Best Christmas Movies Streaming Right Now

(Welcome to Now Stream This, a column dedicated to the best movies streaming on Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, and every other streaming service out there.) 

I don’t want to alarm you, but I have some shocking news: it’s currently the holiday season. Yes, I can’t believe it either, but here we are. The utterly bonkers year that was 2017 is almost gone, but before it goes we’ll have to muddle through the holiday season somehow. The holidays can be a stressful time for some people: there’s the hassle of finding the perfect gift for loved ones, mixed with lousy weather, congested traffic and the existential dread of the looming new year. My advice? Relieve some of that stress with movies. After all, movies are the reason for the season (please don’t correct me on this, I’m sure this is correct).

In the spirit of giving, I’ve compiled a list of Christmas movies for you to stream as we run out the clock on 2017. These aren’t your traditional Christmas movies, though. The films compiled here are primarily what I’d like to call alternative Christmas movies. In other words, a lot of these are Christmas movies for people who don’t like Christmas movies. But don’t worry, I made sure to throw in one or two traditional tales of holiday cheer just in case.

Here are the best Christmas movies streaming right now! Let’s get streaming.

1. Eyes Wide Shut
Now Streaming on Netflix

Stanley Kubrick‘s final film is a psycho-sexual dream set (mostly) over the course of one long, weird evening close to Christmas. Eyes Wide Shut may not be a Christmas movie in the conventional sense, but the holiday is ever-present throughout the film, with a Christmas tree in the background of nearly every shot. Tom Cruise gives one his best performances playing a frustrated doctor who storms out on his wife (played by Cruise’s real wife at the time, Nicole Kidman) after she confesses she had a sexual fantasy about another man. His ego (and manhood) wounded, Cruise decides to get back at his wife’s (imagined) infidelity by having an affair or two of his own. He stalks the streets of New York, Christmas lights twinkling around every corner, and soon ends up at one killer Christmas party, full of masks, orgies and creepy music. Kubrick, notorious for not wanting to travel, shot the New York street scenes on backlots and with rear-projection, which only adds to the overall dream-like atmosphere of the film.

For fans of: Crash (the car crash sex one, not the racism one), BirthLast Year at Marienbad, Tom Cruise’s really cool looking hair.

2. The Apartment
Now Streaming on FilmStruck

One of Billy Wilder‘s very best films (maybe even the best), this surprisingly dark romantic comedy has a Christmas (and New Years) backdrop built into its storyline. Jack Lemmon is a total pushover; a guy who allows his superiors at work to use his apartment for their various affairs. As these higher ups use Lemmon’s pad to cheat on their wives, Lemmon camps out on the icy New York streets. Along the way, Lemmon finds himself falling for the office building elevator girl (an irresistible Shirley MacLaine). Unfortunately, MacLaine’s character is in the midst of a serious affair with Lemmon’s boss, played with the perfect amount of smug charm by Fred MacMurray. What follows is a funny, witty, and unexpectedly melancholy series of events. When people reflect on the films of the past and say “They don’t make ’em like they used to,” this is the type of movie they’re talking about.

For fans of: Some Like It HotMad MenThe Seven Year Itch, straining spaghetti with a tennis racket.

3. Black Christmas
Now Streaming on Shudder

There are quite a few Christmas horror movies (too many, in fact), but the best of the bunch, without question, is Bob Clark‘s 1974 proto-slasher flick Black Christmas. There’s something wonderfully ironic about the fact that Clark directed both this film and the immortal Christmas classic A Christmas Story – where are the 24-hour marathons of Black Christmas? While John Carpenter gets most of the credit for starting up the “holiday-themed horror movie trend” with Halloween in 1978, Black Christmas actually predates his film by a few years; a factoid that frequently gets overlooked. In this dark and twisted holiday nightmare, a house of sorority sisters, played by Olivia Hussey, Margot Kidder and more, find themselves terrorized around Christmastime by a prank caller prone to obscene messages. But this guy might have more than prank calls on his mind, and the young women find themselves in increasingly more danger. This is a slow-burn chiller, so don’t expect an abundance of jump scares or gory kills. What Black Christmas does have, however, is a wealthy of atmosphere, which makes the whole thing extra effective. Side note: there was a Black Christmas remake made in 2006; avoid it at all costs, it’s terrible.

For fans of: HalloweenSilent Night, Deadly Night, When A Stranger Calls, inebriated Margot Kidder.

4. Gremlins
Now Streaming on Netflix

Gremlins is Christmasy as hell. Even though people are constantly referring to this Joe Dante by way of Steven Spielberg monster movie as a “Christmas classic,” it’s sometimes easy to lose sight of how much of a Christmas vibe this flick throws off. From the opening credits alone, showing a lovely matte painting of a snowy town as Darlene Love’s “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” blasts out, it’s impossible to not get into the Christmas spirit when watching this movie. Which is remarkable, because Gremlins is nasty. This is a mean-spirited movie – especially for a Spielberg production. A suburban town is thrown into chaos as a cute, cuddly monster named Gizmo inadvertently leads to the spawning of gross, slimy, murderous gremlins. My personal favorite Christmas-themed detail here: the scene where Phoebe Cates recounts a ghoulish story about how her father died in a Santa Claus-related accident when she was a child.

For fans of: The ‘BurbsBack to the FutureKrampus, disgusting chewing sounds.

5. The Muppet Christmas Carol
Now Streaming on HBO GO

I’m not entirely sure if The Muppet Christmas Carol is the best film adaptation of Charles Dickens’ immortal classic A Christmas Carol, but I am sure that Michael Caine is the best on-screen Scrooge of all time. Caine decided to approach the part of literature’s most famous miser totally straight; he acted as if the film he was in was completely normal, ignoring the fact that his co-stars were a group of puppets. The result is remarkable: Caine’s performance here is downright award worthy, and I’m not kidding. You know the story by now, right? Greedy Scrooge finds himself visited by three (well, technically four in the book and five in this film) spirits on Christmas Eve. The spirits take Scrooge on a journey through his past, present and future, and teach him to be a better man. The twist here, of course, is that the supporting cast is made up of Jim Henson’s famous Muppet characters – Kermit, Miss Piggy, etc. The best element of this telling (besides Caine’s great performance) is the decision to have Gonzo play the part of Charles Dickens, who in turn narrates the story and helps brings Dickens’ wit and charm to the narrative. On top of all that, the jokes are pretty damn funny. My favorite: at one point during the big opening song, Scrooge walks by a stand of vegetables that come to life and sing a chorus. Without missing a beat, the man selling the talking veggies turns directly to the camera and says of Scrooge, “Even the vegetables don’t like him!” Bonus: the whole movie is loaded with catchy songs by Paul Williams.

For fans of: Pretty much every version of A Christmas CarolThe Muppets, Michael Caine going all-in on the idea of acting with puppets.

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