A Holly Jolly Netflix Our top 6 film picks for the Christmas season

Gene Wilder and Peter Ostrum in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.
Image Source: Paramount Pictures, via Photofest

By Brian Bowe

It’s that time of year again! A time for love and cheer, for family and friends. But, most importantly, Christmas is a time where we get the opportunity to sit down, watch a heap of films and scoff whatever foil wrapped goodies are within arm’s reach. And though we can’t provide the goodies, here’s our list of the top 6 Christmas films currently streaming.


Klaus (2019)

When Jesper (Jason Schwartzman) distinguishes himself as the Postal Academy’s worst student, he is banished to Smeerensburg, a remote village located on an icy island above the Arctic Circle, where grouchy inhabitants barely exchange words, let alone letters. Jesper is about to give up and abandon his postal duties when he meets local teacher Alva and Klaus (J. K.  Simmons), a reclusive toymaker who lives alone in a cabin full of handmade trinkets.
Klaus is the perfect way to kick-off the Christmas season. It is gorgeous to look at, genuinely funny and has the potential to make you cry the happiest of tears. The film also explains all the Santa myths – from flying reindeers to his little helpers – in unique and clever ways. Now, the story doesn’t reinvent the wheel; in fact it openly harkens back to Disney’s 2D animations of the 2000s-era. But we’re in safe and capable hands: its director, Sergio Pablos, created the phenomenon that is Despicable Me, after all.

Krampus (2015)

When his dysfunctional family falls out over the holidays, Max (Emjay Anthony) is disillusioned and turns his back on Christmas. However, little does he know, this lack of festive spirit has unleashed the wrath of Krampus: an ancient evil force intent on punishing non-believers.

Forget nice – Krampus is as naughty as they come, and is one unholy delight! If you’re tired of all the Christmas schmaltz and family friendly classics, this one’s for you. Though very much inspired by Joe Dante’s magnum opus Gremlins, Krampus unleashes its own unique brand of terror. It has jump-scares, tension and a whole lot of creepy creations. The creatures on show are made from a mix of terrifying practical and CGI effects, and the result is pure nightmare fuel. Still, though it’s arguably the jolliest movie you’ll find this Christmas season, you better wait till the kiddies are tucked away before inviting Krampus into your living room.

Disney +

Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

Bored of scaring humans every Halloween with the same old tricks, Jack Skellington (Chris Sarandon), the beloved Pumpkin King of Halloween Town, plots to kidnap Santa Claus and take the role for himself. But as Christmas approaches, Jack soon discovers even the best-laid plans of mice and (skeleton) men can go seriously awry.

This film has the unique ability of being a crowd-pleaser during both Halloween and Christmas. With catchy tunes and beautiful, nightmarish imagery, The Nightmare Before Christmas is a macabre masterpiece. Directed by Henry Selick, with a script from Tim Burton and songs by Danny Elfman, this film is not short on powerhouse talent. The visuals will haunt you the same way ‘This is Halloween’, ‘What’s This’, and ‘Making Christmas’ will have you humming for weeks: “Boys and girls of every age, wouldn’t you like to see something strange?”

Die Hard (1988)

For the uninitiated: NYPD cop John McClane’s (Bruce Willis) plan to reconcile with his estranged wife (Bonnie Bedelia) is thrown for a serious loop when, minutes after he arrives at her office, the entire building is overtaken by a group of heavily accented terrorists. With little help from the LAPD, wisecracking McClane sets out to single-handedly bring the bad guys down, in his bare feet no less.
Where do I begin? Yes, it’s a Christmas film. Yes, it’s one of the best action films ever made – these two things aren’t mutually exclusive. However, I take no pleasure in saying that Die Hard has aged into a lost art. It has a wholly original, unpredictable screenplay, witty dialogue, and Willis has never been better, cooler or sexier. But not only did Die Hard turn Willis into an international star, it gave us one of the most memorable movie villains of all time in Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman). Have a Merry Christmas and a Yippee Ki-Yay!

Prime Video

Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971)

If you happened to have no childhood and, as a result, are completely unaware of this classic, here’s the rundown: Dandy candy-man Willy Wonka (Gene Wilder) creates a worldwide frenzy when he announces that golden tickets hidden inside five of his candy bars will admit their lucky holders into his secret confectionary. But this isn’t just any chocolate factory, Wonka’s is filled with chocolate rivers, Oompa Loompas and madcap inventions.

Alas, another Christmas staple, but this one has aged well – better than most Dahl adaptations, that’s for sure. The performances are great, especially Wilder, who weaves a sense of enigmatic mystery through proceedings. Depp had no chance, his performance (in Tim Burton’s 2005 remake) brought all the whimsy but no emotion, and if Wilder had anything, it was emotion. He could bottle it up or let it rip! What I love about the original version is how the nastiness of Dahl’s world shines through. The kids here are absolute brats, and it’s quite satisfying to watch them get their comeuppance. I mean, even Charlie is too much at times, but at least he has a good heart – just stay away from those Fizzy Lifting Drinks, kid.

Tangerine (2015)

It’s Christmas Eve in Hollywood and our heroine Sin-Dee (Kitana Kiki Rodriguez) is back on the streets. When she hears that her pimp boyfriend hasn’t been faithful during the 28 days she was incarcerated, the working girl and her best friend, Alexandra (Mya Taylor), embark on a mission to get to the bottom of the salacious rumour.

Tangerine is the real deal! Upon its release, critics made much of the fact that the feature was entirely shot with an iPhone, but it’s much more than that – it’s proof that independent films don’t have to be dreary, artsy and filled to the brim with static shots that suggest cheap Bergman or Ozu. This film breaks all the rules and has a lot of fun doing it. Sure, it may be structured like a Jim Jarmucsh film, but it has all the raw energy of a Cassavetes joint. But most notably, it’s the way the film centres the lives of trans women of color with complexity and humour that makes it a deeply rewarding trip through Tinseltown.