(Pocket-lint) – Not only is Christmas a great time for getting families together, sharing gifts and gorging yourself on mince pies and Quality Street, it is also one of the best times of the year to watch some great films and TV shows.
Streaming services in particular are going festive movie mad and you can catch some of the very best holiday classics on Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+ and Now TV.
Here are our picks of the best Christmas films to catch on one of the online services.
A Netflix subscription costs from £5.99 / $8.99 per month for a standard, non-HD plan up to £13.99 / $17.99 per month for the full, 4K-ready package where you can watch on up to four devices concurrently. You can get one-month free if you are a new subscriber.
The Christmas Chronicles
Devised by the same production team behind Home Alone and Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, The Christmas Chronicles stars Kurt Russell as Santa and is a Netflix exclusive. He gets a couple of kids to help him after his sleigh breaks down, which leads to a great adventure.
The Christmas Chronicles: Part Two
A sequel is now also available on the platform too, with Russell returning as Santa alongside real-world wife Goldie Hawn as Mrs Claus. Expect more action fun for all the family.
Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey
Another Netflix exclusive – which it snapped up when a cinema release was not possible – this family musical is the kid-friendly, Christmas-themed equivalent to The Greatest Showman. Forest Whitaker stars as an eccentric toymaker who creates a magical invention.
This excellent British film by Wallace and Gromit creator Nick Park’s studio has some serious emotional clout and is a fresh take on what could be a considered a traditional Christmas story. It follows Santa’s son Arthur on his mission to deliver a present to a little girl to save her Christmas, helped along the way by a team of trusty sidekicks.
The first in a series of four films, Nativity is a heart warming, funny tale starring Martin Freeman as a teacher who misguidedly fibs about getting his school nativity turned into a film, just to impress a girl. Hilarity ensues in this surprisingly fun, family British caper. It is also available to stream on Amazon Prime Video.
A Very Murray Christmas
Bill Murray’s Christmas extravaganza debuted on Netflix in 2015 and became an instant classic, albeit a rather odd one at times. Bill and some of his celebrity friends unite to sing some Christmas classics within a comedy film that will keep you entertained this year.
Amazon Prime Video
Amazon Prime costs £79 / $119 per year but gives access to the retailers Prime Video streaming service, plus a stack of extra added bonuses, such as free one-day delivery and Amazon Music streaming. You can also opt to pay monthly at £7.99 / $12.99 per month.
New customers can sign up for a 30-day free trial period.
Not really for the kids but great for rom-com fans, The Holiday stars Jude Law, Cameron Diaz, Kate Winslet and Jack Black in two, intertwining stories about love during the holiday season. There are tears, laughs and it’s an ideal flick for grabbing a mug of mulled wine and watching while curled under a blanket. It’s also available on Netflix and Now TV.
Deck the Halls
Buddy Hall (Danny DeVito) has just moved into the neighbourhood and plans to decorate his house with enough Christmas lights so that it can be seen from space. His new neighbour Steve (Matthew Broderick) has always been known as “the Christmas guy” and so doesn’t take kindly to Buddy’s plans. Thus ensues a comedy caper of Steve trying to sabotage the festivities, but things don’t always go his way.
This modern day retelling (well, an 80s retelling) of A Christmas Carol is a great example of why Bill Murray is revered by all. His deadpan style shines through as TV executive Frank Cross and the film is rightly held up as a classic holiday flick. Also available on Now TV.
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
Whatever happened to Chevy Chase? We can’t understand why he faded from the big screen in the 90s because, on this showing, he was at the very top of the comedy ladder. The Griswold family movies were always great fun, but this Christmas outing was on another level. It’s still as funny today as it was in the 80s.
The Night Before
One for adults only, this is a hilarious comedy starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen and Anthony Mackie (Falcon in The Avengers) as a trio of friends meeting up for one last big Christmas Eve night before accepting adulthood.
Disney+ is a relative newcomer but thanks to the mutlple studios owned by the house of mouse, it has plenty of Christmas treats.
A subscription costs £5.99 / $6.99 per month, £59.99 / $69.99 per year. However, those prices will rise in March 2021 so the current 12-month deals are worth a look if you want to save a lot of cash down the line.
Without a doubt one of the greatest Christmas films of all time, the original Home Alone is available on Disney+ this year. It’s unlikely you will have never seen it before, but we thoroughly recommend you give it a spin again as it delights every time – cartoon violence and all.
Home Alone 2: Lost in New York
Also available on Disney+ is the Home Alone sequel that sees Kevin McAllister stranded in New York. He even gets to meet outgoing US president Donald Trump, who appears in the film. It’s aptly titled too, as Trump did indeed lose in New York. And Michigan. And Georgia. And…
The Muppet Christmas Carol
Michael Caine stars as Ebenezer Scrooge in the Muppet’s version of the classic Christmas Carol film. Great for the kids but it isn’t just a kids film with some familiar characters including the Great Gonzo, Kermit and Miss Piggy in traditional roles.
The Santa Clause
Tim Allen is great as the dad who accidentally kills Santa and must therefore take his place. There are a couple of sequels too, but neither are as good as this original.
The Nightmare Before Christmas
Tim Burton and Henry Selick’s stop motion animation masterpiece is one we enjoy every year. It has amazing songs throughout, while the tale of Jack Skellington trying to fill Santa’s boots as he’s tired of Halloween is as heartwarming as it is fun.
Now TV and Sky Go
You will need a Now TV Sky Cinema Month Pass to watch films on any device with a Now TV app. The pass costs £11.99 per month.
You can view offers on the Sky Cinema Month Pass here.
All of the following are available on the Sky Go app too, which is free for Sky Q subscribers.
This has to be our favourite Christmassy Christmas film of all time. By that we mean that we could happily watch it every year for ever more. Will Ferrall as Buddy the Elf is at his comedic best and the heartwarming story is spot on for the festive period.
One of the most popular Christmas rom-coms ever sees Richard Curtis assemble a familiar cast of characters to play out 10 different story lines, all set at Christmas, many of which are interlinked in some way. It’s cheery British fun at its finest and can’t help but put a smile on your face.
We wouldn’t let younger children watch it, but Gremlins has it all. As well as the Christmas theme and the cutest character of all time in Gizmo, it has real jeapody, comedy and the best villains ever. Gremlins 2 is also available on Now TV/Sky Go.
Jingle All The Way
Jingle All The Way is a great Christmas film starring the one and only Arnold Schwarzenegger as a desperate dad who has promised his some a supertoy for Christmas. The only problem is, every store has sold out. It’s a must for every parent who has been there.
How The Grinch Stole Christmas
In our opinion, this is the best version of Dr Seuss’ classic, not least thanks to Jim Carrey’s performance of The Grinch. The direction by Ron Howard is exceptional too, with bold, bright colours throughout.
Miracle On 34th Street (1994)
Miracle On 34th Street is a lovely Christmas film. This one is a remake of the original with Richard Attenborough as a department store’s Santa who has to convince a little girl and a New York court that he is real. It’s a fabulous feel good film.
The Polar Express
The live action animation of The Polar Express never fails to impress and the story is just as enchanting. It follows an unnamed boy who, dressed in his pyjamas, boards a magical train headed for the North Pole. Whilst on the train he meets an assortment of characters, including Santa, with the majority voiced by Tom Hanks.
One of the newest movies on our list, Last Christmas takes the music of George Michael and Wham (which features throughout) and makes a whole romantic drama from it. It stars Game of Thrones’ Emilia Clarke with Crazy Rich Asians’ Henry Golding as her love interest.
Bad Santa is one of our favourite modern Christmas films. Billy Bob Thornton puts in an excellent performance as Willie, the thief who uses a Santa get-up to rob department stores. His journey of redemption is both touching and utterly hilarious. It’s definitely not one for the kids.
It’s A Wonderful Life
Considered by many to not just one of the best Christmas films, but also one of the greatest films of all time. It follows the story of George Bailey, who wants to take his own life on Christmas Eve. A guardian angel is sent to show him all the good things he’s done in his life and how people would be had he not been born.
Lastly, while some refuse to admit that Die Hard is a Christmas movie they are wrong. It takes place during a Christmas party and has the immortal line “now I have a machine gun, ho, ho, ho” in it. What more do you want?
Writing by Rik Henderson.