Forgot your password?

The Best Christmas Movies of All Time

By Edited Apr 30, 2016 3 28

There are a lot of Christmas movies these days, and the list is growing each year. How do you decide which are worth your time and which you can script? Below are the movies that are generally regarded as the best of the best. For your convenience they are separated into categories. If you watch them all you have enough to see a different one each day from Thanksgiving until Christmas!


A Charlie Brown Christmas

Charlie Brown Christmas

This animated classic by Charles M. Schultz hardly needs an introduction. The “lovable loser” Charlie Brown seeks to understand what Christmas is all about. He is convinced his friends are missing the main point. His “psychiatrist” friend, Lucy suggests he find Christmas spirit by getting involved in the Christmas play.

The Polar Express

Billy is a boy who longs to believe in Santa Claus, the elves and the North Pole. However, his family all tell him that all of that is just a myth. But then, on Christmas Eve, the Polar Express arrives at his home – a train that takes children to the North Pole to meet Santa Claus himself in person. The train’s conductor (Tom Hanks), along with the other children, help turn Billy’s crisis of faith into a journey of self-discovery and new hope.

The Muppet Christmas Carol

Regarded as one of the best versions of this Charles Dickens book, the Muppet Christmas Carol is a wonderful spin on a familiar story. With Michael Caine in the role of Scrooge, and all of your favorite muppets filling out the rest of the cast, you are sure to enjoy every minute of this modernized classic.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
This movie was based on the song by the same name and features Burl Ives as the narrator. Along with Rudolph are many other well-known characters including Herbie the elf (who wants to be a dentist), Cornelius the prospector and the Abominable Snowbeast.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966)

Based on the book by Dr. Seuss, the animated version of this story was narrated by Boris Karloff and the theme song was sung by Thurl Ravenscroft. It is a wonderful story of an unhappy character, the Grinch, who attempts to steal Christmas from “Who’s down in Whoville”, but ends up learning the true meaning of Christmas.

A couple others

  • The Nightmare before Christmas
  • Frosty the Snowman


White Christmas

White Christmas

White Christmas is based in the post World War II heyday of big stage/screen musicals. Big-time producers Bob Wallace and Phil Davis plan to spend a week in the winter playground of Vermont. Unbeknownst to them, they end up arriving at the inn where their former general is the down-on-his-luck landlord. Together with their friends, the sister-act of Betty and Judy, they concoct a plan to help their commanding officer by relocating their stage show to the inn in order to draw in the crowds to fill the inn. This classic musical features a number of Irving Berlin songs and the star-studded cast of Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Vera-Ellen and Rosemary Clooney.

It’s a Wonderful Life

Its a Wonderful Life

One of the most famous and beloved of all Christmas movies, this is director Frank Capra’s classic about George Bailey (James Stewart), a man who has given so much he seems to never end up with anything for himself. George endures crisis after crisis on behalf of his fellow Bedford Falls citizens to protect them from the wiles of Potter. Convince he is a failure in life, George considers suicide. To prevent him taking a drastic step heaven sends Clarence the angel to show him the truth about his “Wonderful Life”.

The Bishop’s Wife

Carey Grant plays an angel named Dudley who is sent to help Bishop Henry Brougham (David Niven) reevaluate his priorities. Dudley seems to have a positive effect on everyone he meets, except the bishop that is. The longer Dudley stays around the angrier Henry becomes until everything comes to a head.

Holiday Inn

Not exclusively an Christmas movie, Holiday Inn is a precursor to White Christmas and stars Bing Crosby, along with Fred Astaire. Jim Hardy (Crosby) decides to retire from the hectic hustle-and-bustle of big city show biz. He buys an inn and decides to turn it into a “holiday inn” – an inn that is only open to the public on holidays throughout the year. It is appropriately considered a Christmas movie, however, as the story begins and ends on Christmas Eve, and Irving Berlin’s famous song “White Christmas” debuted in the movie.

Modern Classics

A Christmas Story

A Christmas Story

A Christmas Story is one of the most well-known and beloved of Christmas movies. Set in 1940s Indiana, we follow the story of young Ralphie Parker who wants just one thing for Christmas – a Red Ryder BB Gun. But he faces an uphill battle as his mother, his teacher, and even Santa Claus himself all tell him he will “shoot his eye out”.

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo pair up once again for another movie in the National Lampoons Vacation series, this time at their home where they intend to host the big family Christmas celebration for the first time. Chase as Clark W. Griswold trips, falls, crashes, smashes, stubs his way through the season and endures a dysfunctional family celebration that includes brother-in-law Eddie (Randy Quaid). Warning: If you have only seen the television version of this movie you may be surprised to learn that there is quite a bit of swearing in the original version. If you plan to watch it with your younger kids you may want to wait until it airs on tv.


Buddy the Elf (Will Ferrell) is not actually an elf. But he was raised by elves, and thought he was an elf until recently. In actuality he was a baby in an orphanage who managed to hide in Santa’s bag on Christmas Eve and ended up in the North Pole where he was adopted by a childless elf. When, in adulthood, he learns the truth of his past he sets out on a journey to find his real father – a hardened businessman who is on the naughty list!

How the Grinch Stole Christmas

A modernized and live-action version of the Dr. Seuss classic was made in 2000 starring Jim Carrey as the title character. Taylor Momsen steals many of her scenes as Cindy Lou Who.

 Christmas with the Kranks

Luther and Nora Krank (played by Tim Allen and Jamie Lee Curtis) decide to “skip Christmas” when their daughter graduates from college and goes to Peru with the Peace Corps. However, they find that persuading their neighbors to accept their decision is a lot harder than expected. Based on the John Grisham novel Skipping Christmas, the movie version did not get the greatest critical reviews, but is more popular among ordinary viewers.

Movies about Santa

Miracle on 34th Street (1947)

Miracle on 34th Street
This miracle of a movie qualifies as a classic, but is in this category since it features Santa Claus as the main character. The story begins with the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, where a stand-in is found to replace a drunk Santa who is supposed to be featured in the parade. The bearded old gentleman is so well liked in the role that the store hires him to be their Santa throughout the holiday season. He creates quite a stir, both in the store and in the parade director, Maureen O’Hara’s home, when he declares himself to be Kris Kringle, the real Santa Claus.


The Santa Clause

Tim Allen dons the “red suit” and becomes Santa Claus in this clever and charming take on the Santa story. Filled with heart-warming humor and holiday cheer this movie has a high degree of “rewatchability”. The movie was so successful that it produced two sequels (so far!)

Santa Claus is coming to Town

An animated stop-motion classic that tells the story of the origin of Santa Claus, from baby to adulthood, this movie is sure to delight all ages. A new-born baby is lost while being taken to an orphanage and winds up on the doorstep of a family of elf toy-makers with the surname Kringle. He is raised by the elves and taught how to make toys and spread love and cheer. He faces many obstacles on his journey to becoming Santa Claus, but with the help of his friends the reformed Winter Warlock and Miss Jessica he begins dropping down chimneys, putting presents in stockings and eventually flees to the North Pole. Santa/Kris is voiced marvelously by Mickey Rooney and the movie is narrated by Fred Astaire.

The Year without a Santa Claus

Mickey Rooney once again plays Santa Claus, this time in his older age when he is sick, tired and frustrated by the lack of belief in him. He decides to take a year off, but Mrs. Claus hatches a plot convince Santa that he is not so forgotten as he was led to believe.

Christian Movies

The Nativity Story

The story of the nativity is told in dramatic fashion in this 2006 movie. Follow the arduous journey of Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem to give birth to baby Jesus. The three wise men provide some humor along the way.

Nester the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey

This is an animated story about a young donkey that faces hardship and loss, but chosen to be the donkey who bears Mary on her journey to Bethlehem to give birth to the baby Jesus. Young children will need some tissues to get through this one as it is a tear-jerker.

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

You might not have thought of this as a Christmas story. Indeed the plot rather follows the Easter story. Never the less the tale begins in a land that is cursed by never ending winter, and the sign that the curse is broken is that Father Christmas is allowed to “break through” and deliver presents.

A Christmas Carol (1951)

The 1951 version of a Christmas Carol is regarded by many as the best one. Although the “Christmas story” is not told the movie takes place over Christmas and bears many Christian themes, foremost being the redemption of Ebeneezer Scrooge.

The Star of Christmas

This is a Veggie Tales story about two competing Christmas pageants taking place on the same night in London.

Non-Christmas Christmas Movies

None of these movies have much to do with Christmas. However, they all take place during Christmas, and they are a lot of fun to boot! Warning: These may not all be appropriate for children.

Trading Places
  • Lethal Weapon
    • A buddy flick, with two cops (Mel Gibson and Danny Glover) working together to solve crimes
  • Home Alone
    • A boy is left home alone during the Christmas season and has to defend himself and the house form burglars
  • Die Hard
    Die Hard
    • John McClain (Bruce Willis) is in the wrong place at the wrong time. He plays a cop who gets caught up in a terrorist plot to hold a skyscraper hostage.
  • Trading Places
    • A stock broker and a street urchin are forced to trade places in this movie starring Dan Akroyd and Eddie Murphy
  • The Family Man
    • An "It's a Wonderful Life"-like plot, Nicholas Cage plays Jack Campbell, a man who gave up love many years ago for a high-paying job with a brokerage firm. He is given the chance to see what his life would've been like had he stayed with the girl instead.
  • Batman Returns
    • Batman (Michael Keaton) does battle against the Penguin (Danny Devito), Catwoman (Michelle Pfeiffer) and evil businessman Max Schreck (Christopher Walken).

Phew, that's a lot of movies! If you have a favorite that didn't make the list please add it below in the comments!



Nov 14, 2011 10:05am
You have listed some really good Christmas movies; Miracle on 34th Street is one of my favorites. Also, a fun and very funny movie is Christmas with the Kranks, we watch this movie every year and we always laugh! Thanks for a good list.
Dec 18, 2011 4:07pm
You're welcome! Those are both two of my favorites, too!
Nov 14, 2011 12:45pm
Wow! What a list, from here I am going to my Netflix queue because you mentioned some movies I have never seen!
Dec 18, 2011 4:08pm
Awesome, glad to give you some new Christmas movies to watch!
Dec 13, 2011 1:48am
sad to say, i think i've seen all of these. it's a wonderful life, elf and a christmas story are the ones i try to watch every year. great list!
Dec 18, 2011 4:08pm
Nothing wrong with seeing them all! Great thing about Christmas movies, it is fun to rewatch them every year.
Dec 13, 2011 4:32am
Great list! A Christmas Story is my favorite. I like that you included movies that have Christmas as a setting but aren't about Christmas.
Dec 18, 2011 4:10pm
Thanks! What's a movie list without Die Hard?
Dec 13, 2011 6:39am
Great list in multiple areas. I love the 24 hours of a Christmas Story.
Dec 18, 2011 4:10pm
Yeah, lots of great movies out there.
Dec 13, 2011 8:53am
My kids start constantly watching The Muppets' Christmas Carol at this time of year. Me, I want to track down a copy of "Scrooged!" with Bill Murray...
Dec 18, 2011 4:11pm
yeah, Scrooged is a popular one with many people. I haven't seen it on Netflix, but maybe it is at the library?
Dec 18, 2011 6:30pm
It's not streamable from Netflix but if you have the DVD-in-the-mail service it's available from there - I know because I added it to my queue after reading this article!
Dec 18, 2011 6:30pm
It's not streamable from Netflix but if you have the DVD-in-the-mail service it's available from there - I know because I added it to my queue after reading this article!
Dec 13, 2011 9:06am
Elf is my favorite!
Dec 18, 2011 4:11pm
That one has a high rewatchability factor!
Dec 13, 2011 9:06am
Elf is my favorite!
Dec 13, 2011 11:48am
Nice variety in your list. I especially like to catch Rudolph every year. I laughed when I saw Trading Places as the phrase "Merry New Year!" popped into my head.
Dec 18, 2011 4:13pm
I'd forgotten that line! I haven't seen it in a while, but such a great movie. I think Rudolph is one of my favorites of the kids movies.
Dec 14, 2011 5:04pm
I love Miracle on 34th Street.
Dec 18, 2011 4:13pm
The original or the new one? I love the original, especially in B/W!
Dec 18, 2011 4:13pm
The original or the new one? I love the original, especially in B/W!
Dec 17, 2011 3:10am
Any list that includes Die Hard automatically rocks. Nice job on this one!
Dec 18, 2011 4:13pm
Thanks! And I totally agree!
Dec 19, 2011 1:41pm
What is it about the Muppet Christmas Carol that makes me enjoy it now as much as I did when I was 12???
Dec 21, 2011 12:20am
Scrooged!!... For that last category.
Dec 21, 2011 2:43pm
Great list of Christmas Movies. A Christmas Story is one of my personal favorites... no christmas is complete without a 24hour marathon of it on television.
Dec 21, 2011 5:34pm
Nothing beats It's a Wonderful Life - although I agree with CortCaldwell - Scrooged is a great film too
Add a new comment - No HTML
You must be logged in and verified to post a comment. Please log in or sign up to comment.

Explore InfoBarrel

Auto Business & Money Entertainment Environment Health History Home & Garden InfoBarrel University Lifestyle Sports Technology Travel & Places
© Copyright 2008 - 2016 by Hinzie Media Inc. Terms of Service Privacy Policy XML Sitemap

Follow IB Entertainment