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The 25 best Christmas movies on Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Disney Plus

15. Arthur Christmas (2011) 

(Image credit: Sony)

Where you can watch: Netflix (UK)

The film: Ever wondered how Santa gets all his deliveries done in one night? Well, Arthur Christmas has answered that question, taking a peek behind the North Pole curtain to reveal a massive, high-tech operation that employs hundreds of elves. They’re all stationed on the S-1, a sleigh-esque spacecraft that’s a mile wide. It also happens to be the home of Arthur (James McAvoy), Santa’s good-natured son, who discovers that – for all its bells and whistles – the S-1 has failed to deliver a little girl’s Christmas present. It’s down to him to rectify the situation and save Christmas. 

Why it’s worth a watch: Although it’s a 3D animated film, Arthur Christmas actually comes Aardman Animations, best known for making Wallace and Gromit and Chicken Run. They’re also a studio who we’ve come to rely on when it comes to bringing both the humour and the heart, which Arthur Christmas thankfully isn’t in short supply of. 

14. Ghostbusters 2 (1989)

(Image credit: Columbia Pictures)

Where you can watch: Netflix (UK)

The film: Yes, Ghostbusters II is a Christmas film. It takes place over the holiday period, with the climax happening on New Year’s Eve, and – most importantly – Bill Murray et al don Santa hats at one point. That said, the plot is maybe a little more Halloween-appropriate in tone, as the team must combat an infestation of ghostly slime and defeat the spirit of Vigo the Carpathian, a 16th-century tyrant who’s been haunting his portrait in the Manhattan Museum of Art. 

Why it’s worth a watch: Even if Ghostbusters II isn’t as Christmassy as the other entries on this list, it’s a good enough excuse to spend some time with this unstoppable quartet of ‘80s comedians. Although the jokes aren’t quite as sharp and the storytelling is a little creaky (how exactly did Sigourney Weaver’s character go from being a cellist to an art restorer in the space of five years?), it’s still a blast watching Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, and Ernie Hudson strap those proton packs on once more. 

13. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005)

(Image credit: Disney)

Where you can watch: Disney Plus

The film: It was a logical move for Disney. New Line Cinema had made billions out of adapting J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings books, so why not tackle the work of the author’s close friend, C.S. Lewis? The Chronicles of Narnia were similar in tone, consisting of epic fantasy adventures that touched on religious allegory.  The ploy seemed to work at first. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe made $745 million worldwide, but its sequels – Prince Caspian and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader – quickly stopped the franchise in its tracks. 

Why it’s worth a watch: Whatever the eventual fate of Narnia might be, the first film still deserves to become an annual holiday tradition. From the sight of Mr. Tumnus the faun, wrapped up in a hand-knit scarf, to the White Witch offering tea and Turkish Delights from her fur-swaddled sleigh – everything about this film just screams Christmas. 

12. Brazil (1985)

(Image credit: Fox)

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

The film: Admittedly, calling Brazil a Christmas film is pushing the boundaries a little bit. But it is, technically, set during the holiday period, even if all we see are the occasional background tree and one use of a Santa costume. You could even argue that when the film’s hero Sam Lowry (Jonathan Pryce) daydreams about himself as an angelic warrior, he’s actually imagining himself as a Christmas tree topping. Whatever the case, Brazil is the kind of Christmas film that’s ideal for anyone who feels a little cynical about the season. The film focuses on Sam Lowry’s misfortunes at the hands of a dystopian, totalitarian government, whose idea of bureaucracy is absurd and utterly Kafkaesque. Merry Christmas! 

Why it’s worth a watch: Terry Gilliam’s cult film beautifully interweaves bleak humour, romance, and fantasy – packed all into one of the most immersive and detailed sci-fi worlds ever created. Even if it doesn’t fill you with holiday spirit, it’s still worth a watch.

11. Miracle on 34th Street (1947)

(Image credit: Fox)

Where you can watch: Disney Plus

The film: Miracle on 34th Street has the honour of being one of only a few films preserved in the Library of Congress, due to it being “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant”. The film sees the real Kris Kringle hired to play Santa at Macy’s flagship store in New York. No one believes him, so he sets out to convert the cynical, convince the city hidden he’s secretly a mystical, ageless being, and spread some much-needed holiday spirit.  

Why it’s worth a watch: Forget about the '90s remake – this has everything you need. It takes a generous approach toward the season, acknowledging how easy it can be to get wrapped up in the rampaging consumerism and stress of last-minute presents shopping. But, at the end of the day, it seeks out something purer: the innocent thrill of a young child whose imagination has just been fired up. Miracle on 34th Street makes us all believe in magic.

10. Klaus (2019)

(Image credit: Netflix)

Where you can watch: Netflix (US/UK)

The film: Klaus has the honour of being Netflix’s first original animated feature. It makes sense that they’d go for a Christmas film, since there’s always been such a time-honoured tradition of holiday-themed animations – think 1964’s stop-motion version of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer or 1982’s The Snowman. This film offers a new origin story for Santa Claus, dealing with a postman who befriends a reclusive toymaker.

Why it’s worth a watch: It’s the newest film on this list, which makes it a great option if you’re a cinephile and a Christmas enthusiast who might have run out of things to watch. And, although it’s always a little early to decide these things, Klaus really does have the makings of a future classic. It’s a traditionally-animated film that looks absolutely gorgeous, with a sweet sentimentality that harkens back to the Disney Renaissance of the '90s. 

9. Paddington (2014)

(Image credit: StudioCanal)

Where you can watch: Amazon Prime (UK)

The film: Although its story isn’t strictly about Christmas, there are few films that better capture the real meaning of the holiday – as a time to come together and to show each other generosity. Based on the charming ursine children’s character, created by Michael Bond, Paddington sees our hero travel from the jungles of Peru to London, finding a new home with the Brown family. Yet he’s soon targeted by a vicious taxidermist (Nicole Kidman), who’ll do anything to add him to her collection. 

Why it’s worth a watch: Paddington remains one of the most heartfelt children’s films of the decade, surpassed only by its (comparatively non-Christmassy) sequel. With gentle wit and good, old-fashioned British manners, it teaches children everywhere to welcome the world in with open arms and fight xenophobia in whatever form it may take – even if it’s wrapped up in an anti-bear agenda. 

8. Scrooged (1988)

(Image credit: Paramount pictures)

Where you can watch: Amazon Prime (UK)

The film: Bill Murray, Hollywood’s favourite grump, was born to play Ebenezer Scrooge. This '80s comedy, however, gives Dickens’ classic a modern spin – Scrooge is now Frank Cross, a sardonic, outwardly cruel TV executive. Frank has pushed his employees over the edge, all because of his fixation on creating the most elaborate production of A Christmas Carol ever made. He’s visited by the ghost of his old mentor (John Forsythe), who warns him that three more spirits will appear in order to warn Frank of the future and save his soul. 

Why it’s worth a watch: Murray and his trademark cocktail of dry sarcasm, melancholy, and rage might dominate the film, but there are still plenty of inventive twists to be found here. Chief among them is Carol Kane’s Ghost of Christmas Present, who sugar-laced voice hides a violent streak. Karen Allen, best known for her role as Marion Ravenwood in Raiders of the Lost Ark, also makes for an adorable love interest. 

7. Love Actually

(Image credit: StudioCanal)

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

The film: Although Love Actually may have its fair share of detractors, what’s certain is that there is no other Christmas film quite as British as this. Director Richard Curtis wrangled a veritable who’s who of UK talent, including Hugh Grant, Emma Thompson, Alan Rickman, Keira Knightley Liam Neeson, Bill Nighy, Colin Firth, and Chiwetel Ejiofor. 

Why it’s worth a watch: As a collection of interweaving stories, all centred on the theme of love, some moments are more fondly remembered than others. On the one hand, the cute vs. creepy factor of Andrew Lincoln’s Mark turning up on his best friend’s doorstep to try and woo his wife has been the subject of many a heated debate. On the other hand, it’s impossible not to cry while Emma Thompson excuses herself on Christmas Day to weep over the discovery of her husband’s affair – before plastering a smile on her face and getting back to her motherly duties. 

6. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

(Image credit: Disney)

Where you can watch: Disney+ 

The film: Tim Burton has created a handy dual-purpose film here, applicable both to the Halloween and Christmas seasons – in fact, it’s appropriate to watch at any point between August and January. Based on a poem written by the director, The Nightmare Before Christmas imagines that each holiday has its own world. When Jack Skellington, the King of Halloweentown, stumbles on Christmastown, his ensuing obsession threatens disaster for all. 

Why it’s worth a watch: Burton’s creations have taken on a life of their own. The film was, at first, buried by Disney, who thought it was too dark for children and released it under their Touchstone Pictures label. But the film’s ghoulish sensibility and daring originality meant people took notice and, soon enough, Jack Skellington had become a mascot for goth teens everywhere. 

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