Best Christmas Movies of All Time: 25 Great Holiday Films

While there’s no shortage of Christmas movies out there, it’s rare to find a Christmas film that doesn’t involve at least one of the following: a manger scene, a plump and jolly Santa Claus, a Grinch who hates Christmas, Elf, and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (who was actually a character in a poem by Robert L. May).

But if you’re looking for something a little different to watch, this list of Christmas movies will throw you back to the days before the “holiday season” was synonymous with shopping and holiday sales at Macy’s.

Some of these films won’t be found under the Christmas tree, but they’re definitely worth watching this holiday season.

Fantasy movies like The BFG also make a great genre of films for the holidays. You may want to check this list of great fantasy films like Jack the Giant Slayer.

That being mentioned, let’s explore the list!

1. Elf | 2003 | 7.9 IMDB

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A Christmas classic, Elf stars Will Ferrell as Buddy, an adult who was raised in the North Pole and who travels to New York City to find his birth father. It’s a very warm and funny film with great performances all around. Particularly awesome is the performance from James Caan as Buddy’s gruff but loving dad and Zooey Deschanel as Buddy’s love interest.

Available on: Netflix | Watch Trailer

2. The Nightmare Before Christmas | 1993 | 7.9 IMDB

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The Nightmare Before Christmas is a stop-motion animated musical film directed by Henry Selick and produced/co-written by Tim Burton. The story centers on Jack Skellington, the king of Halloween Town, who stumbles upon Christmastown and is fascinated by the idea of taking over the holiday. There’s a lot to like in this movie, but I especially like the music. It’s a really fun, quirky, and unique piece of work.

Available on: Disney+ | Watch Trailer

3. The Polar Express | 2004 | 7.9 IMDB

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Another stop-motion animated movie is The Polar Express.  Based on the book by Chris Van Allsburg, the movie is about a boy who takes a train ride to the North Pole on Christmas Eve. It’s a very nostalgic film, and it’s fun to compare the way Christmas is depicted in this film with what it’s like in real life. Additionally, kids will love the talking characters, including Tom Hanks as the conductor.

Available on: Netflix | Watch Trailer

4. The Grinch | 2000 | 7.9 IMDB

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Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas is a classic children’s tale, so it was only a matter of time before it was adapted into a film. Jim Carrey does a fantastic job of playing the Grinch, the mean-spirited, green-skinned creature who hates Christmas and plans to steal it away from everyone in Whoville.

Available on: Prime Video | Watch Trailer

5. Die Hard | 1988 | 8.3 IMDB

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The most fun of all Christmas movies, Die Hard features, Bruce Willis as John McClane, a cop who gets trapped in the Nakatomi Plaza building on Christmas Eve. Willis manages to take out a group of terrorists with his bare hands. He still manages to have a little charm, thanks to his sarcastic one-liners, like the famous, “Yippee-ki-yay, motherf**r.”

Available on: Prime Video | Watch Trailer

6. How the Grinch Stole Christmas | 2000 | 7.9 IMDB

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This live-action film, based on the book by Dr. Seuss, is about the Grinch, a grouchy green creature who lives alone in a cave near the town of Whoville. He plans to steal all the presents on Christmas Eve but ends up learning the importance of the holiday.

The film’s animation isn’t quite up to Pixar’s level, but Jim Carrey’s performance as the Grinch is very memorable.

Available on: Netflix | Watch Trailer

7. A Christmas Story | 1983 | 7.9 IMDB

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A Christmas Story is a classic, and for good reason. It’s a wonderful story that captures the spirit of childhood in the 1940s. Ralphie’s quest for the Red Ryder BB gun is iconic, and there are plenty of other great moments in the movie. It really does feel like a Christmas movie, so if you haven’t seen it yet, what are you waiting for?

Available on: Amazon Prime | Watch Trailer

8. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation | 1989 | 7.6 IMDB

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The Griswold family is back for another year of hilarious antics. This time, Clark Griswold’s parents are visiting for Christmas. It’s another classic comedy from Chevy Chase, Beverly D’Angelo, Randy Quaid, and Juliette Lewis.

Available on: Amazon| Watch Trailer

9. Home Alone 2: Lost in New York | 1992 | 7.9 IMDB

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Although it’s nowhere near as good as the original, Home Alone 2: Lost in New York is still an entertaining Christmas movie. The original cast returns, with the exception of Carol, who is replaced by Moira Kelly. Although Kevin has to deal with new villains in this one, the Wet Bandits are featured in the film, in a couple of amusing cameos.

Available on: Disney+ | Watch Trailer

10. Santa Claus is Coming to Town | 1970 | 7.9 IMDB

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Santa Claus is Coming to Town is a 1970 animated TV movie, featuring the voice of Fred Astaire as Kris Kringle. It’s a fun little story about Santa Claus’ origins, and it’s still shown in the weeks leading up to Christmas every year. The whole thing is narrated by Jimmy Durante, in his inimitable style.

Available on: Amazon | Watch Trailer

11. The Christmas Chronicles | 2018 | 7.0 IMDB

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A Christmas Carol meets Home Alone in this holiday adventure for the whole family. A young boy and his sister must team up with Santa Claus to stop a legendary villain from ruining Christmas.

Available on: Netflix | Watch Trailer

12. The Santa Clause | 1994 | 7.0 IMDB

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Tim Allen plays Scott Calvin, who is accidentally turned into “Santa” when he puts on a Santa suit that is left by the side of the road. It’s a fun movie that also has a good message, and it’s great to watch with your family.

Available on: Disney+ | Watch Trailer

13. The Man Who Invented Christmas | 2017 | 7.9 IMDB

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This film tells the story of how Charles Dickens wrote his classic Christmas novella “A Christmas Carol” six weeks after being challenged by a friend.  The challenge was to write a story that could be read aloud in a single sitting on Christmas Eve. In doing so, the story became more than just a Christmas tale. It helped define Christmas as a cultural holiday that is celebrated all around the world.

Available on: Hulu, Amazon | Watch Trailer

14. Christmas With The Kranks | 2004 | 6.3 IMDB

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This is a hilarious Christmas classic. Tim Allen and Jamie Lee Curtis play Luther and Nora Krank, the parents of two adult daughters who are leaving for Christmas vacation, so the Kranks decide to skip Christmas that year. Of course, things don’t go as planned.

Available on: Hulu, Amazon | Watch Trailer

15. Love Actually | 2003 | 7.7 IMDB

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The Christmas season wouldn’t be complete without a viewing of Love Actually. Not only does it have an all-star cast, but all of the stories are also interwoven in such a way that it makes you believe that they’re all happening at the same time.

Available on: Amazon | Watch Trailer

16. The Family Man | 2000 | 7.0 IMDB

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A banker receives a glimpse of what life would have been like if he chose a different path. Starring Nicolas Cage, Tea Leoni, and Don Cheadle, this movie hits all the right notes. It’s a very solid movie that will get you thinking about what could have been.

Available on: Amazon | Watch Trailer

17. The Holiday | 2006 | 6.9 IMDB

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A Hollywood writer with a bad case of writer’s block swaps homes with a British woman in an effort to escape. Starring Cameron Diaz, Jude Law, Kate Winslet, and Jack Black, The Holiday is a great holiday date movie. It’s funny, heartwarming, and touching.

Available on: Netflix | Watch Trailer

18. A Christmas Carol | 2009 | 8.0 IMDB

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A very well-done version of the classic tale starring Jim Carrey as the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge. It’s a great film, even though most of us have seen it before. It never gets old.

Available on: Google Play | Watch Trailer

19. Bad Santa | 2003| 7.6 IMDB

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The black sheep of this list, Bad Santa is a dark comedy about a department store Santa who is a drunk and a thief. Billy Bob Thornton is fantastic in the lead role, even though he is terrible to his young sidekick played by the late, great Bernie Mac. It’s not your typical Christmas movie, but it’s definitely worth a watch.

Available on: Google Play, Amazon | Watch Trailer

20. Frosty the Snowman | 1969 | 7.5 IMDB

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A heartwarming stop-motion animated Christmas classic, Frosty the Snowman is about the titular snowman who comes to life with the help of some magic hat and some magic water. All he wants to do is play with the kids but he can’t because he keeps melting. But with the help of some magic children, he may be able to live his dream.

Available on: Amazon | Watch Trailer

21. The Ref | 1994 | 7.1 IMDB

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The Ref is a 1994 comedy starring Denis Leary as a burglar who breaks into a house on Christmas Eve and gets stuck with a family for the rest of the night. It’s a very funny movie with excellent performances by Leary and Kevin Spacey as the father.

Available on: Amazon | Watch Trailer

22. Miracle on 34th Street | 1947 | 7.7 IMDB

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Miracle on 34th Street is one of the most beloved Christmas movies ever made. It’s about a lawyer who defends Kris Kringle (played by the legendary Edmund Gwenn), who claims to be Santa Claus. The movie deals with the theme of believing in Santa Claus and has a ton of heart.

Available on: iTunes, Google Play | Watch Trailer

23. Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer | 1964 | 7.0 IMDB

Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer

While Santa Claus is delivering presents, his lead reindeer, Rudolph, is ridiculed for having a red nose. He runs away and meets other outcasts who help him become famous.

This is a cute and heartwarming film that many kids and adults will enjoy. It’s also one of the more memorable Christmas specials.

Available on: Amazon | Watch Trailer

24. Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas | 1999 | 8.0 IMDB

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Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas is a heartwarming tale that features three wonderful Christmas stories including A Very Goofy Christmas, A Very Merry Pooh Christmas, and Santa’s Last Gifts.

These stories include Goofy trying to give his son a great Christmas, Winnie the Pooh preparing for Christmas with his friend Piglet, and Mickey and Pluto trying to save Christmas.

Available on: Amazon | Watch Trailer

25. Fred Claus | 2007 | 6.5 IMDB

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Vince Vaughn stars in this Christmas comedy as Fred, the brother of Santa Claus. When he finds himself in trouble, Santa teams up with his brother to save Christmas. It’s a fun and fast-paced film with a lot of laughs.

Available on: Amazon, Netflix | Watch Trailer

Best Christmas Movies: Few Honorable Mentions

Besides the 25 best Christmas movies above, the following are a few other great holiday movies to consider watching:

1. Trading Places | 1983 | 7.9 IMDB

Jamie Lee Curtis and Dan Aykroyd star in this classic comedy about a snooty investor and a homeless con artist. Their lives are turned upside down when they’re unknowingly part of a bet by two rich men. It’s a funny and poignant tale that is considered a Christmas classic.

2. The Santa Clause 2 | 2002 | 6.8 IMDB

The second film in the series, The Santa Clause 2 has Scott Calvin being once again accidentally turned into Santa. He must travel all around the world in one night to return everything to normal.

3. The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause | 2006 | 5.6 IMDB

The final film in the series has Scott Calvin once again turning into Santa. Bad guys are after him, and rather than fight them, he plans to escape to New Zealand.

4. Jack Frost | 1998 | 8.0 IMDB

A fun and lighthearted film, Jack Frost stars Michael Keaton as a father who dies in a car accident and is brought back to life as a snowman. He returns to his home to find his son (played by Joseph Cross) and watch out for his wife (played by Kelly Preston). It’s a great holiday film with a lot of heart.

5. The Long Kiss Goodnight | 1996 | 7.9 IMDB

A great action film, The Long Kiss Goodnight stars Geena Davis as Samantha Caine, a former spy who has completely forgotten her past. She is estranged from her daughter and living a quiet life with her husband when she is sought out by people who know her former identity. It’s a great action movie and a hell of a lot of fun.

6. White Christmas | 1954 | 8.0 IMDB

White Christmas is a very charming musical starring Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, and Rosemary Clooney. It follows two brothers who run a struggling inn and who get in trouble with the mafia. Then a successful songwriter comes to town and the three of them work together to put on a show and save the inn. It’s a great movie with wonderful music.

That’s all of this listicle of best Christmas movies of all time. So, what do you think? Which movies did you love the most? We would love to know your thoughts!


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