Briefing

What's the best new Christmas movie of 2022?

Looking for a great — or at least not unwatchable — new Christmas movie for some last-minute holiday cheer? We've got you covered no matter your preference of genre with two new rom-coms, an action movie, a comedy, and even a deranged slasher. Here are the best new Christmas movies to watch in 2022: 

8. Something From Tiffany's (Amazon Prime Video)

'Tis the season to go Deutch … Zoey Deutch, that is. 

The actress' latest rom-com comes courtesy of Amazon Prime Video, and it was based on the novel Something from Tiffany's by Melissa Hill. Like many of the great rom-coms, it requires you to buy into a slightly ludicrous premise. Rachel's (Deutch) boyfriend Gary (Ray Nicholson) is hit by a car outside a Tiffany's store right after buying her a present. Ethan (Kendrick Sampson), a total stranger who just bought his girlfriend an engagement ring at the same store, comes to his aid, placing his Tiffany's bag on the ground right next to Gary's — and because the bags look identical, they end up swapping presents by mistake. 

But after Rachel opens her gift, sees the ring, and believes Gary is proposing, he doesn't tell her otherwise. Why? Because he has amnesia from the accident, of course! So Rachel and Gary are now accidentally engaged, while Ethan and his girlfriend accidentally aren't. For somewhat implausible reasons, Ethan sticks around in Rachel's life to check in on her after the accident, they begin to bond, and, yeah, you can see where this is going. 

It's all a bit silly, but the film gets by thanks to the chemistry of its leads and especially Deutch's likability. In terms of production value, Something from Tiffany's looks more cinematic than your typical straight-to-streaming Christmas flick or Hallmark movie. And refreshingly, the movie doesn't take the easy way out by making Ethan's significant other such a horrible person that it's obvious why he has to get with Rachel, nor does it rely too much on wacky misunderstandings beyond the initial, somewhat strained setup. It's also notable as a rare Christmas movie with a Jewish main character

Besides, Something From Tiffany's gets bonus points for featuring many scenes set in a bakery with tons of scrumptious-looking bread. Fair warning, though: This may make it difficult to get to the end without placing an Uber Eats order. 

7. Falling for Christmas (Netflix)

In Lindsay Lohan's triumphant acting return, it's Overboard, but make it Christmas. 

Lohan stars as a rich hotel heiress in the formulaic but breezy Falling for Christmas. After Sierra Belmont (Lohan) goes skiing with her boyfriend, he proposes while they're at the top of a mountain, but she ends up falling off. Now suffering from amnesia — yes, this is the second film on our list to use an amnesia plot line — she's taken in by the owner of a nearby bed and breakfast, who cares for her while she tries to get her memory back. (We also get the absolutely bizarre implication that Santa Claus himself is possibly responsible for this accident, fulfilling a little girl's wish. Don't you love when Santa uses his magic to throw women off mountains?) 

Just from that premise, you could probably write the rest of Falling for Christmas yourself without even watching it. It hits on tons of familiar rom-com cliches along the way, right down to the climax that involves one character rushing to profess their love for the other before it's too late. But while it's as cheesy and predictable as you'd expect, it's still satisfying to see Lohan being charming on our screens again, and Falling for Christmas is a solid showcase of her talents. In particular, the film has its most fun when it's using her as a fish out of water character struggling with basic household tasks. 

It also doesn't hurt that nearly every frame of Falling for Christmas is elaborately decorated, as if most of the budget just went toward the set design, so if nothing else, the film may be worth tossing on just to soak in its ridiculously festive environments. Lohan and friends should put you in a jolly mood while leaving you cringing the exact right amount, but just don't expect to be compelled to revisit the movie next year.

6. Spoiler Alert (Theaters & Video on Demand)

Okay, no, Spoiler Alert doesn't revolve around Christmas the same way most of these other films do. But as far as we're concerned, it still qualifies as a holiday movie.

From The Big Sick director Michael Showalter, Spoiler Alert tells the heartbreaking story of TV journalist Michael Ausiello's (Jim Parsons) romance with photographer Kit Cowan (Ben Aldridge), who is diagnosed with cancer. It's based on Ausiello's memoir Spoiler Alert: The Hero Dies, and the adaptation gets that spoiler out of the way right off the bat, opening with a scene depicting Kit on his deathbed. 

Jumping backward, we trace the origin of their relationship, Kit's struggle to come out as gay to his parents, and even Michael being forced to introduce Kit to his … embarrassing Smurf collection? (Yes, that's very real). The film doesn't shy away from many cliches of the genre, so don't expect anything you haven't seen before. But it accomplishes what it's trying to do, e.g. making us fall in love with these characters, buy into their romance, and ultimately leave us a weeping mess by the end. In the vein of WandaVision, the most interesting idea it hits on is the way we can look at our own lives using the language of TV, including with flashbacks to Michael's childhood presented as if we're watching a sitcom. 

So how is it a Christmas movie? Well, Michael is obsessed with the holiday, and the film features an emotional recurring beat that has to do with lying under a tree. As it progresses through the characters' lives, it also uses Christmas as an anchor to check in on them each year, showing us their annual holiday cards. Listen, if Die Hard can be a Christmas movie, so can this. 

5. A Christmas Story Christmas (HBO Max)

If you're looking for a shot of nostalgia injected straight into your veins this holiday season, look no further than A Christmas Story Christmas

This HBO Max original is a follow-up to 1983's A Christmas Story, the movie you'll find playing on a 24-hour loop on TBS this time of year. Peter Billingsley, who played Ralphie as a child actor in the original classic, returns, as do several actors who were in the original as children. More than three decades later, the story sees Ralphie return to his hometown after the death of his father, hoping the perfect Christmas can help cheer up his mom.

You might expect A Christmas Story Christmas to be nothing more than shameless callbacks to the original for cheap nostalgia. There's definitely some of that, which is where the film is at its worst. But that's less of the focus than you might think, and the death of Ralphie's father adds some unexpected poignancy to the proceedings. Similar to the original, much of the movie is essentially a series of loosely connected, holiday-themed vignettes, from a fun sequence that treats a snowball fight like a western to bits about carolers and about buying an oversized tree.

It's all fairly sweet, but the film also taps into that wistful feeling of trying to recapture the magic of Christmas as an adult and make the holiday perfect, as Ralphie grapples with the realization that his life hasn't turned out the way he hoped. In the end, it works as a solid companion piece with the original, even finding a way to cleverly recontextualize the voiceover of the 1983 classic so you may never watch that first film the same way again. 

4. Christmas Bloody Christmas (Shudder)

Santa Claus is coming to the grindhouse in this gross, grimy new slasher. 

From director Joe Begos, Christmas Bloody Christmas offers a slice of holiday horror that feels plucked out of the '80s slasher renaissance, drawing on Child's Play and The Terminator with a coat of Christmas paint applied. The (intentionally absurd) premise: A company has created an advanced robotic Santa using technology developed by the Defense Department (?), which comes alive and goes on a killing spree on Christmas Eve.

The film was clearly made on a low budget with a cheap look and feel reminiscent of something you'd catch at a dingy drive-in. But that's part of the appeal, and Begos gets in enough satisfying, bloody kills to please slasher hounds, even if he doesn't have enough money to match the glorious gore effects of something like Terrifier 2.

After a series of slashings, the film turns into essentially one long, Terminator-esque woman-against-a-robot battle, which is a lot of fun even if there are way too many fake deaths. Seriously, the thing seemingly dies and then gets back up like eight times in a row. But as Tori, Riley Dandy makes the film with her performance as a fierce, charismatic final girl. If you're a horror fan looking for something to set the Christmas mood this time of year, it also helps that it's almost constantly snowing throughout the entire film.

Don't expect a masterpiece even on a B-movie level, and it should go without saying that anyone who's not a fan of gory horror films should avoid this one. But Christmas Bloody Christmas gets the job done for slasher fans who want a few festive laughs, and it's apparent the film was made by people who understand and love the genre. After all, any movie that spends time having its protagonist passionately defend Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 is a film after our hearts. 

3. The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special (Disney+)

This one is technically not a movie but a TV special, but it's also more delightful than almost any of your other Christmas viewing options this year. 

Streaming on Disney+, the Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special is an infectiously joyous Christmas treat from the writer and director of Marvel's Guardians movies. Bridging the gap between the second and upcoming third film, it largely revolves around Mantis (Pom Klementieff) and Drax (Dave Bautista), who travel to Earth to get Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) the perfect Christmas present. So they decide to kidnap Peter's favorite actor, Kevin Bacon, played by the real Kevin Bacon (hilariously credited with an "introducing Kevin Bacon" title card).

Fans should appreciate Mantis and Drax getting much more of the spotlight than in prior appearances, and Gunn packs everything we love about the Guardians into a tight 44 minutes, including the irreverent humor but especially the heart. A subplot involving Mantis' anxiety over telling Peter she's his sister, as well as a flashback to Peter's time with his late father figure Yondu, culminates in a genuinely tearjerking final few minutes that will leave you feeling warm and fuzzy like any Christmas special should. Gunn has also once again outdone himself with the soundtrack, which this time features some original tunes, too. We, for one, plan to throw its opening and closing songs into our Christmas playlists for years to come. 

2. Spirited (Apple TV+)

What if you mashed up A Christmas Carol with The Good Place? That's the hook of Spirited, an enjoyable, if quite overlong, new musical pairing Will Ferrell with Ryan Reynolds. 

A modern take on the Dickens classic, Spirited takes place in a world where the Ghosts of Past, Present, and Yet-to-Come work together, and redeeming Ebenezer Scrooge wasn't just a one-time thing. Every year, they pick a total jerk and put them through the same process as Scrooge in hopes of making them a better person.

Ferrell, the Ghost of Christmas Present, has been eligible for retirement for years but is still sticking around, and this Christmas, he selects the latest person to redeem: Clint Briggs (Ryan Reynolds), a sleazy, supposedly unredeemable media consultant who profits off dividing people. Don't expect Spirited to follow the Christmas Carol plot points beat for beat, though. The take here is that the Ghost of Christmas Present's character arc ends up being just as important as our Scrooge equivalent, if not more so. 

Not unlike The Good Place, Spirited finds plenty of gags that rely on contrasting this fantastical scenario with a bureaucratic setting. But it also goes to some surprisingly dark, emotionally resonant places while exploring society's obsession with tearing people down on social media. The songs were written by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, who worked on The Greatest Showman and La La Land, and it certainly shows. Their musical numbers are generally quite catchy. 

Spirited might have been a genuine new Christmas classic if not for its inconsistent humor and tendency to undercut nearly every song with a tired meta joke about the fact that we're watching a musical. In 2022, it's no longer inherently funny to have someone merely point out that people are singing around them. Plus, the film drags near the end, as there surely was no need for a movie like this to clock in at over two hours. (Despite the long running time, the soundtrack somehow includes a cut song, which is tossed into the credits.) 

Still, there are enough laughs and earworms to make it a success overall, and very nearly the year's cinematic Christmas highlight, if it weren't for … 

1. Violent Night (Theaters & Video on Demand) 

Santa slays … boy, does he ever. 

David Harbour plays a drunk, murderous Santa Claus in this gleefully violent mash-up of Die Hard and Home Alone. When a wealthy family gathers together for Christmas, a group of criminals breaks in to try to steal millions from a safe in the basement. But they just happen to do so while Santa has climbed down the chimney to deliver presents, and when his reindeer fly off into the night without him, he's forced to fight the bad guys off one by one, John Wick style. Yes, Santa is very much a real guy in this universe, albeit one who's growing sick of this whole Christmas thing and considering ending the holiday for good. 

The film delivers all the bloody action you'd want from the premise, and its writers clearly spent a lot of time brainstorming imaginative, festive-themed ways to kill goons; one highlight sees a criminal impaled with a Christmas light that Santa turns on to electrocute him. Also adding to the fun is the use of classic holiday tunes on the soundtrack at hilariously inappropriate times.

But the most pleasant surprise is that Violent Night doesn't settle for cheap shock value. Instead, it's actually surprisingly sentimental. That's primarily due to the bond that develops between Santa and a young girl, who communicates with him via walkie-talkie and helps him learn to appreciate the holiday again. So Violent Night retains the cheesy spirit of a family-friendly Christmas film, which just so happens to also feature tons of bloody violence and a Santa Claus who drunkenly vomits on people. In other words, it's not just mindlessly cynical for cynicism's sake. 

Violent Night is also a rare Christmas movie that actually tries to answer the age-old conundrum of the genre: If Santa is real, but parents don't believe in him, where do they think their kids' presents are coming from?

The film performed well at the box office, so don't be surprised if Harbour's Santa will be coming back to town sooner rather than later — and bad guys better be good, for goodness sake.

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