There is much to enjoy about this time of year: an abundance of baked goodies, Christmas music, festive decorations, and people generally being in better moods. Out of all the wonderful things about the Christmas season, one of my favorites is the annual slate of Christmas movies from Hallmark and Netflix. Many are surprised by this about me, but they shouldn’t be.
Netflix and Hallmark Christmas movies are as good of examples of storytelling through the medium of TV as can be found. They’re warmhearted, fun, and heartstring-tugging tales set during one of the best times of the year. As a general rule, the acting is serviceable, the script usually has a clear through-line of action and a well-defined climax and resolution, and the technical aspects are done well — and all without a trace of the irritating cynicism that seems to be the dominant cinematic tone of today’s directors. Yes, the plots are simple and the movies will never vie for prestigious awards. But why should that matter? Obviously, for those with a heart, it shouldn’t matter, because, best of all, these movies are like the Christmas spirit equivalent of doing shots of Everclear: both are chock full of what you want and both work very quickly. So, if you haven’t already, take some time this Christmas season to watch the ten movies listed below. If you’ve already watched them, no doubt you need little prompting to enjoy them again.
10. A Christmas Prince: The Royal Wedding
To be honest, I was a little disappointed with Netflix’s sequel to A Christmas Prince (further down this list). But, my disappointment was a product of my high expectations. Watch this one (and you should watch this one), but do so with realistic expectations.
9. The Holiday Calendar
My one quibble with The Holiday Calendar is how quickly Abby, played by Kat Graham, comes to doubt the direction in which the antique calendar has been pointing her. I won’t say more, because I don’t want to give anything away. Other than that, this is a fun movie that is fairly well acted.
8. A Royal Christmas
I have a huge soft spot for the “normal girl finds out her beau is royalty” genre, as this list demonstrates. A Royal Christmas borrows heavily from The Princess Diaries, but who cares? It’s fun, provides good dramatic tension, and comes complete with a heartwarming ending.
7. The Princess Switch
The Princess Switch would be higher on this list, but the acting is uneven in this 2018 Christmas movie offering from Netflix. That being said, I love this movie! Using the tried and true plot device of characters switching roles to help learn and experience things otherwise out of their reach only to be surprised by an experience they weren’t expecting, The Princess Switch is a lot of fun.
This Hallmark movie from 2014 has both a tender love story involving a single mom and her son’s caring teacher and an elf sent by Santa to convince the town to help save Christmas. The elf, played by Bailee Madison, is all optimistic fun. The love story is tender and touching.
5. Christmas in Evergreen: Letters to Santa
Movie sequels often fall short of the original. While Christmas in Evergreen: Letters to Santa isn’t as good as the original, it also bucks the trend of sequels failing to live up to the first movie. While not quite as good as the original, it’s close. With a strong cast and a festively romantic plot, the movie transports viewers back to Evergreen, a fictional town that should become a favorite of those who love Christmas movies. No doubt, Hallmark will make more Christmas in Evergreen movies, and I look forward to watching them.
4. Christmas Inheritance
Spoiled city girl Ellen, played by Eliza Taylor, learns about the charms of small-town life after she is tasked with delivering a box of letters to her father’s business partner. There are really no surprises in this movie for the viewer, but Christmas Inheritance is so well done that you won’t’ care. As a bonus, the movie’s cast includes Andie MacDowell, who has learned how to act since her movie star days.
3. Poinsettias for Christmas
Apropos to nothing, I have been mispronouncing poinsettias my entire life. Like many Christmas movies, Poinsettias for Christmas is about a return to familial roots. Ellie, played by Bethany Joy Lenz, is confronted with how chasing her dreams is unfulfilling because her heart belongs at home. Also, this is a Lifetime movie and not a Netflix nor Hallmark movie, but who’s counting?
2. A Christmas Prince
If you don’t tear up at least a little when Prince Richard, played by Ben Lamb, turns up in New York to propose to Amber, played by Rose McIver, then I’m assuming that you hate puppies, chocolate, and birth announcement videos. In a word, disliking A Christmas Prince signals that you are a Scrooge. Watching A Christmas Prince (along with several others from this list) is now an annual Christmas tradition in my family.
1. Christmas in Evergreen
How dark does your soul have to be in order to not love Christmas in Evergreen? I cried multiple times watching this wonderful movie. In a perfect world, Ashley Williams would be cast in every Christmas movie produced.