"How did they do it in 2020?" says Rebecca Alter. "How did the powers that be manage to pull 82 new Christmas movies (and one Hanukkah film!) out of their proverbial gingerbread a**es, amid all the lockdowns and quarantines and restrictions and malaise? One might call it a Christmas miracle. <i>Or, they just used all the movies they’ve been sitting on that weren’t good enough for past years’ lineups, and now the B-team of Christmas B-roll is getting its year in the spotlight. But hey, if you sift through enough lumps of coal, though, you just might find some cubic zirconia. So come, sift with us, as we break down the year’s absolute deluge of holiday fare into relevant subcategories."
The Hallmark Cinematic Universe is the only escape we have left: "People who have not immersed themselves in Hallmark Channel-esque holiday movies often criticize them for being formulaic and unrealistic," says Katie Dowd. "They are, of course, both — and that's what makes them so fun. They exist in a world untethered from reality, and that world has expanded beyond just the namesake Hallmark Channel, crossing into original content at Netflix and Amazon Prime. The Hallmark Cinematic Universe is the schlocky holiday equivalent of comic book movies. They are set in worlds much like our own but supercharged with wildly unrealistic details. Aldovia and Montenaro are the holiday movie versions of Gotham. They're nearly a real place but not quite, because no one's in student loan debt and at least one character owns a cafe. It's a self-contained world where princes are always in the midst of a succession crisis, burned-out career women keep winning contests to own an inn, and time travel is so standard the movie doesn't even bother to explain it."