That’s it, the Christmas countdown is on! With the year we’ve all had, it’s hard not to want to get shoulders deep into the festivities ASAP. Whether you have your decorations up, or are yet to dig them out of the cupboard, you can still get into the mood with our Netflix Christmas film Advent Calendar Countdown.
Originally, this article was just going to be run-of-the-mill top 10. However, there’s just so much festive Christmas content on Netflix, we thought we’d do our very own version of an advent calendar, the best way we know how… with films.
After watching the majority of the Christmas films on Netflix, below are 24 films we believe will get you in the festive mood between now and the big day. There is a mix of animations, classics and Netflix’s own to get your teeth into.
So, get out the mince pies, chocolates, or both, and don your Christmas onesie as you get ready for a film marathon like no other.
Tuesday 1st December watch:
The Holiday Calendar
The first on our list is a 2018, Netflix own, romantic comedy. The Holiday Calendar is the best way to start off our countdown as it’s about an advent calendar – what a match. It is also the perfect mix of cheesy Christmas acting and feel-good outcomes, with a dash of festive fantasy. After watching this film, you’ll be looking through your grandparents’ attic for your very own magic antique holiday calendar.
Wednesday 2nd December watch:
Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch
If you feel December 2nd is still too early for you to celebrate, you will be in good company with Dr. Seuss’ the Grinch. This version of the story has to be our favourite. Okay, Jim Carrey’s ‘How the Grinch Stole Christmas’ is great. But the 2018 film not only has Benedict Cumberbatch as the voice of The Grinch, but the talented Pharrell Williams as the narrator. This classic story is a must watch around this time of year and, just like the Grinch, Cindy-Lou Who and the villagers of Whoville will really get you in the Christmas mood.
Thursday 3rd December watch:
Let It Snow
When you think ‘teen movies’, you probably imagine coming-of-age, anxious young people trying to fit in. Lot’s of unrequited love, cliques, college worries, underage parties and unrealistic romance. Well, this movie has all this and more, including Joan Cusack, hanging around covered in tinfoil, being her perfectly quirky self… we love it. Following a Love Actually/Valentine’s Day style format, you follow several different stories about a group of teens on Christmas Eve. It’s heart-warming, funny and full of all the Christmas feels.
Friday 4th December watch:
It’s time for another Netflix original, and this one is an animation. An imaginative story of how Santa Claus came to be. It’s centred around a postman who was made to work in a very undesirable location called Smeerensburg. The original story is written and directed by Sergio Pablos, who also wrote the original storyline for Despicable Me. So you’re in good hands and got a lot of humour coming your way.
Saturday 5th December watch:
Holiday In The Wild
Taking you out of the winter snow and off to warmer climates is this 2019 romantic comedy, starring Sex and the City’s Kristin Davis. Holiday In The Wild is a simple, heart-warming story: there’s no bells or whistles, just elephants and a good ol’ fashioned romance.
Sunday 6th December watch:
Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey
If you’ve missed theatre this year, and could do with a festive family musical, Jingle Jangle is for you! From the first scene, you are transported into an imaginary world of wonder. New for 2020, you’ll join Jeronicus (played by Forest Whitaker), who was an eccentric yet brilliant toymaker. He is transported back to his glory days when his granddaughter Journey (played by Madalen Mills) comes to live with him. The film is full of bright colours, catchy songs and magic. There are also appearances from Hugh Bonneville and the voice of Ricky Martin.
Monday 7th December watch:
This one is a slightly different pace to the other films. The concept of a scary Christmas movie might sound odd, but it’s actually pretty good. It’s got everything you need in a good family scarefest. Including an unruly younger son, a creepy grandmother and a wise-cracking aunt who teaches the kids how to make cocktails (basically, who I aspire to be). Amongst the scares, the film has some comedic lines and scenes woven into the dialogue and visuals.
Beware: this one is not suitable for a younger family audience. It is a certified 15, similar to a good old 90’s Goosebumps episode in tone.
Tuesday 8th December watch:
Christmas with the Kranks
Let’s face it: at one point or another, I’m sure we’ve all wanted to skip Christmas. That’s exactly what Luther (played by Tim Allen) and Nora (played by Jamie Lee Curtis) tried to do in this 2004 festive classic. It’s hard to not get a little annoyed by their neighbours, as they try to force them to celebrate Christmas. Especially when it comes to the ‘Frosty The Snowman’ debacle (which you will understand when you watch it).
Wednesday 9th December:
Now, while it may not have quite achieved the popularity of Love Actually (which isn’t on Netflix). The Holiday is arguably up there as one of the best Christmas rom-coms. Again, they went all out with the casting on this one, with Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz playing the leading females, and Jude Law, Jack Black and, one of Hollywood’s greats, Eli Wallach, as their male counterparts. This 2006 film, truly is a winter warmer and should definitely be on everyone’s list.
Thursday 10th December watch:
A lot of the films on this list, and indeed on Netflix, are romantic comedies – after all, Christmas is the season for love. However, Christmas is also the season for families and for being together, and that definitely comes across in the 2019 Netflix Original, Holiday Rush. There’s a light smattering of romance, but this film is more about looking around at who you have in your life, rather than what you’ve got.
Friday 11th December watch:
If by 11th December, you’re still not feeling the festive cheer, it’s time to get out the big guns… all three of them! Nativity 1, 2 and 3 are all on Netflix, and the perfect Christmas films to watch. They are full of quintessential British humour and cute children. It doesn’t even matter if you’ve watched them all before, as they are so rewatchable and a true Christmas classic. Plus, the first one stars Martin Freeman before he was Bilbo Baggins.
Saturday 12th December watch:
Christmas Made to Order
Who doesn’t love a bit of unrealistic romance this time of year? It’s nice to let go of our inner cynic and believe in true romance, something made much easier with this 2018 romantic comedy. Christmas Made to Order is full of comedic and sentimental moments, and it’s got a great soundtrack.
Sunday 13th December watch:
This film is made by Hallmark. So you should know what you’re getting yourself into when you press play. There will be a lot of cheese, romance and warm Christmas feelings, with a dash of predictability. It’s perfect for a cold Sunday afternoon.
Monday 14th December watch:
A Christmas Prince
Just like with Nativity, A Christmas Prince is the Christmas film that just keeps giving. There are now three of them. So you choose between A Christmas Prince, A Christmas Prince – The Royal Wedding and A Christmas Prince – The Royal Baby, or just binge all three! You might have seen films like this before (cough The Prince and Me cough). But these films are slowly gathering a cult following, and I’m pretty sure next year there will be A Christmas Prince 4 of some description. Maybe A Christmas Prince – The Royal Twins? You never know.
Tuesday 15th December watch:
Operation Christmas Drop
This year, another Netflix romantic Christmas movie hit the playlist: Operation Christmas Drop. It’s a bit of a change to your normal Christmas film setting as, instead of snow and hot chocolate, there’s sun, sand and helicopters. But, there is still romance and the odd Christmas hat.
Wednesday 16th December watch:
We couldn’t have a list of Christmas films without a shout out to the singles that are fed up with being single over the Christmas period. The Netflix description of this film is: “All they want is someone to drunk-mock strangers with on the holidays. No pressure. No romance. And no chance it’ll lead to love.” You may read that and think ‘this look’s predictable’… and you would be right. But it’s still a great movie, full of laughs and it’s Christmas, so why not indulge?
Thursday 17th December watch:
El Camino Christmas
Tim Allen is back, with an action/black comedy film that will get you giggling in your eggnog and doing shocked faces to your elf on the shelf. If you’re like us, who believe Die Hard is a Christmas movie (it is!), then this one’s for you.
Friday 18th December watch:
Christmas with the Coopers
This film is set around a family Christmas the way it should be: pure chaos! It is packed full of famous faces, including Steve Martin, Diane Keaton, John Goodman, Ed Helms and Family Guy’s Lois Griffin – Alex Borstein – just to name a few. The film shows four generations of Coopers, all with their own stories, coming together for a reunion on Christmas Eve.
Saturday 19th December watch:
Dolly Parton’s Christmas on the Square
Come on, who doesn’t love Dolly? If you liked her Heartstrings series, you will love this! As you may have guessed, this is a musical. The film is a light take on Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, starring Christine Baranski, Jenifer Lewis and, of course, Dolly Parton herself. Now, it may be a little cheesy in places, but it is very entertaining, heart-warming and full of Dolly tunes. See, what’s not to love?
Sunday 20th December watch:
The only film we’ve included on this list without watching, at the time of writing, Angela’s Christmas is yet to be released. However, judging by the trailer, this 40-minute short film is going to be one of this year’s must-watch Christmas animations. The film will be released on 1st December.
Monday 21st December watch:
A Bad Mom’s Christmas
2017’s A Bad Mom’s Christmas is as funny (if not more) as the original Bad Mom’s film and has such an incredible cast. Alongside our original moms, Mila Kunis, Kirsten Bell and Kathryn Hahn, are acting legends Christine Baranski, Susan Sarandon and Cheryl Hines. All 6 actresses bring a huge dose of humour, some drama, a little conflict and a stocking load of Christmas cheekiness. Just what we have come to expect from our bad mums.
Tuesday 22nd December watch:
Another easy Christmas romance is this Netflix Original. It’s a classic, humbling riches-to-rags story about a wild child that’s soon to inherit the title of CEO from her dad. But, after some bad behaviour, she is sent to her dad’s hometown to hopefully learn something from the locals in the lead up to Christmas.
Wednesday 23rd December watch:
By far, one of the best Christmas animations, and one of the best underdog stories. Perfect for the whole family, Sony Pictures Animation really knocked it out of the park with this one. The animations, storyline and characterisations are top-notch. Plus, there are some amazing one-liners we’ll be repeating for Christmases to come, such as “everything’s better with a bow” and “Hey Soldier, get off your baubles”. It’s another one with a host of famous voices, including James McAvoy, Hugh Laurie, Bill Nighy and Ashley Jensen, among many others. If you haven’t watched it, you need to.
Thursday 24th December watch:
The Christmas Chronicles 1 and 2
We’ve saved the best until last. You can’t get to Christmas without watching this epic adventure. Even though this film was released in 2018, it’s reminiscent of the classic 90s films, such as Santa Clause: The Movie and Home Alone. Netflix has done a great job with this film, as it’s funny, heart-warming, full of adventure, and casting Kurt Russel was a good choice, as he plays the best cool Santa.
If this film leaves you wanting more, Netflix has only gone and dropped The Christmas Chronicles 2 into our stockings. And this time, we get more Goldie Hawn too. Maybe save that for the big day itself; it sounds like a perfect Christmas evening watch to me, after the Queen’s speech, of course!
Wrapping up Christmas
So, there you have it for our Christmas Countdown! I hope it gets you ready for the big day.
How did we do? If you have any other Netflix films you think should have been on this list, let us know below. Also, let us know what you thought of the films!
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”
Check out more or our Netflix articles HERE.
Read IMDB information about Christmas Chronicles 2 HERE.
Jungle Cruise – Review
Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt swing in with force in Disney’s new Jungle Cruise. And while the movie has fun callbacks to the Disney Park ride and a clever plot, if this movie is trying to be the next Pirates of the Caribbean, it falls short. Here’s our review of Jungle Cruise.
SPOILERS: Warning there are spoilers ahead.
To be honest, I was expecting a much less creative plot from this movie. Following suit with typical adventure movies, I was expecting this film to be a less-funny version of the Jumanji reboot. But the plot has an unexpected emotional centre and a clever twist. And while the film suffers from CGI villain goopiness, it gives the CGI villains actual heart and motivations.
The film centres on Lilly (Emily Blunt), a botanist in search of a healing petal. The petal is said to be able to cure any illness and resides deep in the Amazon Rainforest. She is accompanied by her little brother, McGregor (Jack Whitehall) and their hired skipper, Frank (Dwayne Johnson).
But a curse resides around the petal. Spanish conquistador Aguirre (Edgar Ramirez) and his crew went in search of the petal four hundred years ago. The petal can only be found with an arrowhead sacred to the Umbala or Headhunter tribe of the region. When Aguirre and his crew are on the brink of death, the Umbala tribe saves them. But Aguirre betrays them to get his hands on the arrowhead, and the chief of the Umbala tribe curses Aguirre and his party. They can never stray from the river, or the rainforest will take them. For four hundred years, they’ve lain dormant, having strayed too far from the banks of the river. They cannot die.
Now the arrowhead rests with a sexist scientific community. Lilly steals the arrowhead, just before it was set to be sold to Prince Joachim (Jesse Plemons). Joachim works for the German government during the height of World War One. He believes that the petal will not only bring victory to Germany, but will make him a world ruler. (How he thinks it will do that is unclear).
As Lilly, McGregor, and Frank make their way down the Amazon in search of the Petal, Joachim follows and occasionally attacks them in his submarine. Deciding he needs more help, he wakes up Aguirre, now a monster of the Amazon, and his crew. Aguirre, who is now made out of snakes, and his two colleagues, one of which is made out of honey and bees and the other mud and tee frogs, are sent on Lilly’s trail.
What happens next is the usual adventure. White water rapids, a run-in with the Umbala tribe (who become allies), submarine fights, swinging on jungle vines; you name it.
But after a run-in with Aguirre, Lilly learns the truth about Frank. In a plot twist I absolutely did not see coming, it turns out that Frank is actually Francisco, Aguirre’s cartographer. We learn that Aguirre was not looking for the petal for glory or gold, but to save his deeply ill daughter. Aguirre and Francisco grew up together, and they were willing to do anything to save his daughter. But when Aguirre betrays the Umbala tribe, Francisco tries to stop Aguirre. Francisco was also cursed to be unable to leave the riverbank, but Aguirre kept returning to fight and defeat (stab) Francisco.
Tired of constantly getting stabbed, Francisco traps Aguirre in a cave. Letting the Amazon have him and turn him into the monster he is today. Francisco then built a town on the river banks, built a boat in search of the petal, gave up, and now runs river cruises.
While the plot is very complicated, it’s easy enough to follow while watching the film. I will say that the motivations of Joachim are a little hard to follow. But the plot twist with Frank was very clever. It gives a CGI-heavy Aguirre a human heart. Now all he wants to do is break the curse and be allowed to die. To do so he needs a petal. The plot in and of itself was much more clever than I expected.
Characters and performances
One character that pleasantly surprised me was McGregor. At first, I thought he was merely queer-coded. He definitely fell into some gay stereotypes, but I thought that was all it was going to be. A guy who was subtly a little queer. But, when Frank asks him why follows Lilly, even through a jungle, he gives a surprisingly candid answer. He explains to Frank that he is gay and that Lilly is the only one who supports him.
When the world turned his back on him, she stood with him, and for that, he would “follow her into a volcano.” This is the first time I can remember that a Disney character was very, clearly openly gay. Disney has had about a dozen “first gay characters,” but all of them have been off to the side. None of them has stated their sexuality or been open about it. McGregor not only states it outright but is not ashamed of it and it is not his only character trait. He becomes brave and capable and is a good friend to both Frank and Lilly. It was really surprising to see good representation from Disney in this film.
Emily Blunt also gives a wonderful performance (as she always does). She’s headstrong and stubborn, but kind. The sexism was a little on the nose, with a tired bit about how she wears pants, but she was delightful.
And Dwayne Johnson was… okay. He plays the exact same character in every movie he’s in. And while his performance was good in this movie, I can’t help but think that another actor could have done better. He and Emily Blunt have a romance in this movie, but they have absolutely no chemistry. It was hard to believe their romance. I think another actor could have added a little more to Frank’s character. Frank is an interesting character, and another actor could have done more with him. This movie might have been better without Dwayne Johnson.
This movie also might have been better without Joachim. His motivations were really hard to follow. At the end of the day, he was just another stereotype of a German general who only complicated the plot.
It feels as though Jungle Cruise might be Disney’s attempt to re-make the magic of Pirates of the Caribbean. But I can’t see this film becoming a franchise. The first Pirates movie is masterful, with amazing rewatchability. But Jungle Cruise, while fun, is forgettable. It’s not a movie I see myself rewatching anytime soon. If this is an attempt to create a new franchise for Disney; it falls short. But, the film was fun to watch and was a good movie theatre experience.
CULTURE CROSSING SCORE 5/10
Thank you for reading our review of Jungle Cruise. Do you agree or disagree with our points or have anything to add? If so, leave us a comment below.
Read our review of Emily Blunt in A Quiet Place Part Two HERE.
Read IMDB information about Jungle Cruise HERE.
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