The definitive ranking of Netflix Christmas movies


The best gift of them all is a great Christmas movie. | Photo: Cos Aelenei/Netflix

The holidays are upon us, which means new Netflix Christmas movies are upon us, too. We’ve taken a look through to see which of the streaming service’s original films are better than just watching a Yule log video, but we also have to ask: which of the original Netflix Christmas movies is the best of the best?


Is it A Christmas Prince, or either of its sequels? Is it the animated Klaus? Or maybe the “Santa is Daddy now” hit The Christmas Chronicles? The experts on Polygon’s staff have banded together to figure it out, and we proudly present: the definitive ranking of original Christmas movies on Netflix.


No, this movie is not related to the Breaking Bad movie El Camino. | Photo: Netflix

14. EL CAMINO CHRISTMAS


The nicest thing I can say about El Camino Christmas is that it is technically a movie. Even Vincent D’Onofrio, who is very good at committing to supporting roles, is only giving about 40 percent here. (To be fair, D’Onofrio’s 40 percent is better than Tim Allen’s 115 percent.) —Emily Heller



More elephants, please. | Photo: Netflix

13. HOLIDAY IN THE WILD


I have concocted a conspiracy theory that Holiday in the Wild, a movie that’s 80 percent just shots of Rob Lowe and/or baby elephants, was specifically designed to make rich white ladies donate all their money to elephant sanctuaries. In which case, it’s a brilliant film. —EH

Three Christmas Princes, one royal baby on the way. | Photo: Cos Aelenei/Netflix

12. A CHRISTMAS PRINCE: THE ROYAL BABY


The third film in the Christmas Prince saga introduces both a fake Asian ally for the Christmas Princeiverse’s fake European country, and a magical curse. You see, Aldovia and Penglia signed a treaty of friendship 700 years ago, and every century, the countries’ kings renew their agreement in a formal ceremony. Journalist-turned-queen Amber thinks the queens should get to sign too, but the tradition-minded Queen Ming of Penglia disagrees. The treaty goes missing (possibly triggering a curse?), so the two queens bond over motherhood (Amber is pregnant, hence the subtitle) and other queen things while they wait for it to be located. When the treaty is found, of course, the queens end up signing it as well, and then Amber goes into labor. Watered-down feminism that ends up just being kinda racist? Sounds familiar (cough Holiday in the Wild cough). —EH


Can we get a wink at the camera? | Photo: Netflix

11. THE HOLIDAY CALENDAR


The magical Christmas realism that warmed our hearts with classics like A Christmas Carol and It’s A Wonderful Life gets the Netflix treatment with The Holiday Calendar. The plot is wonderfully silly: Abby’s grandfather (played by This Is Us grandpa Ron Cephas Jones) gives her a magic advent calendar that cryptically predicts the future. It seems to be pointing her toward romance with a handsome, charming single dad, but (spoiler alert!) Abby ends up with her handsome, charming best friend instead. My only complaint is that I wanted more actual magic. Santa doesn’t even show up to wink at the camera once. —EH


A wedding! At Christmas! | Photo: Netflix

10. A CHRISTMAS PRINCE: THE ROYAL WEDDING


If you’re going to watch this film, you might as well also watch Jenny Nicholson’s powerful video essay on the dark side of the Christmas Prince universe. If you don’t want to ponder the implications of a fake nation state, you’re better off sticking with the original Christmas Prince. —Brian David Gilbert


Love blossoms through time. | Photo: Netflix/Brooke Palmer

9. THE KNIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS


In The Knight Before Christmas, a medieval knight is zapped into the present, right into the life of recently single schoolteacher Vanessa Hudgens. She doesn’t believe in true love or time travel, but her literal knight in shining armor may be about to change that. What’s nice about the movie is that nobody’s mean or trying to get in the way of the protagonists falling in love, and the knight is already perfect. He doesn’t have to learn to be considerate or less arrogant, and he hasn’t been turned into a beast for his transgressions. That said, the only part of the movie that really has to do with Christmas is a subplot. —Karen Han


Cheers to Christmas! | Photo: Netflix

8. HOLIDAY RUSH


Holiday Rush proves that hiring funny, talented actors can elevate generic material. The plot is standard feel-good Christmas-movie fare: Radio DJ and single dad Rush Williams (Romany Malco) loses his job right before Christmas. To make ends meet, he and his four spoiled kids move in with his Aunt Jo, played by the incomparable Darlene Love. He and his producer, Roxy (Sonequa Martin-Green), decide to buy the radio station where they got their start in broadcasting. Hijinks and romance ensue. But Malco and Martin-Green have great chemistry, and Darlene Love sings “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” which is really all you need from a Christmas movie. —EH


Time to head to Snow Falls. | Photo: Netflix

7. CHRISTMAS INHERITANCE


Christmas Inheritance was overshadowed by The Christmas Prince (they both premiered in 2017), which is unfortunate, because Christmas Inheritance rules. Netflix’s attempt to ape the pinnacle of the form — the Hallmark Christmas movie — nails the tone. It’s a classic “Big City Grinch meets Christmas Hunk” tale: Ellen is a rich heiress to a “gift business” who must hand-deliver a Christmas card to her dad’s reclusive business partner in the village of Snow Falls (one of the best quaint movie Christmas town names of all time) without spending any money or letting anyone in Snow Falls know who she is. Even though she has a mean fiancé back home, Ellen falls for Snow Falls’ hunky-but-jaded innkeeper, played by Obvious Child’s Jake Lacy, after he teaches her how to demonstrate basic human empathy. Also, Andie MacDowell is in it!! —EH


What says “Christmas” like a tiny pig? | Photo: Netflix/Steve Wilkie

6. LET IT SNOW


Let It Snow is an ensemble piece about a group of teens in rural Illinois coming together for a kegger at the local Waffle House. It stars Dora the Explorer and Sabrina the Teenage Witch, and Joan Cusack as played by Ted Kaczynski. All jokes aside, it’s a thoroughly modern take on upscaled Hallmark classics like The Holiday and Love Actually. The star of the show here is actor Liv Hewson, whose portrayal of the lovelorn Dorrie adds a heartwarming queer storyline to the Netflix holiday pantheon. —CH


Unfortunately, I do love this. | Photo: Michael Gibson/Netflix

5. THE CHRISTMAS CHRONICLES


The Christmas Chronicles imagines a world where Santa Claus isn’t just a jolly, happy old elf. Sure, he’s got grey hair and a beard on his chinny chin chin, but Kurt Russell’s depiction of Father Christmas is much more virile. He’s hip, borderline naughty, and filled with an almost uncomfortable sexuality. That doesn’t stop him from helping siblings Kate and Teddy Pierce, who lost their heroic father some years ago, to rediscover the magic of the season. —Charlie Hall


That’s right, it’s Christmas, and there will be a prince. | Photo: Netflix

4. A CHRISTMAS PRINCE


An American journalist sent to write a hit piece on a foreign prince accidentally falls in love with him, but here’s where it gets wild: it is also Christmastime. Even if you haven’t seen this film, you can probably predict every major plot point. That doesn’t make it bad; it makes it easily digestible. —BDG


Who’s who? | Photo: Netflix

3. THE PRINCESS SWITCH


In a Christmas-y twist on The Prince and the Pauper, Vanessa Hudgens gets to show off her acting chops by playing both an American baker and the Duchess of a land whose inhabitants apparently speak in a so-so British accent. —BDG


An animated take on Santa. | Photo: Netflix

2. KLAUS


Klaus, Netflix’s first feature animation, pushes the bounds of traditional animation. Volumetric lighting and texture make the movie feel like it’s directly out of a picture book. A Santa origin story that roots the tale in the real, Klaus follows a spoiled postal worker named Jesper who’s sent to the desolate northern town of Smerensberg to set up a post office. When he arrives, the town is embroiled in a bitter feud — they barely talk to one another, let alone send letters. Jesper teams up with lonely woodcutter Klaus and starts a toy delivery system. Klaus is warm and gooey, and the lush art style really makes it feel like a cozy mug of cocoa on a cold day. —Petrana Radulovic


A very “Murray” Christmas. Get it? Like “merry” Christmas, but it’s Bill Murray? | Photo: Netflix

1. A VERY MURRAY CHRISTMAS


A Very Murray Christmas is like a holiday party with close friends, if those friends happen to be incredibly famous, wealthy, and talented. Here are just a few of the guests at the film’s glitzy, snowed-in Manhattan hotel: George Clooney, Miley Cyrus, Maya Rudolph, Amy Poehler, and Jason Schwartzman. Small roles are filled by big talents, like Jenny Lewis serving drinks and David Johansen tending bar. The film also reunites Bill Murray with Lost in Translation director Sophia Coppola. After weeks of family-friend holiday treats, A Very Murray Christmas is cinematic ibuprofen. —Chris Plante

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