Christmas is a time to remember those less fortunate than yourself. Silliness spins from that seasonal sentiment in this ‘80s classic from John Landis, that asks you to please spare a thought for poor Louis Winthorpe III (Dan Aykroyd), who is forced to think of others when he trades places with street bum Billy Ray Valentine (Eddie Murphy) as part of a wager. It’s not Louis’s choice, exactly, to give up wealth but one put upon him by two crusty old CEOs from his firm. The amusing scenarios that emerge from his being penniless, while being heartbreaking too, are hilarious. This is prime-time Aykroyd and Murphy, who bring this black comedy to life by giving their very best to a Christmas fable that, uhh, involves a pivotal scene at the New York Stock Exchange. Doesn’t sound festive, but trust me: it’ll have you grinning from ear-to-ear.

18. Go (1999)

Where you can watch: Rakuten TV (UK), Playstation Store (UK), Amazon Video (US), Vudu (US)

Writer-director Doug Liman (he of Edge of Tomorrow fame) delivers a brilliant slice of action comedy set during the 24-hour period between Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. In the vein of Shane Black’s festive movies, Go involves a frantic web of plottings told from three separate angles. Sarah Polley’s supermarket girl Ronna decides to hustle some extra cash via a yuletide drug deal that unexpectedly lands in her lap. From thereon out, things spin out of control, as the plot pulls backwards and forwards, revealing more of the story which involves soap opera actors after a hit, undercover cops desperate to bust someone, and a whole sub-plot wherein Timothy Olyphant is topless save for a Santa hat. 

17. Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984) 

Where you can watch: YouTube (UK), Shudder (US)

One of the best Christmas horror movies also doubles as a terrific seasonal slasher. Santa Claus is a figure to be feared in this eighties stalk ‘n’ slash, that essentially recreates the original Halloween, but with someone in a red and white outfit instead of a William Shatner mask. The knife-wielding maniac at its heart – the terrifyingly-named Andy – turns into a savage Santa after witnessing the vicious murders of his parents. Takes him a decade or two to let that repressed rage simmer, but once it does, he’s out for blood, and what better time to wreak havoc than at Christmas? Perhaps not one to watch with your grandma. 

16. The Christmas Chronicles (2018)

Where you can watch: Netflix (UK, US)

Sometimes it can be jolly good fun to imagine our favourite movie characters bursting from their known movie-verses into new ones. Take The Christmas Chronicles, for example, which stars Kurt Russell as Santa Claus. The Christmas Chronicles is really about one matter that every kid has wondered at some point: what would you do if you caught Santa on film? For siblings Kate and Teddy that’s their Christmas wish. Their plan takes them onto a winter wonderland adventure which, granted, hits mostly predictable beats, and offers a similar denouement to other Christmas movies. But that’s now what makes this appealing: that’s Russell, who absolutely steals the show as the gruff man of the season, cementing his version into cinema history as one of the best Santas ever.

15. A Christmas Carol (2009) 

Where to watch it: Disney Life (UK), Amazon Video (UK/US)

This CGI-animation is based on the famous Christmas tale by Charles Dickens. Not only that, it’s also Disney’s third adaptation of the film after The Muppet Christmas Carol and Mickey’s Christmas Carol. The big difference in this retelling is the use of motion-capture, bringing a new edge to the well-trod story of Ebenezer Scrooge and his visit from the Ghosts of Past, Present, and Future. After putting on a festive frown as the Grinch, Jim Carrey gives his second cranky Christmas performance as Scrooge with Colin Firth, the late Bob Hoskins and Gary Oldman in supporting roles. This is one for the whole family to settle back and enjoy. 

14. Just Friends (2005)

Where you can watch: Amazon Prime (UK/US)

While the Deadpool 2 Christmas spin-off, Once Upon a Deadpool, is due to hit theaters soon, you might be wanting to bring his, ahem, special brand of seasonal cheer into your home. Luckily enough, Ryan Reynolds pretty much did just that with 2005’s chrimbo comedy, Just Friends. He might not be called Wade Wilson, but Reynolds’ character Chris Brander behaves just like the Merc with a Mouth. Once a portly teen, Brander is now a suave, smooth, and sophisticated music industry guy who returns home to woo the girl he once loved (Amy Smart). The Christmas setting ups the romance factor and the addition of Anna Faris as a bonkers pop star ups the chuckles. 

13. Love Actually (2003)

Where you can watch: Amazon Video (UK), Netflix (US)

With the help of an A-list British cast Richard Curtis tells several Christmassy tales at once, all centred on the theme of – you guessed it – love. Hugh Grant is the fun-loving Prime Minister with a crush on his assistant, Emma Thompson is the hard-working wife whose husband (Alan Rickman) has eyes for another, Andrew Lincoln is the best man who’s in love with his friend’s wife (Keira Knightley), and Liam Neeson is the widower whose son is falling in love for the first time. Don’t miss Bill Nighy’s embarrassing old rocker routine too. Cheesier than a gigantic wodge of brie, but charming in its own way. 

12. A Bad Moms Christmas (2017)

Where you can watch: Amazon Prime (UK), Showtime (US)

A Bad Moms Christmas is, like the first movie, honest about its aspirations. It’s not trying to reinvent the wheel, only to cram as many gags as possible into the mouths of its three leading ladies. This time around, the question facing them is simple. How do moms handle the festive season along with the regular stresses of modern living? The answer: not too well when their own moms show up. Susan Sarandon, Christine Baranski, and Cheryl Hines roll into town at the last minute, each bringing their own baggage with them, making the holidays even more nightmarish for Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell, and Kathryn Hahn. The story isn’t unique, and that’s fine, because this is all about the jokes. And there are loads. It’s easy to picture this comedy morphing into a seasonal tradition. 

11. A Christmas Horror Story (2015)

Where you can watch: Amazon Video (UK), Shudder (US), Hoopla (US)

An all-American small town is terrorised by loads of seasonal monsters. Who doesn’t like the sound of that? Nah, I’m not talking about Gremlins but a bunch of mythic creatures from Christmas lore who descend upon Bailey Downs which, ahem, sounds like a bit of a riff on Bedford Falls. The whole gang of seasonal baddies are included in the merriment. There’s Krampus, zombie elves, a pregnant ghost nun, and some of your bog standard evil spirits. Oh yes, and William Shatner takes a leading role in one of this anthology’s vignettes as a DJ. See? Simple yet brilliant. 

10. Miracle on 34th Street (1994) 

Where you can watch it: Amazon Video (UK), Hulu (US)

This festive remake tugs at the heart strings, with its sentimental story about a young girl who helps save Santa. Richard Attenborough dons the red suit and big black boots as Cole’s resident Kris Kringle. When the department store’s former Father Christmas goads the old guy into a fight, the police put him behind bars. It’s down to Matilda’s Mara Wilson and her mum’s boyfriend, lawyer Bryan Bedford (Dylan McDermott), to convince the courtroom that Kringle is the real Santa Claus, and that miracles do actually exist. Awww. Yes, it’s a tad on the sweet side, but if you’re gonna watch at least one super lovey seasonal flick, make it this one.

9. Bad Santa (2003)

Where you can watch: Now TV (UK), Sky Go (UK), Netflix (US), Hoopla (US)

Alcoholic sex-addict Willie T. Stokes (Billy Bob Thornton) slips on a Santa suit so he and his dwarf assistant (Tony Cox) can rob shopping malls at night. In a nutshell? That’s the plot of Bad Santa. Crude, lewd, and rude, the film follows Stokes as he befriends a hopeless kid, with the superb name of Thurman Merman, and learns a few life lessons along the way. Puking, shouting, and shagging, this guy makes the Grinch look positively cherubic. If you’re looking for something a bit alternative this Christmas, or want to really give your auntie a shock, give this one a whirl. 

8. The Man Who Invented Christmas (2017)

Where you can watch: Netflix (UK), Amazon Prime (US)

Everyone knows A Christmas Carol. Even if you don’t know it intimately, it’s such a well-loved tale that you probably know it as something else. It’s A Wonderful Life? Scrooged? They’re but two movie versions of the story, repurposed into modern tellings, bringing festive cheer and goodwill to all. But what of the man behind the story? Charles Dickens is the focus of this new seasonal flick, that casts Dan Stevens as the prolific scribe, who brings much frivolity to the role. A lightweight, fun frolic that doesn’t dabble too heartily in the darker elements of Dickens’ biography, the movie nevertheless gives an entertaining spin to the backstory of the author’s most famous work. It shows how Dickens plucked inspiration from his everyday life to populate the novel with true-to-life characters.

7. The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)

Where you can watch: Now TV (UK), Sky Go (UK), Disney Life (US), Amazon Video (US)

Who doesn’t love a good Muppet movie? They’ve taken over Manhattan, travelled to outer space, and here they put an animated spin on the classic Charles Dickens tale. Michael Caine gives a great grumpy performance as Ebenezer Scrooge, who – as the story goes – is visited by the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future. Kermit the Frog plays his book-keeper Bob Cratchit, while fellow Muppets Rizzo the Rat, Fozzie Bear and Miss Piggy all make an appearance in this colourful adaptation. Jim Henson’s cuddly clan come highly recommended at Christmas. What more could you want from a tale of fuzzy puppets during the holiday season?

6. How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)

Where you can watch: Amazon Video (UK), Google Play (UK), Netflix (US)

Everyone knows that tales of old curmudgeons are popular at this time of year. It’s part of the spirit of the season – overcoming miserly inclinations. For this Oscar-winning movie adaptation of the Dr Seuss children’s story, we follow one such figure, the grumpy old Grinch, played by Jim Carrey, who attempts to cancel Christmas. With Ron Howard in the reins this film is a festive treat, boasting bright colours and impressive make-up artistry. Dressed from top to toe in green fur with animal like features, Carrey is barely recognisable as the conniving creature who – spoilers – eventually learns the importance of Christmas. Awww. Well, you didn’t think he’d still be a moody old snipe did you?

5. Elf (2005)

Where you can watch: Amazon Prime (UK/US), Google Play (US)

Will Ferrell screams his way through this slapstick stocking filler about a human boy who grows up in the North Pole, with a group of Santa’s elves. Outcast for his giant proportions, Buddy journeys to New York City to find his birth parents and make a new life living among his fellow man. Upon finding his father (James Caan), Buddy attempts to kickstart a relationship with him, with rather amusing results. As you might expect. Ferrell injects a healthy dose of exuberance and festive cheer into his performance, which is nothing short of silly. That’s precisely why it’s become a modern festive classic. Add Elf to your Christmas watch list, it’s a perfect fish-out-of-water seasonal comedy that’s an absolute must-see. Plus, it boasts Ferrell at his finest.

4. Holiday Inn (1942) 

Where you can watch: Amazon Prime (US/UK)

When you’re in the mood for a classic piece of cinema, replete with show-droppin’ tunes and a cast of familiar faces, you can’t go wrong with Holiday Inn. It’s as warm and cosy as a wintry fireplace, with a tale that’s got everything you need. This movie marks the first-time White Christmas was sung onscreen, and it earned the movie an Oscar. Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire star alongside Virginia Dale as a musical trio, who part ways when Crosby’s character decides to jack it all in and become a farmer. Soon tiring of that lifestyle, he remodels his farmhouse into a seasonal venue, only open on holidays. His former partner catches whiff of his plan and turns up at his nightclub, causing mayhem and hijinks. To be honest, the plot isn’t the big draw here – it’s the winning trifecta of Astaire, Berlin and Crosby, what the film’s director Mark Sandrich called his ABC of American comedy.  

3. Gremlins (1984) 

Where you can watch: Amazon Prime (UK/US), Playstation Store (US)

A Christmas holiday horror that you’d never wish for in a million years. Billy (Zach Galligan) is given a pet Mogwai named Gizmo for Christmas, but he comes with some strict strings attached – don’t get him wet, don’t feed him after midnight, and don’t expose him to harsh sunlight. Obviously, he breaks all of them. Like werewolves emerging on a fool moon, the fluffy fur-balls begin to transform into mischievous monsters with razor sharp teeth. The small town of Kingston Falls is soon ridden with pint-sized creatures hellbent on chaos. Their reign of terror is all the more effective against the Christmassy backdrop, which brings a certain cheer to their hellish ways. This is frightening festive fun, that’s dotted with globs of jet-black comedy such as Phoebe Cates’ eerie monologue. 

2. Die Hard (1988)  

Where you can watch: Now TV (UK), Sky Go (UK), Playstation Store (US), Amazon Video (US)

It may not be a joyous affair with bells a ringin’ but Die Hard has all the trimmings of a great Christmas movie, and no-one’s going to convince us otherwise. All-American hero John McClane swoops in to save the day in a wife-beater and bare feet, which is really the only way to take down terrorists, right? Bruce Willis throws some hard-ass punches and killer one-liners, while chasing down terrorist Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman) at the Christmas work party. It’s as action-packed as they come, and for that reason, it works well as a palate cleanser from all the schmaltz. Find out how to watch Die Hard 1 and 2 online with our viewing guide and pop this one on after dinner when everyone’s snoozing – all that festive gunfire is guaranteed to wake grandma up from her slumber. 

1. Home Alone (1990) 

Where you can watch: Playstation Store (UK), Amazon Video (UK), Starz (US)

Macaulay Culkin stars in this raucous family film about a young boy whose parents accidentally leave him home alone while they head to Paris for Christmas. Admittedly, it’s not the first thing that comes to mind when you’re asked to think of a festive film – I mean, what’s Christmassy about that, right? Turns out it’s exactlywhat young Kevin wants for Christmas, though. He quickly figures out how to drive and heads to the local supermarket to stock up on festive treats. However, he’s not as alone as he thinks. When two robbers (Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern) spot his seemingly-empty home, they can’t resist picking the locks. Mayhem ensues and it’s down to Kevin to outsmart the dim-witted fools using Micro Machines, feathers, BB guns, glue, and a blow torch. You know, normal kid toys. Quality Christmas viewing at its best.

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