Netflix has a pretty solid collection of romance movies – trust me, I would know – and most of them are holiday themed. As a romance movie fanatic, I know that there are a million classic films that Netflix doesn’t have, and it kills me every day, but it can be expensive to rent every movie you want to see. So, in an age when almost everyone has a Netflix account (or a parent, friend, or ex’s login), over the course of Thanksgiving break I made it my mission to watch as many Netflix holiday romances as I could. it turns out, when I set my mind to it, I can watch a lot of movies – even if it barely scratches the surface of the platform’s collection.
So here you have it: in the order I watched them, as many holiday romances as I could get through.
A Christmas Prince: 7/10
Since I’m going in the order in which I watched the movies, this one that my mom and I saw last year has to come first. It has a solid start: a journalist sent to write an exposé on the heir to the throne of a fictional nation and falls in love with the prince and his sweet family. It is predictable at every turn, as any near-hallmark film is, but classic and heartwarming as it stays true to its tropes.
Watch if you like: Hallmark movies, royal romance, classic rom-coms
Single all the Way: 10/10
This movie makes my queer heart so unbelievably happy – I have watched it several times and look forward to rewatching it this season! Two best friends (with huge crushes on each other that neither will admit) go home to one of their houses for the holidays – where a funny, charming, and vibrant family pulls a series of shenanigans to get the two together in time for Christmas. It is sweet and emotional, had me laughing while crying, and has proven to be the gay Christmas movie that we all needed in our life.
Watch if you like: Queer romance, friends to lovers, small town romance
Operation Christmas Drop: 9/10
Even as someone who is slow to defend a military-based story, I am more than happy to encourage you to watch this film. Critics of the movie argue that it leans way too heavily into the Christmas spirit and romance tropes, but I would argue, and you will see this as a theme when I talk about romances, that those aspects are what make the movie great. I’m a sucker for fiction based on a true story – and Operation Christmas Drop, an Air-Force training program where pilots drop thousands of pounds of supplies to civilians on remote islands every year, is a real thing. The romance follows an inspector sent to the base to propose budget cuts that would eliminate the program and, of course, the pilot that is the programs biggest advocate. It is wonderfully predictable and perfectly wholesome, drawing you back to the whimsical Christmas spirit in the stories of your youth.
Watch if you like: Military romance, beach scenes, cheesy Christmas spirit
Midnight at the Magnolia: 8/10
And finally, the very first movie that I watched in my binge session over break. The story begins on the morning of December 26th, with two best friends reminiscing about Christmas and the potential perils of introducing their partners to the family on their morning radio show. It follows them, after both being dumped by said partners, planning to announce their – fake – relationship in a massive New Years special in an effort to get their show to a national audience. Set between Christmas and New Years, this is the perfect holiday movie for that time in-between. The acting and “twists” leave a little to be desired, sure, but it more than makes up for it with a stunning and well-intertwined combination of romance tropes.
Watch if you like: Friends-to-lovers, fake dating, saving a small business, wholesome and supportive family dynamics
Christmas with a Prince: 6/10
I have very strong – and very mixed – feelings about this movie. Some parts of it are fantastic: the premise, the lead (a spunky and romantic pediatric doctor), her brother and their relationship (had me laughing every time they were on screen), the adorable children in the hospital, and their heartwarming stories. Other parts, though, completely turned me off, primarily the casting of the male lead and the fact that the last 30 minutes of the movie introduced an entirely new and unnecessary storyline and setting. Ultimately I might watch it again, but stop it after an hour – the first kiss works as a climax to the story, and you’ll just spend the rest of the movie wondering why the other scenes were included.
Watch if you like: Royal romance, cute/funny b-plot
Let it Snow: 10/10
I wasn’t expecting to love this movie – an ensemble teenage cast in the category of holiday romance – but it is probably my favorite (with Single All The Way the only close contender). You have a sapphic plotline, a famous singer and a thoroughly unimpressed girl, best friends falling for each other, a girl running around town chasing a boyfriend that doesn’t care, and a boy desperate to throw the party of the year at the off-brand Waffle House – the party where they all end up by the end of the night. The whole movie takes place over one day and through a snowstorm that ends up changing all of their lives. This movie had me tearing up and laughing out loud in turns, all the while rooting for the characters that all felt so very real. I love a good Hallmark-reminiscent romance, but this one calls me back instead to the classics that I grew up watching with my mom.
Watch if you like: ensemble cast, classic romance/romcoms, friends-to-lovers, queer romance
Falling for Christmas: 9/10
At one point during this movie I tried to hide the fact that I was tearing up for fear of being teased by my mother, only to look over and see her literally drying her eyes with a tissue that I swear came out of nowhere. What can I say? I’m a sucker for saving a small-town small business – it’s genetic. Anyways, watch Lindsey Lohan make a comeback as a spoiled heiress turned amnesiac that gets taken in by a single father and widower, his adorable daughter, and his wonderful mother-in-law in Falling for Christmas. Really this movie only loses a point because Lindsey Lohan’s fiance (from right before she fell down a mountain and lost her memory) was such an annoying character that the b-plot was hard to watch. The rest of the characters more than make up for his lacking though, perfectly encapsulating the Christmas spirit and what I was looking for in these movies. The movie is brand new this year, and I would definitely recommend giving it a watch.
Watch if you like: Well-developed side characters, small-town romance, the saving a small business trope, heartwarming family dynamics
Christmas with You: 9/10
Also new and made by Netflix this year, Christmas with You has some aspects eerily reminiscent of Falling for Christmas (a rich/famous woman falls in love with a “normal” single father with a dead wife, great daughter, and hilarious extended family), but is heartwarming in it’s own way. Fans of Lucifer will be thrilled to see Aimee Garcia take the lead as a world-famous singer whose record label is forcing her to write a Christmas song in order to stay relevant. In a feat of procrastination that drives her manager nuts, she goes instead to visit a fan (the daughter) who posted a video singing one of her songs. Garcia’s character then spends days with this family, discovering that the father is a music teacher that writes music as a hobby. The characters are charming, the music is good, and, most importantly, the romance is adorable.
Watch if you like: Celebrity romance, single-father trope, music in movies, bilingual at times
Love Hard: 8/10
I might not be a fan of Love, Actually (I am a huge classic rom-com fan, but this one is overrated. Shoot me.), but I can appreciate the callbacks to it in scenes of Love Hard. When a journalist, famous for her disaster dating life, flies across the country to surprise her internet love interest for Christmas, she finds out she has been catfished. She ends up pretending to date him in exchange for his help getting set up with the boy whose pictures he used. Points get docked for being painfully awkward at times, but that partially adds to the idea that you are watching a movie that Hugh Grant could have easily starred in if it was made in his rom-com prime. If you don’t mind hiding under a blanket at times to get through the second-hand embarrassment, it really is a great watch.
Watch if you like: classic rom-coms, fake dating, callbacks to classic scenes
Docked a point because it is spread over a whole year of holidays, not just the December holiday season, Holidate feels like a modern rom-com classic. Sloane (Emma Roberts) is at once dysfunctional and passionate, rude yet kind. After being berated by her family for being alone at Christmas, she and a stranger at the mall make a pact to be each other’s platonic dates for every holiday. The characters are messy and imperfect and so very real – as much as I love the perfect love interests of a Hallmark movie, the flaws of this film’s characters are refreshing.
Watch if you like: classic rom-coms, fake dating, big confessions, flawed but lovable characters
A Castle for Christmas: 10/10
I am a sucker for A) castles, B) later-in-life romances, C) small towns, and D) stories about authors, and A Castle for Christmas hits all of the above. Post-divorce, a best-selling romance author follows an old family story back to a castle in Scotland – which she buys on a whim upon finding out that the owner is going bankrupt. One problem: she has to spend the three months before Christmas living there with the cranky duke that owns it – and he will do anything to get her to leave. With a cast of heartwarming small-town characters, a gorgeous setting, and two great leads, this movie is the perfect Christmas watch.
Watch if you like: enemies-to-lovers, small towns, Hallmark movies
So, here you have it. Pour a mug of hot chocolate, put some cookies in the oven, and cuddle up to escape finals season or get into the holiday season. I know I didn’t get to watch every movie there is, so let me know what favorites of yours I missed!
Sydney Soganich is a writer for Sex and the Crescent City. She is a Freshman majoring in Political Science on the premed track. If she's not working, she's probably reading a romance novel or watching a romcom!