It may not be the most wonderful year, but that doesn't mean we don't get to enjoy the most wonderful time of the year. And even if we aren’t looking forward to celebrating the holidays with family political arguments, we at least have festive decorations, Starbucks drinks that taste like peppermint and, of course, Christmas movies to keep us in the spirit.
Now please don't think we’re being snarky when we say the bar is low when it comes to Christmas movies. They're cheesy. They're predictable. They're EXACTLY WHAT WE WANT RIGHT NOW. What more could one desire from a holiday flick than a little bit of laughter, a whole lot of fake snow (these things were all shot in July for sure) and an ending we saw coming since the first five minutes when Lacey Chabert sighed and told her best friend, "I guess I'll be alone again this Christmas..."?!
But with all of the Christmas film options out there (and believe us, there are a freaking ton), we’re here to help you decide which ones to prioritize. And as perhaps the only piece of evidence that 2021 wasn't all bad, these three soon-to-be-classics all came out this year.
Here, this entertainment editor’s top picks for the best Christmas movies of 2021 (plus, one must-watch Christmas show as a bonus).
1. ‘Love Hard’
Netflix really went in hard on the catfishing content this year: first Clickbait, and now this. But unlike the intense, twist-filled drama of Clickbait, Love Hard is fun, frivolous and exactly what we want from a Christmas movie.
The flick centers around an L.A. gal (Nina Dobrev) looking for love in all the wrong places. When she finally clicks with a dreamboat on a dating app, she decides to surprise him for Christmas by showing up at his house. However, the surprise is clearly on her as she soon discovers she’s been catfished.
Fear not though—Love Hard still provides all the necessary over-the-top Christmas flick elements we require, like love triangles, cheesy dialogue and (of course) a musical number or two. And clearly Netflix viewers agree with us as the film hit #1 on the streaming platform after only a few days.
2. ‘Single All the Way’
Netflix’s first-ever gay Christmas rom-com is a star-studded affair that is enjoyable for the whole family (okay, minus the very young youngins). Michael Urie of Ugly Betty fame returns home for the holidays with his BFF, played by Philemon Chambers. A love triangle (we’re sensing a pattern here…) ensues after the Christmas-loving matriarch of the house (a radiant Kathy Najimy) sets her son up with a hot townie before realizing the ‘BFFs’ may want to be more than just friends.
If you’re even remotely on the fence about this one, let the genius casting of Jennifer Coolidge as a free-wheeling aunt persuade you to give it a view. Perhaps you’ve seen the memes going around of Coolidge dressed as Glinda the Good Witch for the town’s Christmas pageant? Oh, and make sure to stick around for the musical number in the credits where we get to see Coolidge in all of her dancing glory.
3. ‘Princess Switch 3: Romancing the Star’
Be sure, we don’t put this film on this list lightly. After all, last year’s Princess Switch 2 was a total and complete miss for us. But fortunately, Vanessa Hudgens has reversed course by bringing us a fun follow-up flick (with a surprising amount of action).
Like last year, the film stars Hudgens as Queen Margaret…and as Princess Stacy…and as Lady Fiona. But unlike last year, the film’s script is actually enjoyable, giving us a much more likable version of Lady Fiona and a Christmas caper reminiscent of the Ocean’s Eleven franchise.
And for those who are devotees of the PS movies, all of the audience favorites have returned, plus a few fresh faces such as Remy Hill as a new romantic lead (who happens to possess a secret or three).
Bonus: 12 Dates of Christmas
Sure, sure, Christmas movies rightfully get a lot of credit in the joy-bringing department. But we’d be remiss not to mention this must-watch Christmas show on HBO Max. The second season of 12 Dates of Christmas is like Bachelor in Paradise, except “paradise” is a winter wonderland and the “bachelors” are actually three sexy, smart and sophisticated singles who offer quite a bit more diversity than its ABC predecessor.
In this reality series, three leads head off to a gorgeous wintry lodge to meet their suitors with the ultimate goal of deciding who they want to bring home for Christmas. There is plenty of drama in this real-life rom-com (and plenty of time spent making out in the hot tub). This super entertaining series may not be a total tearjerker, but it will definitely pull at the holiday heartstrings.
RELATED: 40 Romantic Christmas Movies to Get You in the Holiday Spirit (And Give You All the Feels)