Christmas in Notting Hill
An adorably cute romantic pairing.
|This is what a cute Christmas rom-com looks like. Georgia (Sarah Ramos) is visiting her sister Lizzie in London and meets cute stranger, Graham (William Moseley); but there’s a few things she doesn’t know about him: that he’s a famous professional footballer and that he’s the brother of her sister’s boyfriend. He also doesn’t know her connection. So when he accidentally tells her that his brother’s proposing this Christmas, she doesn’t know the significance.
Directed by: Ali Liebert
Screenplay by: Alex Yonks
Starring: Sarah Ramos, William Moseley
|See full review of Christmas in Notting Hill
A Merry Scottish Christmas
|Lacey Chabert and Scott Wolf have been reunited as brother and sister in A Merry Scottish Christmas. And when you have TV royalty with their adorableness, you might as well make them duke and duchess, almost. Estranged siblings Brad (Scott Wolf) and Lindsay (Lacey Chabert) have been invited by their mother to a castle in Scotland. They don’t know why, she’s acting weird, although given the references to their childhood, I don’t know how you identify what’s weird with her.
Directed by: Dustin Rikert
Screenplay by: Andrea Canning, Dustin Rikert, Andrew Gernhard
Starring: Lacey Chabert, Scott Wolf
|See full review of A Merry Scottish Christmas
A Hallmark Christmas on a cute island.
|Navigating Christmas is set on a remote island off the coast of Washington state. It’s a small island with a lighthouse, a diner and a few people who all wear plaid. It is a fictional place, but it’s a lovely set and not overdone unlike most of Hallmarks fictional small-town settings. Recently divorced single mother Melanie (Chelsea Hobbs) takes her teenage son on a last-minute Christmas vacation after his father bailed on him.
Directed by: Peter Benson
Starring: Chelsea Hobbs, Stephen Huszar
|See full review of Navigating Christmas
Dashing Through the Snow
Off-kilter but adds something new to Santa Claus.
|Dashing Through the Snow is weird and off-kilter for most of it, but it also has a sense of fun and something for the whole family. Eddie (Chris "Ludacris" Bridges) is separated from his wife, has a daughter, and is a social worker who spends his time helping others who are less fortunate. He’s spending Christmas Eve with his daughter until he catches a guy breaking into his neighbor’s house.
Directed by: Tim Story
Screenplay by: Scott Rosenberg
Starring: Lil Rel Howery, Chris "Ludacris" Bridges
|See full review of Dashing Through the Snow
Best. Christmas. Ever!
A messy comedy filled with cynicism, jealousy, loss and depression.
|Best. Christmas. Ever! is not intentionally using that title ironically even though the first half is a cynical mess and the second half uses grief and depression to make everything worse. The premise fulfills the first half of the movie, two jealous friends who want to bring down the other person no matter the cost. It’s a common cynicism in comedies which I hate; this is not good-natured ribbing, this is jealousy and animosity wrapped up in forced laughter.
Directed by: Mary Lambert
Screenplay by: Todd Calgi Gallicano, and Charles Shyer
Starring: Heather Graham, Brandy Norwood, Jason Biggs
|See full review of Best. Christmas. Ever!
A comedy first rom-com.
|A predictable rom-com, EXmas provides plenty of laughs, some well-earned emotions and the right amount of Christmas. Ali (Leighton Meester) loves the holiday but has nobody to celebrate it with, until her ex-fiancée’s family invites her to their house. A few Christmas movie reviews ago (for The Christmas Classic), I mentioned that my favourite trope is the ex who is still friends the family, and now we get a whole movie of that and it is exactly as delightful as expected.
Directed by: Jonah Feingold
Screenplay by: Dan Steele
Starring: Leighton Meester, Robbie Amell
|See full review of EXmas
Well-balanced Christmas cheer.
|To clear up the first bit of confusion, this Christmas Island is a real town in Nova Scotia not the Australian territory in the Indian Ocean. Don’t worry, they’re not doing something silly like flying from the US to Switzerland by way of the south Pacific. The only silly thing this film is doing is having a massive storm over the Atlantic Ocean which is so severe that all flights have had to be grounded for almost a week.
Directed by: David Weaver
Screenplay by: Samantha Herman
Starring: Rachel Skarston, Andrew Walker
|See full review of Christmas Island
Flipping for Christmas
All of Hallmark’s worst characteristics.
|Flipping for Christmas is yet another one of Hallmark’s big city girl travels back to her small hometown, falls for the local handyman, and rediscovers the meaning of family and Christmas. And I would love to say, that at least one of those things got switched up, but only barely: she actually rediscovers the meaning of family, Christmas and community. It’s a very low budget production with overdone characters that it’s impossible to get wrapped up in the romance.
Directed by: Katherine Barrell
Screenplay by: Brett Heard
Starring: Ashley Newbrough, Marcus Rosner
|See full review of Flipping for Christmas
The Christmas Classic
Every Christmas rom-com rolled into one ridiculous but funny story.
|The Christmas Classic is every Christmas cliché wrapped into a ski competition to save the chalet. But the story is also told with tongue firmly in cheek and having as much fun with it as possible. Elizabeth (Malin Akerman) works for her fiancé’s father’s real estate company and has been tasked with buying a ski resort in her small hometown in New Mexico.
Directed by: Shane Dax Taylor
Screenplay by: Shane Dax Taylor, Austin Nichols
Starring: Malin Akerman, Ryan Hansen
|See full review of The Christmas Classic
Perfectly pleasant and often boring.
|Mystic Christmas is an occasionally cute but often just boring Christmas romance. Usually exes at Christmas leads to a lot of fun in movie world, but here it’s just very tame. Juniper (Jessy Schram) is a marine expert returning home to temporarily help out the local aquarium. Her ex is the very nice Sawyer (Chandler Massey). They are both just nice people leading nice lives and it’s all a little boring.
Directed by: Marlo Hunter
Screenplay by: Nicole Drespel
Starring: Jessy Schram, Chandler Massey
|See full review of Mystic Christmas
Christmas by Design
A lazy Christmas romance.
|I was looking forward to a fashion-based Christmas rom-com, but Hallmark’s Christmas by Design forgot the crucial element of successful romantic comedies – characters that audiences want to root for. Charlotte (Rebecca Dalton), aka Charlie, is fine by the end, but at the beginning she’s a delusional, extremely self-absorbed narcissist who likes being antagonistic towards strangers and dismissive of people who care about her. And it forgot the fashion.
Directed by: Max McGuire
Screenplay by: Carley Smale
Starring: Rebecca Dalton, Thomas Chovanec
|See full review of Christmas By Design
Checkin' It Twice
|Checkin’ It Twice is my new favourite genre – the hockey rom-com. Scott (Kevin McGarry) is a journeyman minor league hockey player, he’s in his mid-30s still looking for his shot at the NHL, but instead he’s sent to Idaho Falls a feeder team for the AHL. Meanwhile, Ashley (Kim Matula) is a hot shot commercial real estate agent in New York who has just lost a client to her soon-to-be-ex-boyfriend.
Directed by: Kevin Fair
Screenplay by: Steve Beauregard
Starring: Kevin McGarry, Kim Matula
|See full review of Checkin' It Twice
The Price of Family
So much dysfunction, so little comedy.
|The Price of Family is an Italian dysfunctional family comedy, but it’s a real struggle to see where the comedy is in the dysfunction. Two empty nesters are distraught when their adult children move out of their family home and get jobs. The kids don’t come home for the funeral of an old distant relative and all hell breaks loose (this is a slight exaggeration on my part, but their reactions are far from normal).
Directed by: Giovanni Bognetti
Screenplay by: Giovanni Bognetti
Starring: Christian De Sica, Angela Finocchiaro
|See full review of The Price of Family
I Believe in Santa
A confused movie with no audience.
|I Believe in Santa does not know its audience. First it has a really silly premise – a grown adult who actually believes in Santa. And second, it’s a kid’s movie but not for kids. The rom-com element is too mature to be interesting or funny to kids. So it’s for adults who believe in Santa? Those don’t exist. If we can overlook that existential problem, it is a mostly cute and sweet Christmas movie.
Directed by: Alex Ranarivelo
Screenplay by: John Ducey
Starring: Christina Moore, John Ducey
|See full review of I Believe in Santa
Looking for Her
Slow-moving but cute and sweet with a good lead couple.
|Looking for Her opens with two common character types: Taylor (Olivia Buckle) an uptight, hard-working writer who bottles up her feelings and usually ignores her family for Christmas; Olive (Alexandra Swarens) is a perpetually late, behind on rent, struggling actress who has a sweet nature but doesn’t have two dollars to rub together to be able to make good decisions with. Olive is a really easy character to like and the film desperately needs her presence.
Directed by: Alexandra Swarens
Screenplay by: Alexandra Swarens
Starring: Olivia Buckle, Alexandra Swarens
|See full review of Looking for Her
A Hollywood Christmas
|A Hollywood Christmas is another self-aware Christmas rom-com, gently poking fun at itself while paying homage to the tried-and-true formula. It opens with the movie-within-the-movie: a big city lawyer walks into a small-town girl’s struggling cupcake shop, he threatens to shut it down because he hates Christmas, and the girl teaches him the magic of Christmas and together they save her store and fall in love.
Directed by: Alex Ranarivelo
Screenplay by: John Ducey
Starring: Jessika Van, Josh Swickard
|See full review of A Hollywood Christmas
Your Christmas or Mine?
Too many rom-com tropes with unenjoyable characters.
|A young couple Hayley and James are saying goodbye at the train station to go spend Christmas with their own families. Only they both make the same impulsive decision to get off their train, get on the other person’s train to spend Christmas together, but are now heading to each other’s families, apart. Your Christmas or Mine? is a holiday rom-com in a comedy-of-errors format.
Directed by: Jim O'Hanlon
Screenplay by: Tom Parry
Starring: Asa Butterfield, Cora Kirk
|See full review of Your CHristmas or Mine?
A Tale of Two Christmases
Limited comedy, overplayed romance and an uneven main character.
|Two Christmas romances are not necessarily better than one, especially when the film wants to be this unsubtle about which one is the right one. A Tale of Two Christmases features Emma an architect in Chicago and when she over-sleeps her alarm and runs into a Santa Claus-type person in the airport, her life splits into two directions: one if she makes her flight home to Vermont for Christmas Eve, the other where she spends Christmas Eve in Chicago.
Directed by: Jason Bourque
Screenplay by: Cylin Busby, Nanci Katz
Starring: Katherine Barrell, Chandler Massey, Evan Roderick, and Keith MacKechnie
|See full review of A Tale of Two Christmases
Merry Kiss Cam
Hockey and love and comedy in an indie rom-com.
|Shot and set in Duluth, Minnesota, Merry Kiss Cam is a hockey movie for rom-cam fans, or maybe it’s the other way around and is a rom-com for hockey fans. Either way it’s the perfect coupling of comedy and romance in a college hockey town setting. The team in question is the University of Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs, a real team, but don’t worry you don’t need to know anything about them, just that they lose a lot.
Directed by: Lisa France
Screenplay by: Maya Boudreau, Evan D. Watkins
Starring: Katie Lowes, Jesse Bradford
|See full review of Merry Kiss Cam
Uplifting and sweet tale of music and romance.
|Holiday Harmony is an uplifting and sweet tale of music and romance, and in equal measure. Gail (Annelise Cepero) is an aspiring musician who lives out of her van and plays music in dive bars and on Instagram to all her friends in her phone. A real-life friend helps her apply for iHeart Radio’s Christmas show for her big break on national TV; however, on her way to LA she runs into van trouble in Harmony Springs, Oklahoma.
Directed by: Shaun Piccinnino
Screenplay by: Lauren Swickard, Christopher James Harvill
Starring: Annelise Cepero, Jeremy Sumpter
|See full review of Holiday Harmony
The Noel Diary
A Christmas romance in sullen drama form about death, grief, and forgiveness.
|The Noel Diary features Justin Hartley as Jake Turner, a famous and successful author returning to his childhood home after his mother passed away; and Barrett Doss as Rachel, a woman on search for the identity of her birth mother. It’s a subdued drama about two strangers connecting with one another as they deal with past traumas. Which then of course turns into a romance.
Directed by: Charles Shyer
Screenplay by: Charles Shyer & Rebecca Connor,
and David Golden
Based on the novel by Richard Paul Evans
Starring: Justin Hartley, Barrett Doss
|See full review of The Noel Diary
Christmas on Mistletoe Farm
For the love of animals only.
|A widowed father, Matt Cunningham (Scott Garnham), who has a full-time job and five young kids to take care of, then inherits a farm from his estranged father and decides to juggle his job plus raising his kids plus running a farm, and needless to say it doesn’t go smoothly. Mistletoe grows on Mistletoe Farm but the farm is a regular farm with animals, and eggs for sale, and minimal other revenue sources.
Directed by: Debbie Isitt
Screenplay by: Debbie Isitt
Starring: Scott Garnham, Scott Paige
|See full review of Christmas on Mistletoe Farm
Inventing the Christmas Prince
Wrong in almost every possibly way.
|Inventing the Christmas Prince is definitely on the children’s movie end of the Hallmark spectrum, but the comedy isn’t cute, more nonexistent, and the romance is inappropriate. This is very poorly written with uneven acting and messages that make no sense. Considering Hallmark’s other choices are better, this should be a last resort.
Directed by: Paul Ziller
Screenplay by: Kim Beyer-Johnson
Starring: Tamera Mowry-Housley, Ronnie Rowe
|See full review of Inventing the Christmas Prince
Christmas with You
Familiar Christmas rom-com with Latin flair.
|Christmas with You is another Netflix Christmas romance but this time with a Latin flair. All of the main characters and actors are Latino-American and the story is centered around a girl’s quinceañera, but otherwise it’s a movie you’ve seen before and in typical Netflix fashion, very exaggerated. Angelina (Aimee Garcia) is a pop star, and supposedly one of the most famous pop stars on the planet.
Directed by: Gabriela Tagliavini
Screenplay by: Paco Farias, Jennifer C. Stetson,
and German Michael Torres
Starring: Aimee Garcia, Freddie Prinze Jr.
|See full review of Christmas with You
In Merry Measure
Nice music and a whole lot of sweetness.
|This is my second Hallmark Christmas romance of the season and it’s not a bad decision. The first half of In Merry Measure carries the movie with some nice singing, and a very enjoyable – almost relatable – relationship forming. It’s sweet and then just gets sickeningly sweet, so be ready for a sugar rush, since the movie never dials it back.
Directed by: Paula Elle
Screenplay by: Russell Hainline
Starring: Patti Murin, Brendan Penny
|See full review of In Merry Measure
Falling for Christmas
Light on laughs and romance, but it is sweet and charming.
|Falling for Christmas is Netflix’s first Christmas movie of the season, and it’s also their first entry into the Lindsay Lohan renaissance (with the romantic comedy Irish Wish expected in 2023). It starts as an immature comedy about a spoiled brat acting like a spoiled brat, but the charm eventually wins over as it becomes a sweet comedy about a girl who doesn’t know who she is.
Directed by: Janeen Damian
Screenplay by: Jeff Bonnett, Ron Oliver
Starring: Lindsay Lohan, Chord Overstreet
|See full review of Falling for Christmas
Lights, Camera, Christmas!
A self-aware delight of a Hallmark Christmas romance.
|Lights, Camera, Christmas! is a self-aware Hallmark Christmas movie, and is exactly what the genre needs. A Christmas romance that takes place on the set of a Hallmark-style Christmas romance movie featuring one lead character who hates the genre and her co-lead who makes a living off them and loves it. It has all the necessary ingredients to succeed, and it does.
Directed by: David Weaver
Screenplay by: Gary Goldstein
Starring: Kimberley Sustad, John Brotherton
|See full review of Lights, Camera, Christmas!
Single All the Way
Funny and sweet.
|Michael Urie (from Ugly Betty and Younger) has finally landed himself a lead role, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. Netflix has just started to realize it needs to step up its game with gay rom-coms while its most recent heterosexual offering A Castle for Christmas is hitting rock bottom. Single All the Way is a really silly title, but the comedy is well-earned especially with Urie shining throughout all the well-meaning hijinks.
Directed by: Michael Mayer
Screenplay by: Chad Hodge
Starring: Michael Urie, Philemon Chambers
|See full review of Single All the Way
A Castle for Christmas
Stripped of all humour, charm and common-sense.
|Netflix original romances and Christmas movies don't have a good rap in the first place, but A Castle for Christmas is quite possibly the worst one yet. It's illogical, unromantic, not funny and boring. Famous author Sophie Brown (Brooke Shields) travels to Scotland on a whim, buys a castle on a whim, and falls in love, also on a whim since there's really no logic employed here.
Directed by: Mary Lambert
Screenplay by: Kim Breyer-Johnson, Ally Carter, and Neal H. Dobrofsky
Starring: Brooke Shields, Cary Elwes
|See full review of A Castle for Christmas
Funny, disgusting and entertaining.
|How has there not been a Black Friday set horror movie until now? After Halloween, it is the ideal holiday tailor-made for the genre, and yet nobody has pulled it off. Luckily our first foray into the Thanksgiving-to-Christmas shopping day is a bloody entertaining horror-comedy romp. It’s Thanksgiving night at a Toys R Us type store with a dozen employees on the inside and a couple hundred shoppers on the outside.
Directed by: Casey Tebo
Screenplay by: Andy Greskoviak
Starring: Bruce Campbell, Devon Sawa,
Ivana Baquero and Ryan Lee
|See full review of Black Friday
See You Next Christmas
Premise that eventually really works.
|See You Next Christmas is an indie romantic comedy. Set in Annie and Tom’s apartment, you can feel the low budget. The dialogue has some awkward delivery which limits the comedy, and it takes awhile to be interested in the characters. The romance is a very slow burn. However, the concept of seeing the same people one day each year really works. A snapshot of your life each Christmas as you grow into adulthood.
Directed by: Christine Weatherup
Screenplay by: Christine Weatherup
Starring: Elizabeth Guest, AJ Meijer,
Christine Weatherup and Vin Vescio
|See full review of See You Next Christmas
Some bad writing, but funny characters deliver a mostly entertaining rom-com.
|There’s a lot of bad writing at the beginning to get past, but eventually Love Hard delivers a reasonably funny and entertaining rom-com. It starts with our lead character, Natalie (Nina Dobrev), narrating her life. She’s a successful writer of a ‘bad at love’ blog (which gives some scary Sex and the City flashbacks) and she then turns to online dating because there are just no good men in Los Angeles.
Directed by: Hernan Jimenez
Screenplay by: Daniel Mackey, Rebecca Ewing
Starring: Nina Dobrev and Jimmy O. Yang
|See full review of Love Hard
Christmas on the Carousel
An indie romance with well written characters.
|Writer and director Erik Bloomquist has been busy with Christmas at the Carousel his third movie released this year after Weekenders and Night at the Eagle Inn. He also stars as Greyson, one of four friends who have made the trip back home for the Christmas holidays during their final year at college. It’s time to grapple with their relationships, their future, their past and what home ultimately means.
Directed by: Erik Bloomquist
Screenplay by: Erik Bloomquist, Taylor Turner
Starring: Erik Bloomquist, Madeleine Dauer, Taylor Turner and Rachel Oremland
|See full review of Christmas on the Carousel
Boyfriends of Christmas Past
Enjoyable lead couple, frustrating drama.
|Two years ago, the Hallmark Channel aired and then promptly pulled a commercial which included a lesbian wedding. They knew their White brand and it did not include homosexuality. Boyfriends of Christmas Past is a surprising and refreshing change for the company with gay couples, interracial couples, and featuring two Asian-American leads.
Directed by: Don McBearty
Screenplay by: Lisa Parsons, Edie Grace
Starring: Catherine Haena Kim, Raymond Ablack
|See full review of Boyfriends of Christmas Past
Dark, bleak, funny and interesting.
|Silent Night is a smart, unsettling combination of a family holiday comedy, a relationship drama and an end of the world, apocalyptic horror. Perhaps The Family Stone meets 28 Days Later…, a bleak dark comedy about inevitable death but held when everybody gets together for Christmas dinner. It’s a story of privileged people accepting death but not accepting that others might not share their world view.
Directed by: Camille Griffin
Screenplay by: Camille Griffin
Starring: Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode
|See full review of Silent Night
Midnight at the Magnolia
A cute and charming bundle of holiday joy.
|Romantic comedies most often suffer from predictability and Midnight at the Magnolia just may be the most predictable, but in all the right ways. Jack and Maggie form a very cute couple and the charm radiates through the entire story. Even though it feels like it could have been written by a computer or a thousand monkeys on typewriters.
Directed by: Max McGuire
Screenplay by: Carley Smale
Starring: Natalie Hall, Evan Williams
|See full review of Midnight at the Magnolia
Worst. Christmas. Ever.
Convoluted story and lack of comedy.
|Worst. Christmas. Ever. has such a tough hill to climb. It sets some pretty big goals for itself given all the chaos happening in the plot description, but falls very flat. Low production quality issues combined with poorly defined characters keeps the audience too far removed from the action that is supposed to be occurring but never really comes.
Directed by: Johnny Chechitelli
Screenplay by: Johnny Chechitelli
Starring: Raychael Lane, Leonardo Mancini
|See full review of Worst. Christmas. Ever
A New York Christmas Wedding
A very different kind of Christmas movie.
|A New York Christmas Wedding is a very different kind of Christmas movie. It has the look and feel of an indie film (which it is) and, most importantly, it’s inclusive. I am going to try very hard to not give anything away, but I just have to say holiday rom-coms are not just for the straights anymore.
Directed by: Otoja Abit
Screenplay by: Otoja Abit
Starring: Nia Fairweather, Adriana DeMeo
|See full review of A New York Christmas Wedding
A lot of sweetness, romance, drama and cheesiness.
|Middleton Christmas starts out as pure sweetness. Hershey chocolate wrapped in a glittery red bow. You know exactly what you’re getting when you unwrap it, but it’s sweet and comforting, and oh so bad for you, especially in large quantities, so hopefully we can keep these movies to a minimum this year (I say that knowing it’s the first week of November, I’ve already seen two, and avoided another dozen).
Directed by: Dale Fabrigar
Screenplay by: Tricia Aurand, Suzanne DeLaurentiis
Starring: Kennedy Tucker, Michael Varde
|See full review of Middleton Christmas
Operation Christmas Drop
No romance but a feel-good finale.
|Netflix’s newest addition to the Christmas romance genre starts out very shaky but eventually lands on its feet. Viewers who can get past the unfunny, unromantic, very typical opening with unlikable characters, will eventually be rewarded with a feel-good, inspirational flick. The set-up is awful, but the pay-off is solid especially for movies of this ilk.
Directed by: Martin Wood
Screenplay by: Gregg Rossen, Brian Sawyer
Starring: Kat Graham, Alexander Ludwig
|See full review of Operation Christmas Drop
A romantic comedy missing that crucial element of humour.
|Emma Roberts has built herself a nice career. A long string of comedies – some hits, some nots, but peppers them with roles that have a real bite to them like Scream Queens and American Horror Story. Such that when she returns to a typical romantic comedy, it feels like home. There’s a comfort level to casting Roberts and Luke Bracey in a holiday-themed romantic comedy, and that’s why Holidate will get its audience.
Directed by: John Whitesell
Screenplay by: Tiffany Paulsen
Starring: Emma Roberts, Luke Bracey
|See full review of Holidate
|What starts out as a mundane, cloying, seen-it-a-thousand-times-before Christmas movie turns into a genuinely funny and charming modern update to the seen-it-a-thousand-times before Christmas movie; all thanks to the wildly different comedic charms of Anna Kendrick and Billy Eichner. In Noelle, Santa Claus has been in the Kringle family for 10 generations, when the latest Santa Claus passes away, it’s up to son Nick (Bill Hader) to step up and save Christmas.
Directed by: Marc Lawrence
Screenplay by: Marc Lawrence
Starring: Anna Kendrick, Bill Hader
|See full review of Noelle
Sweetness and charm carrying a movie about nothing.
|Marketed as a romantic comedy with the possibility of a twist, most viewers are shrewd enough to know that Last Christmas does indeed have a twist, otherwise the movie would be about nothing. And nothing is generally not enough to win audiences over. All three things are going on in this movie: it is a romantic comedy, except very light on the romance. There is a twist, more on that later. And apart from the twist, nothing happens. That’s not entirely fair, but the main issue is how slight the movie is in terms of plot and story.
Directed by: Paul Feig
Screenplay by: Emma Thompson, Bryony Kimmings
Starring: Emilia Clarke, Henry Golding
|See full review of Last Christmas