holiday streaming

The 8 Best Christmas Movies on Hulu

Happiest Season. Photo: Hulu

Another Christmas season is upon us. It’s a time for joy, for cheer, and for gathering with friends and family to celebrate the beautiful resilience of humanity. Well, at least on the screen, it is. The Christmas-movie genre is one of the most popular, abundant film types on the planet, because it’s a great way to watch people have a better time than you. We watch to see our hero get a precious little kiss from their beloved just as a bit of fake snow falls on the ground. Meanwhile, you’ve almost finished your bottle of Josh Cabernet Sauvignon and no one has responded to any of your DMs.

But maybe that’s just me. In any case, Christmas movies are all over streaming services at this time of year. Hulu has dedicated an entire page to its holiday offerings, most of which have posters that look totally identical. Actors you have never heard of snuggled up against a white background. One or both might be wearing a Santa hat. Someone is definitely smirking. If it is not broke, folks, please don’t bother trying to fix it.

How does one choose from this beautiful mélange of fine, mechanically produced cinematic delight? Well, that’s why Vulture is paying me to write this. To give you some choice highlights for what to watch this Christmas. Below are eight of the merriest of all films currently available to stream:

12 Pups of Christmas

There’s actually four or five Christmas dog movies on Hulu right now. I’m not quite sure what magnetic pull dogs have around the holidays, but this could be a subgenre of its own. In this film, the male lead (Donny Boaz) makes his living as the owner of a dog GPS-locator company. But wouldn’t you know it, what he really needs help finding isn’t dogs; it’s … love. With his new assistant (Charlotte Sullivan). The real stars of the film are the 12 titular dogs that have to be adopted before something terrible happens. Like, someone getting evicted from their house.

It should be said that in my research for this piece, I discovered that many of these movies were produced by MarVista Entertainment. MarVista made tons of money making these straight-to-cable/VOD movies and was recently purchased by Fox Corporation to create content for its Tubi streaming service. So, don’t get used to these movies being on Hulu, friends.

Black Christmas

For your awareness, this is the 2006 remake of the 1974 proto-slasher, not the 2019 remake. This film’s title is stylized as “Black X-Mas,” because the letter “X” was still incredibly cool back in 2006. This first remake of Black Christmas stars Lacey Chabert at the absolute height of her powers, Michelle Trachtenberg, and Mary Elizabeth Winstead. Despite a healthy box-office take for a low-budget slasher, it seems that this version of the story of sorority girls terrorized by a killer at Christmas has been lost to time. Let’s fix that, shall we. Fun fact: This was the second film directed by Glen Morgan, best known for his work on The X-Files with co-writer James Wong. His first film was another remake of a cult-classic horror film, the beautiful romance between a man and his rat, Willard.

A Christmas Switch

A good, old fashioned body-switch comedy, not to be confused with The Princess Switch, of which there are now three. Those are on Netflix. This is about Hulu, so let’s move on. A Christmas Switch does not star Vanessa Hudgens and features absolutely zero princesses. Instead, it stars Jackie Seiden and Ashley Wood as a singer and record executive who switch bodies at the mall. As you can imagine, both of their lives are kind of a mess. The music business is struggling, folks. Streaming royalties are just not enough to sustain an artist’s lifestyle! But I digress. As is the case with most of these movies, Christmas is an arbitrary deadline for everyone’s problems to be solved. When the clock strikes midnight on December 24, you better have everything figured out, or you’ll turn back into a pumpkin, I think.

Happiest Season

Happiest Season made a lot of noise back in 2020, partially because we were all stuck inside and there were no movies in theaters. Also, because it was a landmark film thanks to it being a rare queer romantic comedy. Director Clea DuVall assembled an all-star cast (Mackenzie Davis, Kristen Stewart, Aubrey Plaza, Dan Levy, and countless other notables) to tell the story of coming out to your family during Christmas. This movie is really, really great. It’s funny, heartwarming, and exactly what we all need to be watching at a time like this.

Kirk Franklin’s A Gospel Christmas

Gospel-music legend Kirk Franklin executive-produced this film about a pastor (Chaz Lamar Shepherd) who falls in love with the newest member of his congregation (Demetria McKinney). Of course, she is from the big city and doesn’t know the ways of small-town America, with their cookie hops, nosy neighbors, and perpetual snow. If you’re unsure, a cookie hop is where everyone in town makes cookies and guests sample them all. The cookie-maker with the best cookie gets a ribbon and the undying respect of his friends. I think. The last part might have been me editorializing.

The March Sisters at Christmas

Ahem. Can I interest you in the softest reboot of Little Women imaginable? Would it sweeten the deal if it’s also a low-key home-renovation show? The March sisters are now go-get-’em modern gals who redo their childhood home to keep their mother from selling it. There is a man who literally refers to himself as the “boy next door” in the trailer. My favorite part is where one of the March sisters declares that “love is so stupid.” You don’t have to tell me twice.

A Puppy for Christmas

I cannot help but respect a film that tells you exactly what it’s got to offer. Our hero, Noelle (Cindy Busby), has a perfect life. Yes, just like everyone in Christmas movies. Except she adopts a dog, which causes her to be evicted from her home. (Another eviction!) Noelle needed to read up on renters’ rights, in my opinion, but if she had, there’d be no movie. Instead, Noelle learns how important it is to lean on those around her in times of need. Thank you to this puppy, who believes in the value of the toughest love imaginable. Like, getting your owner evicted from her home. Sometimes, it do be that way.

I should also point out that Noelle wears a really lovely red beret on the poster.

Santa Claus: The Movie

What an absolutely bold title. All the other movies about Santa Claus pale in comparison to this movie — the Movie. I was always fascinated by this film growing up. Was the studio expecting people to be confused about what form this story would take? Was there potential confusion with Santa Claus: The Animated Series? Perhaps it was an attempt to replicate the success of 1979’s Superman: The Movie. Both Santa Claus and Superman were produced by father-and-son team Alexander and Ilya Salkind. Whatever magic might have been in that superhero movie didn’t quite translate to the screen this time around. That said, it is a fascinating relic of a time when lavish, mildly pompous fantasy movies could revolve around a wacked-out origin story for Santa that is mildly Christ-like.

In this telling, Santa (David Huddleston) is a kindly woodcutter and toy-maker in the Middle Ages who learns from a pack of elves (led by a woefully miscast and confused Dudley Moore) that he is the fulfillment of a prophecy that a man would deliver gifts to all the little boys and girls on earth. From there, we get a Batman Begins–style explanation of where Santa got all of his wonderful toys. Fast-forward to the present day, and Santa is disillusioned by how commercial Christmas has gotten. Never mind that the whole point of his existence is to make children lust after presents. Those presents are made … with love. Please watch this movie as soon as possible, then tweet at me about how perplexed you are that a deeply pretentious musical about Santa’s origin story exists. It’s great.

The 8 Best Christmas Movies on Hulu