A Definitive Ranking of Netflix’s Romantic Christmas Movies

by Kristina Birt

It’s once again the time of year when Netflix releases its slew of romantic Christmas movies. Not that I’m complaining, for as Duchess Margaret from Netflix’s “The Princess Switch” said, “Christmas should be about love.” This holiday season, I made it my mission to watch through as many of these movies as I could and then rank them based on their quality and my enjoyment. Here is my definitive list of the ten best romantic Christmas movies currently on Netflix.

  1. “Holidate” (2020)

Sloane (Emma Roberts) is sick of being constantly nagged by her family at holiday gatherings for not having a boyfriend. However, after she meets Jackson (Luke Bracey), who is recently broken-up with his high-maintenance ex, the two devise the perfect plan: they will be each other’s platonic “holidates.” That way, they will both always have a “plus one” for the holidays without the difficulties of romance and commitment.

“Holidate” follows Sloane and Jackson through all the major holidays, from Valentine’s Day to Easter, making it more of a romantic comedy than a Christmas film. In terms of romance, despite several cute scenes and humorous moments, Sloane and Jackson lack any strong sense of chemistry. Overall, the movie just felt like it was missing something. 

  1. “A California Christmas” (2020)

Joseph (Josh Swickard) is the son of a successful company executive, but for him to receive his next promotion, he must persuade Callie (Lauren Swickard) to sell her family’s farm before Christmas. To get closer to Callie and thereby better convince her, he decides to go undercover as a ranch hand named Manny. 

The performances of both Josh and Lauren as well as the dialogue they’re given leave a lot to be desired in terms of genuine chemistry, which is especially disappointing considering the two are married in real life. While there are attempts at character development for both characters, that development is shallow at best; Callie’s backstory feels over-the-top and unnecessarily sad, while Joseph’s past is barely touched on until the movie’s climax. Overall, the film falls flat because of its poorly written, uninteresting characters.

  1. “Let it Snow” (2019)

It’s finally snowing in a little town in Illinois and on Christmas Eve no less. Along with the snow comes fights between friends, romance between strangers and a party unlike any other. This film follows four couples as they navigate the emotional highs and lows of the holiday season. 

Among the four relationships, two stand out among the rest. The romance between Julie (Isabela Merced) and Stuart (Shameik Moore) alone is worth the watch. Their chemistry is undeniable as Stuart encourages Julie to go to her dream school despite the difficulties. (Plus, the song that Stuart sings in this movie is amazing.) Next, the blooming romance between friends Tobin (Mitchell Hope) and Angie (Kiernan Shipka) is adorable, albeit a little awkward at points. While this movie has some cute moments and good storylines, some of the other storylines involving the other couples fall short. 

  1. “Operation Christmas Drop” (2020)

Right before Christmas, congressional aide Erica (Kat Graham) is sent to visit an Air Force Base in the tropics to evaluate how the base’s funding can be cut. Shortly after arriving, she meets pilot Andrew (Alexander Ludwig), who runs Operation Christmas Drop, in which he and his fellow pilots use the base’s aircraft to drop supplies and gifts to nearby islands on Christmas Day. 

This movie starts somewhat slow but gradually reaches a more engaging pace. I found the characters to be a bit annoying at parts, especially Erica’s boss Congresswoman Bradford (Virginia Madsen). On the positive side, the romantic aspects of the story did not feel forced or overly emphasized. Overall, this film was good but not good enough for me to watch it again anytime soon.  

  1. “Holiday in the Wild” (2019)

Kate (Kristin Davis), a recently divorced empty nester, decides to go alone to Africa on what was going to be her second honeymoon. In Africa, Kate meets Derek (Rob Lowe), a smart-aleck pilot who also works at a local elephant reserve, and Manu, a recently orphaned elephant calf being cared for at the reserve. 

Kate and Derek’s charming meet-cute makes their chemistry immediately evident. As a character, Kate is very inspiring, striving to make her life her own after her husband leaves her. Besides some brief violence involving elephant poachers, this film is perfect for a family movie night. As a movie, it’s creative, funny, and worth watching. 

  1. “The Knight Before Christmas” (2019)

Right before Christmas, high school teacher Brooke (Vanessa Hudgens) has given up looking for her knight in shining armor. Ironically enough, Sir Cole (Josh Whitehouse), a medieval knight from the 14th century, is transported to the future to complete his true quest and runs into Brooke along the way. 

Brooke and Cole share a strong chemistry that is undoubtedly adorable. Cole’s chivalrous ways and his desire to complete his true quest make for an engaging storyline. The acting could be better, as some of the character’s personalities are not very developed. The well-done situational humor makes up for this, however, as there are many laughs throughout this film as Cole adjusts to the 21st century. Just wait until he meets Siri! 

  1. “The Christmas Inheritance” (2017)

After Ellie Langford (Eliza Taylor) crashes a corporate Christmas party with her “party heiress” ways, her father gives her an ultimatum: before she can inherit his business, she must show she understands the true spirit of the company. As such, he instructs her to hand-deliver Christmas letters to her uncle in their small hometown. The catch? She must go incognito with only $100 in her pocket and be back home by Christmas Eve. During her visit, she meets Jake Collins (Jake Lacy), who is in charge of the town’s Christmas Silent Auction. 

Ellie and Jake have an adorable romance that becomes complicated by Jake’s tragic backstory and Ellie’s deception as to who she really is. However, the obstacles they end up having to face feel realistic and earned due to the movie’s strong character development. An engaging (albeit cheesy) film, “The Christmas Inheritance” belongs on every Hallmark movie lover’s watchlist. 

  1. “The Holiday Calendar” (2018)

Abby Sutton (Kat Graham) is a photographer who is given her grandmother’s old advent calendar. This advent calendar is more than meets the eye, however, as each gift seems to predict something important that will happen on that given day. As Abby begins to realize the calendar’s true nature, her best friend Josh (Quincy Brown) just so happens to be back in town for the holiday season. 

The friends-becoming-lovers trope works perfectly here, with Abby being oblivious to her true feelings for most of the movie but their genuine connection never being in question. And regardless, Josh is very supportive of Abby throughout the time they spend together. The magical holiday calendar also adds a creative element that makes the story unique. This movie is perfect for anyone wanting to get into the holiday mood. 

  1. “The Princess Switch” (2018)

Stacy (Vanessa Hudgens) is a baker from Chicago who works with her best friend Kevin (Nick Sagar). After being accepted into a baking competition in the idyllic country of Belgravia, Stacy meets Lady Margaret (Vanessa Hudgens), a duchess who just happens to be her exact look-alike. Lady Margaret suggests that the two of them trade places so that she can experience the outside world before having to marry Prince Edward (Sam Palladio), and Stacy, excited to get a taste of royal living, agrees. What could possibly go wrong? 

The chemistry between Stacy and Margaret and their respective love interests is undeniable. Also, the awkwardness of Stacy and Margaret adjusting to their new roles makes for some hilarious situations. Hudgens shines in both roles, not only effectively portraying two different characters but also convincingly playing them pretending to be each other. Overall, “The Princess Switch” is an ideal way to celebrate love at Christmas time.  

  1. “A Christmas Prince” (2017)

Amber (Rose McIver) is a journalist from New York who is sent to the country of Aldovia to cover the upcoming coronation of Prince Richard (Ben Lamb). After the press conference is canceled, Amber decides to go undercover by pretending to be the new tutor for the Prince’s younger sister, Princess Emily. At first, her goal is to get to know the “real” prince for her story, but she ends up finding out that he is nothing like she expected. 

This movie is perfect for anyone wanting to get into the Christmas spirit, with snow and Christmas trees galore. Amber and Richard have undeniable chemistry, and the friendship that develops between Princess Emily and Amber is adorable. Richard’s family would be the perfect family to spend Christmas with, between decorating the tree with the late king’s handmade ornaments, tobogganing down snow-covered slopes, and horseback riding through snowy forests. “A Christmas Prince” is the first of three movies, so it is the perfect trilogy for a day of binging Christmas movies. 

Kristina Birt is a freshman Business Management major and an A&E writer for Cedars. In her free time, she likes to paint, write fiction, and watch “Psych” with her unit mates. 

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