'Bad Santa' to 'Love Actually': 15 Christmas Movies to Stream This Holiday Season

7:42 AM 12/22/2016

by Farnoush Amiri

Your holiday-movie viewing guide.

Dimension Films/Photofest

Once a year, it finally becomes seasonally appropriate to binge-watch your favorite holiday movies, which stream yearlong on Hulu, Netflix, HBO Go and other platforms. 

To help get you in the holiday spirit, The Hollywood Reporter has created a list of classic and also untraditional holiday and Christmas-themed films that are streaming through the new year. Whether it is Tim Allen's The Santa Clause or Will Ferrell's Elf that gets you in the jolly mood this holiday season, they can be found on your favorite video-on-demand sites. And if you enjoy the more classic Christmas films, then A Christmas Carol and A Christmas Story have become available for streaming if you misplaced your VHS copy. 

  • 'A Christmas Story'


    MGM/UA Entertainment Company

    The 1983 Christmas comedy about a young boy's desire for a Red Ryder BB gun wrapped underneath the tree is one that has been played simultaneously on TNT and TBS all through Christmas Eve and into Christmas Day since 1997, becoming a holiday tradition for fans of the Bob Clark classic. The holiday film follows the events that transpire leading up to 9-year-old Ralphie's Christmas morning, when he discovers his long-awaited present, which results in him accidentally nearly shooting his eye out. Now, instead of sitting through holiday commercials, you can catch the festive flick on iTunes anytime before, during or after Christmas day. 

  • 'A Christmas Carol'

    iTunes/Amazon Video


    The 1984 adaptation of the classic Christmas story by Charles Dickens, narrating a miserly man's lack of merriment on Christmas Eve, is one that is a staple during the holiday season. While avoiding celebrating the holidays, Ebenezer Scrooge encounters the Ghost of Christmas Past, who takes him back to his childhood to relate to him the joys of Christmas, along with the Ghosts of Christmas Present and Future. The movie, originally made for television, can now be found streaming on iTunes and Amazon Video.

  • 'Scrooged'


    Paramount Pictures / Photofest

    If the 1984 adaptation of A Christmas Carol is too earnest for your liking, then Bill Murray's \contemporary version of the story might be more up your alley. Produced and directed by Richard Donner, the 1988 modernization of the classic Christmas tale stars Murray as an inconsiderate and pompous TV executive forcing his staff to work the long hours on Christmas Eve for the production of, none other than, A Christmas Carol. The film, which features cameos by Lee Majors and all three of Murray's brothers, can be found streaming on Netflix.

  • 'Home Alone'

    HBO Go

    Twentieth Century Fox/Photofest

    Making a holiday movie list without mentioning the Home Alone franchise would be an injustice. For this series, like most, the essential film is the first Home Alone, currently streaming on HBO Go, which features the original Kevin McCallister, played by Macaulay Culkin. The 1990 Christmas comedy, written and produced by legendary filmmaker John Hughes, tells the story of a boy who gets left behind as his family embarks on a holiday vacation to Paris. The film commences with Kevin's jubilance in regards to being home alone, in a family where he is never alone, but soon takes a turn when he finds himself contending with two burglars. The film became the highest-grossing,live-action comedy film of all time, both domestically and internationally, until surpassed by The Hangover II

  • 'The Nightmare Before Christmas'


    Buena Vista Pictures / Photofest

    The 1993 stop-motion animated film is not merely a holiday movie geared toward children. In fact, Disney pictures initially released the film through Touchstone Pictures because execs believed it would be "too dark and scary for kids." Later on, Walt Disney Pictures re-released the film after its critical and box-office success. The animated flick follows the storyline of Jack Skellington, who resides in "Halloween Town" but falls into a portal that transports him to "Christmas Town," where he decides to stay and celebrate the holidays but not without whimsical consequences. The holiday classic, starring the voices of Chris Sarandon as Skellington, and Catherine O'Hara as Sally, is now streaming on Hulu

  • 'Miracle on 34th Street'


    20th Century-Fox/Photofest

    Another classic John Hughes film, Miracle on 34th Street, starring Matilda's Mara Wilson and Dylan McDermott, is a holiday fantasy film involving a department store Santa Claus in New York City. The 1994 version is the fourth remake of the 1947 Academy Award-winning film. The movie takes place between Thanksgiving and Christmas Day and tells the story of a department store Santa Claus who claims to be the real Christmas figure while engaging in a heart-warming relationship with Wilson's character, 6-year-old Susan. The 20th Century Fox flick can directly be streamed on Netflix.

  • 'The Santa Clause'


    Buena Vista Pictures/Photofest

    The first installment of The Santa Clause trilogy, starring Tim Allen, debuted in 1994 and was followed by the sequel The Santa Clause 2 in 2002, and The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause finished the franchise in 2006. The holiday film is set around the story of Allen's character accidentally tripping St. Nick, which results in him becoming the replacement Santa Claus. The Christmas classic, streaming on Netflix, is director John Pasquin and Allen's first film collaboration after the two worked together on the TV series Home Improvement and later went on to join forces on films like Jungle 2 Jungle, Joe Somebody and the series Last Man Standing.

  • 'How the Grinch Stole Christmas'

    HBO Go

    MCA/Universal Pictures/Photofest

    Ron Howard's adaptation of the Dr. Seuss classic How the Grinch Stole Christmas became the first of the books to become a feature film. The 2000 Christmas comedy, starring Jim Carrey as the Grinch, became the second-highest grossing holiday film of all time, behind Home Alone. The film also won an Oscar for best makeup and was nominated for best art direction and costume design. The movie follows Dr. Seuss' 1957 story about the only citizen in "Whoville" who doesn't enjoy the holiday season. Stream the traditional, family film on HBO Go this holiday season before its next adaptation hits theaters in 2018, starring Benedict Cumberbatch as the Grinch.

  • 'Love Actually'


    Universal Studios/Photofest

    The most famous romantic-comedy-meets-Christmas film is probably Richard Curtis' 2003 sap-fest. The story, which follows the lives of 10 interconnected people living in London, features an ensemble cast of Hugh Grant, Colin Firth and Keira Knightley, just to name a few. The reunions, breakups and unrequited love entangled in the storyline of this holiday film have engaged audiences all year long but stands as a modern classic during the holiday season. The film, available to stream on Netflix, begins five weeks before Christmas day and is played out as a weekly countdown until the holiday.



  • 'Bad Santa'

    HBO Go

    Dimension Films/Photofest

    The only movie streaming on this list that would make Santa's naughty list is the 2003 comedy/crime film starring Billy Bob Thornton. The film tells the story of the shenanigans and comical consequences of a department store Santa Claus (Thornton) and his helper elf (Tony Cox), who steal from malls once they shut down. The sequel, Bad Santa 2, was released in 2016 and received mostly negative reviews.

  • 'Elf'


    New Line/Photofest

    The Jon Favreau-directed Elf, starring Will Ferrell, can be considered a holiday classic regardless of the age group. Ferrell's role as Buddy the Elf is one of his most celebrated to date. The Christmas film also stars Zooey Deschanel as Buddy's love interest. Ferrell plays one of Santa's elves, who discovers his real identity as a human and embarks from the North Pole on an adventure to find his biological father (James Caan) in New York City. The heart-warming holiday film can be streamed on iTunes and Amazon Video.

  • 'Christmas With the Kranks'


    Columbia Pictures/Photofest

    Another Tim Allen Christmas movie streaming on Netflix is Christmas With the Kranks, which also stars Jamie Lee Curtis. The film, based on John Grisham's novel Skipping Christmas, is set around a couple (Allen and Curtis) who decide to skip the holidays due to their daughter's absence by setting out on a Caribbean cruise, which results in drawing the dismay of their overly festive neighbors. The plot thickens when their daughter phones home to share that she will be joining them for Christmas.

  • 'Noel'


    Red Rose Productions LLC/Photofest

    Directed by Chazz Palminteri, Noel is a Christmas-themed drama set around the lives of five strangers with interconnecting storylines. The 2004 film stars Penelope Cruz, the late Paul Walker and Robin Williams, Alan Arkin, and Susan Sarandon and narrates the trials and tribulations of their characters' leading to Christmas Eve. The underrated holiday film is currently streaming on Netflix.

  • 'The Preacher's Wife'

    Amazon Video

    Penny Marshal's romantic-comedy, starring Denzel Washington, the late Whitney Houston and Courtney B. Vance, is a remake of the 1947 film The Bishop's Wife. The Academy Award-nominated, holiday film is set around Vance's character, a pastor at a small struggling church in a poor community whose prayer to God for help comes in the form of Dudley, an angel played by Washington. Houston, who plays the pastor's wife, is smitten with Dudley even with her husband's suspicions. The heart-warming film starring the Emmy and Oscar winners is available for streaming on Amazon Video.

  • 'The Holiday'


    Columbia Pictures/Universal Pictures/Photofest

    If Love Actually is in your top five for favorite holiday films, then streaming The Holiday this Christmas might be your next, natural step. The film stars Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet as two strangers from Los Angeles and London, respectively, who find themselves single and miserable as the holiday season approaches. The two women decide to house-swap to escape the mundane, and desolate, realities that are their love lives just to find themselves in similar and messy relationships, no matter the ZIP code. The 2004 romantic comedy also stars Jude Law as Diaz's love interest and Jack Black as Winslet's.