Our stockings are overflowing with holiday streaming options whose titles, on Netflix and Hallmark and elsewhere, tend to merge into a single extended holiday viewing option that we’ll call “Countdown to Fall for Christmas with You on Holiday.” on Mistletoe Farm all the way.” Someone should do this one, and we’ll be done for a while.
In the meantime: Here’s a list of 10 holiday movies, nine in streaming, one in theaters. Some are old. Some are not. Some you know. Some you won’t. Some are macabre. Most are not. Good viewing and stay warm.
“Vacation” (1938): The greatest romantic New Year’s Eve scene in Hollywood history, and yes, I’ve seen “When Harry Met Sally.” With revelers downstairs, Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant, in the attic playroom of a Park Avenue mansion, find themselves on the verge of realizing what they mean to each other in the exquisite version film by director George Cukor of Philip Barry’s 1928 play. On Amazon Prime, YouTube, Apple TV+ and other streaming services.
“Remember the Night” (1940): A glitch, hard to find but worth the effort. In Manhattan over the holidays, Assistant District Attorney Fred MacMurray feels sorry for convicted shoplifter Barbara Stanwyck (he was the one who convicted her), so he pays her bail and drives her home to the ‘Indiana for Christmas. It’s a truly unpredictable mix of comedy, drama, astringent family dynamics, and sly romance. The screenplay by Preston Sturges, the pearly production by Mitchell Leisen, the stars! Sturges’ own assessment: “A lot of schmaltz, a healthy dose of schmerz and just enough schmutz to make the box office.” On the fawesome.tv service, if you want to find a younger relative to help you understand that one.
“Meet Me in St. Louis” (1944): The wintry footage of director Vincente Minnelli’s achingly nostalgic take on turn-of-the-century half-American life makes up just a quarter of the script. But each season is wonderfully realized in this one, which is adorned with “The Trolley Song” and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” Judy Garland stars, and how. On Amazon Prime and other streaming services.
“Christmas Vacation” (1944): Some titles are more misleading than others; this sinister noir war film from director Robert Siodmak takes the cake. It comes from the novel by W. Somerset Maugham. The film version stars a cast-versus-type Gene Kelly as a murderous gambler, and Deanna Durbin, haunted by Christmas memories she can’t forget. A “gotcha” studio marvel of vexed but ultimately fulfilled expectations. Streaming on Roku and YouTube.
“The Family Man” (2000): My wife’s new favorite seasonal watch, and I love it so much. Selfish and greedy businessman Nicolas Cage learns a lesson in true commitment and what’s important from his college girlfriend (Téa Leoni) with the help of an angel (Don Cheadle). On Netflix, Amazon Prime and other streaming services.
“Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey” (2020): The recent Netflix original musical features a slew of black talent in a Victorian-era fantasy starring Justin Cornwell, Forest Whitaker, Anika Noni Rose and Madalen Mills. Some, including my colleague Nina Metz) have written that “Jingle Jangle” has “the makings of a classic that endures year after year”. Streaming on Netflix.
“The Christmas Diary” (2022): Another holiday gift from Netflix, this one from Richard Paul Evans’ book about a best-selling author (Justin Hartley of “Smallville” and “The Young and the Restless”) inheriting his parents’ house after the death of his mother. Luminous Barrett Doss (luminosity: always a nice quality to have in a holiday-themed heart) co-stars as a woman searching for answers to her own family secrets. Premiering November 24 on Netflix.
“Violent Night” (2022): “Bad Santa” just had possesses : David Harbor portrays a mean, bloodthirsty hombre from a St. Nick who apparently watched a heavy rotation of “Straw Dogs” and “Home Alone 2” (they’re equally sadistic) in preparation for this hostage thriller in which brutal mercenaries led by John Leguizamo pay for their place on the villain list. Premieres in theaters on December 2. Rated R for “really?”
“Scrooge: A Christmas Carol” (2022): We’re never far from another remake of Dickens’ ‘Christmas Carol’: already on Apple TV+ there’s ‘Spirited’, starring Will Ferrell and Ryan Reynolds, and next is the new Netflix animated movie ” Scrooge: A Christmas Carol”. From the trailer, it looks and sounds like a variation of the 1970 “Scrooge” movie, but with tons of fireballs and time-traveling portals. The voice cast includes Luke Evans, Olivia Colman, Jessie Buckley and Jonathan Pryce. Premieres on Netflix on December 2.
“The Apology” (2022): A housebound Christmas thriller starring Anna Gunn as a haunted mother whose child went missing 20 years earlier. His estranged ex-brother-in-law (Linus Roache) shows up, out of the blue, with some secrets to spill with the blood promised by director and screenwriter of the first feature Alison Star Locke. Janeane Garofalo co-stars. Premieres on Shudder on December 16.
Michael Phillips is a reviewer for the Tribune.
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