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Photograph: Netflix
Photograph: Netflix

The best Christmas movies to watch this festive season

Grab your favourite movie snack and escape into these holiday movies that will bring you some Christmas joy

Cam Khalid
Written by
Cam Khalid
&
Izza Sofia
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Christmas isn't complete without festive films. They are all about uninhibited sweetness, endless joy and guaranteed happy endings. Also, what’s not to like about another Vanessa Hudgens holiday special?

From the classics to the newly released rom-coms, we have come up with a list of the best yuletide films that will get you in a festive mood. So grab a bowl of popcorn and fix your eyes on the telly with eggnog in hand this holiday season.

RECOMMENDED: The ultimate guide to Christmas in Singapore and the best upcoming movies in Singapore

This hilarious Netflix original film follows a young journalist (Nina Dobrev) who thought she found the perfect guy on a dating app. She travelled across the country to surprise the guy she matched with online (Jimmy O. Yang) for the holidays. However, things took a turn when she got there, and realised she got catfished. 

Watch Love Hard on Netflix.

A Boy Called Christmas tells the story of Nikolas, a young boy from Finland, who sets off on a magical adventure in search of his father, who’s keen on looking for the fabled elf village of Elfheim. He faces numerous obstacles along the way, which include being thrown into a dungeon with a hungry troll and a truth pixie. Joining him in his exploits are his pet mouse Mikka and reindeer Blitzen. 

Watch A Boy Called Christmas on Netflix.

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The Princess Switch franchise starring Vanessa Hudgens is definitely a fan-favourite on Netflix this Christmas. For The Princess Switch 3: Romancing the Star, Vanessa Hudgens and.. Vanessa Hudgens return as Stacy and Lady Margaret, and this year they are tasked to put on a Christmas festival. Unfortunately, the Star of Peace - a bejewelled tree topper that once belonged to St. Nicholas himself - gets stolen, and the royal lookalikes have to turn to an unlikely ally: Lady Fiona (Vanessa Hudgens), a troublemaker last Christmas. Can they retrieve back the star just in time for the big day? 

Watch The Princess Switch on Netflix.

This romantic comedy follows Peter (Michael Urie), who is about to head home for the holidays. In an effort to avoid his family’s judgement over his perpetually single status, he convinces his best friend Nick (Philemon Chambers) to join him for the trip and pose as his boyfriend. However, Peter’s yuletide plan goes awry when his mother (Kathy Najimy) sets him up on a blind date with her trainer James (Luke Macfarlane).

Will Peter feel less than merry this Christmas? Watch Single All The Way on Netflix.

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Tired of being taunted by her family members for being single, Sloane Benson (Emma Roberts) meets a stranger, Jackson (Luke Bracey), and manages to convince him to be her date for the various holidays. They pretended to be each other’s 'holidate' for one year. However, things aren’t as easy as it seems. This relatable movie is sure to get you in the mood for Christmas.

Watch Holidate on Netflix. 

Starring Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet, this 2006 romantic comedy follows two women who switch houses during the Christmas season to deal with their recent heartbreaks. Diaz stays at Winslet’s English countryside cottage, and ends up meeting Jude Law. Winslet lands herself in Los Angeles, and meets Jack Black and all of his charisma. The Holiday is a sweet and heartfelt film with actors that ooze charm, perfect for the holiday season.

Watch The Holiday on Netflix.

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Successful rom-com novelist Sophie Brown (Brooke Shields) comes under fire as she chooses to kill off her protagonist’s love interest — a decision motivated by her own bitter divorce after her husband left her for another woman. To escape the scandal in her hometown, she travels to Scotland, where she faces off with the grouchy duke that owns the castle. Will these two be in love by the holidays, or will they both be spending Christmas alone this year?

Watch A Castle for Christmas on Netflix.

Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey (2020)
Photograph: Gareth Gatrell/Netflix

Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey (2020)

It’s 2020, and there’s still a lack of diversity in Christmas films. So when Netflix released Jingle Jangle, it got us festive film lovers and cinephiles feeling stoked. The Christmassy Victorian-set musical is a rush of pure joy that follows a little girl and her inventor granddad in a quest to change a local Scrooge with the magic of Christmas. The festive showstopper features gorgeous costumes, steampunk robots, and catchy numbers. It also celebrates diversity, an alternative to the near all-white holiday canon.

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Last Christmas (2019)
Photograph: WarnerMedia Entertainment Networks

Last Christmas (2019)

We hate to burst your bauble – this isn’t your usual jukebox musical. While it’s easy to dismiss it as cheesy, the Wham! and George Michael soundtracked film (now available on HBO Go) actually sends a cosy message with a side of cynicism. Starring Emilia Clarke as a blunt-talking shop-elf-slash-wannabe-singer and Henry Golding as her mysterious new crush, the winning slushfest checks all the boxes of a festive rom-com fave – mawkish chemistry, a crazy twist, and even breaking and entering to go ice-skating.

It’s A Wonderful Life (1946)
Photograph: Herbert Dorfman/Getty Images

It’s A Wonderful Life (1946)

What’s a Christmas movie marathon without a timeless classic? This Frank Capra fantasy sets on one bleak Christmas when a man is on the verge of committing suicide. He’s then visited by an angel who shows him the true value of his precious life, as well as the values of kindness and generosity. While it features elements synonymous with a Black Mirror episode, it’s one of the few films that truly define Christmas as a time for giving.

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Jingle All Away (1996)
Photograph: Murray Close

Jingle All Away (1996)

90s kids will swear by this Christmas guilty pleasure. Starring Arnold Schwartzenegger in his prime, the family-fun movie follows Arnie maneuvering through a crowd of desperate last-minute shoppers on Christmas Eve, trying to get his hands on the Turbo-Man action figure, the coveted toy in which he promises his son he’ll get for Christmas. But there’s another dad who’s got his eyes on the prize – with the same promise too – resulting in a real Christmas smackdown complete with Sinbad’s villainous, witty one-liners.

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Real talk: is this Tim Burton classic full of visual tricks and treats a better fit for Halloween or Christmas? While you ponder on that, see Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King of Halloweentown, ditch Halloween for a chance to stand in for Santa. Complete with a cracking score and songs by Danny Elfman, we're totally cool with a belly-less Santa this Christmas.

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  • Comedy

Now here's a Christmas flick for ya filthy animals. Compressed with a life lesson – always be careful what you wish for – Home Alone sees precocious tyke Kevin McCallister left by himself for Christmas. But it's not all fun and games when a bumbling pair of burglars target the house. With innovative stunts to protect his home, Kevin truly fulfilled every eight year old’s fantasies, making them believe they could pull them off too.

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More naughty than nice, Joe Dante's 1984 horror-comedy about Gizmo the mogwai comes with instructions – as do many Christmas presents – that are looked past: never expose to bright light, never add water and, crucially, never feed after midnight. Moral of the story? Follow the instructions.

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There's something just not right about Buddy the elf. Like the ones you see at Santa's Grottos around Singapore, he's not an actual elf. In fact, he's a human raised by elves in the North Pole. Follow him to New York City in search of his dad while discovering that life beyond Santa's Workshop is less than merry.

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Skip the 2018 computer-animation this season, and stick on the 2000 live-action film on the telly instead. The latter has loads of improvised humour, gross cheese-eating scenes and green hair – and no one pulls it all off quite like Jim Carrey as the mean one. Ron Howard’s big-screen adaptation of the beloved Dr. Seuss book trails after a shaggy, potbellied green yeti with an attitude problem who casts a baleful eye over the ersatz yuletide spirit in Whoville (sounds familiar?).

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"Well, are you coming?" "Where?" "Why, to the North Pole, of course. This is the Polar Express!" exclaims Tom Hanks as the conductor. This surreal, hallucinogenic, kaleidoscopic marvel ticks all the boxes for the ultimate Christmas movie: stunning visuals, narrator, train, reindeer, elves and snow. The coming-of-age movie also takes you on an adventure of self-discovery on Christmas Eve, en route to Santa's Workshop. Truly magical.

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What's Christmas without The Muppets? This witty, heart-warming and fantastically zany musical adaptation of Charles Dickens' immortal classic sees Michael Caine as Scrooge, Gonzo the Great as Charles Dickens, and Kermit the Frog as Bob Cratchit. Whodathunk that as an actor Kermit could corrugate his forehead vertically? Good fun.

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  • Comedy

Is that Rick from The Walking Dead? It sure is. This star-studded ensemble rom-com of eight (or nine) plotlines stars everyone from the late Alan Rickman and Emma Thompson to Keira Knightley and Hugh Grant to Bill Nighy – as an old rocker with a Christmas comeback single, no less – and Mr Bean. Alternating between sentimental and silly, the film is ideal for a cheesy night in. But whether it's an unbearable yuletide schmaltz or a festive heart-warmer, we'll let you decide on that.

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Another Tim Burton classic to stay in for, this bittersweet 1990 fantasy spotlights a very pale, leather-clad, scissor-handed, Johnny Depp – who could easily be mistaken for a member of The Cure – shunned from the community. While Danny Elfman's score helps catch feels, Edward Scissorhands is truly a visual treat filled with pastel-hued houses, surreal shrubbery and outlandish outfits. Plus, what screams "winter wonderland" more than the scene where Winona Ryder dances around the ice sculpture and the ice shavings are falling like snow?

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  • Comedy

Make 'fetch' happen this Christmas with Cady and The Plastics. While it's not a Christmas film per se, fans have religiously tuned in during the holidays for a Santa-clad Damian handing out candy canes, going "You go Glen Coco!", and The Winter Talent Show where The Plastics throw some shapes (and kicks to the stereo). As Kevin G would wrap up his rap: "Merry Christmas, everybody!"

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  • Action and adventure

We don't want to hear it – Die Hard is a Christmas movie, period. This action-packed blockbuster begins on Christmas Eve at a Christmas party-gone-wrong. And as far as bad Christmas parties go, nothing beats one that's crashed by a couple of machine-gun-wielding baddies spearheaded by the sadistic smoothie Hans Gruber (RIP Alan Rickman). With memorable set pieces, iconic characters, plenty of snow and a soundtrack that includes Winter Wonderland, John McTiernan’s crowd-pleasing action film is the hard-R gift that keeps on giving.

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If Netflix's Have a Murray Christmas solidifies your Bill Murray fan status further, you'll want to add this modern-ish update on the Dickens classic to your watch list. There's no denying that his deadpan delivery as an arrogant TV exec overseeing the live production of A Christmas Carol is made for this festive tale.

 

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Here's one department-store Santa that deserves to be on the naughty list. A cynical alcoholic with a penchant for sex and a wholly unconcealed dislike of kids, Billy Bob Thornton's foul-mouthed Saint Nick is far from a saint. No doubt, this black comedy shakes up the mood by injecting some nasty deviancy into the Yuletide season. But it does showcase a Christmas miracle: even bad Santas can turn into sympathetic heroes.

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  • Comedy

If A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas doesn't quite cut it, perhaps this stoner-Christmas flick will do the trick. Starring stoner movie essential Seth Rogan, The Night Before is great for all you adult Peter Pans out there who just refuse to grow the heck (pardon our French) up. Squeeze into your ugly Christmas jumper and join three mates for a night of debauchery and hilarity as they search for the Holy Grail of Christmas parties in New York.

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If you're tired of those cheesy festive films, break the routine with this slasher movie. Forget the 2019 remake, and hit play on the 1974 OG Black Christmas. This cult staple ropes you into a snowy college campus where a bunch of sorority sisters are harassed by a killer creep. The mood is icy and ominous; it doesn’t lift even after you turn on the lights and warm the eggnog.

It's the most wonderful time of the year

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