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Holiday movies to stream in a snowstorm

Walt Disney Pictures / Netflix / Hulu

Did you hear? It’s going to snow Thursday. And Friday. Possibly a lot. Whether you’re able to hunker down or have to brave the conditions because of work, it’s good to have some entertainment at the ready.

These are, in my opinion, each streaming service’s best available option that I’ve personally watched. You’ve probably watched other ones and think they’re the best. That’s OK. I warmly invite you to find this post on our Radio Milwaukee social accounts, jump into the comments and add to the list in a kind, respectful manner.

Happy watching, happy shoveling, happy holidays.

The Muppet Christmas Carol (Disney+)

My favorite holiday movie of all time is also the favorite of Ted Lasso's Brett Goldstein (and discerning Bretts everywhere). The music is great. The voice acting is top notch. The person acting is extra top notch.

As director Brian Henson recounted for the Guardian, Michael Caine said he’d approach the role “like I’m working with the Royal Shakespeare Company. I will never wink, I will never do anything Muppety. I am going to play Scrooge as if it is an utterly dramatic role and there are no puppets around me.” It’s also great when a famous person with a fairly average singing voice still absolutely goes for it.

Spirited (Apple TV+)

This newcomer to the holiday movie rotation made a very strong first impression. The songwriting is excellent (thanks to Benj Pasek and Justin Paul of Dear Evan Hansen and La La Land, among many others), but Chloé Arnold’s choreography elevates the whole thing — particularly the end-credits number that must’ve cost a couple million by itself.

Elf (HBO Max)

Will Ferrell, king of holiday movies? I’m not sure two films are enough to qualify for that lofty title, but you could make the argument considering the quality. While Ferrell is the person most strongly associated with Elf, it’s the whole cast that makes this a classic. Bob Newhart is an American treasure, Peter Dinklage delightfully chews the scenery for his 5-minute appearance, and James Caan is the movie’s MVP.

Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey (Netflix)

Speaking of delightful scenery-chewing, I can’t remember if Keegan-Michael Key actually twirls his mustache during his villainous turn, but it wouldn’t have been out of place in a movie that turns up the dial to 11 in just about every respect — the visuals, the musical numbers, the emotions. There’s really nothing else like it on this list.

Happiest Season (Hulu)

Opinions on this 2020 film were kind of all over the place, but I dunno … I liked it. This was sort of the de-Twilight-ification of Kristen Stewart for me. Her character is light-hearted and almost bouncy — in the first part of the movie anyway. Things eventually take a turn, as they tend to do in rom-coms, which this most certainly is. It’s also another cast of heavy hitters, including Mackenzie Davis, Daniel Levy, Victor Garber and Mary Steenburgen (also in Elf … queen of holiday movies?).

Die Hard (Starz)

This is a Christmas movie. Moving on.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas (Peacock)

Some people call this the holiday season. To me, it’s Thurl Ravenscroft appreciation season. He’s the deep, deeeeeep voice behind the theme song to this classic Christmas special (as well as Tony the Tiger). Besides Thurl, it’s a solid 26 minutes of entertainment in the classic animation style of director Chuck Jones. More fun trivia: June Foray, the voice actor for Rocky the Flying Squirrel and roughly 946 other characters, played Cindy Lou Who but wasn’t officially credited.

It’s a Wonderful Life / Scrooged (Amazon Prime Video)

I’ll be honest: not a lot of boffo holiday content on Amazon Prime Video. So here’s two from opposite ends of the spectrum — a Hollywood classic along with a movie Roger Ebert described as “obviously intended as a comedy, but there is little comic about it, and indeed the movie’s overriding emotions seem to be pain and anger.” The same could be said of It’s a Wonderful Life, actually (minus the comedy). I’m not really a fan of either but wanted to give Amazon Prime people a couple reasonable options. So there you go.