Every year we are brought a new slew of holiday films that seek to catch our attention and be added to our yearly Christmas movie traditions. Normally, the season is filled with corny Hallmark or Lifetime movies and only a small handful of bigger Christmas films. Surprisingly, this year there were five different Christmas films that piqued my interested when I either saw their trailer or their cast. So, to help you as you are looking for a new Christmas film to sit down and watch this year, I have decided to rank and do quick reviews for the five films I saw this year. To note: there were several options for families with younger kids such as Disney+’s Mickey Saves Christmas and Netflix’s Scrooge: A Christmas Carol that came out this year, but I never got around to watching them myself.
5. The Mean One (2022)—Available in Theaters
For the longest time, I considered The Last Airbender (2010) to be the worst theatrically released film of all time. As bad as I feel to compare the two, I think The Mean One (2022) easily takes over that spot. Sitting through this low-budget horror spoof on Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch was a painful task, and the only reason I didn’t leave is because it was storming outside the theater I was in. This film originally caught my attention because of its insane premise of a serial killer Grinch, and a non-existent budget “bad movie” can be a lot of fun despite its expected horrible acting and writing. That said, The Mean One has no sense of fun and just toils along with its high-school level acting and writing with no redeeming qualities. What really broke the camel’s back for me , was the visual effects and camera work: it is not hyperbole when I say I’ve seen better visual effects and cinematography from middle school students. This is a film that belongs in the deepest recesses of Hell where no one can ever view it again. If you want to go to the theaters to see a Christmas movie, see if they have my number one film in this ranking, or just go watch The Fabelmans (2022) or Avatar: The Way of Water (2022) instead.
The Mean One (2022) is Not Rated.
4. Falling for Christmas (2022)—Available on Netflix
To fill my Hallmark itch this year, Netflix’s newest holiday rom-com, Falling for Christmas (2022), caught my attention. While the trailers looked horrendous, I was interested in this film because of Lindsay Lohan. Mean Girls (2004) is one of my favorite comedies of all-time, and I’ve been sitting and waiting for Lohan to make her redeeming return to the screen. While I was charmed by Lohan and her love interest Chord Overton (of Glee fame), the charm was very much in line with the Hallmark and Lifetime formula. If those kinds of easy-to-watch, corny holiday films are your thing, then Falling for Christmas is made for you. While it was charming and allows your brain to turn off for a spell, nothing goes beyond “good” and it is not going to be memorable or a holiday viewing staple.
Falling for Christmas (2022) is rated TV-PG.
3. The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special (2022)—Available on Disney+
Following the phenomenal Marvel Studios’ Halloween Special, Werewolf by Night (2022), I was extremely excited for Marvel’s second Special Presentation, James Gunn’s The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special (2022). With the Guardians of the Galaxy being among my favorite collection of characters in the Marvel films and knowing that Gunn and the cast shot this at the same same time as The Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (2023), I was deliriously excited for this special. Clearly conceived as a better-version of the The Stars Wars Holiday Special (1978), this 40-minute Marvel romp has everything from animated sequences to original musical numbers to heartfelt moments between the characters we love. This centers around Pom Klementieff’s Mantis and Dave Bautista’s Drax going on a search to get the “legendary hero” Kevin Bacon as a Christmas gift for a sad Peter Quill (Chris Pratt). The story here is extremely sweet (and surprising important to the MCU) and everything about it will warm a Marvel fan’s heart.
The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special (2022) is Rated TV-14.
2. Spirited (2022)—Available on AppleTV+
Back at the beginning of November, Regal Cinemas’ mystery movie of the month was the Apple Original Movie’s newest holiday musical, Spirited (2022), starring Ryan Reynolds, Will Ferrell, and Octavia Spencer. With that cast alone, everyone should be excited for this movie. Reynolds is playing a very typical Reynolds role, and paired against Ferrell’s comedy, the movie fires on all cylinders. I very much missed seeing Will Ferrell in a holiday role—as Elf (2003) is one of my favorite Christmas movies of all time—and he didn’t miss a beat. While some of the original songs in this movie are very forgettable, the ones that work REALLY work: I’ve been humming “Good Afternoon”, “That Christmas Morning Feelin'”, and “The View From Here” for two months straight. In this original musical “sequel” to Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, Spirited brings fun holiday cheer for the family and is a definite highlight of the year that is sure to become a yearly tradition for me.
Spirited (2022) is rated PG-13 for language, some suggestive material and thematic elements.
1. Violent Night (2022)—Available in Theaters and on Video on Demand
When the trailer for Violent Night (2022) first graced the screen, I was already sold: I mean, hearing a David Harbour casted Santa say, “It’s time for some Season’s Beatings,” after completely wrecking someone dressed as an elf was all I needed to get me in the theater opening night. What I was not expecting was how much I would fall in love with this film—at the time of writing this, I’ve watched it three times in theaters and have rented it on VOD. The writing is very tongue in cheek, yet extremely sharp and the comedic timing is *chef’s kiss*. What this film basically does is combine the hardcore violence of Nobody (2021) and the John Wick franchise with the campiness of an 80’s Christmas movie. Borrowing tropes from Home Alone (1990), Die Hard (1988), Fatman (2020), and many more Christmas films from years past, Violent Night is the embodiment of everything that makes the holiday movie season fun. With it’s awesome writing, fun characters, and brutal violence, Violent Night is not only my favorite Christmas movie of the year, but easily a top 5 favorite Christmas film of all-time.
Violent Night (2022) is rated R for strong bloody violence, language throughout and some sexual references.
Happy Holidays to everyone who has supported my reviews over the past three years, even after my extremely long hiatus between last November and this October! Yesterday’s Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (2022) review marked my 100th post on here and here’s to 100 more!