If we're using war as a metaphor for the glut of streaming services being thrust upon us this year, then right now we're at a critical moment. This winter, you’ll have a surplus of options to choose from if you’re willing to pay the various fees to access Disney +, Apple TV +, Netflix, Hulu, HBO Max, among countless others. (Spectrum, a regional cable provider serving the New York area, has a slate of original programing.)
Disney + is one of the most exciting of the new streaming platforms partly because of its low price (a flat rate of $6.99), and because it includes- what seems like an endless supply of beloved films from the illustrious Disney vault. For a season that means spending ample time with family members, or at the very least spending a lot of time indoors because of the prohibitively cold temperatures, Disney + is a clutch way to pass the time.
Below is a list of all the best Disney+ content to watch this winter, from new originals to timeless classics and forgotten gems from the ABC Family era of programming.
Mickey's Once Upon A Christmas
There might be no purer collection of Disney animated Christmas tales to exist on this planet. Featuring Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy and a handful of other classic characters, this is perfect if you’ve got young siblings or need a total break from reality. Just watching the trailer brings out the Christmas cheer.
Obviously, this is not technically a holiday movie, but considering that every Star Wars release is attached to Christmas, the franchise has deep roots to the season. The Mandalorian is no exception. The series is a billed to be high-budget prestige television set in the Star Wars universe. It will be as gritty as something a Disney production can get, and will follow a “lone gunman” (Pedro Pascal) through the universe after the fall of the Empire and before the rise of the First Order. Written and directed by Jon Favreau, Vanity Fair describes it as having “a Western movie motif” in the middle of the galaxy. Because of its action heavy sequences and placement within the Star Wars universe, this is a crowd-pleaser series that can be enjoyed in the solace of your own room or with the whole family.
The Nightmare Before Christmas
There’s some debate about whether or not The Nightmare Before Christmas is a Halloween movie or a Christmas movie, as both have prominent showings in the film. But given its in-between nature, it is actually a perfect Thanksgiving moving. It’s weird and creepy and also joyful, and comes from the mind of Tim Burton. With several musical numbers, haunting animation, and a selection of odd and charming creatures, you can watch this with younger siblings and cousins when you’re all a little comatose from too much stuffing.
Another high budget Disney original that’s going straight to their platform is the Bill Hader and Anna Kendrick led Noelle. Building out the world of the North Pole once more, Kendrick plays Noelle, the daughter of the recently departed Santa Claus. Her brother, played by Bill Hader, is tasked with taking on the responsibility of spreading Christmas cheer, but he decides to dip when it gets too tough, leaving Noelle to find him and clean up his mess. While this likely won’t earn any Oscar nominations, it seems like it has the trappings to earn its place on the mantle with other Disney Christmas classics like Tim Allen’s Santa Claus.
The Santa Claus
Remember when Christmas movies had theatrical releases and weren’t all filmed on the same Netflix studio lot? Me too, barely. Considering that The Santa Claus came out before I was born, it has its own sort of old school appeal, but in many ways is still timeless. It also includes the death of Santa, which seems to be a morbid and consistent theme in many Disney holiday movies! Spooky.
The Princess Bride
Few movies are actually just perfect. Flawless films that collect the dust of time in a way that only makes them more beloved. The Princess Bride is one of those films, and while it’s technically not a holiday movie, its ability to unite viewers from every age group means it’s the perfect thing to put on when you’re trying to make your mom, your grandpa, and your younger cousins happy. Starring Robin Wright and Cary Elwes, Rob Reiner’s 1987 storybook tale will hit the nostalgia spot and possibly be able to bring your entire family together for its hour and a half run time.
I’ll Be Home For Christmas
In 1998, Jonathan Taylor Thomas had what Timothee Chalamet is starting to get now: leagues of adoring fans spanning age groups and demographics, willing to watch him in just about anything. That includes this extremely silly, trope-filled and mission-oriented Christmas movie that involves JTT trying to do just what the title says: fulfill his promise of making it home for Christmas. It’s no A Christmas Prince, but the rom-com meets adventure is nearly a classic, and perfect for channeling that classic Hallmark feeling of holiday cheer.
Its Glee meets Pitch Perfect meets A Princess Switch from the days when Freeform was still ABC Family and Tia Mowry was still doing musicals! This is certainly not high brow, but it’s from the era of 25 Days of Christmas, which at the time seemed aggressive, and now somehow feels overly quaint. Just 25 days of Christmas? Were we ever so young?
If The Mistle-Tones feels quaint, please allow me to introduce you to Christina Millian’s role in Snowglobe, where she gets trapped inside of a Christmas snow globe after bringing home her new boyfriend to meet her rowdy and chaotic family. It’s a bizarre twist of a film, teetering on the verge of magical realism and perfect to have on in the background while doing some other sort of holiday activity, like baking cookies or writing out holiday cards.
Happy holidays everyone, and merry streaming!