There’s something about a classic holiday movie that just helps you feel like it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.
Sure, you can stumble on some great Christmas flicks on cable throughout December, but Netflix also has a handful ready for your streaming pleasure. Admittedly, the selection isn’t great, but there are a few gems hidden alongside a bunch of made-for-TV movies and forgotten flops that make up the majority of Netflix’s holiday selections.
Here’s a look at a handful of Christmas movies and shows now streaming on Netflix, a few that are worth renting and even a YouTube documentary that are ready for your holiday binge-watching.
The Fitzgerald Family Christmas
Starring Edward Burns—who also wrote and directed the film—and Connie Britton, The Fitzgerald Family Christmas is more down-to-earth than a lot of Christmas movies, with a plot more focused on family troubles than family fun. But underneath the drama and struggles—with addiction, abandonment and emotional recovery—the movie is really about the power of forgiveness.
A Very Murray Christmas
Bill Murray’s ode to primetime Christmas specials and variety shows of yesteryear is a breezy celebrity-packed hour of music. It’s a nice departure from sentimental movies and self-serious classics.
Ernest Saves Christmas
Ernest Saves Christmas is a lot weirder than you remember. It’s definitely not a good movie by any conventional standards, but is worth watching just to ponder how bizarre of a franchise Ernest was. The movie has some surprisingly dark moments for a kids film (including Santa assaulting a movie director) and a plot that is basically subversive commentary about the evils of Hollywood, but Jim Varney’s physical comedy is still uniquely funny no matter how old you are.
The Office Christmas episode: Season 2
The annual Office Christmas episode was usually a season highlight, but none came close to the subtle awkwardness of the first. Like the series itself, the Christmas shows got increasingly absurd and unrelateable as the premise dragged on, but season 2’s “Christmas Party” was everything that was great about the show: Steve Carell was at his peak Michael Scott-ness while pouting about an oven mitt he’d received as a gift; the mundanity of office life getting broken up by an even more mundane party; Jim and Pam at the height of their pre-dating romantic tension. Though it’s not a movie, it still holds up as one of the best repeat Christmas viewings on Netflix.
The Nightmare Before Christmas
Sort of the anti-Dr. Seuss Christmas movie, The Nightmare Before Christmas is probably Tim Burton’s most recognized visual achievement. Even if you’re not a fan of the creepy twist on typical Christmas pop-culture parables, the insanely tedious artistry used in the stop-animation is worth the viewing experience alone.
Worth the Rental
Sure, you’ve probably seen it 1,000 times and can quote almost every scene. But, listen, it’s a holiday tradition. Carve out an hour and a half, put on an ugly sweater, pour some eggnog and watch Christmas Vacation.
A Charlie Brown Christmas
Still one of TV’s most simple and compelling presentations of the Gospel.
Just in Case A Very Murray Christmas wasn’t enough to satisfy your Bill Murray fix this Christmas, his 1988 twist on the Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol still holds up as a work of Golden-era Murray.
There is no way that a home invasion comedy—whose biggest punchlines come in the form of elaborate torture devices—marketed to children would work today. Watch Home Alone, laugh at the live-action Tom & Jerry high jinks, and think about the simpler times, when intentionally scalding someone’s head with a blow-torch was seen as an acceptable form of PG comedy.
The best thing about Will Ferrell’s modern Christmas classic is that it’s just as funny for kids as it is for adults.
What Would Jesus Buy?
Produced by documentary filmmaker Morgan Spurlock, 2007’s documentary What Would Jesus Buy is a provocative film. Starring “Reverend Billy”—a satirical televangelist character created by performance artist Billy Talen—the movie looks at the “religion” of consumerism and its relationship with the holiday of Christmas. The at-times irreverent tone, the startling stats and the overall message don’t make it an easy watch, but, in a way, that’s what makes it so interesting. Even if you don’t agree with his methods or all of his messages, Billy is a compelling figure, and his message of anti-consumption is a sobering reminder of what Christmas has become.
Jesse Carey is a mainstay on the weekly RELEVANT Podcast and member of RELEVANT's executive board. He lives in Virginia Beach with his wife and two kids.