Once upon a time, Christmas television was a far simpler affair.
While picking out the films and television shows for the festive season, you were limited to five terrestrial channels – and maybe a film subscription service, if you were lucky.
But with the advent of streaming came more choice than ever and, while BBC, ITV and Sky Movies have plenty of titles on offer, Netflix, Amazon Prime and Now TV have widened the selection exponentially.
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Below, we run through all the new films and TV shows that’ll be available to stream on your TV – or, if you’re in need of a break away from the family, on your laptop in another room entirely.
The Grinch, Now TV
No, not the Jim Carrey version, which – depending on your age – you probably either despise or adore, but last year’s animated film in which Benedict Cumberbatch voices the grouchy green creature. It may not exactly be fun for all the family, but it’s a great choice if you’re looking for something to quieten down the younger relatives.
The Expanse, Amazon Prime
The fact that The Expanse is still running is squarely down to Amazon, who revived the science-fiction show after its untimely cancellation in 2018. The series, a true successor to Battlestar Galactica, is set in a near future where people have relocated to Mars and use an asteroid belt to travel throughout the solar system. Thomas Jane leads the cast of a show that, with a fifth season already announced, could be the perfect thing to binge over the Christmas period.
Horrible Histories: The Movie, Amazon Prime
This film based on the CBBC series, itself based on the popular kids book, has an all-star, if pretty random, cast – including Nick Frost, Sex and the City star Kim Cattrall and Kate Nash. Even Derek Jacobi shows up as Emperor Claudius, the same role that made him famous back in the 1970s. ,
The Two Popes, Netflix
Anthony Hopkins and Jonathan Pryce both received Golden Globe nominations for their roles in City of God director Fernando Meirelles’s drama, which follows – you guessed it – two popes (Benedict XVI and Francis) who must find common ground to forge a new path for the Catholic church.
The Witcher, Netflix
After what feels like years of promotion, Henry Cavill finally makes his debut as Geralt of Rivia in The Witcher, Netflix’s big-budget adaptation of Andrzej Sapkowski’s book series of the same name. The streaming service is clearly banking on it becoming a Stranger Things-sized hit and early reactions have praised it for its “perfect” fight scenes. We’ll be the judge.
Mary Queen of Scots, Now TV
Saoirse Ronan plus historical epic drama usually equals success, but Mary Queen of Scots failed to make a mark at the box office in 2018. Still, it’s worth a look if you’re a fan of the genre, and Margot Robbie adds herself to the impressive list of actors who’ve taken on the role of Queen Elizabeth I (Cate Blanchett, Judi Dench).
Lost in Space season 2, Netflix
This re-imagining of the sci-fi 1960s TV classic was a modest success upon its release in April 2018, so a number of viewers will be happy to see a fresh batch of episodes unveiled just in time for Christmas. Molly Parker leads the family of space colonists alongside Toby Stephens, Mina Sundwall and Parker Posey, who are all set to return for more intergalactic adventures.
Mary Poppins Returns, Now TV
Classic musical Mary Poppins has been a staple of Christmas viewing for decades, but hoping to oust it this year is its very own sequel. Released in cinemas last December, this film – starring Emily Blunt – catches up with the Banks children years after their first encounter with the magical nanny.
Avengers: Endgame, Now TV
Three months before Disney+ lays claim to every Marvel property under the sun, Now TV is premiering Avengers: Endgame, officially the world’s most successful film. That was... inevitable.
You season 2, Netflix
Boxing Day is designed for doing nothing but bingeing TV shows, and the second season of psychological thriller You will undoubtedly be a prime choice for many. Just what murderous bookstore manager Joe Goldberg (Penn Badgley) has in store remains to be seen, but if last season is anything to go by, it promises to be extremely watchable.
John Wick, Netflix
Two films land on Netflix in time for the new year celebrations. First up is John Wick, the all-out action thriller starring Keanu Reeves as a retired hitman who returns to his old ways after a group of Russians kill his puppy. It might be mindless entertainment, but the film’s fight scenes rank as some of the decade’s most memorable.
La La Land, Netflix
For those who want to usher in 2020 with something a bit calmer, La La Land will fit the bill. Damien Chazelle’s musical, which didn’t win Best Picture, is full of charm.