Are you looking for something to watch on Netflix over the Christmas break? We’ve got you covered.
If the festive TV schedule isn't doing anything for you, we've put together a few recommendations of some of the best films on Netflix at the moment.
Whether or you're looking for a lighthearted move for the family or an overlooked arthouse gem from 2021, there should hopefully be something here to suit your particular taste and mood...
The Iron Giant
How about a family film classic to start? The Iron Giant - based on the book The Iron Man by Ted Hughes - was a commercial flop when it was released in 1999, but the story of a boy who discovers a friendly giant alien robot has gone on to become one of the most beloved and respected American animated films of recent decades. Director Brad Bird has gone on to make further classics like Ratatouille and The Incredibles, but for many his glorious debut feature still hits the hardest.
It’s hard to keep track of the seemingly endless assault of superhero movies - but this is definitely one of the good ones. Shazam might not be a household name like Batman or Spider-Man, but the film’s definitely one of the better comic book movies of recent years. It’s about a 14-year-old boy who is granted the power (by an ancient wizard, naturally) to turn into an adult superhero. The film has expertly captures the tone and energy of many classic 80s family movies, and the extended foster family at the centre of the story make for a welcome change to the usual superhero film protagonists.
A sequel isn't due out until June 2023, but given this film’s set at Christmas time it’s as good a time as any to check it out.
If you’re looking for a festive watch that’s a little different, Netflix has recently added Tokyo Godfathers - a lovely Japanese animated film from 2003. Directed by the late, great anime director Satoshi Kon, the film follows three homeless people in Tokyo who discover an abandoned newborn baby on Christmas Eve. The film has a darker edge to it than most American animated films, and therefore might be more appropriate for teenagers and adults. However, there’s a heartwarming and surprising film here for those willing to take a chance on a rather different sort of Christmas movie.
Greta Gerwig’s critically acclaimed adaptation of Little Women was released in cinemas during the Christmas break back in 2019, and it’s just been added to Netflix’s catalogue. It’s a great opportunity to revisit the film - or indeed check it out for the first time if you haven’t gotten around to it yet. It’s a film that oozes charm and energy, making the iconic stories and characters feel alive once again. It has brilliant performances from the likes of Saoirse Ronan, Florence Pugh, Emma Watson and its breakout star Eliza Scanlen.
The Power of the Dog
Netflix tends to hold back its big Oscar favourites until late in the year, and this time around it will be hoping Jane Campion’s long-awaited new film goes the distance when awards season rolls around. But this shouldn’t be dismissed as mere Oscar bait - it’s an altogether more rewarding and unusual piece of work. Set in rural 1920s Montana but filmed in a gorgeously desolate part of New Zealand, Power of the Dog is the slow-burn story of a woman named Rose (Kirsten Dunst) being tormented by her new husband’s cruel brother Phil (Benedict Cumberbatch). This film very much takes its time to reveal what is going through all its characters’ minds. But the payoffs are very much worth it. The cast is universally excellent, including a superb Kodi Smit-McPhee as Rose’s effeminate, awkward son Peter - a teenager who forms an extremely unlikely bond with his mother's tormenter.
Quo Vadis, Aida?
The Christmas break is also a great chance to catch up with some of this year’s critical favourites or overlooked gems. Bosnian war film Quo Vadis, Aida? is one such film worthy of anyone’s time. Set in 1995 near the city of Srebrenica (site of a horrifying massacre of thousands of Bosnian men and boys), Jasna Đuričić plays Aida - a school teacher drafted in as a translator in a UN ‘safe zone’ as Serbian troops close in. She tries desperately to secure passage out of the area for her husband and sons, but grows increasingly desperate as she keeps running into hurdles. This isn’t an easy watch, but it is a powerful, devastating account of one of the 1990s most appalling atrocities. Raw and intense, this is one of 2021’s very best films.