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The 25 best festive films on Netflix, Amazon Prime, and more

Temperatures are dropping, everyone’s shopping, and… uhh, yes, it appears seasonal cheer truly is infectious, folks. There’s no avoiding it: we’re in the thick of the holidays now. And, depending on your temperament, that may bring a feeling of joy or a feeling of “Gah! How can I perfect my sprouts this year?!” But don’t worry, because I’m going to let you in on a little secret: *whispers* The holiday spirit is really about watching as many of the best Christmas movies possible. 

What? It is! Luckily, all the worry over a) what to watch and b) where to watch it has been taken care of by me. Yes, I’ve scoured through the best Netflix Christmas movies - seriously, they have loads - and I’ve hand-picked the best Amazon Prime Christmas movies, leaving you with this fantastic list of the best festive films you can stream right now. Whether you’re watching solo, or gathered around the TV with your nearest and dearest, there’s something here for everyone. Happy Bingei- I mean, Holidays!

25. Hector (2015)

Where you can watch: Netflix (UK, US)

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 film 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: Netflix (UK), Starz (US)

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 2 (1989)

Where you can watch: Netflix (UK, US), Now TV (UK), Sky Go (UK)

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. What else do you need?

22. The Holiday (2006)

Where you can watch: Netflix (UK), Amazon Prime (UK), Freeform (US)

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: iTunes (UK), Amazon Prime (US), Hulu (US)

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. Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale is the perfect antidote if you've had a little too much of the saccharine-sweet holidays...

20. Happy Christmas (2014)  

Where you can watch: Amazon Video (UK), Hulu (US)

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 the trainwreck of a young woman who starts to act out in the most un-festive of ways. 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. Trading Places (1983)

Where you can watch it: Sky Go (UK), Now TV (UK), Amazon Video (US), YouTube Play (US)

Christmas is a time to remember those less fortunate than yourself. Silliness spins from that seasonal sentiment in this ‘80s classic from John Landis, that asks you to please spare a thought for poor Louis Winthorpe III (Dan Aykroyd), who is forced to think of others when he trades places with street bum Billy Ray Valentine (Eddie Murphy) as part of a wager. It’s not Louis’s choice, exactly, to give up wealth but one put upon him by two crusty old CEOs from his firm. The amusing scenarios that emerge from his being penniless, while being heartbreaking too, are hilarious. This is prime-time Aykroyd and Murphy, who bring this black comedy to life by giving their very best to a Christmas fable that, uhh, involves a pivotal scene at the New York Stock Exchange. Doesn’t sound festive, but trust me: it’ll have you grinning from ear-to-ear.

18. Go (1999)

Where you can watch: Rakuten TV (UK), Playstation Store (UK), Amazon Video (US), Vudu (US)

Writer-director Doug Liman (he of Edge of Tomorrow fame) delivers a brilliant slice of action comedy set during the 24-hour period between Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. In the vein of Shane Black's festive movies, Go involves a frantic web of plottings told from three separate angles. Sarah Polley's supermarket girl Ronna decides to hustle some extra cash via a yuletide drug deal that unexpectedly lands in her lap. From thereon out, things spin out of control, as the plot pulls backwards and forwards, revealing more of the story which involves soap opera actors after a hit, undercover cops desperate to bust someone, and a whole sub-plot wherein Timothy Olyphant is topless save for a Santa hat. 

17. Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984) 

Where you can watch: YouTube (UK), Shudder (US)

One of the best Christmas horror movies also doubles as a terrific seasonal slasher. Santa Claus is a figure to be feared in this eighties stalk 'n' slash, that essentially recreates the original 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, and what better time to wreak havoc than at Christmas? Perhaps not one to watch with your grandma. 

16. The Christmas Chronicles (2018)

Where you can watch: Netflix (UK, US)

Sometimes it can be jolly good fun to imagine our favourite movie characters bursting from their known movie-verses into new ones. Take The Christmas Chronicles, for example, which stars Kurt Russell as Santa Claus. The Christmas Chronicles is really about one matter that every kid has wondered at some point: what would you do if you caught Santa on film? For siblings Kate and Teddy that’s their Christmas wish. Their plan takes them onto a winter wonderland adventure which, granted, hits mostly predictable beats, and offers a similar denouement to other Christmas movies. But that’s now what makes this appealing: that’s Russell, who absolutely steals the show as the gruff man of the season, cementing his version into cinema history as one of the best Santas ever.

Gem is GR+'s west coast entertainment news reporter. She’s a bit obsessed with all things Aliens and Terminator.