The holidays are fast approaching, and it’s time to get festive.
If you’re looking for something to add to your holiday movie rotation (or maybe you just can’t stand the idea of watching Elf again), these underrated holiday movies are sure to amp up your festive vibe.
Arthur Christmas (2011)
Santa’s youngest son, Arthur, sets out on a mission to deliver a forgotten gift to a young girl before she wakes up on Christmas morning. He is aided by his elderly grandfather—a wartime Santa — and a reindeer wearing a dog cone. Arthur and his grandfather are like a buddy cop team of a boomer and a millennial, if they were both Santa. Available on Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.
Unaccompanied Minors (2006)
In this Paul Feig (Bridesmaids, The Office) directed comedy, a group of snowed-in, underage travellers make their own holiday traditions when left alone in the Hoover International Airport in Washington, D.C. Who knew kids being left alone was such a common occurrence during the holidays? Available on Amazon Prime Video.
This Christmas (2007)
A family reunites for the first time in years, and of course, madness ensues. It really isn’t the holidays without a little family dysfunction. Regina King, Idris Elba and Chris Brown are part of an all-star cast in this a 2000s-era holiday classic. Available on Netflix.
An American Tail (1986)
An American Tail is not really a holiday film — apart from a very sweet Hanukkah scene. However, Fievel Mousekewitz’ relentless optimism in this animated immigrant tale is contagious enough to carry you through even the most soul crushing of exam seasons. Available for purchase or rental on Amazon Prime Video.
Joyeux Noel (2005)
It’s hard to find a war movie that is both heartwarming and festive. This French-German-English-Belgian production knocks it out of the park in a stunning depiction of the 1914 unofficial Christmas truce of the First World War. Available for purchase or rental on Amazon Prime Video.
Dreaming of a Jewish Christmas (2017)
This Canadian documentary is set inside a Chinese restaurant on Christmas Eve and tells the stories of the Jewish songwriters who were the talent behind many of the holiday songs of the 20th century. Available for free on CBC Gem.
The Bishop’s Wife (1947)
The Bishop’s Wife tells the story of a bishop who is visited by Cary Grant as an angel sent to help him transform his perspective on life. It’s got a festive vibe to rival It’s A Wonderful Life, but without all the suicide attempts. Available for purchase or rent on Apple TV.
Jack Frost (1997)
This Jack Frost is not the 1998 Michael Keaton comedy of your childhood. Rather, it’s a holiday horror movie that is so bad it can’t help but be enjoyable. When an arrested serial killer crashes into a truck carrying mutant DNA, he turns into a killer snowman. While this movie is not scary per se, it does depict violence and sexual assault at the hands of an evil snowman, and if that’s not the holiday vibe you’re going for, then maybe give this one a pass. Available on Amazon Prime Video.
Mary Poppins (1964)
It might not be an obvious choice for a holiday movie — what with it having nothing to do with the holidays — but like Mary Poppins herself, the movie has a magic that seems to brighten the mood of those watching. It can act as a great tension breaker; your relatives might not agree on much, but everyone can find common ground on how bad Dick Van Dyke’s British accent is. Available on Disney+.
This Netflix original holiday movie is not so much underrated as not-yet-rated as it was only released this year on Nov. 15. It is a cleverly written and beautifully animated film that crafts an ingenious origin story for the myth of Santa Claus. Available on Netflix.