En español | You may think that the Hallmark Channel has cornered the market on Christmas movies, but Netflix has thrown its Santa hat in the ring in a big way over the past few years. The streaming giant’s slate of original holiday content runs the gamut from romantic comedies and big-budget musicals to family fantasy films, with a few festive series and documentaries thrown under the tree for good measure. This ultimate 12-day watch list promises a sweet ending to a doozy of a year.
The plot: Between starring in and executive producing Grey’s Anatomy and directing Dolly Parton’s new holiday musical (see below), Debbie Allen, 70, isn’t letting 2020 slow her down. This new documentary takes a deep dive into the former Fame star’s other day job: founder and teacher at L.A.’s Debbie Allen Dance Academy. Get a behind-the-scenes look at her updated take on the ballet classic, which incorporates tap, jazz and hip-hop and is set to a score by Mariah Carey (50), Arturo Sandoval (71), James Ingram and more.
Watch if … your local ballet isn’t performing The Nutcracker this year and you still want to get your holiday extravaganza fix.
Where to watch: Dance Dreams: Hot Chocolate Nutcracker
The plot: In this lush period musical with songs by John Legend and others, Oscar winner Forest Whitaker, 59, stars as a toymaker named Jeronicus Jangle who is betrayed when his apprentice, Gustafson (Keegan Michael-Key), steals the plans for his talking, singing matador doll Don Juan Diego (voiced by Ricky Martin). Populating this musical village are Downton Abbey patriarch Hugh Bonneville, 57, and Broadway’s Anika Noni Rose, but you’re sure to fall in love with 11-year-old breakout Madalen Mills, who plays Jeronicus’ spunky granddaughter.
Watch if … you miss going to the theater and need a toe-tapping new musical to sing along to.
Where to watch: Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey
The plot: Dolly’s generosity made headlines this year when her $1 million donation helped fund a COVID-19 vaccine. Consider her the 2020 gift that keeps on giving: The Queen of Country’s latest offering is this campy musical, directed and choreographed by Debbie Allen. Parton, 74, stars as a homeless angel who tries to convince the Scrooge-like Regina Fuller (Christine Baranski, 68) not to sell her hometown’s land to a mall developer. Black-ish matriarch Jenifer Lewis, 63, costars as the beauty shop owner, Margeline.
Watch if … you think A Christmas Carol could use a few more rhinestones.
Where to watch: Dolly Parton’s Christmas on the Square
The plot: If you still think of Kurt Russell, 69, as a teen Disney star or a 1980s heartthrob, it may take a few seconds to adjust to his bushy white beard and red suit. But he makes a mighty fine Santa in this fantasy film by Home Alone director Chris Columbus, 62, about two kids who stow away on his sleigh. Goldie Hawn, 75, had a cameo as Mrs. Claus in the 2018 original and shows up in a much bigger way in the sequel, The Christmas Chronicles 2, released this Thanksgiving weekend. It’s the perfect lightweight entertainment — complete with animated elves — for a multigenerational Zoom watch party.
Watch if … you’re in the mood to pour yourself some mulled wine and hang out with Hollywood’s coolest power couple for a few hours.
Where to watch: The Christmas Chronicles
The plot: When her husband abruptly ends their marriage, Kate Conrad (Sex and the City star Kristin Davis, 55) decides to spend her holidays alone on the second honeymoon they had planned to take together to Zambia. Once there, she meets charismatic pilot Derek Hollistan (Rob Lowe, 56) — and, perhaps more importantly, a baby elephant whose mother has been killed by poachers. It doesn’t take long to start imagining the trio posing for next year’s family Christmas card.
Watch if … you think no Nativity scene is complete without a few safari animals thrown in for good measure.
Where to watch: Holiday in the Wild
The plot: Based on a series of young adult novels and squarely aimed at a younger audience, this eight-episode romantic comedy series will nonetheless win you over with its effortlessly wholesome charm. Austin Abrams and Midori Francis star as the namesake duo of Big Apple teenagers who fall in love over the holiday season, but their relationship comes with a catch that might remind you of You’ve Got Mail: They only communicate with one another by writing clues, dares and secrets in a red notebook that they pass back and forth around New York City.
Watch if … you’re looking for a cool new show to chat about with your grandkids.
Where to watch: Dash & Lily
Read More: AARP