Jingle All the Way (1996)
Jingle All the Way is pretty funny. It sets two rival fathers against each other to get the hottest toy of the season for their sons. The only thing is that Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sinbad portray the dads. They’re both pretty funny, but we have to admit neither are particularly fantastic actors.
While the film is kind of a cult classic now, it wasn’t like that initially. Upon the film’s releases in 1996, it was panned by critics but it did manage to earn $129 million worldwide. A lesser-known sequel to the film came out in 2014 – a direct-to-video film starring Larry the Cable Guy.
The Polar Express (2004)
The Polar Express is a beautiful fantasy film that came out in 2006, but the digital effects still stand up today. Regardless, a lot of people hate the movie for this very reason. That doesn’t change the fact that it’s the go-to movie for many each holiday season.
The film, directed by Robert Zemeckis stars Tom Hanks and was based on the children’s book of the same name. In the film, a boy hops aboard a train off to the North Pole on Christmas Eve and there he meets Santa Claus, along with several other children. The film cost around $165 million to make and earned $314.1 million at the box office.
A Christmas Story (1983)
“You’ll shoot your eye out.” That’s a line that will always be remembered thanks to A Christmas Story. Of course, he ends up shooting his eye out when Ralphie gets the one present he wants most. The film is funny to some people, but mostly, it’s nostalgia at its prime.
Like let's get real, how funny is "you'll shoot your eye out?" It isn't. The movie is boring and if you didn't grow up with it, you would realize that. The voiceover is annoying, the characters are forgettable and the whole thing is like a low-quality television film. This hot take is free. You're welcome.
Christmas in Connecticut (1945)
This film is an early example of a romantic comedy set during Christmastime. It paved the way for movies like Love Actually. We’re thankful for that considering romantic comedies are some of our favorite films. The film even has the drama, misunderstandings and humor of movies like Love Actually as well.
The film stars Barbara Stanwyck and Dennis Morgan. It's about a magazine writer who becomes employed as a food writer and writer articles based on a lie about living on a Connecticut farm. Her publisher asks her to host a war hero who admires her and as she tries to keep up with the charade, ends up falling in love with the war hero.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)
We didn’t forget about the original, but we had to add Jim Carrey’s version to the list. Out of all the remakes, this one is the best because it shows the Grinch as a truly grumpy creature that’s sick of Christmas cheer (unlike the newer, less-sour version). Of course, it's not all good.
Not every villain needs a backstory and this often cheesy film seems to believe that the Grinch needed a backstory or a reason to dislike everyone in Whoville. Why couldn't the Grinch just not like Christmas? We don't all like to have to like the same things. Of course, he changes his mind about Christmas, in the end, either way but like still - some people just be Grinches. There doesn't need to be trauma involved.
The Christmas Chronicles (2018)
The Christmas Chronicles is not a great movie by any means. The Netflix original film, however, features pretty much the coolest Santa on film. Played by Kurt Russell, his version of Santa is more modern, relatable, and, well - dashing. His real-life wife, and actress Goldie Hawn played Mrs. Santa Claus briefly at the end.
The story is about a group of kids trying to catch Santa Claus on camera. After an incident that leaves him with a broken sled, lost presents and reindeer, the children help him figure out how to make everyone’s holiday wishes come true. A sequel was made, simply titled The Christmas Chronicles 2.
A Christmas Carol (2009)
The other iterations great and all, but we prefer the newer Disney version. The characters are hilarious and voiced by talented actors Jim Carrey, Gary Oldman, and Colin Firth. It’s digitally made to look like real life, which some people hate, and even we have to admit some characters are a little creepy.
A Christmas Carol is one of the most classic Christmas stories of all time, retold again and again, so it's always interesting when filmmakers come up with a new way to bring it to life. Charles Dicken may not have been able to imagine his story looking like this but we certainly found it interesting what could be done with CGI and motion capture.
The Santa Clause (1994)
This film is the first (and best) part of The Santa Clause trilogy. Tim Allen takes the place of Santa and has to prove his family that he’s actually the jolliest man on Earth. What we love most about The Santa Clause is that it’s funny for all ages rather than aiming toward just children or adults.
But once you grow up, you realize this movie wasn't all that great. That it's rather cheesy and Tim Allen isn't really that talented. It has its moments but there is no reason to watch this as an adult once you learn the truth about Santa - that he can't really eat all those cookies in one night, so he gives them to his elves - obviously.
Frosty the Snowman (1969)
Frost the Snowman is the 1969 classic animated film from Rankin/Bass based on the Walter E. Rollins and Steve Nelson song of the same name. It follows a group of children who steal a hat from a magician and place it on a snowman and the snowman comes to life. If you know the song, you know the story basically…but there’s definitely more to it.
We love Frosty the Snowman, but here’s the thing—it’s kinda about a snowman who basically kills himself because it’s too warm. Thankfully, he comes back at the end, but it’s still sad to watch. It’s a Christmas classic, but that doesn't make it any less rough.
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964)
Everyone watches this stop-go animated film during the holidays, and most of us know it by heart by now. And while if it may all seem somewhat innocent at heart, in all honesty, it's one of the most disturbing Christmas tales there is. It does offer plenty of lovable characters but it does feature some truly abhorrent ones like Santa himself.
In the story, Rudolph faces discrimination and abuse at the hands of Santa and the other reindeer, including his own father that tries to cover up his son's unique nose rather than embrace him for who he is. And after running away from home, since a reindeer can only take so much abuse, he returns from a dangerous journey only to be exploited on Christmas Eve, since Santa realizes he can use the glowing red nose as a fog light.
You may not think about it, but Gremlins is actually a Christmas movie! It’s about a salesman that picks up a gift for his son, but it turns out to be one destructive little things. Worse yet—more of them appear! Well, their Christmas Eve may be ruined, but yours won’t be with this film.
If you grew up later in life, you might look at these things as Furbies and that's likely no accident. But unlike a Furby that just breaks if it gets wet, these things turn into hideous monstrous creatures that cause all sorts of harm. This '80s classic starred Zach Galligan and Phoebe Cates.
Home Alone (1990)
Watching Kevin take down two burglars is the highlight of the holiday season. Somehow, his parents forgot him (way to go), but he can handle himself. The slapstick comedy is great for kids as it calls back to Three Stooges. It also offers some heartwarming parts as well such as the scene in the church with the scary elderly man that ends up being not-so-scary after all.
Home Alone, directed by Christopher Columbus and written by John Hughes stars Macaulay Culkin, Joe Pesci, Daniel Stern, John Heard and Catherine O'Hara. It was a huge commercial success, earning $476.7 million worldwide at the box office, which was the most money ever earned for a live-action comedy at the time.
Batman Returns (1992)
It’s not one of the movies you think about most during Christmastime, but Batman Returns is definitely a Christmas movie. The whole movie takes place during the holiday season and ends with a reference to a Bible quote about Christmas. There’s snow, Christmas trees, presents and just about everything else you see at Christmas time.
While Batman beating up bad guys to a pulp and Catwoman whipping people and blowing up retail stores might not be the typical makings of a holiday movie, it’s difficult to ignore the strong Christmas vibes when watching it. It’s arguably the best of the Tim Burton Batman films and it grossed a whopping $266.89 million at the box office.
Bad Santa (2003)
Bad Santa stars Billy Bob Thornton, so you know that the film will be incredibly crude. That being said, a lot of people still watch the movie every Christmas. It’s funny, somehow heartwarming, but definitely not safe for the whole family. So maybe wait till your kids are all grown up before you start showing it at Christmastime.
The film also starred Bernie Mac. It ended up doing well at the box office, earning $76.5 million, thereby surpassing the film's budget three times over. In 2016, a sequel was released that was not well-received by critics nor fans. Ultimately, the sequel was not worth the 13-year wait.
The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)
The Muppets are a must-have during Christmas. This one is another version of Dickens’ classic, but it was made to be accessible to a new generation (and for kids). Even today as adults, we love seeing Kermit and Miss Piggy run around. It’s nostalgic. This is another stellar adaptation of A Christmas Carol.
The film stars Michael Caine and is directed by Brian Henson. If this film has one fatal flaw it's that it wasn't directed by Jim Henson, his father. Since Jim Henson died, we have been plagued with funny-sounding Muppets and the new stuff doesn't quite have the same vibes as the older movies.
Love Actually (2003)
Romantic comedies are our thing, and Love Actually is one of the best. It’s about nine interweaving stories, which makes it a lot different from your average love story. Not only is it a classic rom-com, but it’s also a classic Christmas movie. There's drama, heartwarming moments and plenty of comedy too.
The movie is especially known for its star-studded cast that ultimately led to dozens of other holiday movies about other holidays. Now's there's like a movie about every holiday with like dozens of famous actors and it's weird. Among the film's cast is Hugh Grant, Keira Knightly, Laura Linney, Emma Thompson, Liam Neeson, Alan Rickman and Colin Firth.
Joyeux Noel (2005)
Joyeux Noel is unlike many of the Christmas movies on this list because it’s the only one not in English. The film was well-received by critics and it earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Foreign Language Film at the 78th Academy Awards. Among the film’s stars are Daniel Brühl and Diane Kruger.
The 2005 epic war drama is based on a true story about the Christmas Truce of December 1914, told through the perspective of French, Scottish and German soldiers. During the historic event the lead singer of the Berlin Imperial Opera company paid a solo visit to the front line to sing for the soldiers.
Lethal Weapon (1987)
Die Hard isn’t the only Christmas movie with guns blazing. Lethal Weapon doesn’t center around Christmas per se but it does end on Christmas with Mel Gibson beating the heck out of Gary Busey on the lawn with Christmas lights in the background. If that’s not Christmas, I don’t know what it.
On top of that, the film begins with a Christmas song, Jingle Bell Rock, and ends with the song I’ll be home for Christmas. And even though the movie is super dark, about a suicidal cop and his partner, a 50-year-old cop going through a mid-life crisis, the movie has its fair share of humor too and it’s a Christmas movie because it’s about bonding.
Mickey’s Christmas Carol (1983)
Mickey’s Christmas Carol is probably the one version of the story that you have seen the most. In this version Scrooge McDuck is Ebenezer Scrooge, Goofy is Jacob Marley and Mickey Mouse as Bob Cratchit. The story plays out just like the actual story and it’s all over in less than 30 minutes.
Released in 1983, this classic Disney cartoon has been replayed on TV every year. At the time, it was the first Mickey Mouse theatrical cartoon produced in 30 years by Disney and it was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film in 1984. It did not win, however.
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)
Almost every home has made it a tradition to see what the Griswold’s can get into during Christmas. It’s silly, funny, and has comedy for kids and adults. Not to mention it highlights everything about Christmas from family fighting to decorations. It was an unusual sequel in that it was the first one designed for families to enjoy when the previous entries were R-rated.
But depending on how your Christmas is going, this can be a pretty depressing movie. The guy is trying to plan the perfect Christmas and literally, everything goes wrong for him and he really loses it at the end and his brother kidnaps his boss and people almost go to jail.
Bill Murray during Christmas? I think yes. This comedy is a fresh take on "A Christmas Carol" where Murray plays a scrooge named Frank Cross. The actor was a household name around the time it came out, and that eventually made the film a classic for all. It's the story we all know in love but with Bill Murray so what's not to like?
Typically, when Scrooge is being a jerk in A Christmas Carol, it's not really funny at all. You like the improved version of him when the story ends and he wakes up from his fever dream or whatever the heck happened. When Bill Murray is mean to people, it's just plain funny.
Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
Miracle on 34th Street had to be on here. We all know what it’s about because we’ve seen it a dozen times or more, but that doesn’t stop us from catching it every holiday. The movie restores our hope that there are still good people in the world and that everyone needs something to believe in.
Technically, Miracle on 34th Street is a Thanksgiving movie. It's about the Thanksgiving Macy's Day Parade and the Santa Claus hired for the department store. However, because of the presence of Santa Claus, it is often mistaken for a Christmas movie and that's fine, even if it's a little wrong. We'll let it slide and include it on the list. You are welcome.
The Year Without a Santa Claus (1974)
The Year Without a Santa Claus is easily the best of all the Rankin/Bass classic Christmas specials. It has some of the best songs out of all the films including the touching “I Believe in Santa Claus” and the catchy songs from Snow Miser and Heat Miser – the best characters in the film.
Interestingly, Santa Claus is just a side character and Mrs. Claus is really the center of the story. The role of Mrs. Claus was the final acting credit of Shirley Booth, who retired after. Mickey Rooney plays Santa Claus. The film aired on television in 1974 and it was based on the 1956 book of the same name.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1967)
This is the best version of the Grinch hands down. What’s Christmas without How the Grinch Stole Christmas? Um, there isn’t one! This cartoon may have had several remakes, but the classic is the best thing out there. It’s animation in a way we’ll never see again, and we’re psyched to watch it every year.
If you read the book, this version pretty much goes the same way in almost every day, except there are songs of course. Of all the book-to-film adaptations, you would be hard-pressed to argue that this was not a faithful adaptation. And all the best parts about the Jim Carrey version came from this one.
Elf is Will Farrell at his best. He plays the part really well, and his one-liners are hilarious for children and adults. The overalls story is pretty good, and it has that feel-good message of not taking people for granted and cherishing your loved ones. That being said, it can definitely be a little annoying for adults to watch.
Particularly if you have seen the movie multiple times. The combination of Will Ferrell acting like a toddler, the Christmas music and the overall cheese factor really, makes the movie intolerable to watch after a while. It’s not really in the same vein as a movie like It’s a Wonderful Life which you can watch again and again, because of the movie’s powerful Christmas messages.
When Harry Met Sally (1989)
When Harry Met Sally is a classic film to watch around the holidays. It’s a feel-good movie that ends on New Year’s Day and it also has plenty of Christmas scenes as well. It has a lot of humorous moments and it’s really unlike many of the romantic comedies out there because the characters are not boring.
If you’ve never seen the movie, it’s about the numerous chance encounters of Harry and Sally who meet each other at different points in their life until they finally get together. It begs the question whether a man and woman can be friends, and doesn’t really answer that question. So, it’s up to you to decide.
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
“There are few who deny” that this movie is awesome. The Nightmare Before Christmas combines two of the best holidays—Halloween and Christmas. It's set during Christmastime, making it technically a Christmas movie. The only reason it ranks so low is that a lot of people watch it during Halloween, but why not both?
The film, directed by Henry Selick and produced by Tim Burton, is the story of Jack Skellington who is the King of Halloweentown that stumbles upon Christmastown, trying to emulate it but losing the true meaning of Christmas in his attempt to do so. The film earned $91.5 million at the box office while having a budget of $24 million.
A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)
Charlie Brown is a classic for both Halloween and Christmas. Even though everyone is rude to Charlie Brown in the beginning, including his own dog Snoopy, Charlie Brown is determined to put on the best Christmas play and enjoy the season. We just wished that the Peanuts gang wasn't such a bummer and treated Charlie Brown with some respect.
Not to mention, it’s impossible to forget the sad little Christmas tree with a single bulb. The message, of course, is that having a great Christmas isn't about getting the most elaborate tree, it's about showing love and respect for the things and people in your life - spending time with them and nourishing those relationships.
Die Hard (1988)
Yes! Die Hard is technically a Christmas movie. It’s no coincidence that it’s also one of the best freaking movies ever made. If you aren’t the type to love the typical, feel-good Christmas movie about love and giving, John McClane is a hero in more than one way.
Why is it a Christmas movie? John McClane is attending his wife's office Christmas party. Without the party, he has no reason to be there - so, duh. There are also some other Christmasy themes in their like love and friendship, and helping someone in their time of need when nobody else will. Also, Alan Rickman is pretty much the Grinch in that movie because he's ruining the office party, particularly for Mr. Takagi who will no longer be joining us for the rest of his life.
It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
It’s a Wonderful Life is one of the most beloved Christmas movies of all time, and many families make sure to watch it during Christmastime. It’s the perfect balance between bittersweet and optimistic, and the story resonates long after you’ve seen it. Let's give a round of applause for George Bailey, the richest man in town.
Something interesting about this movie though is that its director and starring actor Jimmy Stewart were such staunch republicans but made a movie that attacks the banks that take advantage of the people. Is Mr Potter Evil? Well, that depends on just how much you believe in the free market.