It is that time of the year, people, and Christmas is just around the corner! Nothing brings that Christmas flair around like a nice Christmas movie to watch while having a drink and a delicious snack in front of the TV.
While many people prefer to watch a classic Christmas movie like It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) or Home Alone (1990), many others like a more modern Christmas movie for their movie night; luckily for those, we have tons of modern Christmas movies to pick from!
Modern Christmas movies have continued the tradition of bringing holiday cheer with a mix of comforting tales, festive comedies, and magical stories that capture the spirit of the season.
What are the Best Modern Christmas Movies to Watch?
The 21st century has gifted us with a long list of modern Christmas movies that have no shortage of charm and that Christmas vibes we all love. So, what are the best modern Christmas movies to watch this season, you ask? Let’s find out!
Love Actually (2003)
Directed by Richard Curtis, this British rom-com has been a constant on many people’s Christmas movies list every year. The film features an ensemble cast, including Hugh Grant, Keira Knightley, and Colin Firth. Love Actually weaves together various love stories, all set during the Christmas season, and has become a modern classic for its charming portrayal of love in its many forms.
At its core, Love Actually is a study in contrasts: the joy and pain, the simplicity and complexity, the laughter and tears that accompany love in its many forms. Curtis masterfully intertwines stories of romantic love, familial love, unrequited love, and the beginnings and endings of relationships, creating a rich and multifaceted narrative.
The film visually captures the festive spirit of London at Christmas time, with its beautifully lit streets, cosy interiors, and snowy scenes creating a picturesque backdrop for the unfolding stories. The soundtrack, featuring a mix of Christmas songs and contemporary hits, complements the film’s emotional range and has become almost as iconic as the film itself.
Starring Will Ferrell as Buddy the Elf, this hilarious and heartwarming film follows a human raised by elves at the North Pole as he travels to New York City to meet his biological father. It’s a delightful comedy that captures the whimsy and joy of the holiday season.
In the movie, director Jon Favreau neatly presents a perfect blend of comedy and drama, creating a family-friendly modern Christmas movie that appeals to both children and adults. The film’s humour is wholesome and accessible, while its emotional moments are handled with a light touch, avoiding overt sentimentality.
Will Ferrell’s performance and Jon Favreau’s skilful direction created a movie that’s a real treat of a jolly Christmas movie night.
The Polar Express (2004)
The sophisticated animation technique that filmmaker Robert Zemeckis has used to narrate the adventure of a boy on the verge of losing faith in Christmas, motion capture, which is a kind of 3D scanner that records the actors’ gestures, makes this fable of good feelings a turning point in the history of film machines.
Set on Christmas Eve, the movie tells the story of a young boy, referred to simply as “Hero Boy,” who is beginning to doubt the existence of Santa Claus. His journey to belief and self-discovery begins when a mysterious train called the Polar Express, headed for the North Pole, appears outside his home. The conductor, voiced by the lovable Tom Hanks, invites him aboard for an extraordinary journey.
The film’s animation style, though groundbreaking, was also a bit unusual for some viewers. The use of realistic human characters in animation, a technique known as the “uncanny valley,” was both innovative and somewhat disconcerting for some audiences. However, this did not detract from the film’s overall success and appeal, turning it into a modern holiday classic.
The Holiday (2006)
Directed by Nancy Meyers, this romantic comedy has become a beloved fixture in the modern Christmas movie genre. With its charming story, picturesque settings, and compelling performances, the film captures the essence of finding love and happiness in unexpected places.
The story follows two women who swap homes for the holidays to escape their relationship issues, only to find new romances. The Holiday shines in its portrayal of these two women’s journeys, both geographically and emotionally.
The film is an absolute delight, with the contrasting landscapes of sunny Los Angeles and the snowy English countryside providing a perfect backdrop for the story’s unfolding. The cosy English cottage and the sprawling LA mansion are characters in their own right, reflecting the personalities and growth of Iris and Amanda.
The Holiday is a charming and uplifting film that has earned its place as a modern jolly classic. With its engaging storyline, strong performances, and beautiful cinematography, it captures the spirit of the holiday season and the universal search for love and meaning.
Arthur Christmas (2011)
The animated film Arthur Christmas provides a unique take on the Santa Claus mythos. The story revolves around Arthur Claus, the clumsy but big-hearted younger son of the current Santa, voiced with endearing enthusiasm by James McAvoy. In the film, we follow Arthur, who takes on an important mission to save Christmas.
The film cleverly mixes old-fashioned holiday charm with a modern, almost corporate approach to Christmas. Arthur Christmas is not just a visual treat with its vibrant animation and inventive depiction of the North Pole, but it’s also a narrative gem.
Arthur Christmas is packed with humour, drama, and a dash of adventure, making it appealing to both children and adults.
The Christmas Chronicles (2018)
Starring Kurt Russell as Santa Claus, this Netflix film is a refreshing and spirited addition to the holiday movie genre. Coming from the producer Chris Columbus, who is renowned for his work on family-friendly blockbusters like Home Alone and Harry Potter, The Christmas Chronicles blends traditional holiday magic with modern sensibilities, creating a heartwarming and adventurous holiday tale.
The movie tells the story of the Pierce siblings, Kate (Darby Camp) and Teddy (Judah Lewis), who plan to capture Santa Claus (played by Kurt Russell) on camera to prove he is real.
The plot takes an unexpected turn when they accidentally cause Santa’s sleigh to crash, leading to a whirlwind adventure to save Christmas. One of the film’s standout elements is Kurt Russell’s portrayal of Santa Claus.
Russell brought a new and charismatic energy to the iconic role, departing from the traditional jolly old man image. The Santa that Russell presented was cool, witty, and even a bit edgy, with a twinkle in his eye that gave the character a modern and refreshing twist.
The Netflix original animated film presents a remarkable and innovative take on the Santa Claus legend. Directed by Sergio Pablos, co-creator of Despicable Me, Klaus (2019) stands out for its unique storyline, stunning 2D animation, and heartwarming message.
The story is set in a gloomy, isolated town called Smeerensburg, known for its feuding inhabitants and lack of joy. The central character, Jesper (voiced by Jason Schwartzman), is a spoiled and lazy postman who is stationed there by his father in a last-ditch effort to reform him. His life takes an unexpected turn when he encounters a reclusive toymaker named Klaus (voiced by J.K. Simmons), living in a cabin filled with handmade toys.
One of the most striking aspects of the film is its animation style. The film marks a return to traditional 2D animation but innovates with light and shadow techniques typically found in 3D animation, resulting in a visually stunning and unique aesthetic.
This artistic choice not only sets Klaus apart in an era dominated by 3D animated films but also adds a timeless quality to the story.
A Christmas Prince (2017)
The Netflix original, which has spawned sequels, taps into the love for holiday-themed romantic comedies. It tells the story of a young journalist who falls in love with a prince while on assignment in a foreign country.
A Christmas Prince is a classic holiday romantic comedy that delivers on its promise of a feel-good, festive experience. Its blend of romance, intrigue, and Christmas charm, along with the exceptional performances by the cast, makes it a sweet treat for audiences seeking lighthearted holiday entertainment.
It is worth mentioning that the movie has been critiqued for its predictability and adherence to genre clichés, including its fairy-tale portrayal of royalty and romance. However, it’s these very elements that have contributed to its appeal.
The Man Who Invented Christmas (2017)
Directed by Bharat Nalluri, The Man Who Invented Christmas is a biographical drama that delves into the life of the celebrated author Charles Dickens and the creation of his timeless classic, A Christmas Carol. The film offers a unique blend of biography, history, and a touch of whimsy, presenting a behind-the-scenes look at the creative process of one of literature’s most enduring holiday stories.
The story follows Charles Dickens (played by Dan Stevens) at a point in his career where he finds himself struggling both financially and creatively after a series of unsuccessful books. Faced with mounting debts and a looming deadline, Dickens is desperate to write a new book to revive his career. The film chronicles his journey of writing “A Christmas Carol,” from the inception of the idea through to its completion in a mere six weeks.
The Man Who Invented Christmas is also a visual feast, beautifully recreating the atmosphere of Victorian London. While The Man Who Invented Christmas is a biographical film, it also feels like a love letter to the enduring power of storytelling.
Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey (2020)
Presenting a musical adventure with a fantastical twist, this Netflix film features an all-star cast and a heartwarming story about family, forgiveness, and the magic of believing.
Set in the gloriously vibrant town of Cobbleton, the story revolves around Jeronicus Jangle (played by Forest Whitaker), a once-joyful toymaker and inventor whose fortunes take a downward turn after his trusted apprentice, Gustafson (Keegan-Michael Key), betrays him.
Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey is a delightful and innovative Christmas movie that combines fantasy, music, and a heartfelt story. Its visual splendour, memorable music, and poignant narrative make it a standout holiday film.
The film’s emphasis on imagination, the importance of believing in oneself, and the power of love and family resonate deeply, making it a captivating watch for audiences of all ages.
While classic Christmas movies still hold a special place in the hearts of many viewers, Modern Christmas movies have brought a fresh and contemporary perspective to the holiday genre, offering a range of stories that resonate with modern audiences. From heartwarming comedies to action-packed adventures, these films capture the spirit of Christmas in unique and engaging ways.