The Best Holiday Movies Streaming This Season

The Best Holiday Movies Streaming This Season
Screenshot: Muppet Christmas Carol/Disney+, Fair Use

During a normal year, it’s common to feel like the holidays sneak up on us too quickly, leaving us unprepared. But in 2020, the holidays — and the end of this hell year — can’t come soon enough.

That means it’s never too early to embrace the magic of those end-of-year celebrations by way of Hollywood entertainment. If you’re ready to get into the holiday spirit, check out some of our favourite holiday-themed movies available to stream right now, any of which will almost certainly offer a cheerier experience than the one you’re likely to “enjoy” yourself.

A Christmas Story

A holiday classic, A Christmas Story chronicles nine-year-old Ralphie Parker’s quest to get a Red Ryder Carbine Action 200-shot Range Model air rifle — and the mishaps that occur once he does.

Available to rent on Apple TV+, Amazon, Google Play and YouTube, among others.

Scrooged

In Scrooged, Bill Murray plays a modern-day Bob Cratchit named Frank Cross — a heartless TV executive who fires a colleague on Christmas Eve and then gets visits from the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future. From that familiar setup, the third act gets decidedly weirder than anything Dickens imagined.

Available  to rent on Amazon Video, Google Play, Apple TV+ and YouTube.

The Polar Express

An animated film adaptation of the classic children’s book, The Polar Express takes a young boy on a midnight train ride through the uncanny valley to the North Pole to meet Santa. Tom Hanks voices basically every adult character in the film, which would seem weirder if the “lifelike” animation didn’t make the whole affair so creepy already.

Available to rent on Amazon Video, Google Play, Apple TV+ and YouTube.

Pieces of April

If you experience family drama over Thanksgiving, you’ll probably relate to Pieces of April. Katie Holmes plays April, who invites her estranged family to dinner at her small NYC apartment. There’s chaos amidst her family’s disapproval and her struggles to actually cook a meal.

Available to rent on Amazon Video, Google Play, Apple TV+ and YouTube.

Dolly Parton’s Christmas on the Square

Dolly Parton’s Christmas on the Square is a movie musical starring Dolly Parton (obviously) and featuring 14 original songs. There’s not much info available about the film yet (let alone a trailer), but the basic plot involves a rich woman who tries to sell the land that makes up her small town during the holiday season.

It’s a Netflix original and it premieres on November 22.

Miracle on 34th Street

There’s a lot of nostalgia around the original 1947 Miracle on 34th Street. It’s the story of Kris Kringle, who goes from playing Santa (because he is Santa, obviously) at Macy’s to being committed to Bellevue Hospital when non-believing adults believe him to be crazy. Meanwhile, Kris befriends Susan, a young girl who continues to have faith in him.

Available to stream on Disney+ and to rent on Amazon Video, Google Play, Apple TV+ and YouTube.

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

It wouldn’t be Christmas without some slapstick, gross-out humour courtesy of the Griswold family in this more modern holiday classic. With a screenplay by John Hughes, Christmas Vacation, which stars Chevy Chase, is full of dysfunctional family relationships and holiday plans gone wrong. Also, a sad fate befalling a cat.

Available to rent on Amazon Video, Google Play, Apple TV+ and YouTube.

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

Planes, Trains and Automobiles is another John Hughes holiday misadventure, this time with Steve Martin — a cranky marketing exec — and John Candy, who plays an annoying shower ring salesman. The two end up travelling together trying to get to Chicago for Thanksgiving.

Available to rent on a long list of platforms.

Home Alone

Kevin McCallister probably would have made a good Lifehacker staffer with his booby-trap, bad-guy-catching skills when he gets left behind over Christmas in the original Home Alone. Home Alone 2: Lost in New York is also worth a watch.

Available to rent on Amazon Video, Google Play, Apple TV+ and YouTube.

Black Christmas

If dark holiday horror is your thing, try Black Christmas, a 1974 thriller about a stranger murdering sorority girls over Christmas break.

Available to rent on Amazon Video and Apple TV+. The full-length feature is also currently on YouTube.

Grumpy Cat’s Worst Christmas Ever

This one’s pretty silly — it’s a Lifetime movie — but it does feature both Aubrey Plaza and Grumpy Cat (RIP). Plaza voices the cranky cat, who actually makes friends with a girl she meets at a mall pet shop over the holiday.

Available to buy on Amazon Video.

Elf

It wouldn’t be a holiday movie list without Elf. Will Ferrell plays Buddy, a human-sized elf on a journey to meet his real dad while spreading Christmas cheer (and singing loud for all to hear).

Available to rent on Amazon Video, Google Play, Apple TV+ and YouTube.

Home for the Holidays

The third Thanksgiving movie on our list, Home for the Holidays is another story of family drama and dysfunction starring Jodie Foster, Robert Downey Jr. and Anne Bancroft.

Available to rent on Amazon Video, Google Play, Apple TV+ and YouTube.

The Muppet Christmas Carol

This family-friendly Muppet retelling of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, featuring Kermit, Miss Piggy, and Michael Caine as Ebenezer Scrooge, is the best version of the Dickens classic, and we will brook no arguments on that.

Available to stream on Disney+ and to rent on Amazon Video, Google Play, Apple TV+ and YouTube.

It’s a Wonderful Life

It’s a Wonderful Life is another true holiday classic and the oldest film on our list. George Bailey is rescued from jumping off a bridge by his guardian angel, Clarence, on Christmas Eve, after his loan business falls apart. Clarence shows him what would have happened if he’d never been born.

Available to rent on Amazon Video, Google Play, Apple TV+ and YouTube.

Eight Crazy Nights

Honour Hanukkah with Adam Sandler’s animated Eight Crazy Nights. The film follows the antics of the Davey Stone, the main character, over the course of the holiday with all the crude humour you’d expect.

Available to rent on Amazon Video, Google Play, Apple TV+ and YouTube.

The Nightmare Before Christmas

This Tim Burton stop-motion animated film is the story of Jack Skellington’s trip from Halloween Town, where he’s the Pumpkin King, to Christmas Town and his mission to bring Christmas back home.

Available to stream on Disney+ and to rent on Amazon Video, Google Play, Apple TV+ and YouTube.

Jingle All the Way

In Jingle All the Way, Arnold Schwarzenegger plays an absent dad who’s on a mission to get his son the elusive TurboMan toy for Christmas before his neighbour (played by the late Phil Hartman) can get it first. This so-bad-it’s-good movie also stars Rita Wilson, Sinbad, and a very young Darth Vader (Jake Lloyd).

Available to rent on Amazon Video, Google Play, Apple TV+ and YouTube.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

The Jim Carrey version of this classic story is longer and cost a lot more money to make, but the original 1966 animated take is much, much better. Follow the Grinch (and his dog Max) as he tries to destroy Christmas in Whoville, only to have his heart grow three sizes.

If you miss the annual live TV airing, it’s available to rent on Amazon Video, Google Play, Apple TV+ and YouTube.

Die Hard

There’s a healthy (and tired) internt debate over whether Die Hard is actually a Christmas movie — but since it takes place on Christmas Eve and has Christmas music, Santa hats and lots of Christmas references, we’ll side with everyone calling it a holiday film.

Available to rent on Amazon Video, Google Play, Apple TV+ and YouTube.

Log in to comment on this story!