- Netflix has released eight original Christmas movies since 2015.
- But this year the streaming site ramped up their content, adding four new holiday originals in November alone.
- We ranked them all, and “The Princess Switch” is the best Christmas movie on there.
With the smash hit that was 2017’s “A Christmas Prince,” Netflix stepped up its original holiday content even more in 2018.
The streaming site dropped four more original Christmas movies in November – including a sequel to the much talked about “Christmas Prince.” That brought the site’s original holiday movies to a grand total of eight.
But each film is pretty different (yes, even all the ones that feature royal romance) so if you’re looking for some help choosing which to watch, we’ve ranked them all for you here from least likely to be enjoyed around the holidays to most worthy of repeat holiday viewing.
8. “A Very Murray Christmas” scored high with critics but bummed viewers out.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 70% critics rating; 37% audience rating.
Synopsis: Bill Murray plays himself trying to put on a Christmas special that gets canceled because of a snowstorm. He finds shelter in a bar, where fellow patrons are more than willing to sing a few Christmas songs with him.
Should you watch it? It depends on what kind of mood you’re in. Although this musical special ranked high with critics, it’s kind of a bummer to watch at Christmastime. Sure, it does have one of the greatest musical mash-ups of all time – George Clooney and Miley Cyrus singing a holiday song together – but the overall tone is a bit gloomy for this festive time of year.
As Caitlyn Flynn pointed out on Bustle, the film is sad on purpose, and it serves as a reminder that not everyone feels jolly during the holidays. But as far as feel-good Netflix Christmas offerings go, this ranks pretty low.
7. “El Camino Christmas” is lacking in holiday spirit.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 40% critics rating; 39% audience rating.
Synopsis: A troubled 20-something goes in search of his long-lost father. Instead, he finds himself in an accidental hostage situation in a liquor store on Christmas Eve.
Should you watch it? If you like non-Christmassy Christmas movies, sure. This movie only gets to call itself a Christmas film because it vaguely references the holiday a couple of times. As the Daily Journal noted, “No carols are sung. No Santa is seen, and the decorations are few and far in-between. This is more of an anti-Christmas, anti-feel-good flick.”
Mostly it’s a movie about a town of misfits and its corrupt authority and it gets pretty dark at times. Let’s just say, there’s more than one death. But it does have a happy ending. Sort of.
If you can wade through the darker parts, you may come out on the other side glad you watched it. Or at least not too mad that you did.
6. “Christmas Inheritance” tries a little too hard to be heartwarming.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 50% critics rating; 33% audience rating.
Synopsis: A spoiled heiress has to travel back home and hand-deliver an important Christmas letter to receive her inheritance. Along the way, she’s charmed by the small town’s friendliness and the handsome, down-to-earth inn owner. But can Christmas spirit melt her heart and change her selfish ways for good?
Should you watch it? If you can tolerate a holiday movie cliché or five. Unlike the campier “Christmas Prince” (we’ll get to that one in a minute), this film took itself a little too seriously as a heartwarming tale of what Christmas really means.
What it really was, as Refinery29 noted, was every holiday movie cliché rolled into one film. And that’s just a lot to swallow. But even though it’s not the best execution of fun and cheesy Christmas content, it’s a cute watch.
5. “A Christmas Prince: The Royal Wedding” isn’t necessarily a worthy sequel.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 63% critics rating; 45% audience rating.
Synopsis: (Spoilers ahead if you haven’t seen “A Christmas Prince”). The sequel to the much better executed “Christmas Prince” follows King Richard and Amber as they prep for their wedding. But scandal is also rocking the kingdom as money keeps disappearing and the citizens of Aldovia grow increasingly angry with their royals.
Should you watch it? If you really loved the first one, yes. But, while it may have Christmas in the title, there’s not much of it in the movie. Tell-Tale TV remarked that it wasn’t as festive as its predecessor and it’s not quite a match for Netflix’s other holiday offerings either.
It isn’t just the Christmas spirit that’s missing, but also the sense of fun that the original had, as Awards Circuit noted. What made people fall in love with the original cheesy Christmas flick was that it didn’t take itself too seriously, whereas the sequel seems to be trying very hard to be regal.
One redeeming factor is Cousin Simon’s attempt at redemption and that Amber is still the best/worst at taking reporter’s notes. Ultimately if you liked the first one, you won’t hate this one, but it’s missing some magic.
4. “The Holiday Calendar” is breaking holiday movie barriers.
Rotten Tomatoes score: Critics rating unavailable; 33% audience rating.
Synopsis: Kat Graham plays a photographer who doesn’t quite know what she wants out of life and is also a little afraid to go after her dreams. Her grandfather gives her a magical advent calendar that helps her gain the confidence she needs to be herself.
Should you watch it? Yes, if you like a leading lady who is more realistic than featured in most movies. This movie may be predictable in plot, but it’s pretty groundbreaking in other ways.
For one, Graham’s character Abby is not where she wants to be in her life or career. Her family is judgmental of her choice to be a photographer, and she’s stuck in a dead-end job. Who can’t relate to that? There’s no jet-setting off to a castle in this movie, it’s all real from start to finish.
It also has a diverse cast, which is exciting for a genre that can be seriously lacking in it. Graham told Bustle that the chance to be in a film that depicted a mixed race family was too exciting for her to pass up – even though she doesn’t usually like rom-coms or holiday movies.
“I have never seen a holiday movie centered around a biracial family where the mother is white and the dad is black, which is exactly what I had [in my family],” Graham said. “I think with everything that’s happening in the world right now, especially in America, it’s really, really important to show love and family and community and relationships in that way.”
3. Kurt Russell delivers as Santa Claus in “The Christmas Chronicles.”
Rotten Tomatoes score: 68% critics rating; 85% audience rating.
Synopsis: Kurt Russell plays a more suave Santa than you’re used to seeing, and he’s got jokes. The movie centers around two kids who try to trap Santa only to end up losing his precious bag of gifts. Then the hunt is on to save Christmas, while Santa is charmingly sarcastic all along the way.
Should you watch it? Well, everybody else is. Netflix doesn’t often divulge its ratings, but Business Insider reported that Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos was more than happy to brag about this movie’s success. He said it was streamed 20 million times in a week, which is the box office equivalent of $200 million.
So people certainly tuned in, and the audience score is off the charts. But the only reason this film doesn’t place higher on this list is that the movie was lauded by critics mostly for Russell’s work, in spite of the rest of the movie. The plot would be lackluster if not for Russell’s acting chops. And while you’ll have to watch to see if Santa managed to save Christmas, we can confirm that Russell saved this Christmas movie.
2. “A Christmas Prince” charted new delightfully cheesy territory for Netflix.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 75% critics rating; 51% audience rating.
Synopsis: Amber is a journalist hoping for a big break on her first story: covering the royal family of Aldovia. To get the perfect scoop, she goes undercover as one of the royal staff members. Along the way, she ends up discovering a huge secret that could throw the whole Aldovian line of succession off for good.
Should you watch it? If you haven’t yet, where have you been? This is the movie that really put Netflix holiday originals on the map. It was such a beautiful mix of perfect plot holes, hilarious acting, and cheesy Christmas cheer that it was an instant classic for viewers.
As Vulture put it, “‘A Christmas Prince’ is total garbage, but you’ll love it anyway.” That’s because the movie knows exactly what it is and just had fun – and that fun is infectious for the viewers. When I first saw it, I love/hated it so much that I wished I could go back in time and watch it for the first time all over again. It’s kind of magical how silly it is, and Christmas needs that kind of positive energy.
1. “The Princess Switch” has everything you want and more.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 88% critics rating; 52% audience rating.
Synopsis: Vanessa Hudgens plays both Princess Margaret and Stacy, a baker from Chicago, in this holiday take on “The Parent Trap.” Only instead of switching places to try to reunite their parents, Stacy does Margaret a solid and swaps places with the princess to let her try on “normal” life for size. Of course, things get complicated when Stacy falls for Margaret’s prince fiancée and Margaret falls for Stacy’s best friend Kevin.
Should you watch it? Yes, and then re-watch it. Refinery29 nailed it when they called this movie “even better than ‘A Christmas Prince.'” It’s like, we didn’t know how good we could have it until this film came along and showed everyone how a holiday film should be done.
For one, it’s filled to the brim with Christmas spirit, with a Christmas tree in the background of practically every scene, a holiday cottage that HGTV dreams are made of, and more than enough caroling scenes to last you until next Christmas. Plus it has one of the greatest meta moments ever when Margaret and Kevin watch “A Christmas Prince” on Netflix together.
And, as Refinery29 pointed out, the movie works so well because it’s the perfect blend of two beloved holiday movie tropes. It has a grand royal love story and a contemporary romance for a small-town baker whom you just can’t help but root for. There’s even a hot single dad with an adorable child involved.
It seems maxed out on holiday movie magic, but there may be room for more because Hudgens already told Glamour she’d be up for a sequel. And that’s the best gift Netflix Christmas movie fans can get.
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