A comprehensive review of 8 Christmas movies
All available on streaming services.
For the sake of journalistic integrity, I have reviewed Christmas movies from all along the well known Christmas Movie Spectrum: The incredibly cringey, to the good kind of bad, to the timelessly perfect.
My Christmas Inn (Netflix)
Starts with the well-worn ploy of a young woman who is just WAY too addicted to work. She is some kind of advertising exec who thinks that Christmas is just used to sell stuff. True, but still a bit cynical. Her ~kooky~ aunt bequeaths her an inn in a small town in Alaska. I'm foreseeing her discovering the magic of Christmas over the next hour. Cue the generic good-looking attorney (who also builds custom sleighs) in charge of the aunts will. She's offered the BIG PROMOTION (there's always a big promotion) in San Fran, but is starting to enjoy small town life.
Tragic acting, some tragic fake sets, cringey product placement, some weird belts over sweaters. A predictable ending but this time, the small town boy follows her to the big city and says he will move and restart his life there with her. Obvs, they both move back to the small town, but at least we're getting some marginal improvement. Corny but fine.
Also, Netflix appears to try and prove difference from the infinite Hallmark Christmas movies by actually including two black actors. WOW.
A soft 2/10
Operation Christmas Drop (Netflix)
A "legislative aid", Erica/Bonnie from TVD, working in Washington is tasked with doing her boss' Christmas shopping and is then directed to go to a military base in Guam to figure out how they can cut spending. I have an idea, why don't you start by cutting US military bases that aren't the US!? I'm accepted offers for now for legislative aid positions. A cute pilot captain is tasked with showing her all the military propaganda and that military = good, budget cut = bad. This base runs an initiative called Operation christmas drop that drops supplies etc. to other remote countries. Mean congresswoman comes in to yell at Erica for not getting the big report done, but then she comes along for the Christmas drop and discovers her Christmas joy. Erica and cute pilot share the big kiss at the end.
Definitely a step up in acting and some nice chemistry between the leads. V beautiful scenery. I liked that they didn't make up some story about one of two leads moving to ~be together forever~, and it might have just been a nice vacation romance. Cute and heartwarming, but also some notable military propaganda and white saviourism. Turns out Operation Christmas Drop is a real thing that the Australian, Japanese and US military run in Micronesia.
A corny 5/10
Noelle (Disney Plus)
Santa is the latest in a long line of the Kringle family who takes up the job of Santa. When he dies, this is passed on to his son, Nick (Bill Hader). Nick isn’t really that good at Santa-ing, so his sister Noelle (Anna Kendrick) coaches him through some of the training - sleigh driving, chimney diving, writing the Naughty and Nice list. In millennial fashion, Nick is super stressed and has imposter syndrome about whether he’ll be able to take up the mantle of Santa. Noelle suggests he take a getaway to somewhere warm for the weekend, but then HE DOESN’T COME BACK. Noelle and her nanny elf go to Phoenix to track him down. There’s a lot of Elf-eque hijinx, and eventually they get back in time for Christmas. BUT THEN, Nick suggests…why can’t a woman be Santa?
Another cute piece of fluff you’d expect from a kids Christmas movie, but a bit more relevant in this era. Noelle meets people living in a shelter and a little girl who is deaf says that what she wants for Christmas is her mum to get a job. Noelle discovers that, yes, Christmas can sometimes be silly, but sometimes it’s just some joy that people need. Noelle also meets a cute single dad, and they don’t even have a romance arc! It’s very refreshing. The North Pole is a super cute set which is very much my Christmas dream. There were some funny moments and Anna Kendrick definitely made the movie.
A pleasant 6.5/10
A Christmas movie that gives us a different origin story for Santa. The failure of postman school is exiled to the North Pole and forced to start a successful post office there, or he'll be cut off from rich daddy. He unwittingly delivers the first letter to Mr Klaus, which is a self portrait of a sad child locked in his attic. Mr Klaus commissions the postman (Jesper) to send this sad child a gift to cheer him up. Jesper discovers that other kids found that if you send a letter to Mr Klaus, he brings you a present - and this is how he will bring money into the post office. There are a lot of side stories, and we discover how all the Santa myths start (flying reindeer, sleigh, chimneys). Overall, an extremely heartwarming watch.
Truly beautiful animation and art style. A funny, heartwarming and truly delightful watch. The plot was to be expected, but to be fair, this is a kids Christmas movie. It had some Disney renaissance vibes, which was definitely welcome. My only criticism is that there were some weird soundtrack moments, but my heart is so full of love that I can't even make a sarcastic joke.
A strong 8/10
Jingle Jangle (Netflix)
Apparently, Netflix's 2020 iteration of a Christmas movie appreciated by the industry. A musical!
Jeronicus Jangle is a famous inventor and toymaker. He invents a toy matador (Don Juan) who comes to life. Jeronicus' apprentice, Gustafson, steals his book of inventions and Don Juan and starts a toymaking empire. Don Juan is actually the brains and greed of the operation, and he convinces Gustafson to burn the blueprints of him. After a time, Jeronicus has stopped inventing and turned his toyshop into a pawnshop. His granddaughter comes to visit and helps him rediscover his magic touch.
Not really my cup of tea, to be honest. I enjoyed the first number but wasn't really captured by the plot and characters. Very cool set designs and costumes and a kind of a steampunky vibe. Some enjoyable moments and songs, and nice to see an actual diverse cast. My main issue is the extremely slow pacing. I feel like even kids would get bored, and that is coming from someone who still evidently enjoys movies geared toward kids. Anika Noni Rose is incredible and very welcome.
A respectful 6.5/10
Love Actually (Stan)
I'm not writing a plot for Love Actually. If you haven't seen this… who are you.
Everyone loves this movie. I know, I know, we've read the Jezebel article and know that it's problematic. Colin firth proposes to a woman who he can't communicate with. WHOEVER professes his love to his best friend's wife. Even as a child, I recognised this yikes. Natalie is body shamed in her workplace. BUT, I choose to accept this movie as a product of its time and appreciate the good with the bad. Hugh Grant dancing through Downing St is an iconic scene in movie history. Emma Thompson is an unrivalled gem. Liam neeson and his stepson (who we all know but can't remember what from) are extremely cute. DON'T LIE, you well up when God Only Knows by the Beach Boys comes on at the end.
A sizeable 8.5/10
The Holiday (Netflix)
Kate Winslet is still in love with her ex who has been leading her on for years, then he announces he's engaged to another woman (the all work together, eesh). She also lives in Surrey. Cameron Diaz lives in LA and breaks up with her boyfriend and doesn't want to be alone for Christmas. They decide to do a house swap starting the next day so they can both get away for the break. This seems extremely unsafe and weird, but we're living in a rom-com universe. Kate Winslet becomes friends with Jack Black in LA and has a v cute storyline with a retired Hollywood writer. Meanwhile, Cameron starts to fall for Jude Law (Kate Winslet's brother) in Surrey. Regular, but extremely enjoyable, rom-com drama ensues and they all have NYE together in Surrey.
Definitely my second favourite Christmas movie ever. It’s predictable, but extremely enjoyable and fun. Some lovely chemistry between the leads and a cameo of Mr Brightside by The Killers. Jude Law and Kate Winslet are just so loveable. Cameron Diaz and Jack Black are also there.
A jolly 9/10
How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000) (Netflix)
For people who have lived on the moon since 2000, this is a story about a cranky Grinch who lives on the tippy top of Mt Crumpet and hates the Whos who live down the mountain in Whoville. The Whos love Christmas and the Grinch steals Christmas but is reminded with the help of a young Taylor Momsen (Jenny from Gossip Girl) that Christmas doesn't come from a store, and in fact, means a little bit more.
This is unquestionably the best Christmas movie of all time. It is SO quotable and a lot of fun. My sister and I definitely dreamed about living in Whoville. Unlike the 2018 Grinch ABOMINATION and SLAP IN THE FACE which was the first movie I have ever walked out on in the cinema.
Don't lie, we all well up when the Grinch's heart grows three sizes.
An unabashed 10/10
Yes, you have read correctly. There is no Elf and no Home Alone on this list. Honestly, I think they are both overrated and I will die on this hill.