Best Non-Hallmark Christmas Movies: Review Of Six Must-Watch Films On Netflix, Hulu, And Amazon Prime

A list of sharp Christmas movies including a brilliant film starring Anna Kendrick and Melanie Lynskey.

the best Christmas movies on Netflix include 'How the Grinch Stole Christmas'
Universal Pictures

A list of sharp Christmas movies including a brilliant film starring Anna Kendrick and Melanie Lynskey.

If you’re looking for the best Christmas movies, then Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime have the answer for you. None of the Christmas movies listed below are from Hallmark, but all three platforms have titles in that arena if that’s your thing, like Christmas in the Smokies on Netflix, a Princess for Christmas on Hulu, and Falling for Christmas on Amazon Prime. Netflix even released an original movie, A Christmas Prince, that is remarkably Hallmark-like.

But most of the movies listed below have plenty of holiday-cheese to last you until, well, Christmas. Some of the films are classics that deserve revisiting, or for newer generations to discover for the first time, and others are modern movies for those needing a fresh title this holiday season.

Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Currently streaming on Netflix, Ron Howard directed this timeless story that delivers a great message while providing plenty of laughs. Dr. Seuss’ world becomes Jim Carey’s playground when he takes on the role of Grinch. The entire family should be able to find something they like about this film; if it’s not the story, certainly the set, uniqueness of the cinematography, or the stunning cast (including Jeffrey Tambor, Christine Baranski, Molly Shannon, and Anthony Hopkins as the narrator) should grab you.

the best Christmas movies on Netflix include 'How the Grinch Stole Christmas'
  Universal Pictures

Though nowadays you’ll find Taylor Momsen performing with her band The Pretty Reckless, or singing alongside Marilyn Manson, in 2000 she was most known for portraying the adorable Cindy Lou Who. Carey and Momsen’s chemistry shines on the screen. The duo has several witty back-and-forth moments, but the Grinch’s dog, Max, has a few clever moments of his own.

the best Christmas movies on Netflix include 'How the Grinch Stole Christmas'
  Frazer Harrison / Getty Images

Trading Places

Currently available on Netflix is one of the most popular movies from the ’80s, Trading Places. If you’ve seen enough family-friendly movies this holiday season, then this film should give you some relief. This adult comedy doesn’t center on Christmas, but with a story that takes place during Christmastime, it still has plenty of holiday cheer to give you your yuletide fix.

This ’83 classic stars a comedy duo that’s not nearly seen enough: Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy. Aykroyd and Murphy give many laugh-out-loud moments, and Jamie Lee Curtis gives a memorable performance as the prostitute with a heart of gold. With three-and-a-half stars out of four, the late Roger Ebert describes one of the best Christmas movies on Netflix for adults.

“This is good comedy. It’s especially good because it doesn’t stop with sitcom manipulations of its idea, and it doesn’t go only for the obvious points about racial prejudice in America. Instead, it develops the quirks and peculiarities of its characters, so that they’re funny because of who they are.”

Gremlins

If you want more ’80s movies centered on Christmas, this gem is also streaming on Netflix. Gremlins is unique in that it serves as a family comedy, a horror flick, and a Christmas movie. Phoebe Cates and Zach Galligan’s performances shine off the screen, but of course the furry, and sometimes demon-like, creatures steal the show.

Happy Christmas

If you’re looking for new or modern Christmas movies to stream, Happy Christmas is currently available on Hulu. Hulu doesn’t have a large list of Christmas movies to offer, but Happy Christmas is one of the best from the last several years.

With an R-rating, this 2014 Christmas flick is best watched when the kids go to bed. Though the entire cast does a phenomenal job, including leads Anna Kendrick and Melanie Lynskey, it’s Joe Swansberg’s (director, writer, and co-star of the film) 2-year-old son that often steals the scene. With a critics’ score of 75 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, the site’s Critics Consensus describes why this is one of the best Christmas movies on Hulu.

“Intelligent, well-acted, and satisfyingly low-key, Happy Christmas marks another step is prolific filmmaker Joe Swanberg’s creative evolution.”

(If you’re still in the mood for Christmas movies featuring adult humor after watching Trading Places and Happy Christmas, though it’s hardly sentimental, Bad Santa is streaming on both Netflix and Hulu.)

Home for the Holidays

If you’re looking for heartwarming movies on Amazon Prime or Hulu for Christmas, then this comedy deserves to be on your list. Home for the Holidays features an ensemble cast: Holly Hunter, Robert Downey Jr., Anne Bancroft, Charles Durning, Dylan McDermott, and Steve Guttenberg.

Hunter plays Claudia, a young woman who just got fired, played kissy-face with her boss, and to top it all off — after finding out her daughter is going to spend Thanksgiving away with her boyfriend — contends with seeing her family for Thanksgiving.

Though this film takes place during Thanksgiving, it will certainly get you in the mood to visit family during Christmas. This 1995 feature received rave reviews from both critics and audiences alike, and Holly Hunter has never been more charming.

The Holiday

Streaming on Hulu and Amazon Prime, this 2006 picture stars Cameron Diaz, Kate Winslet, Jude Law, and Jack Black. Though it received largely mixed reviews from the critics, the majority of audiences loved this Christmastime tale!

The four featured actors of this film are an absolute delight to watch, and the sharp direction and writing from famed filmmaker Nancy Meyers (The Parent Trap, Private Benjamin) make sure the sentimental romance doesn’t overstay its welcome. IMDb provides the synopsis for one of the most romantic and feelgood Christmas movies from the early 2000s.

“Two women troubled with guy-problems swap homes in each other’s countries, where they each meet a local guy and fall in love.”

From films featuring crude humor to romantic tales, some of the best Christmas movies can be found on Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime this holiday season.