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10 best Christmas movies now on Netflix

Posted: 11:58 AM, Dec 12, 2015
Updated: 2015-12-12 11:58:33-05

When it comes to Christmas movies, the pickings are relatively slim on Netflix. There are plenty of holiday-themed films streaming from the service but how many of them are worth watching?

Subscribers won't find "Home Alone" or "It's a Wonderful Life" streaming for Christmas 2015, but there's a handful of solid holiday movies available now. Listed below are the 10 highest-rated Christmas movies currently on Netflix, based on RottenTomatoes.com review scores.

“A Christmas Carol” (1938)
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 100
Starring: Reginald Owen, Gene Lockhart, Leo G. Carroll

It’s been nearly 80 years since this version of Charles Dickens’ classic story hit theaters, but it still carries weight with critics. According to the top reviews collected by Rotten Tomatoes, it’s the best Christmas film now streaming via Netflix. It’s best not to write this one off because of its age or lack of color.

“The Nightmare Before Christmas” (1993)
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 94
Starring: Chris Sarandon, Catherine O’Hara, Glenn Shadix

It’s unlike perhaps any other Christmas movie ever made, a fact that undoubtedly helps the stellar reputation for Disney’s “The Nightmare Before Christmas.” This animated favorite exists in a world where each holiday has its own unique world and when a resident of Halloween Town stumbles into Christmas Town, he tries to bring the holiday’s magic to his neighbors. It’s got a uniquely gothic look and memorable original songs from composer Danny Elfman.

“Trading Places” (1983)
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 86
Starring: Eddie Murphy, Dan Aykroyd, Jamie Lee Curtis

Not everyone agrees that this is a Christmas movie but since it takes place during the holiday season and there is a major scene at a Christmas party, we’ll count it. Directed by John Landis (“Animal House,” “The Blues Brothers”), “Trading Places” offers a hilarious, 1980s take on Mark Twain’s “The Prince and the Pauper.”

“While You Were Sleeping” (1995)
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 80
Starring: Sandra Bullock, Bill Pullman, Peter Gallagher

Another film that can only loosely be considered a Christmas movie, this romantic comedy kicks off on Christmas and offers some charming glimpses of a snow-covered Chicago. Its screwball plot follows a young woman who masquerades as the fiancée of a man who has fallen into a coma — before actually falling in love with his brother.

“Bad Santa” (2003)
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 78
Starring: Billy Bob Thornton, Lauren Graham, Tony Cox

It’s one of the most raucous Christmas films — fully earning its R rating — and one of the highest rated on Netflix. “Bad Santa” follows a drunken crook who works as Santa Claus at various shopping malls, allowing easy access to rob the stores. It stars Oscar winner Billy Bob Thornton, “Gilmore Girls” star Lauren Graham and late comedian Bernie Mac.

“White Christmas” (1954)
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 76
Starring: Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney

Clark W. Griswold described “White Christmas” as the “Hap-hap-happiest Christmas” ever and the critics collected by Rotten Tomatoes seem to agree. Composer Irving Berlin’s classic songs are brought to life by Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye, including “White Christmas” and “Count Your Blessings (Instead of Sheep).”

“A Very Murray Christmas” (2015)
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 73
Starring: Bill Murray, Chris Rock, Miley Cyrus

This bizarre Christmas variety special can only be found on Netflix this holiday season. Legendary actor Bill Murray plays himself and a slew of guests show up to help him ring in the holidays with musical numbers and comedic bits. The 56-minute show includes cameos from George Clooney, Miley Cyrus, Amy Poehler and others.

“The Ref” (1994)
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 71
Starring: Denis Leary, Kevin Spacey, Judy Davis

This dark comedy is set on Christmas Eve but doesn’t hold much in the way of Christmas spirit. A thief holds an unhappily married couple hostage in their home when their entire family shows up for a holiday visit. The criminal ends up posing as a marriage counselor as police go door-to-door looking for him in the neighborhood.

“The Fitzgerald Family Christmas” (2012)
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 64
Starring: Connie Britton, Kerry Bishé, Edward Burns

Writer-director Edward Burns also co-starred in this overlooked holiday dramedy. It follows a group of adult siblings who gather for their first Christmas with their father since he deserted them 20 years earlier. The cast includes Connie Britton (“Friday Night Lights”) and Brian d’Arcy James (“Spotlight”).

“Love Actually” (2003)
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 63
Starring: Hugh Grant, Colin Firth, Liam Neeson

A large cast of A-list actors, including Oscar winners Colin Firth and Emma Thompson, star in this sprawling look at love, set during the holiday season in England. “Love Actually” is probably the ultimate flick to turn on during a Christmastime Netflix-and-chill date.

Clint Davis is a writer for the E.W. Scripps National Desk. Follow him on Twitter @MrClintDavis .