Christmas has long been the peak time for romance- with general holiday joy filling the air, heightened drunkenness, and mistletoe, love thrives in cuddle weather. Netflix has taken notice of this in recent years, putting out a quick succession of original Christmas romance films that have been generally well-received by viewers. However, with so many coming out, which are the ones worth watching? Here are the top 8, ranked:
8. A Christmas Prince: The Royal Wedding
The 2018 sequel to A Christmas Prince, this film was eagerly awaited and disappointing when it arrived. Focussing on Rose McIver’s character Amber’s engagement to the prince, the film takes a confusing twist when it delves into the world of royal economics and power. Whilst a worthy watch (especially with the third instalment, The Royal Baby coming on December 5th), it far from rivals the non-streaming classics that came before it like Love Actually.
7. Holiday in the Wild
One of those Christmas films that only counts because of a loosely fitting scene in which a Christmas tree features, Holiday in the Wild is a typical rom-com. Following a middle-aged divorcee (scoring points for age representation) who goes on a heartbroken holiday to Zambia, the white saviour storyline becomes immediately apparent when her New York vet skills manage to do what elephant experts can’t. Even with Rob Lowe playing the male lead, you can’t shake the uncomfortable feeling that comes with Kristin Davis’ ability to solve every problem in ‘the Wild’.
6. The Holiday Calendar:
The problem with The Holiday Calendar is that there is nothing particularly memorable about this film, save for the magic advent calendar. Perfect for putting on in the background of wrapping presents, this run-of-the-mill film takes you through every predictable turn but doesn’t manage to have that something special that sets it apart from the corny Hallmark films in the way that the other Netflix originals do. The only film in the list with a POC couple as the leads, The Holiday Calendar showed promise but failed to become a seasonal staple.
5. Let it Snow
Another adaption of a John Green novel, Let it Snow is filled with every cliché you can think of between its myriad of couples, but still somehow manages to wrap it up in a perfect ending. Made more for a teen audience, the modern setting makes for a relatable tale that never fails to amuse and warm hearts, with queer representation that isn’t shoehorned in. Focussing on friendship just as much as it does romance, this holiday film is one for those that don’t want love shoved in their face at every turn- just enough in each scene to keep you fully aware that it exists, and it is cheesily heart-warming.
4. Christmas Inheritance:
Starring Eliza Taylor as Ellen, a brattish heiress sent to a rural town by her father to learn basic compassion, Christmas Inheritance has all the character arc you could ask for. Despite Ellen’s cringeworthy, embarrassing lack of understanding of the real world, Jake (played by The Office’s Jake Lacy) manages to show her what Christmas is truly about. A frustrating film to begin with, it is redeemed by the overwhelming sense of heart and community displayed by the town of Snow Falls throughout the holiday period. The real story is not the gradual romance, but about Ellen finding her place, and planting herself firmly on the ground.
3. The Knight Before Christmas
One for those who like their love stories saccharine sweet and deeply unrealistic, The Knight Before Christmas sees Vanessa Hudgens star in her second Netflix original Christmas romance, opposite the dashing Josh Whitehouse who plays a 14th-century knight sent to the future. Thankfully not one for the medieval misogyny, Sir Cole (as he is dubbed) is every inch the dream male lead. Following his journey as he navigates the modern world, the modern Christmas, and the modern romance, this is most young girls’ fantasy, minus being a princess. Truly a knight in shining armour, this film takes you back to the days when everyone lusted over Arthur in Merlin, but in a story, you might fit yourself into *just a bit* better.
2. A Christmas Prince
Featuring a Game of Thrones-esque subplot about the royal bloodline, A Christmas Prince has all the drama you’ve been missing. A more romantic The Devil Wears Prada, Amber, a New York journalist is sent to the kingdom of Aldovia to prove herself to her boss by investigating the mysterious Prince Richard. With there seemingly being nothing more romantic at Christmas than the potential of becoming royalty, Netflix provides a story of love overshadowed only by the main character’s charming friendship with the prince’s young sister, played by Honor Kneafsey. So popular it sparked two sequels, this is the triumph that sparked the Netflix Christmas romance revolution, and it’s not hard to see why.
1. The Princess Switch
Starring Vanessa Hudgens in her best roles since High School Musical, The Princess Switch is a Christmas romance masterpiece. Containing not one, but TWO excellent love stories, this modern, gender-bent interpretation of the classic Prince and the Pauper tale packs in more tropes than any other film- and does it spectacularly well. Funny, touching, and just plain ‘super’, the romances don’t feel manufactured, and the fairy-tale feels as if it belongs right here in the present. Plus, there’s a baking competition subplot. Vanessa Hudgens has successfully become queen, not just of the fictional Belgravia, but of Netflix Christmas romance films. We can only ask for more.
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