Ranking the best Christmas movies on Netflix and Hulu

Thanks to a well-timed illness, I found myself at home alone on Thanksgiving while my husband enjoyed the holiday with his family in South Carolina.  I was sad to miss out on the festivities, but the hours I spent in solitary confinement on the couch were a blessing in disguise.  I was free to watch cheesy Christmas movies to my heart’s content.

Here’s my comprehensive review of the movies I watched. 

And, um… spoiler warning. 

1. Christmas Chronicles

Eager young Claire and her buzzkill brother Teddy conspire to capture Santa Claus on camera, but the plan goes awry when they stow away in his sleigh, scare the crap out of Santa and crash land in Chicago. This sets the plot into motion. Santa’s reindeer have scattered. The toy bag is lost. The sleigh won’t start. Santa asks Claire to round up his wayward reindeer and then he tells her, with very vague instructions, to find the elves because they will know how to fix the sleigh. Santa is arrested by Lamorne Morris. Teddy is kidnapped by gangsters. 

It’s only after Santa starts a jailhouse band and a few North Poles elves do the Floss (in totally unrelated scenes) that our motley crew finally gets their act together, but then there’s barely enough time to deliver the remaining presents. Just when the situation really looks dire, they “call in the troops” AKA the elves. Like…the elves could have been helping deliver presents the whole time? And then at the end Santa reveals he could have just made the sleigh fly on his own? This whole movie seems like an elaborate exploration of how to best waste your magical resources.

But make sure you watch til the end for a great surprise after Santa returns to the North Pole (Goldie Hawn is Mrs. Claus and that brings me great joy).

I definitely recommend this one. 

2. The Holiday Calendar

I thought this movie – starring Kat Brown as Abby Sutton, a struggling photographer, and Quincy Brown, Abby’s best friend – was adorable. As an added bonus, Ron Cephas Jones (of This Is Us fame) stars as Abby’s grandfather and purveyor of mystical advent calendars and I just love him. 

The plot is pretty simple (as most Christmas movie plots are). Gramps Sutton gives Abby an antique advent calendar as an early Christmas present.  The doors on the calendar magically open at midnight each night while Abby sleeps.  The toys inside the advent calendar seemingly predict Abby’s future each day.  Abby meets a handsome doctor (played by Ethan Peck) thanks to some really unsafe Christmas tree transportation practices and they go on a few romantic dates (all of which the calendar predicts!). Abby’s BFF quietly realizes he is also in love with her. Of course there’s some drama and soul searching and THE TRUE SPIRIT OF CHRISTMAS is mentioned once or twice.  But who will Abby end up with?

It really was a cute movie. I recommend. 

3. The Princess Switch

Ok this movie left me asking some questions and a few plot holes are begging to be filled, but Vanessa Hudgens was perfect as possibly related but definitely identical Stacy from Chicago (a real place) and Princess Margaret from Montenaro (not a real place). They meet accidentally at a pastry competition in Belgravia (not a real place) and decide to switch places. Naturally Stacy falls in love with the princess’ betrothed, Edward, and Margaret falls in love with Stacy’s BFF, Kevin. Hijinks ensue as they try and quite obviously fail to fill each other’s shoes – although miraculously only Kevin’s preteen daughter is able to discern the difference between the two. 

Their true identities are eventually revealed and somehow everyone is ok with it and not even remotely upset and they all live happily ever after.

I recommend. 

4. Falling for Christmas

Apparently in Canada it’s called A Snow Capped Christmas. This one was also cute. I have two complaints. 

  1. Leah Cudmore is beautiful but her smiling and giggling were out of control in this movie. Like it was obscene how much she smiled and giggled. 
  2. It annoyed me that they were sort of reinforcing tired gender stereotypes. There are a few times this happened, but for example, they made fun of ex-hockey player turned heartthrob dad Luke for wearing skates with purple laces.  Honestly. 

Basically figure skater Claire (Leah Cudmore) gets sent to a remote rehab facility in the Canadian wilderness to recover after an achilles injury.  After her driver gets their ill-equipped sedan stuck in the snow, she is rescued by hot dad Luke, an ex hockey player and current mountain man, wood chopper, tack shop owner extraordinaire. They fall in love thanks largely to some very impressive Canadian mountain sunsets and despite some major attitude from Claire’s trainer, Julian. 

The big question: Will Claire abandon her dreams of becoming a gold medalist so she can settle down and start a life with Luke and his daughter Chamonix (a very Canadian name I assume) in Canadian paradise? 

TRICK QUESTION! Claire can win her medal and eat it too. 

She gets the gold after four weeks of intense rehab, but in a SHOCKING turn of events, she quits figure skating completely and returns to the mountains to begin her life with Luke and Chamonix.  This is like semi-empowering and depressing at the same time. 

I recommend.

5. Christmas Inheritance

TALE AS OLD AS TIME. Rich girl goes to a small town to do a menial task for her CEO father and is seduced by the town’s down home charm. Said charm is MAGNIFIED EXPONENTIALLY by that mystical holiday spirit (and a handsome innkeeper). 

CUTE BUT PREDICTABLE.

I recommend. 

6. How Sarah Got Her Wings

Honestly my biggest gripe with this one is that the opening credits were just a bunch of stock photos and videos, which was weird.  It felt like a Shutterstock commercial. 

I recommend, if only because Derek Theler is 6’5″ and knows how to wear a pair of jeans.

7. Holiday in Handcuffs

This one is just weird. Melissa Joan Hart kidnaps Mario Lopez. He’s like super mad at her at first, but after he tries to escape and has his fiance call the cops, he decides Melissa Joan Hart isn’t so bad. He realizes her family is straight crazy, and he decides to be her knight in shining armor, going so far as to recreate one of her childhood memories of figure skating around a gazebo. Even though she kidnapped him at gun point and held him hostage in a remote cabin. 

The police show up eventually with Mario’s fiance in tow. The whole family gets arrested but Mario decides not to press charges (is that even legal? Who decides to press charges?).  A few months pass and Mario is in the midst of what looks like delightful (Read: miserable) wedding planning proceedings and Melissa Joan Hart is following her dreams of becoming a starving artist while also pining for the lost love of the man she kidnapped.

WILL THEY END UP TOGETHER? Yes. They do. It’s weird.

I guess I reluctantly recommend this one but the plot is really hard to swallow so just put on your Christmas pants and suspend your disbelief.

8. Christmas in the Smokies 

This was cute but also annoying. Main character Shelby Haygood is harboring some serious animosity because her high school boyfriend Mason Wyatt (played by Alan Powell) dumped her when she was 17 to pursue his dream of being a country music star.  And he was successful! Like…move on girl. Let it go.  

But anyway, Mason returns home for the holidays to do some soul searching and ultimately helps save the Haygood family farm from foreclosure, even though Shelby was straight nasty to him at every opportunity.

I would skip this one, if only because Alan Powell’s performance was about as riveting as watching a tree grow moss. Like just because you have a deeply hypnotic voice doesn’t mean you can just phone it in, man. 

9. Christmas Crush

AKA Holiday High School Reunion.

Ok, again with the smiling and giggling.  It’s worse in this one because its breathy giggling.  Like main character Georgia cannot start a sentence without a breathy giggle and wide-eyed smile. I hate it. I don’t even want to talk about the tired plot but I will.  Georgia is home for the holidays and discovers it’s also time for her (ill-timed in my opinion) 10-year class reunion. She decides this is the perfect time to win back her cheating high school sweetheart Craig, totally oblivious to the many times her BFF Ben has tried to confess his undying love for her.  More breathy giggles. Who does she end up with? Ben. She ends up with Ben.

This movie’s only redeeming quality is that the hilarious Sunny Mabry stars as the antagonist Tory and she is comedy perfection in a cocktail dress.

Do not recommend. 

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by
Compulsive snacker. Bleeding heart. Unhealthy obsession with Tom Hanks and cats. Florida State and Syracuse University alum.
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