19 Best Christmas Movies of All Time
Get into the festive spirit with the best holiday movies ever.
Year after year, the jokes just don’t get old (just check out this hilarious reminder whyElf is the best holiday movie ever!). Watch this one with your friends — you’ll be quoting it to each other all through winter break.
“A Christmas Story” (1983)
Thanks to TBS airing A Christmas Story for 24 hours straight every year, practically everyone with a TV has seen this oldie but goodie. So many people love the story of Ralphie wanting a B.B. gun for Christmas that the movie was even turned into a Broadway musical.
“Love Actually” (2003)
Nine intersecting love stories make Love Actually the best holiday rom-com ever! You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and you’ll feel all warm and fuzzy inside when you’re done watching. When pushy holiday shoppers and bah-humbug scrooges start getting to you, it’s good to remember that “love, actually, is all around us.”
“The Polar Express” (2004)
Reading The Polar Express as a kid, the illustrations nearly jumped off the pages — but the graphics in the movie version are a whole other level of awesomeness. Cuddle up with your little cousins, nieces, or siblings for the story of a boy riding a magical train to the North Pole on Christmas Eve.
“Miracle on 34th Street” (1994)
There are a slew of holiday movies about believing in Santa Claus, but Miracle On 34th Street is one of the few that isn’t totally cheesy and that gets better every time you watch it. If you’ve never seen this remake of the 1940s classic about a young girl convincing her mom (who runs the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade) that Santa is real, make it a yearly tradition — starting now.
“The Holiday” (2006)
A hot British guy to swoon over should be a prerequisite for every holiday movie. Plus, Jude Law, Cameron Diaz, Kate Winslet, and Jack Black give The Holiday the perfect mix of funny and sentimental.
“A Christmas Carol” (2009)
The epic tale of three ghosts who make the most grumpy, bah humbug Scrooge discover the true meaning of Christmas is the perfect holiday classic to remind you about what’s most important in life. Disney’s reimagining of the Charles Dickens’ classic is a beautifully animated 3-D flick, starring Jim Carrey as Ebenezer Scrooge — the must-watch movie to get you into the holiday spirit.
“How the Grinch Stole Christmas” (2000)
The live-action reimagining of the Dr. Seuss classic Christmas story became an instant holiday staple, not only because Jim Carey, the king of roles where a bad guy learns to love Chirstmas, starred in it, but because it put the song “Where Are You Christmas” on your radar of best Christmas carols right behind “All I Want for Christmas is You.”
“How the Grinch Stole Christmas” (1966)
Sure, the 2000 live-action version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas has all the special effects and bells and whistles, but the old-school cartoon version is still a must-watch every year. The classic cartoon is such a fun reminder of reading the Dr. Suess book as a kid.
“Home Alone” (1990)
Stream Home Alone when being cooped up in the house with the fam over winter break starts to drive you nuts. Eight-year-old Kevin McAllister has to defend his house against a pair of goofy burglars, and the antics he pulls will crack you up. If the movie leaves you wanting more, there’s Home Alone 2 and Home Alone 3, too.
“Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer” (1964)
Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer is another old-school holiday classic. Some of the best Christmas songs came from this 1964 film, like “Holly Jolly Christmas.” It’s so much fun to sing along to, and somehow, it never gets old.
“National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” (1989)
Before Elf came along, this Christmas classic was pretty much known as the best holiday movie of all time. The hilarious misadventures of the Griswolds, which turn their happy Christmas plans into one big disaster, will have you literally laughing until you cry, the entire time.
“The Santa Clause” (1994)
It’s just not Christmas without The Santa Clause. After Santa falls off the roof, Scott Calvin (Tim Allen) becomes the new Santa Claus, and he and his son get to experience the magic of the North Pole. The only problem is, nobody believes he is Santa, not even Scott himself. This fun and feel-good flick is so loved that there have been two sequels.
“It’s a Wonderful Life” (1946)
The endearing and true message of how everyone’s life is meaningful makes It’s A Wonderful Life the ultimate holiday classic. It’s almost impossible not to cry (happy) tears at the end.
“A Charlie Brown Christmas” (1965)
Even though A Charlie Brown Christmas first aired on TV in 1965, the animated movie’s message is still totally relevant. It’s easy to get caught up in the materialism of the holidays, but Charlie, Lucy, Linus, and a little fir tree remind us of the true meaning of the season.
“The Nightmare Before Christmas” (1993)
Leave it to Disney and Tim Burton to bring us a movie that covers not one, but two holidays. The Nightmare Before Christmas tells the story of Jack Skellington, the pumpkin king from Halloween Town, who discovers Christmas Town and decides he wants to take over Christmas. Rent this one when you’re on “Holly Jolly Christmas” overload.
“Frosty the Snowman” (1969)
The original Frosty the Snowman cartoon was made in 1969 and it still airs every year at Christmastime. The black-and-white cartoon still makes you anxious that Frosty will melt each time you watch it, but you know how the song goes.
“Harry Potter” Series
Even though none of the brilliant movies in the Harry Potter series are strictly holiday movies, they’re still holiday classics regardless. Not only are all the HP movies played non-stop on TV networks’ holiday rotations, but the holiday scenes and decorations at Hogwarts are some of the best you’ll ever see on your TV screen.