The end of last week marked the unofficial start of the holiday movie season, with cable channels and streaming companies unveiling a cornucopia of viewing choices from now until 2021.
The most prolific purveyors of holiday movie cheer are Lifetime — which airs a new holiday film every Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday at 8 p.m. through Dec. 20 — and Hallmark Channel, which has 23 holiday movies airing at 8 p.m. on multiple nights, plus an additional 17 new movies on its Hallmark Movies & Mysteries channel at 10 p.m.
In the streaming realm, Netflix is giving Lifetime and Hallmark a run for their money, releasing a torrent of holiday content throughout the fall.
Ahead, we’ve rounded up all of the new holiday movies to check out in 2020, with top picks including a Lifetime title filmed in Massachusetts and a Disney+ title filmed in Boston earlier this year. (Note: If you miss a movie’s original air time, be sure to check out the channel’s website, as many movies are available on-demand with a valid cable login.)
“Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey,” Netflix
Netflix’s top holiday release is a brand-new musical from writer/director David E. Talbert (“Almost Christmas”) that features original songs by musicians including John Legend. In the quaint town of Cobbleton, toymaker Jeronicus Jangle (Forest Whitaker) creates holiday magic with his whimsical inventions. When his apprentice (Keegan Michael-Key, “Key & Peele”) steals his most prized creation, it’s up to Jeronicus’s granddaughter (Madalen Mills) to save the day and help the pair reconcile in the spirit of the holiday season.
Hulu’s new release puts a twist on the traditional holiday rom-com, with Kristen Stewart (“Twilight”) and Mackenzie Davis (“Irresistible”) playing a lesbian couple at the center of some family yuletide mix-ups. Abby (Stewart) is joining Harper (Davis) at her family Christmas for the first time, and plans to bring joy to the holiday season by proposing. When they arrive, however, Abby discovers that Harper hasn’t told her family that she’s gay or that her and Abby are a couple. Directed by Clea DuVall (“Veep”), “The Happiest Season” includes a great roster of comedic talent that includes Alison Brie (“Glow”), Aubrey Plaza (“Parks and Recreation”), Daniel Levy (“Schitt’s Creek”), and Mary Steenburgen (“Step Brothers”).
“Godmothered,” Disney+ (Premieres Dec. 4)
If you’re looking for a holiday film with a distinctly Boston flavor to it, Disney+ is here to grant your wish with “Godmothered,” which filmed in Boston, Marblehead, and other nearby towns earlier this year. Set during the Christmas season, “Godmothered” follows a “young, inexperienced fairy godmother-in-training” (Bell) who is determined to prove that the world still needs her magic even though the fairy godmother profession is facing extinction. After finding a misplaced letter from a 10-year-old girl named Mackenzie, Eleanor heads to Earth to assist her, only to find that Mackenzie (Fisher) is now a 40-year-old single mom working at a TV news station in Boston. Mackenzie has given hope on finding a “happily ever after” after losing her husband several years earlier, but Eleanor is determined to turn around her fortunes.
“Dear Santa,” On-demand (Premieres Dec. 4)
Originally intended to be released in theaters, “Dear Santa” is a documentary from IFC Films that shines a light on the “Operation Santa” program of the United States Postal Service. For the last 100 years, the USPS has enlisted community volunteers to help answer thousands of letters to Santa Claus, making children’s dreams come true nationwide.
“Christmas on Ice,” Lifetime
Topping the list of Lifetime’s Christmas movie offerings is “Christmas on Ice,” which was filmed in Worcester in February. The plot follows a former pro figure skater named Courtney (Abigail Klein), who runs the city’s skating rink. When the mayor says he’ll have to shut the rink down due to budgetary reasons, Courtney contacts Noah (Ryan Cooper), a former pro hockey player and single dad who just opened a new indoor skating center. Together, they must save the rink and its annual holiday show.
“Love, Lights, Hanukkah!,” Hallmark (Premieres Dec. 12)
Of Hallmark Channel’s 23 new holiday movies, which air regularly at 8 p.m., “Love, Lights, Hanukkah!” is the rare title that explores holiday traditions outside of Christmas. As restaurant owner Christina (Mia Kirshner) prepares her restaurant for the holiday rush, she discovers that she is Jewish thanks to the results of a DNA test. The revelation leads her to a new family and a budding romance that unfolds over eight magical nights.