This list began with the idea of “let’s watch and rank every Christmas movie that’s come out this year” but I then realized that’s INSANE because Hallmark made, like, 40 on their own and also I don’t even have access to Hallmark.
It then evolved into “let’s watch and rank every Christmas movie on major streaming platforms,” but here’s the thing guys… every time I think I’ve gotten a handle on Netflix’s catalog of 2019 Christmas movies, I find another one. There’s too many!
All this is to say that the list is now a ranking of every major Christmas movie that I have access to (sorry Hallmark/Lifetime). How do I determine what Christmas movies are “major” you ask? Umm… mostly if I’d heard about it before trying to make this list or if it appeared on the “Christmas movies of 2019” lists I used as reference. Anyway, now that we’re past this very long-winded buildup, I present this year’s Christmas movies ranked from best to worst.
Klaus isn’t just my favorite Christmas movies of 2019, it’s one of my favorite Christmas movies ever. Using beautiful hand drawn animation, the movie tells the tale of an unlikely friendship that gives rise to the legend of Santa Claus. It’s a premise that easily could have veered into pandering child fair, but the creators of Klaus went above and beyond: telling a beautiful tale of kindness, personal growth, and just the all around spirit of Christmas.
Klaus is a masterpiece that everyone should see. It’s a movie that I will be making sure to watch every Christmas from now through eternity. In a fall when Netflix has shown that its original movies can be powerful pieces of art, I believe Klaus is their crowning achievement.
I’ve already written extensively about why I enjoyed Last Christmas, so I won’t dive too much into it again here. Despite my last article’s audacious title, I don’t believe Last Christmas is actually a perfect movie. However, it does capture the feeling of Christmas in a uniquely perfect way. In Last Christmas‘ messy story elements exists the chaos we often feel during the holidays. For all of Last Christmas‘ flaws, I kind of love it. It may not be a must see Christmas movie for me going forward, unlike Klaus, but it’s certainly in my Christmas movie rotation. I look forward to revisiting it in the future.
A Cinderella Story: Christmas Wish
As the last movie I watched, Christmas Wish was not a movie I was looking forward to seeing. With two stars best known for their time on Disney Channel and its basis in the well-worn A Cinderella Story series – a series that basically just means “how can we get away with reusing the Cinderella formula without being called out on it,” I expected this movie to be, at best, generic. To my surprise though, Christmas Wish is a delight. With charming chemistry between its romantic leads, genuinely funny moments, and some creative twists on the Cinderella formula – the movie rises above the typical straight to streaming Christmas romance.
The movie is, of course, not without its flaws. The songwriting meant to showcase our protagonist’s skills is subpar and the movie sometimes suffers from its reliance on the tropes of the Cinderella story, whether that be the sheer wickedness of the stepmother not quite jiving with a modern setting or plot points that I would have loved to see more explored but weren’t for the sake of the traditional beats. Still, if you’re looking for a new Christmas romance on streaming, Christmas Wish is the one to beat.
“Ben is this… is this a ‘major’ Christmas movie?” Well… no. I certainly hadn’t heard of it at least. But I watched this before realizing that I needed to further limit the scope of my article and you know what? Holiday Rush is pretty good. Telling the story of a DJ and his long-time business partner having to rebuild after being fired while he also contends with cutting back on his family’s opulent lifestyle – the movie has a solid sense of Christmas spirit and funny, charming moments, thanks in large part to Sonequa Martin-Green (Star Trek Discovery, Walking Dead) delivering a stellar performance that anchors the movie.
The movie isn’t perfect by any means, particularly in terms of the spoiled kids whose personalities flip-flop from being the absolute worst to understanding and kind at a moment’s notice.
Let it Snow
Based on (though heavily altering) a book that collects three interwoven short stories, it makes me sad to rank Let it Snow low. There are stories and characters in this movie that I really like – with Shameik Moore’s performance standing out as a highlight – but for each character and storyline I like, there’s an equal number of underdeveloped characters with boring storylines. I’m left wishing the movie had cut back on its weaker plots to explore its stronger elements.
A smaller, though noteworthy considering the topic of this list, flaw is how un-Christmasy it feels despite being, ostensibly, a Christmas movie. Obviously just because it’s set around Christmas doesn’t mean it HAS to be about Christmas, but with a title riffing off a classic Christmas song, an opening/closing narration that really tries to drive home the spirit of Christmas, and a Christmas Eve setting – it’s odd how devoid of of the actual holiday it feels.
The Knight Before Christmas
The Knight Before Christmas is the first movie on this list where I think “boy I didn’t need to see this movie at all.” I had hope for the movie. Not because it looked amazing by any means, but because I’m always a sucker for a fish out of water story. To this movie’s credit, there are legitimately three scenes where the fish out of water element had me charmed and smiling… then there’s the rest of the movie.
With a meandering plot, mediocre-to-just fine performances (except the guy playing Vanessa Hudgens brother-in-law, who rules), and utterly bland cinematography – this movie’s only real saving grace is that it would probably be a fun movie to drink and make fun of while you watch it.
This movie has one of my favorite actors, Bill Hader, and a score composed by one of my favorite bands, Lawrence, so the fact that it’s at the bottom of this list is honestly staggering. Noelle just, on almost every level, doesn’t work. Plot developments are contrived, Noelle’s (Anna Kendrick) fish out of water schtick is almost always cringey – especially problematic considering just how often it’s beaten over our heads, and the way Christmas iconography is tied into every facet of North Pole life feels like it could have worked in an animated film but not in live-action (at least not in live action with such by-the-numbers directing).