The good, the bad, the quirky, the absolutely nonsensical – Christmas movies come in many forms. As somewhat of a connoisseur of all things rom-com year-round, here are five movies I recommend adding to your Netflix list or renting to get in the holiday spirit.
A California Christmas
A handsome young heir to a fortune that’s never explicitly stated but gives off BIG Amazon energy travels from Los Angeles to California’s wine country to persuade a tough-as-nails rancher to sell her farm to their company to be used as warehouses and shipping centers (See? I told you. Amazon). Of course, the rancher is hot, the heir is shallow but hot, and they fall in love. But alas, the heir gets involved in a tangled web of lies that leads the rancher to believe he’s not a rich boy here to take her property, but a ranch hand there to aid the struggling farm. The protagonists have great chemistry (a light Google led me to find out the pair is married in real life – precious!) and most side characters provide great comic relief for an otherwise absurd situation. And when the truth eventually comes out, you’ll be heartened to see that the spirit of Christmas has softened the cold, cold heart of our stand-in Amazon heir. Hooray for hot people getting together! Available to stream on Netflix.
I’d be remiss to not mention this film – it seemed like my entire Twitter feed (myself included) had a countdown clock of sorts, just waiting for this star-studded movie to hit Hulu. Romantic Abby and reserved Harper head to the latter’s hometown for the holidays. But when Abby finds out Harper hasn’t come out to her family, their perfect Christmas along with Abby’s plan to propose in front of family and friends, is thrown out the window. While there are plenty of tense “Will they find out?” moments paired with great comic relief courtesy of Dan Levy, Aubrey Plaza and the film’s cowriter Mary Holland to keep you engaged, some of the movie proves downright frustrating. And while the ending surely oversimplifies a complex turn of events that leads Harper to keep this secret to begin with, a fun romp with representation of a couple that’s not just comprised of straight people is refreshing to see. Here’s to hoping we see more representation in cheesy Christmas films throughout holiday seasons to come. Available to stream on Hulu.
Mumblecore fans, this one’s for you. Not only did Joe Swanberg direct this 2014 film, he also stars in it as the big brother to troublemaking Jenny (Anna Kendrick, ever heard of her?) who crashes with him and his wife Kelly after a bad breakup. While hoping she’ll help the overwhelmed Kelly, an aspiring novelist, care for the couple’s toddler son as she works toward writing a new novel, Jenny’s antics both cause chaos and provide a new lens through which the characters view their current selves. Jenny’s brand of acting out is relatable to anyone who’s felt like the holiday season only magnifies what they feel like they’re missing in life, while also providing comfort in the fact that feeling this way is an almost universal experience at times. What’s more festive than a minor existential crisis, right? Find streaming and rental options here via JustWatch.
This film will make you feel a whirlwind of emotions, mostly confusion. A down-on-her-luck puppeteer (now that’s a new one for the list of quirky jobs women have in rom-coms) returns to smalltown Maine for Christmas after losing her job. Sounds typical enough, right? Well, Sloane inherits her sassy grandma’s ‘63 Rambler, takes a job at a Christmas tree farm with her childhood friend, has a best friend who’s really into paintball and frequently shoots her, and discovers she may have repressed knowledge of a secret treasure her grandpa hid in the town – but, she only gets clues when she’s in the throes of a near-death experience. It’s a lot. I’m still not really sure what I watched, but I had a great time. Grab some hot spiked cider and be prepared to mutter “What the hell?” under your breath a lot. Available to stream on Netflix.
If I were in charge, I would have called this movie “Millennial Christmas Struggle Film.” While its character’s convoluted arc spans far beyond Christmas, if you’re in your mid- to late twenties and single, I’m sure you’re also used to the choruses of “Are you still single?” at the holidays, much like our protagonist Sloane (yes, another Sloane in a holiday movie). And when she fake-dates a handsome playboy to get her friends and family out of her business, you can easily see the ending from a mile away. The premise is clever enough to keep you watching, however, and Sloane’s work-from-home woes are not dissimilar to the ones we’ve all faced this year, albeit this movie clearly takes place pre-pandemic. Although there were times I questioned the chemistry of Sloane and her would-be beau, a relatable and predictable holiday romp is just what we all need this year. Available to stream on Netflix.
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