Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
Advertisement

December is here, and the EW experts have selected some the top movies available on Amazon Prime Video, HBO Max, Hulu, Criterion Channel, and Netflix for the holiday season  — even if you feel like watching some counterprogramming this Christmas. From timeless post-war classics with Oscar-winning Santas to troublesome toymakers, there is a gift for everyone under the tree this year. Just watch out for the train, its ride is a little rocky for those in the back.

Amazon Prime Video 

Little Women - 1994
Credit: Joseph Lederer/Di Novi/Columbia/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock

Little Women (1994)

Sure, while most holiday films cover a single season within a single year, while this literary adaptation covers the entire adolescence of four sisters, there is no denying the impact of the story's centerpiece Christmas scene. Allow Claire Danes as Beth to break your heart all over again, while Winona Ryder and Christian Bale go back and forth with each other throughout the film, acting as what many would consider the quintessential Jo and Laurie.

Watch Little Women on Amazon Prime Video here

EW grade: A (Read the review

Talent: Susan Sarandon, Claire Danes, Winona Ryder, Christian Bale, Trini Alvarado 

Related reading: Every Little Women TV and movie adaptation, ranked

Best Christmas movies on Amazon Prime
Credit: James Hamilton/Disney

The Royal Tenenbaums (2002)

The holidays are all about family, but that doesn't mean everyone gets along with each other. For anyone feeling down about their familial dysfunction during the wintertime, turn on EW's favorite Wes Anderson film to make you all feel better. We should also note that Gwyneth Paltrow's Margot serves as excellent style inspiration for a fitting December ensemble. 

Watch The Royal Tenenbaums on Amazon Prime Video here

EW grade: A (Read the review

Talent: Gwyneth Paltrow, Gene Hackman, Anjelica Huston, Ben Stiller, Luke Wilson, Owen Wilson, Bill Murray 

Related reading: Wes Anderson films, ranked

Sleepless In Seattle - 1993
Credit: Bruce Mcbroom/Tri-Star/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock

Sleepless in Seattle (1993)

A film for the entire winter season, this iconic Nora Ephron project begins on an unexpectedly relatable note, with Christmas Eve making Sam Baldwin (Tom Hanks) think of the people who aren't around anymore to spend the holidays with him, specifically his late wife. Expressing his feelings of wistfulness on the radio, he inspires women nationwide, including journalist Annie Reed (Meg Ryan) to send their support. Sam and Annie eventually connect on Valentine's Day in the most dramatic fashion, giving the Empire State Building the best PR it has ever received, and ultimately showing audiences how much the holidays can bring even strangers together.

Watch Sleepless in Seattle on Amazon Prime Video here

EW grade: C (read the review)

Talent: Meg Ryan, Tom Hanks, Bill Pullman, Rosie O'Donnell, Ross Malinger, Rob Reiner, Gaby Hoffman, Victor Garber

Related reading: Sleepless in Seattle: Rita Wilson improvised part of her Affair to Remember monologue 

Criterion Channel 

COMPANY
Credit: Everett Collection

Original Cast Album: Company (1970)

With the recent passing of musical theater legend Stephen Sondheim, check out this documentary chronicling the making of the original cast album for one of his masterpieces, 1970's Company. From renowned documentarian D.A. Pennebaker, it captures the behind-the-scenes drama of the grueling, 19-hour session that produced the album. It's a rare glimpse at the magic, luck, and tenacity required to capture the essence of a live performance.   

Talent: Stephen Sondheim, Elaine Stritch, Donna McKechnie

HBO Max 

Best movies on streaming
Credit: Everett Collection

Holiday Affair (1949)

Tired of Elf or the umpteenth version of A Christmas Carol and looking for a new holiday classic? Try this 1949 delight about a war widow (Janet Leigh) and the roguishly charming department store clerk (Robert Mitchum at his most romantic) she brings home for Christmas after accidentally getting him fired. It's a touching picture of postwar grief and a sprightly NYC love story. 

Talent: Robert Mitchum, Janet Leigh, Wendell Corey

Best movies on streaming
Credit: Everett Collection

It Happened on Fifth Avenue (1947)

1947 produced a dizzying array of great Christmas films, including Miracle on 34th St. and The Bishop's Wife. But this underseen gem deserves a second look. Every winter the homeless Aloysius T. McKeever (Victor Moore) spends his winter in vacated Fifth Avenue mansions when the millionaires go south for warmer climes. But when he and recently evicted army veteran Jim Bullock (Don DeFore) move into Michael J. O'Connor's (Charles Ruggles) mansion for the holidays, they're quickly overrun with more house guests, including O'Connor's runaway daughter (Gale Storm), her mother (Ann Harding), and even Michael himself. 

Talent: Don DeFore, Ann Harding, Charles Ruggles, Victor Moore, Gale Storm, Alan Hale Jr., Dorothea Kent

MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET
Credit: Everett Collection

Miracle on 34th St. (1947)

"Faith is believing in something when common sense tells you not to." The central theme of this tale about a man who believes himself to be Santa Claus is a sustaining message after two hard years. A young Natalie Wood stars as Susan, a little girl who has never been able to be a child due to her cynical mother, Doris (a luminous Maureen O'Hara), and her pragmatism. But when Kris Kringle (Edmund Gwenn in an Oscar-winning role) shows up to save the Macy's parade, he proceeds to teach Doris and Susan the power of faith and love. Especially at the holidays. There was a 1990s remake, but nothing can touch the power of this original 

Talent: Natalie Wood, Maureen O'Hara, Edmund Gwenn, John Payne

Best movies on streaming
Credit: Everett Collection

The Shop Around the Corner (1940)

If you love You've Got Mail, you must see this 1940 predecessor that inspired it. Margaret Sullavan and Jimmy Stewart star as dueling shop clerks Klara Novak and Alfred Kralik. What they don't know is that they're also secret pen pals who've been slowly falling in love via their correspondence. As they make plans to meet for real, the truth unravels… but will the enemies turn to lovers? Directed by deft comedy master Ernst Lubitsch and set in a Yuletide Budapest, it's a charming and sneakily emotional holiday treat. 

Talent: Jimmy Stewart, Margaret Sullavan, Frank Morgan, Joseph Schildkraut, Inez Courtney

WHITE CHRISTMAS, Rosemary Clooney, Danny Kaye, Bing Crosby, Vera-Ellen, 1954
Credit: Everett Collection

White Christmas (1954)

If you've already seen it, you know it's a yuletide tradition. If you haven't, what on earth are you waiting for? Michael Curtiz's holiday classic, in which two WWII-vet stage-musical super-producers decide to put on a show at an abandoned Vermont hotel with the pretty song-and-dance sisters of their old army buddy. You know, a typical Christmas story! Even if you aren't charmed by White Christmas' misshapen premise and kooky plot machinations, it would be a genuine shame to miss Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney's rich voices, Danny Kaye's unmatched comedic ability, or Vera-Ellen and John Brascia's dazzling dance numbers.

Talent: Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, Vera-Ellen, Mary Wickes

Related: These are the top 20 Christmas movies ever

Hulu 

THE HOLIDAY, Jude Law, Cameron Diaz, 2006. ©Columbia Pictures/courtesy Everett Collection
Credit: Everett Collection

The Holiday (2006)

Love Actually isn't the only beloved romantic Christmas movie featuring a starry ensemble around. Despite mixed reviews upon its release, The Holiday is widely considered to be a modern Christmas classic now. Featuring writer-director Nancy Meyers' trademark rom-com charm and gorgeous production design, the film features two unlucky-in-love women (Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz) who decide to swap homes for a few weeks during the holidays to escape their heartbreak, only to promptly fall for someone new (Jude Law, Jack Black) in their different locales. What's not to love here?

Watch The Holiday on Hulu here

EW grade: N/A (Read the review

Talent: Cameron Diaz, Kate Winslet, Jude Law, Jack Black, Eli Wallach

Related reading: This incredibly dark fan theory will change the way you see The Holiday

Jingle All the Way
Credit: Everett Collection

Jingle All the Way (1996)

It wouldn't be Christmastime without some cheesy holiday film fun, and Jingle All the Way fits that bill to a tee. Despite its horrid reviews (it currently holds a 17 percent on Rotten Tomatoes), the film has become something of a Christmas classic in the years since its release. In it, Arnold Schwarzenegger stars as a workaholic dad who wants to make it up to his son by stopping at nothing to get his hands on the season's hottest toy for his kid. True to the family holiday genre, all sorts of shenanigans ensue during his pursuit. A masterpiece it may not be, but it's undeniably fun.

Watch Jingle All the Way on Hulu here

EW grade: C+ (read the review)

Talent: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sinbad, Phil Hartman, Rita Wilson, Jake Lloyd

Related reading: Jingle All the Way: Where are they now?

Serendipity
Credit: David Lee/Tapestry/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock

Serendipity (2001)

Not a Christmas movie per se, this charming rom-com of the early aughts nevertheless has its pivotal meet-cute during Christmastime in New York City. Jonathan (John Cusack) and Kate (Kate Beckinsale) meet at Bloomingdales and tussle over buying the same gloves as a gift. They  end up spending a romantic day together in the city, but eventually depart, determined that if they are to be together, then fate will make it happen. Boosted by its delightful script and performances from its lead actors, Serendipity uses its romantic magic to worm its way into our hearts.

Watch Serendipity on Hulu here

EW grade: N/A (Read the review)

Talent: Kate Beckinsale, John Cusack, Jeremy Piven, Bridget Moynahan, John Corbett

Related reading: Jennifer Aniston passed on Serendipity because Friends felt like doing a rom-com every week

Netflix 

JINGLE JANGLE: A CHRISTMAS JOURNEY
Credit: Gareth Gatrell/NETFLIX

Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey (2020)

Every year, Netflix seems to outdo itself in its release of original holiday content — not necessarily in terms of quality, but certainly in quantity. But for every Princess Switch and Christmas Prince (or perhaps every other Princess Switch and Christmas Prince… there are a lot of those), they offer up a true gift. Last year, David E. Talbert's Jingle Jangle was that diamond in the snow, a lush musical fable about a brilliant toymaker whose scheming assistant steals his books of inventions, kicking off a yuletide adventure packed to the brim with music and magic.

EW grade: B+ (Read the review)

Talent: Forest Whitaker, Keegan-Michael Key, Madalen Mills, Hugh Bonneville, Anika Noni Rose, Phylicia Rashad, Ricky Martin

Related: Here's every Netflix holiday movie, special,and show coming in late 2021

SNOWPIERCER_4.JPG
Credit: Radius/The Weinstein Company

Snowpiercer (2013)

For those of you who choose darkness instead of holiday schmaltz, I have two things to say. First: I respect it. Second: Try Snowpiercer. Six years before he won an Oscar for the black comedy Parasite, Bong Joon-ho served cutting commentary on social inequality through another genre with this post-apocalyptic thriller. The world ravaged by climate change, the remaining members of the human race live on a train that circumnavigates the globe once a year, wealthy elites at the front while the lower classes are crammed in the back. When one back-of-the-train passenger leads a rebellion, fighting his way forward, the entire fragile ecosystem is disrupted. Great way to ring in a new year, right?!

EW grade: A (Read the review)

Talent: Chris Evans, Tilda Swinton, Song Kang-ho, Jamie Bell, Octavia Spencer, John Hurt, Ed Harris

Related: Even before Parasite, Bong Joon-ho blended art and entertainment beautifully

A VERY MURRAY CHRISTMAS
Credit: Ali Goldstein/©Netflix/Courtesy Everett Collection

A Very Murray Christmas (2015)

For just an hourlong dose of holiday cheer (plus a little holiday gloom, and a hint of a holiday existential crisis), try Sofia Coppola's curious one-off Christmas special surrounding her longtime collaborator Bill Murray (who also co-wrote it). Murray plays himself, angsty on Christmas Eve because the winter weather has prevented the arrival of all of the celebrity guests scheduled to appear on his televised holiday special at the Carlyle Hotel. Stuck in a snowstorm and a power outage, he retreats to the hotel bar, where he befriends the various mismatched characters he finds there, and they all sing their way through a few holiday tunes.

Talent: Bill Murray, Chris Rock, Rashida Jones, Jason Schwartzman, Maya Rudolph, Michael Cera, Jenny Lewis, Amy Poehler, George Clooney, Miley Cyrus

Related: Sofia Coppola movies, ranked

Want more movie news? Sign up for Entertainment Weekly's free newsletter to get the latest trailers, celebrity interviews, film reviews, and more.

Related content: 


Comments have been disabled on this post