As we never tire of pointing out, there’s but a relative pittance available on streaming, the service we’ve collectively, apparently, decided is better than the grand booty available on disc. If you owned them, you could spend the holidays watching any number of holiday classics: “It’s a Wonderful Life,” “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation,” “The Ref,” “Die Hard.” But you don’t so you’re stuck with whatever dreck lurks online. Here’s how to acquit yourself (if you insist on watching actual holiday movies during the holidays):
Netflix Instant
Hated (at least critically) when it came out, this Bill Murray vehicle gleefully desecrates Dickens, with Scrooge now Frank Cross, a cynical, rotted-out TV exec whose ghostly visitors include a stogie-smoking David Johansen and a tutu-wearing Carol Kane. Murray is both above it all and having a blast, while the best joke might be that the calmest character is played by Bobcat Goldthwait.
‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’
Netflix Instant
His name may be all over the poster, but Tim Burton is not the creator of this Halloween-Christmas mash-up. The true author is stop motion genius Henry Selick (“Coraline”), who is responsible for all the equal parts gloom and whimsy.
‘I am Santa Claus’
Netflix Instant
A newbie to the yuletide canon, this recent documentary hangs with five men who tell your children they’re Kris Kringle every winter — who invariably are men with few other jobs, living off social security and moving into their daughters’ basements. Not that this is remotely a downer: You get to watch Santa get drunk on his birthday, after all.
‘The Bells of St. Mary’s’
Netflix Instant and Amazon Prime
We’re actually not crazy about “White Christmas,” which is on Instant. We suggest heading over to this other Bing Crosby staple, which pairs his “Going My Way” Father with Ingrid Bergman’s nun. OK, so only some of it is during Christmas, but that just means if you don’t watch it now it’s not uncouth to watch it any season.
‘Trading Places’
Netflix Instant and Amazon Prime
Like “Gremlins,” “Die Hard” and “Eyes Wide Shut,” this is a holiday movie you might not remember is set over the holidays, even with a scene where Dan Aykroyd’s displaced blueblood turns into a seriously tanked Santa. But hey, peak period Eddie Murphy in a neo-screwball that also gives Jamie Lee Curtis prime material is nothing to ignore.
‘The Muppet Movie’
Netflix Instant
Hear us out: The “Muppet Christmas Carol” is on Instant, and that would be more appropriate. But frankly, and we’re sorry to say this, it’s not very good, even with Michael Caine. So just watch the original and best of their movies instead, no less because it’s one of the too few movies with both Steve Martin and Orson Welles.
‘Fanny and Alexander’
There’s got to be a few of you who’d spend the holiday watching an Ingmar Bergman epic over the holidays only because the first stretch of it is set over Christmas. Not that you need an excuse to watch Bergman’s devastating portrait of a grim childhood lorded over by one of the great mean stepdaddi