- Netflix is known for its original seasonal films, but some may be more worth your time than others.
- “The Holiday Calendar” and “A Christmas Prince: The Royal Baby” are the lowest-rated originals.
- On the other hand, animated films “Alien Xmas” and “Klaus” received top marks from reviewers.
Synopsis: “The Holiday Calendar” follows Abby Sutton (Kat Graham), a photographer who doesn’t quite know what she wants out of life and is afraid to go after her dreams.
However, when her grandfather (Ron Cephas Jones) gives her a magical advent calendar, it helps her gain the confidence she needs to be herself.
“Kat Graham (of ‘The Vampire Diaries’) brings almost too many acting chops for a good holiday rom-com, but the film is still cheerily nonsensical,” Lea Palmieri wrote for Decider.
Synopsis: The third installment in the “Christmas Prince” series returns to Aldovia as the kingdom prepares for the holiday season, and Amber (Rose McIver) and Richard (Ben Lamb) prepare to welcome a royal baby.
But before they can relax for their parental leave, they must restore a 600-year-old treaty between Aldovia and Penglia.
“The weakest entry in the series feels like it’s running on autopilot and introduces some problematic new elements of the mythos,” Evan Dossey wrote for The Midwest Film Journal.
Synopsis: “Holiday in the Wild,” also known as “Christmas in the Wild,” follows Kate Conrad (Kristin Davis) as she goes on her “second honeymoon” alone after her husband suddenly ends their relationship.
Throughout the African safari, Kate rediscovers herself and falls for Derek Holliston (Rob Lowe).
“It’s cheesy, it’s stupid, but it’s also really quite charming,” wrote Stuart Heritage for The Guardian.
Synopsis: In “El Camino Christmas,” a troubled 20-something (Luke Grimes) goes in search of his long-lost father. But instead, he finds himself in a hostage situation in a liquor store on Christmas Eve.
“No carols are sung. No Santa is seen, and the decorations are few and far in-between. This is more of an anti-Christmas, anti-feel-good flick, but it’s one you might want to watch more than once,” Kiera Allen wrote for the Kankakee Daily Journal.
Synopsis: In “Holiday Rush,” a widowed single dad (Romany Malco) gets fired from his radio DJ job right after his kids share their pricey wish lists.
They all have to learn how to embrace the simple life for the holiday season.
“Full of good intentions, but it’s a mess like that apple pie from that culinary-challenged uncle that’s burnt on the outside and frozen in the middle,” Jeffrey Lyles wrote for Lyles’ Movie Files.
Synopsis: In “Christmas Inheritance,” Ellen Langford (Eliza Taylor) has to travel to her father’s hometown and hand-deliver an important Christmas letter in order to become the CEO of her family’s gift business.
Along the way, she’s surprisingly charmed by the small town’s friendliness and the handsome, down-to-earth inn manager (Jake Lacy).
Dana Schwartz wrote for Entertainment Weekly, “Unlike ‘A Christmas Prince,’ my favorite movie of 2017, it seems to have a self-satisfied earnestness that makes you want to sit it down and go, ‘Hey ‘Christmas Inheritance.’ What exactly do you think you’re doing here?'”
Synopsis: In “Holidate,” strangers Sloane (Emma Roberts) and Jackson (Luke Bracey) agree to be each other’s plus-ones for every gathering in the upcoming year to avoid the constant judgment of their families.
But things get more complicated when it starts to become more than just a platonic agreement.
Lisa Kennedy wrote for Variety, “‘Holidate’ won’t change your mind about the tread-worn challenges of romantic comedies, but its leads leverage their charms nicely.”
Synopsis: “Operation Christmas Drop” follows Erica (Graham), a congressional aid who gets sent to an Air Force base with a festive pet-project to assess whether it should remain open.
She’s set on crunching numbers and cutting budgets until the base’s self-proclaimed Christmas expert, Captain Andrew Jantz (Alexander Ludwig), helps her find a little holiday cheer.
Kyle Turner wrote for The New York Times, “Everything in ‘Operation Christmas Drop’ falls predictably into place like children nestled all snug in their beds. Each plot point and character dynamic appears predetermined, and not in a seasonally charming way.”
Synopsis: In the third installment of the “Princess Switch” franchise, Queen Margaret (Vanessa Hudgens) and Princess Stacy (also Hudgens) have to team up with Margaret’s scheming cousin Fiona (also Hudgens) to save the stolen Christmas star on loan from the Vatican.
“Anyone who has seen one of these movies can just take over for the characters and guess their lines as easily as the three cousins can swap clothes and accents to impersonate one another,” Helen T. Verongos wrote for The New York Times.
Synopsis: In the sequel to “A Christmas Prince,” Prince Richard (Lamb) and Amber (McIver) prepare for their royal wedding. But scandal rocks the kingdom when money disappears and the citizens of Aldovia grow increasingly angry with their royals.
“It’s cheesy, it’s cringey, but most importantly, it’s harmless — and worth a watch if you’re in the mood for some mindless holiday cheer,” Libby Torres wrote for The Daily Beast.
Synopsis: At the beginning of “Love Hard,” Josh (Jimmy O. Yang) catfishes Natalie (Nina Dobrev) from across the country. But when she surprises him for Christmas everything blows up in his face.
In order to try and right his wrong, Josh helps Natalie get together with Tag (Darren Barnet) while keeping up the ruse of their relationship for his family.
Courtney Howard wrote for Variety, “The ensuing shenanigans not only do our heroine a massive disservice by letting men manipulate her agency — they also cause us to question what exactly we’re rooting for.”
Synopsis: In the sequel to “The Princess Switch,” Duchess Margaret (Hudgens) and Kevin (Nick Sagar) are going through a rough patch, so Stacy (also Hudgens) swoops in to help. But things take a turn when another look-alike, party girl Fiona (also Hudgens), screws with their plans.
Dennis Harvey wrote for Variety, “Though inevitably the formula wears a little thinner in spots this time, it’s a frothy fantasy that should satisfy viewers’ itch for confectionary-looking Christmas fluff.”
Synopsis: “A California Christmas” follows Joseph (Josh Swickard) as he poses as a farmhand to persuade Callie (Lauren Swickard) to sell her family’s failing farm as part of a business deal.
But it’s harder to go through with his plan the more he gets to know her.
Roger Moore wrote for Movie Nation, “A pleasant little nothing that would be right at home in Hallmark’s holiday flirtations over fruitcake romances.”
Synopsis: “Dolly Parton’s Christmas on the Square” centers on a small town on the brink of extinction.
Scrooge-like town owner Regina (Christine Baranski) is planning on selling the town without a spare thought for its residents — until an angel (Dolly Parton) steps in to try and change her mind.
“‘Christmas on the Square’ lets the viewer kick back and indulge in all things Parton,” Sarah Boesveld wrote for The Globe and Mail.
Synopsis: In “Single All the Way,” Peter (Michael Urie) convinces his best friend Nick (Philemon Chambers) to come home with him for Christmas to trick his family into thinking he’s in a relationship.
But thanks to his family’s constant meddling, before long, Peter is stuck in a real and unexpected love triangle with Nick and townie James (Luke MacFarlane).
“Veteran TV writer Chad Hodge’s self-aware script acknowledges all the tropes — gay and holiday — while continuing to employ them effectively,” Carla Meyer wrote for the San Francisco Chronicle.
Synopsis: In the second installment of the “Christmas Chronicles” series, Kate (Darby Camp) is reunited with Santa (Kurt Russell) as a cynical teenager. But she ends up helping to save Christmas, again, when a mysterious troublemaker threatens to steal it.
Owen Gleiberman wrote for Variety, “At a harmless piece of hokum like this one, you giggle and grin a few times, you see the ruptures healed by Christmas, and you get to hang out with a Santa who’s traditional but nearly cool.”
Synopsis: In “The Christmas Chronicles,” after two kids try to trap Santa (Russell) and end up losing his precious bag of gifts, the hunt is on to save Christmas — and Santa is charmingly sarcastic all along the way.
Melanie McFarland wrote for Salon, “The film’s no great shakes, but Russell’s star power in ‘The Christmas Chronicles’ is a gift anyone should be happy to claim.”
Synopsis: In “A Very Murray Christmas,” Bill Murray’s (playing himself) Christmas special gets canceled because of a snowstorm. Instead, he seeks shelter in a bar where the fellow patrons are more than willing to sing a few holiday songs with him.
Jeff Jensen wrote for Entertainment Weekly, “Murray has surprising resonance. It may not be the yuletide cheer you want in a season darkened by terrorism and fear, but it does have a message that meets the moment.”
Synopsis: In “The Knight Before Christmas,” small-town teacher Brooke (Hudgens) helps a time-traveling, medieval knight (Josh Whitehouse) fulfill his quest.
But the more time they spend together, the more Sir Cole wonders if he really wants to succeed and return home.
Ian Sandwell wrote for Digital Spy, “‘The Knight Before Christmas’ has every possible festive ingredient you could want, even a puppy in a stocking. Cynics need not apply, there’s nothing here for you.”
Synopsis: In “The Princess Switch,” Chicago-based baker Stacy (Hudgens) travels to Belgravia for the Royal Christmas Baking Contest.
But when she meets Duchess Margaret (also Hudgens), who could be her twin, Stacy agrees to switch places with her so the princess can see what “normal” life is like before she takes the throne.
“‘The Princess Switch’ is a delight. If you told me last year that I would thoroughly enjoy — nay, crave — another ‘Parent Trap’–like movie but starring Vanessa Hudgens … I would have told you exactly what to do with your Christmas pastries,” Emily Tannenbaum wrote for Cosmopolitan.
Synopsis: “A Christmas Prince” centers on Amber (McIver), a journalist gunning for her big break, as she goes undercover to write about the royal family of Aldovia.
Along the way, she ends up discovering a huge secret that could throw a wrench in the whole Aldovian line of succession, while also falling for the prince (Lamb).
“It’s everything you want a holiday film to be: cheesy, hopeful, a little bit ridiculous, and overall as warm and toasty as the fireplace you’re watching it next to,” Lea Palmieri wrote for Decider.
Synopsis: In “A Castle for Christmas,” an American writer named Sophie (Brooke Shields) sets off on a holiday vacation to Scotland in search of the castle her grandfather told her stories about as a child.
After falling in love with the property and putting an offer in on it, the only thing standing in her way is the grumpy duke (Cary Elwes) who owns it.
“Its sincere, aspirational sentiments about it never being too late to write your own second chapter feel genuinely meaningful,” Courtney Howard wrote for Variety.
Synopsis: Based on the short stories by John Green, Lauren Myracle, and Maureen Johnson, “Let It Snow” follows a group of teenagers living in a small, Midwestern town during the holiday season. All of their stories lead to a Christmas Eve party at the local Waffle Town.
Molly Freeman wrote for Screen Rant, “In ‘Let It Snow,’ Netflix delivers a cute young adult holiday romance that’s comforting in its cheesiness, even if it doesn’t break new ground.”
Synopsis: In “A Boy Called Christmas,” Nikolas (Henry Lawfull) sets off on an adventure to try to find his father — who’s on his own journey searching for a mystical village of elves.
But along the way, Nikolas discovers much more than what he set out for.
Natalia Winkleman wrote for The New York Times, “Magic abounds in ‘A Boy Called Christmas,’ Netflix’s first prestige holiday movie of the season, but pulsing through this winning adventure tale is something even stronger: the immersive power of storytelling.”
Synopsis: The musical holiday film centers on inventor/toymaker Jeronicus Jangle (Forest Whitaker) decades after his apprentice (Keegan-Michael Key) betrayed him by stealing his prized creation.
It’s up to his granddaughter Journey (Madalen Mills) to reignite the magic in his shop and heal the wounds of his past.
“The many pleasures of this overflowing Christmas stocking of a film are sure to make it a family favorite, and most likely a family tradition,” Nell Minow wrote for RogerEbert.com.
Synopsis: In “Klaus,” after struggling mail carrier Jesper (voiced by Jason Schwartzman) gets reassigned to an island above the Arctic Circle, he meets mysterious carpenter Klaus (voiced by J.K. Simmons).
Their unlikely friendship melts a years-old feud in their cold town of Smeerensberg and sparks a new holiday tradition.
“It’s awkward and weird, and yet all that awkwardness and weirdness give it personality and charm and a freewheeling, nonsensical quality that feels refreshing,” Bilge Ebiri wrote for Vulture.
Synopsis: In “Alien Xmas,” when a group of extraterrestrials comes to Earth to try and steal its gravity — and then everything else on the planet — the only things that can save the world are the gift-giving spirit of Christmas and a small alien named X.
“It’s a bit of a sloppy plot, but also kind of endearing in its loosey-gooseyness,” John Serba wrote for Decider.
Note: All scores were current on the date of publication and are subject to change. Films without critical ratings were not included. Netflix’s originals generally consist of both content created by the streaming service and content exclusive to the platform.