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The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

What to watch this Christmas season

Sometimes you love Christmas; sometimes you hate it. These movies will help you lock into the Christmas spirit or block out the winter blues.
Vince Lin
A graphic depicting a family watching TV surrounded by holiday decor. (Hustler Multimedia/Vince Lin)

Some people cherish the holiday season as a time for loved ones, gifts and good food. For others, the holidays bring up unwanted memories, exhausting parties and good old seasonal depression. Either way, the holidays come with an onslaught of Christmas media: The infinite loop of Mariah Carey, the holiday episode of every TV show and the obligatory Christmas movie. 

This winter movie guide is here to help provide some activities with friends or family over the break, made for all who want to tune in or tune out the Christmas spirit.

For the whole family:


Streaming service: Netflix

It’s not a conventional holiday movie, but “Paddington” will give you all the warm and fuzzy feelings of a Christmas classic. “Paddington” is the story of a displaced bear who finds a loving home in London — until a taxidermist tries to hunt him down. The film has near-universal acclaim and an equally earnest sequel to boot. 

“Little Women” (2019)

Streaming service: Starz subscription

Truly, any version of “Little Women” will do, but this one is sentimental to me. The film is unapologetically romantic, hopeful and earnest with a star-studded cast. “Little Women” is perfect for those who don’t want a Christmas movie that centers entirely on the holidays, instead holding up year-round. It’s a story you’ve heard before, but it’s even better this season because of the film’s tight-knit family and triumphant ending. It’s Greta Gerwig, what more can I say?

“It’s a Wonderful Life”

Streaming service: Amazon Prime Video 

This movie is great for the end of the day as everyone winds down. “It’s a Wonderful Life” is about a depressed man who is visited by an angel and shown what the world would be like without him, revealing the preciousness of his life along the way. It’s a reminder for those who are melancholic over the holidays to cherish the everyday joys of life. The 1947 feature is not great for younger kids who might be bored by its plot, but it hits home for older viewers who resonate with its message. 

“The Santa Clause”

Streaming service: Disney+

Since “The Santa Clause” is a three-film franchise, you can leave the films on in the background of a Christmas party or tune in with the family. The film is about an ordinary father who accidentally maims Santa and must take his place. The franchise has comedy greats like Tim Allen and Martin Short with a unique story among holiday romances and “A Christmas Carol” remakes.


If you don’t care much for Christmas, but you still want the vibes:


Streaming service: Max

Technically, this isn’t a movie — it’s Jerrod Carmichael’s comedy special. Taking place in a cozy comedy cellar on a wintery night, it’s the most intimate stand-up set I’ve seen. It begins to feel less like a show as it goes on and more like an old friend telling you where they’ve been after a long time apart. The show centers around family, relationships, isolation and self-discovery — something we all confront during the holiday season. 

“Silver Linings Playbook”

Streaming service: Netflix

A tidy rom-com with great actors, “Silver Linings” is funny (albeit sometimes overdramatic) and may have aged in its depiction of mental illness, but it is still an entertaining watch with great chemistry and ridiculous schemes. It might not seem like a Christmas movie, but the film crescendos right at the holiday season. Watching the couple move through the seasons makes you feel like you’ve made it to December with them.


Streaming service: Netflix

I think this film is required queer viewing, especially during the holidays. “Carol” follows a 1950s love story during Christmas between a photographer and a married older woman. The film has a quiet pace, a hushed desire between its leads and a gorgeously muted color palette. Watching it feels like being next to a crackling warm fire or seeing the beginnings of snowfall. 


Streaming service: Max

When the flood of Christmas cheer and family chatter makes you want to forget about the holidays, dive into this iconic murder mystery. “Fargo” is a staple for any cinephile and a great introduction to the Coen brothers’ iconic style. Uncovering a series of murders in the Minnesota winter, the film has a captivating blend of the overly polite and utterly sordid.


If you have been thinking about Christmas since October:

“How the Grinch Stole Christmas” (2000)

Streaming service: Hulu+

The live-action feature or the animated short film will settle everyone into the holiday spirit. Jim Carrey plays a perverse yet charismatic Grinch in the live-action rendition while the music of the short film is unmatched. Dr. Seuss’ tale is a cultural landmark of the season and its central song, “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch,” is the best earworm. “The Grinch” is the perfect antidote for any Christmas grumps you have around over the holidays.


Streaming service: Netflix

This 2019 film was a critical success and a visual treat. “Klaus” follows a selfish postal worker and a reserved toy maker who reluctantly work together to give toys to the kids of an unhappy town. The film is a refreshing take on Santa’s origin and does not have the over-the-top storytelling of the average kid’s movie. Warning, though: This one can be a tearjerker!

“The Princess Switch”

Streaming service: Netflix

Sometimes the thing that brings everyone together is a movie to make fun of. This film is about a baker and princess who happen to be doppelgangers and hatch a plan to switch places, falling in love with their stolen lives. “The Princess Switch” exemplifies the “so bad it’s good” movie and is truly the gift that keeps on giving. Once you enter the Vanessa Hudgens-Netflix-Christmas movie cinematic universe, you will never leave.

“Love Actually”

Streaming service: Netflix

Can you make a Christmas movie list without mentioning “Love Actually?” The film is one of the most ambitious Christmas movies ever, managing a star-studded ensemble cast, nine separate romances and that absurd cue card confession scene. “Love Actually” is like that one Christmas song that’s overplayed every year: It’s cheesy and a bit annoying after a while, but it doesn’t feel like Christmas without it.

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About the Contributors
Muthoni Kamau, Staff Writer
Muthoni Kamau ('24) is from Dallas, and is majoring in history and minoring in political science and sociology in the College of Arts and Science. When not writing for The Hustler, Muthoni enjoys walking around Nashville, finding new albums and reading. They can be reached at [email protected].
Vince Lin, Staff Photographer and Graphics Staffer
Vince Lin (‘27) is from Zanesville, Ohio, and is majoring in computer science. Vince is a staff photographer and plans on covering sports and concerts. Outside of school, you can find him at the gym, rowing, lifting weights, playing games with friends or sleeping. You can reach him at [email protected].
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