Christmas is a time for eating too much, visiting in-laws and more wrapping paper than you know what to do with, but it’s also one of the best times of the year to watch some great films and TV shows.
The broadcasters in the UK will have their own Christmas content, but streaming services are getting in on the action just as much. Netflix, Amazon and Now TV all have an extensive range of films and TV shows, all revolving around Christmas.
There are soppy family movies, comedies and even the odd action film or two – plenty for everyone no matter your tastes. And what’s more, because you can stream them, you don’t have to thumb through the Radio Times with a red marker to ensure you don’t miss a thing.
Choosing a streaming service can be tricky admittedly, as each of the three has a different subscription model, but if you haven’t signed up to one, you may want to check out our handy guide to tell you about each one’s pros and cons.
Jingle All The Way
Muscle-man Arnold Schwarzenegger stars in this classic Christmas film that revolves around a topic all parents only know too well; getting your child the must-have toy of the season…on Christmas Eve. His quest is made even harder thanks to sleazy postman Myron, who also just so happens to want the very same toy.
This British film 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.
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.
A Very Murray Christmas
Bill Murray’s Christmas extravaganza debuted on Netflix in 2015, but it instantly became a classic. Bill and some of his celebrity friends unite to sing some Christmas classics within a comedy film that will keep you all entertained this year.
Elf became an instant classic when it launched in 2003. It tells the story of Buddy (Will Ferrell), one of Santa’s elves who learns he’s actually a human. He travels to New York City to meet his real father, spreading the Christmas cheer to everyone as he goes.
Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon play Brad and Kate, a couple travelling to see all of their divorced parents on Christmas Day. With each family comes a new revelation about Brad and Kate’s pasts that they didn’t know about one another, which begins to test their relationship.
The Polar Express
It’s likely The Polar Express will appear on one of the UK free-to-air channels, but in case you miss it you can watch it again through Amazon. Its live action animation 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.
Jim Carrey stars in this Christmas tale about a green monster who hates all things Christmas and devises a plan to steal all the presents from the residents of Whoville. It’s not until young Cindy Lou Who stumbles upon his lair that he begins to rethink his ways.
Miracle on 34th Street
This 1994 retelling of the classic film sees Richard Attenborough don the white beard as he becomes the in-store Santa for Cole’s. He is befriended by the young Susan, who initially doesn’t believe Santa is real. It’s not until an altercation with a rival department store and a few wishes coming true, that Susan starts to change her beliefs.
A classic comedy starring Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy, Trading Places follows the lifes of a low-life hobo and a rich, wealthy stock trader. Their lives are reversed for a $1 bet, but soon the two guinea pigs catch on to the scheme and devise their own to get revenge.
Alongside Elf, 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.
Home Alone 2: Lost in New York
The first film may not be on Now TV, but we feel in some ways the second is a lot funnier. Once again, Macaulay Culkin finds himself on his own, this time in the Big Apple. At the same time the same two burglars from the first film are in town too and attempt to get revenge. It’s clear they didn’t learn from the first film though, as Kevin McAllister once again sets up an array of boobie traps to bring them down, all of which have hilarious results.
Another Christmas classic 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 rom-com at its finest and can’t help but put a smile on your face.