The Best Christmas Movies To Get You Into The Festive Spirit

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It is indeed that time of the year where we unapologetically crave some feel-good viewing and that's where watching Christmas movies fits perfectly into festive traditions.
After what's been another eventful and unpredictable year, there'd be many of us looking for that escapism and joy, whether that be cheesy and predictable rom-coms, hilariously entertaining family adventures, or nostalgic animated fantasies.
Here I share some of my favourite Christmas movies, as well the must-see picks from colleagues. From classics to more contemporary releases, enjoy this list of unmissable Xmas fun.

1. Miracle On 34th Street

This 1994 remake of the 1947 original is honestly one of my favourite Christmas movies ever and it's a classic holiday film for the whole family.
Young Susan (played by Mara Wilson of Matilda fame) doesn't believe in Santa. When an elderly man is called in by Susan's mother to replace an intoxicated department store Santa, things start to change. Introducing himself only as Kris Kringle, he claims he's the real Santa Claus, leading to locals trying to sabotage him and landing him in a court case. There's a heartwarming message in this movie about the beauty in believing and Christmas wishes. You can watch Miracle On 34th Street on Disney+.

2. Love Hard

A fresh release to 2021's Xmas streaming lineup, Love Hard combines romance with the holiday spirit. Starring The Vampire Diaries actress Nina Dobrev, the Netflix original Christmas film sees her character Natalie get catfished when she thinks she's chatting to a dreamy guy, Tag (Darren Barnet from Never Have I Ever), but it's actually Tag's childhood friend Josh (Jimmy O. Yang).
This movie is just as much about the challenges of dating in the online world as it is about our desire for love and connection, especially during the festive seasons and also a big win for Asian representation. As Refinery29 Australia writer Maggie Zhou puts it, the casting of Jimmy O. Yang as a potential love interest welcomes a change from the problematic stereotypes about Asian men that have so often been perpetuated in Hollywood over the years. You can watch Love Hard on Netflix.

3. The Princess Switch

In what I claim is the best work by Vanessa Hudgens since High School Musical, this movie is perfect if you're looking for a 90-minute happily ever come Christmas time. You'll be seeing double because Hudgens plays two women, Stacy DeNovo, a baker who runs a popular pastry shop in America, and Lady Margaret Delacourt, Duchess of Montenaro in Belgravia, London.
These women are worlds apart in terms of where they live and the lives they lead, yet they look exactly the same and a chance encounter is just bound to happen. The Princess Switch provides the opportunity for these women to meet when DeNovo heads to Belgravia for a baking competition, and in a Parent-Trap style swap of sorts, they switch places and well, that's where things get interesting.
Not going to spoil it for you, but some unexpected romance is on the horizon. The popularity of this flick prompted the sequel, The Princess Switch: Switched Again last year, and the third instalment in 2021 called The Princess Switch 3: Romancing The Star. You can watch The Princess Switch on Netflix.

4. The Polar Express

This animated musical adventure is based on the 1985 book of the same name, and as cliche as this may sound, it reminds me of the magic of Christmas that you beautifully embrace as a child and then look back on fondly as an adult. I'm 29 and don't feel too old to watch this movie, where a young boy who doubts the existence of Santa Claus embarks on a magical adventure to the North Pole aboard the Polar Express train when it mysteriously stops in front of his house and the conductor (Hanks) ushers him in.
From the 'hot chocolate' musical sequence in the train carriage – I refuse to watch this movie without a cosy hot choccie in hand – to the gorgeous moment the little boy sees Santa's workshop, this film fills you with admiration for classic Christmas cheer and lessons of friendship and bravery.
My colleague Bianca agrees it's a must-see: "The uncanny valley style of animation makes it super creepy in the best way possible (I know it was also criticised for that, but my seven-year-old brain was fascinated when it came out)," she says. "It has a slightly blurred glaze to every scene which makes it very warm and nostalgic as well." You can watch The Polar Express on Netflix.

5. Love Actually

It's the film that's inspired many an impromptu cards-on-the-doorstep scenario. With a stellar ensemble cast including Emma Thompson, Jude Law, Liam Neeson, Keira Knightley, Hugh Grant and more, this 2003 film shows different aspects of love through 10 separate stories.
"I don't care if it makes me basic, this film hits me in the feels every single time and I genuinely look forward to watching it every year. Plus, 'eight is a lot of legs, David' is one of my favourite movie quotes of all time" – Trish
You can watch Love Actually on Amazon Prime Video, Binge and Stan.

6. Die Hard

It's the 1988 action thriller starring Bruce Willis that's sparked the age-old question, is it or isn't it a Christmas movie? Sarah puts this argument to rest.
"Die Hard is a Christmas movie and no I won't be taking questions a the time. Nothing has the Xmas spirit quite like John McClane (Willis) who puts his life on the line to save countless lives, and Christmas of course, during a very dramatic night in a high-rise office building. My family watches this movie every year on Christmas Eve, it is tradition!" – Sarah
You can watch Die Hard on Disney+.

7. Lord Of The Rings

Perhaps an unconventional choice of festive sorts, but if you think about it, getting lost in the world of Frodo and Gollum is a fantasy-filled and comforting way to unwind during Xmas.
"Some of my favourite earliest memories was going to the cinema on Boxing Day to watch each of the new releases. Since then, it's become a family tradition to watch LOTR on Boxing Day. We have to start at about 8am if we want to finish them in time (extended edition or GTFO!). It's always such a great day – we eat leftovers, choccies, drink champagne, and stay in our pyjamas all day. It's really our only time we get so much time together as a family these days" – Ally
You can watch Lord Of The Rings on Binge.

8. The Nightmare Before Christmas

Also known as Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas, the animated dark fantasy has been around for almost 30 years, telling the story of Jack Skellington, the King of 'Halloween Town', who comes across 'Christmas Town' and becomes obsessed with celebrating Xmas.
"I was a morbid child who was really into the aesthetic of this movie. I still know all the words to the songs, too" – Vanessa
You can watch The Nightmare Before Christmas on Disney+.

9. The Holiday

The 2006 movie is about two women (played by Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz) who swap lives and their perfect homes for a fortnight to escape their problems and heartbreak. Jack Black and Jude Law also star in this fan favourite so someone bring out the mistletoe stat.
"The Holiday [is my favourite Christmas movie] because Jude Law is literally a dream!" – Brittany
You can watch The Holiday on Amazon Prime Video.

10. Happiest Season

Starring the likes of Kristen Stewart, Mackenzie Davis, Alison Brie, Aubrey Plaza, Dan Levy and more, Happiest Season follows a woman who struggles to come out to her conservative parents while she and her girlfriend visit them during the Christmas holiday.
"It's one of the only queer Xmas films!" – Penny
You can watch Happiest Season on Amazon Prime Video.

11. Holidate

A relatively new addition to the roster of festive films, Holidate is a Netflix original that was released in 2020. Starring Emma Roberts and our own Aussie Luke Bracey who decide to be each other's holiday dates, it's a rom-com with enough predictability and cheesiness we all crave come Christmas Eve.
"I LOVED that Netflix movie Holidate. I felt that one in my bones as the only remaining single child in my family/extended family. Let a girl live. Also, Luke Bracey, date me!" – Megan
You can watch Holidate on Netflix.

12. How The Grinch Stole Christmas

Have you heard of Whoville? If not, you're in for a treat because I can vouch for it being one of the most wonderfully blissful and friendly fictional places of Xmas cheer that makes me return to this movie every year. The Grinch is a grouch when it comes to Christmas. He doesn't believe in it and most certainly won't be participating in any local decorating competitions. But things change when he meets six-year-old Cindy Lou.
You can watch How The Grinch Stole Christmas on Amazon Prime Video.
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