My love of Christmas movies started when my husband and I first moved in together and we spent our first holiday season together watching cheesy Christmas movies every weekend. Actually, maybe my love of the holiday genre started with It’s A Wonderful Life, which is one of my favorite movies of all time. I’ve probably seen it thirty times and it never gets old. I like the low stakes of Christmas stories, the predictability, the winter fashions, and I also appreciate how most holiday movies have an ensemble cast, so you can watch them over and over again and notice all the little moments between the minor players that you may have missed the first time.
This list includes a couple of my favorites, as well as some that I haven’t seen yet and am adding to my list for this year. Enjoy!
Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001)
Director: Sharon Maguire
Writer: Helen Fielding
This is a personal favorite. The book is hilarious and the film captures its zany energy. Also, it’s perfectly cast, despite worries at the time that Renee Zellweger was not sufficiently British enough to pull it off. I don’t know if it officially falls into the Christmas Movie category, but it starts and ends with holiday parties, so it counts in my book.
The Holiday (2006)
Writer& Director: Nancy Meyers
This movie is ridiculous and doesn’t make a lot of sense, but I’ve watched it several times for the beautiful houses and for Carmen Diaz’s flamboyant coats. A good movie to put on while you wrap presents or decorate sugar cookies.
Director: Todd Haynes
Writer: Phyllis Nagy
I’ve only seen this once, but I’m haunted by Cate Blanchett’s perfectly midcentury lunch order of creamed spinach and a martini. It’s streaming on Netflix, so I’m hoping to return to it one of these nights.
The Nativity Story (2006)
Director: Catherine Hardwicke
Writer: Mike Rich
This has a bad score on Rotten Tomatoes but I found it surprisingly entertaining. It’s mostly told from the perspective of Mary, and, for a movie with literal representations of angels and the holy spirit, is very grounded in reality. It asks you to imagine Mary and Joseph as young newlyweds who have to deal with an unplanned pregnancy. If you’re in the mood to see a pretty faithful biblical reenactment, this version is sincere and humane — and with a young Oscar Isaac as Joseph.
The Preacher’s Wife (1996)
Director: Penny Marshall
Writer: Nat Maudlin, Allan Scott, Leonardo Bercovici
I’ve never seen this, but I discovered it when I was making this list and now it’s on my watchlist. It’s directed by Penny Marshall with a cast that includes Whitney Houston, Denzel Washington, and Courtney B. Vance.
Holiday Affair (1949)
Director: Don Hartman
Writer: Isobel Lennart
This is another one I’ve never seen and that Rotten Tomatoes calls “a disarming little trifle,” which sounds like a Christmas dessert. It stars Janet Leigh — why not give it a try?
Let It Snow (2019)
Director: Luke Snellin
Writers: Laura Solon, Victoria Strouse, Kay Cannon (Netflix Film)
This is a new Netflix movie that, quite honestly, looks a bit too teenagerish for my tastes, especially considering the number of Netflix high school rom-coms I’ve watched in the past couple of years. But, it also seems sweet, with a relaxing with a Midwestern setting and a young ensemble cast.