20 Best Christmas Movies Of All Time

Christmas movies are a strange breed for they could channel the mood of the holiday season. If you are looking for a movie that captures the heart of Christmas, this article has you covered.

1. Home Alone (1990) – An Enduring Children’s Adventure

The John Hughes-written movie starring Macaulay Culkin focuses on the hilarious misadventures of a young boy during the holidays. Left behind by accident, 8-year-old Kevin McCallister comes up with a hilarious scheme to battle dimwitted thieves. Featuring notable performances by Canadian SCTV-alums, Catherine O’Hara, and John Candy, Home Alone remains a true classic.

2. Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964) – Be Yourself

This Rankin/Bass stop-motion animated film is such as classic that it’s been aired every year since its debut in 1964. The epic story of Rudolph who finds purpose because of what makes him different conveys a time-honoured message: be yourself and embrace your differences; the world will catch up to your uniqueness sooner or later.

3. Eyes Wide Shut (1999) – A Freudian Meditation On Desire

Starring Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman and directed by notoriously meticulous Stanley Kubrick, Eyes Wide Shut is the most mind-bending, brooding, and orgy-filled Christmas film ever made. It’s, at heart, a study of individual desires and marital tensions encased in a velvety Christmas atmosphere.

4. Elf (2003) – An Absurd Fish-Out-Of-Water Fantasy

Clownish orphan Will Ferrell is raised by Santa and his elves and travels to New York to locate his biological father. During the journey, this giant elf with yellow tights and a green, pointy hat helps cynics believe in Christmas again. This Christmas fantasy is sweeter than a candy cane, but doesn’t give you a post-sugar-rush headache.

5. Jingle All The Way (1996) – A Schwarzenegger Oddity

Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sinbad as dads competing to get their sons the most coveted Christmas toy of the year, this barbed kiddie comedy is as silly and fun as it sounds. A cynical product marketed to children, Jingle All the Way discusses the potentially relatable parental anxiety about fulfilling a child’s consumer needs with a wicked sense of humor.

6. The Santa Clause (1994) – If Santa Dies, You Become Santa

A divorced businessman has to take over the role of Santa after the big guy falls from his roof and dies. To elevate this above kiddie movie schmaltz, Tim Allen brings enough playful grunts, wry incredulity, and genuine cheer to the role. An argument against growing up too soon, the comedy established the Highlander-esque rule that, if Santa dies from falling off your roof, you become Santa.

7. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) – A Dark Fantasy

It’s a debate for ages: is this macabre, stop-motion cartoon a Christmas movie or a Halloween movie? The celebratory message the spook-fest conveys proves it’s actually both. Featuring a werewolf, a skeleton Santa, and vampires, the Tim Burton specialty is a creepy masterpiece of visual tricks and treats.

8. The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992) – A Classic Christmas Tale

If you want to enjoy a movie with your kids this Christmas, Jim Henson’s musical Dickens adaptation starring Michael Caine is a perfect choice. Warm, witty, and wonderful, the movie brought a fresh, playful flavor that even allowed a rat to co-narrate.

9. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989) – It’s Relatable

Dreading going home to visit your relatives this Christmas? Watch this farce starring Chevy Chase as Clark Griswold who promises to make Christmas a good one, only to find that his efforts cause a domino effect of disasters. This film reminds us how much everything can go hilariously wrong during the holidays and will make anything you do this year seem totally normal.

10. A Christmas Story (1983) – A Youthful Memoir

There is a reason why TBS plays this classic for a full 24 hours every Christmas. Stacked with endlessly quotable lines, the youthful memoir gave us an infamous leg lamp, a sadistic Santa, and a Red Ryder BB gun. Most importantly, the movie taught us to never lick a frozen pole.

11. Gremlins (1985) – A Hilarious And Horrifying Romp

Even if you haven’t seen this comic horror movie, chances are you know the story: cute, mythical Chinese creature Mogwai spawns havoc-wreaking monsters that ruin Christmas Eve after a boy breaks important rules. With far more naughtiness than niceness, Gremlins is an original, hilarious, and horrifying romp that just happens to take place at Christmas.

12. A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965) – Evoking Holiday Spirit

What is the true meaning of Christmas? This television special based on Charles M. Schulz’s comic strip Peanuts gives the best explanation. In just 30 minutes, the animated wonder gave us the best Christmas monologue about the crappiest tree and a jazzy Christmas soundtrack courtesy of Vince Guaraldi, leaving an indelible mark on pop culture.

13. Scrooged (1988) – A Black Comedy With A Heart Of Gold

A hilarious modern adaptation of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, Richard Donner’s Scrooged is a proudly rude holiday movie starring Bill Murray as an arrogant and selfish TV executive who learns the true meaning of Christmas. A classic that shouldn’t be missed, this nasty tale gives us a break from a season of sentimental stories.

14. A Christmas Tale (2008) – A Melancholy Family Drama

Starring Catherine Deneuve, this French film by Arnaud Desplechin is a sprawling, spellbinding portrait of familial dysfunction. With clarity, compassion, and humor, the movie captures the peculiar intimacy of adult siblings reuniting in their childhood homes at Christmas. It’s a sprawling, brainy delight and is worth adding to your must-watch list.

15. Die Hard (1988) – An All-Time Great Action Thriller

Does your boyfriend refuse to watch The Nightmare Before Christmas with you? Then watching Die Hard – a film about an office Christmas party hijacked by naughty terrorists – might just be the solution. Bruce Willis’s John McClane alone rescued the office members and learned the true value of love. This movie is John McTiernan’s peerless one-against-many action classic.

16. White Christmas (1954) – The Granddaddy Of All Christmas Flicks

Full of iconic, the musical stars Crosby and Danny Kaye as music-act partners who join hands with two sisters (Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen) to help their former military commander save his Vermont inn. The songs and dance routines are fantastic, the story is nostalgic, and the charm is on full blast. It reminds us that Christmas traditions worth cherishing.

17. It’s A Wonderful Life (1946) – The Ultimate Story Of Redemption

Frank Capra’s fantasy is the father of all Christmas movies, and one of the bonafide classics of Hollywood’s Golden Age. George Bailey played by Jimmy Stewart wants to commit suicide but is saved by angel Clarence Odbody, who shows him the true importance of his life. The movie defines Christmas and is the ultimate feel-good story of family and redemption.

18. Christmas In Connecticut (1945) – An Uproarious Christmas Classic

The movie starring Barbara Stanwyck is one of the sweetest, holiday-themed romantic comedies of all time. It’s about a writer, who lies about her ideal WWII-era housewife life on a Connecticut farm, and has to cover her tracks when her boss and a war hero came over for Christmas dinner. It allows viewers to search for love and discover the power of being yourself.

19. Meet Me In St. Louis (1944) – A Snow-Globe Kind Of Movie

In this excellent musical by Vincente Minnelli, featuring star Judy Garland’s singing Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas ticks all kinds of holiday boxes. Featuring swooning romance, fake-looking snowmen, ball gown-filled dances, and a hallucinatory Halloween segment, this movie is perfect to marvel at when the fire’s roaring in the background.

20. The Shop Around the Corner (1940) – Basis For ‘You’ve Got Mail’

This black-and-white Christmas film from the legend Ernst Lubitsch is the basis for You’ve Got Mail starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. It’s about two store clerks who despise each other but fall in love as anonymous pen pals. This memorable romantic comedy is a movie that will make you pick up a pen and paper and send your loved ones snail mail once more.

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