Christmas only comes once a year, hence the need for making wise entertainment decisions. Whether it's Macaulay Culkin fending off the wet bandits, Chevy Chase tackling a squirrel, or Bruce Willis beating up terrorists (yes, I'm including it), some festive films are just as important to Christmas as the tree, turkey, and stuffing.
But if you don't have the time, space or sanity left to pick up all your much-loved Christmas movies don't worry; this year it's all about streaming. There's something for everyone on Netflix, Amazon Prime, and a bunch of other places. To save you hours of scrolling through apps, several thousand cable channels or Sky TV in search of a classic, here's our gift to you: I've rounded up the best movies to stream and where you can watch them.
25. Hector (2015)
Where you can watch: Netflix (UK, US)
The film: For many of us, Christmas is a time of the year to juggle the occasional family spat while making sure everyone is embracing the festivities. Hector feels like the movie equivalent of that bittersweet holiday vibe, mixing life's unexpected moments of joy with its more downbeat notes. Imagine if Ken Loach did a Christmas movie and then made it slightly upbeat.
Peter Mullan stars as Hector, a homeless Scot who makes the annual trek from Glasgow to London every year for a turkey feast at a hostel. This year's journey finds the grizzled nomad on a new path, deciding to stop off along the way to visit his long estranged siblings and rekindle past relationships. While it doesn't cherry coat the realities of Hector's homelessness, it's still turns out to be quite the winter warmer.
24. Arthur Christmas (2011)
Where you can watch: Vudu (US), Netflix (UK)
The film: Children the world over have wondered the same thing at Christmas for generations; just how does Santa make all his deliveries in one night? The Aardman team decided to answer that in the best way possible, tackling the traditions within Santa's workshop for this massively underrated festive flick.
Known for their work on Wallace and Gromit and Chicken Run, Aardman packs that same feeling of fun, warmth and frivolity into this fun tale that delves into what happens at Santa HQ when everything goes wrong. It turns out Santa's high-tech operation goes ka-flooey on Christmas Eve, leaving one poor kid singled out with no present. This is where the loveable Arthur Christmas comes in, Santa's youngest child, to ensure the gift finds its home. This is a good one to watch with the whole family - yes, no car chases or shoot-outs, alas - that has an absolutely cracking voice cast.
23. Ghostbusters II (1989)
Where you can watch: Amazon Video (US), Netflix (UK), Now TV (UK), Sky Go (UK)
The film: The underrated sequel to the greatest comedy of the '80s. Ghostbusters 2 has some weird moments and fewer funnies than the first installment, but it's still fantastic to see the whole gang back together. This time around the ghoul grabbers are chasing down a river of ooze that's turning New Yorkers into savage rage-filled monsters. Oh, and there's a thing with a haunted painting too for good measure.
What's that you say? It's not a Christmas film? Sure it is, it takes place over the holidays, climaxing on New Year's Eve. And let's not forget we get to see the Ghostbusters wearing Santa hats.
22. The Holiday (2006)
Where you can watch: Amazon Prime (US), Hulu (US), Amazon Prime (UK)
The film: When the wintry nights set in and the thought of snuggling up with a movie sounds like bliss after a long day, you can't beat a good, cosy romantic comedy. Kate Winslet plays a downtrodden London editor who decides to spice things up for Christmas with a house swap. She goes to stay in sunny Los Angeles, while Cameron Diaz's movie trailer editor (seriously, cool job) hightails it to her snug English countryside cottage.
It might sound like a recipe for silliness, yet this Nancy Meyer romcom is more sweet than irritating even if it's a tad predictable. Winslet and Diaz are terrific but the best part is the budding friendship between Winslet and Eli Wallach's old Hollywood screenwriter. The Holiday adapts the classic "fish out of water" set-up into a feelgood festive caper that's absolutely bursting with goodwill and merriment.
21. Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (2010)
Where you can watch: Amazon Prime (US), iTunes (UK)
The film: Ever wondered where the myth of Father Christmas came from? Jalmari Helander's sick rewrite of conventional wisdom suggests Santa is a nightmarish beast supported by an army of ravenous elves.
This horror outing might make you reconsider leaving a mince pie for Santa that's not laced with arsenic. True to legend, the 'real' Santa cares if you're naughty or nice... but only because he kills anyone who falls into the former category.
20. Happy Christmas (2014)
Where you can watch: Hulu (US), Netflix (UK)
The film: Had enough of the selfless generosity of the festive season? Then this is the film for you. After going through a painful break-up Jenny moves in with her brother, his wife and their two-year-old child.
Indie queen Anna Kendrick steals the show as that very trainwreck. It's as if the spirit of Christmas has deserted her and she's been replaced by an egocentric, alcoholic robot. Alright, so she's basically Bender. Drinking Buddies director Joe Swanberg enlists the always-brilliant Melanie Lynskey and Girls' Lena Dunham to round out the cast.
19. Scrooged (1988)
Where you can watch: Vudu (US), Netflix (UK) Now TV (UK) Amazon Prime (UK) Sky Go (UK)
The film: Charles Dickens' classic gets a blackly comedic do-over with Bill Murray cast as the Ebenezer Scrooge-esque Frank Cross. Instead of being a Victorian miser, here he plays a cynical TV executive who doesn't give a flying hoot about Christmas and is only interested in bettering his career. his high-powered position hangs in the balance on Christmas Eve depending on how successful the network's live TV broadcast of A Christmas Carol goes.
Coincidentally, that iconic trio of ghosts pay him a visit in the middle of all that. Murray does meta! Yes, it's a little self-referential, and it surprisingly works well due to Murray's dry-as-a-bone comic timing. A cracking slice of black comedy to balance out the scores of syrupy movies clogging up the TV at Chrimbo.
18. The Polar Express (2004)
Where you can watch: Amazon Video (US), Now TV (UK), Sky Go (UK)
The film: When it first opened, folks weren't sure what to make of Robert Zemeckis' ambitious Christmas flick. An animated caper telling of a magical train that scoops up kiddies, whisking them away on a journey to the North Pole, it escapes the "been there, done that" element through style.
How so? Well, this is one of the first big-budget motion-capture flicks. Sorry, one of the first that doesn't include Gollum. Tom Hanks' turn as the conductor is absolutely brilliant, and a sign of things to come for the CGI medium. You'll be enchanted by the story and the tech.
17. Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984)
Where you can watch: Google Play (US), Netflix (UK), Shudder (UK)
The film: One of the best Christmas horrors also doubles as a terrific seasonal slasher. Santa Claus is a figure to be feared in this eighties stalk n'slash, that essentially recreates Halloween but with someone in a red and white outfit instead of a William Shatner mask.
The knife-wielding maniac at its heart - the terrifyingly-named Andy - turns into a savage Santa after witnessing the vicious murders of his parents. Takes him a decade or two to let that repressed rage simmer, but once it does, he's out for blood. Perhaps not one to watch with gran.
16. Jingle All The Way (1996)
Where you can watch: Starz (US), Netflix (UK)
The film: Two dads go head-to-head at Christmas time in a bid to buy the most sought after toy for sale. Arnold Schwarzenegger plays workaholic Howard Langston, whose long hours in the office mean he has little time for his family. In a last ditch attempt to salvage his sons affections and save Christmas, Howard battles his way through the crowds to get his son the toy of the moment, Turbo-Man.
It may not boast a sophisticated plot, but if you're looking for some silly fun this film won't disappoint.