Holiday movies are a staple in any festive season, and with that comes some of the best and worst feature films to grace our screens. Popular topics include finding one’s Christmas spirit, falling in love and fitting our childhood Disney stars into a growing number of choice holiday rom-coms. In the past decade or so, Hallmark movies have grown to define modern-day Christmas movies but continue to fall short of erasing the past classics. Here are eight holiday movies from worst to best:
8. The Princess Switch (2018)
The first watch of this Netflix Original will surely include a five-hour break around a quarter of the way in, because yes, it is that cringeworthy. Movies involving CGI doubles for actors and actresses are somewhat new and mind-bending but only if you’re talking about 1998’s The Parent Trap. But using it as The Princess Switch’s main storyline just doesn’t cut it, as seen in the film’s 48% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes. Long story short, this is not Vanessa Hudgens’ best work.
7. The Knight Before Christmas (2019)
There’s this age-old romantic fantasy of someone’s knight in shining armor. That being said, no one asked for that to be a reality. Hudgens makes another holiday appearance as the main character trying to help her new knight/acquaintance get back on his feet (classic). What starts out as a typical Christmas story spirals into a thought-to-be 14th-century knight with amnesia and then a conversation revolving around time travel.
6. The Spirit of Christmas (2015)
When it comes to making or breaking your Christmas spirit, this film breaks it, and it’s broken beyond repair. Thankfully, this wondrous love story between a lawyer and a ghost discovering the true meaning of Christmas has been removed from Netflix. Nothing screams “jingle bells” quite like vengeful spirits seeking meaningful connections.
5. A Madea Christmas (2013)
Normally, Madea movies are appreciated because they offer well-timed jokes as well as a consistent plotline. A Madea Christmas has very few of either. Aside from the classic Madea sass, there isn’t anything truly defining about the movie. A Madea Christmas falls far from the tree of other Tyler Perry creations, and this is hopefully just a hiccup.
4. Why Him? (2016)
This movie is entertaining purely because the audiences get to watch James Franco ignite absolute fear in Bryan Cranston’s eyes. Cranston plays a father whose daughter is dating a childish millionaire, portrayed by Franco. Franco then informs Cranston that he intends to propose and is ultimately met with a wall of opposition. The film falls under the chaotic good category of movies purely because of the chaos intertwining with comedy.
3. A Bad Mom’s Christmas (2017)
Overbearing parents? Check. The pressure to buy the perfect gift? Check. Drinking may be a little too much over the holidays? Check. A Bad Mom’s Christmas hits different for adults around the world, and most viewers know the film isn’t supposed to be a serious movie. It’s more of a guilty pleasure. The film also brings in a wholesome ending, which is always appreciated.
2. Noelle (2019)
Disney+ received mixed reviews following Noelle, some saying it was too progressive despite Anna Kendrick’s “always charming” performance. Arguments in favor of the new holiday movie mention it was a good first impression for the streaming platform because of its charm. The storyline really is good, and the casting is strong with actors including Bill Hader, Julie Hagerty and Billy Eichner.
1. A Christmas Carol (2009)
While these picks are supposed to be in the last decade, A Christmas Carol is too major to ignore and premiered at the end of 2009 … so it’s close enough. The movie defines Christmas spirit for everyone who doesn’t want to read the original 1843 book by Charles Dickens. Have you ever described someone as a Scrooge? A Christmas Carol literally invented that. Even though the film received mediocre reviews, classics are classics and are exempt from the normal grading scale.