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Best Christmas Movies to Watch This Holiday Season

One of my favorite holiday traditions is turning on some of the best Christmas movies with my wife. We’ll make dinner, pour ourselves a drink, turn on the fire, and sit on the couch. 

Our holiday viewing ranges from beloved favorites to new classics and anything in between. We enjoy celebrating our love of the season together. If you want to join in on the fun, we’ve compiled a list of the best movies to watch this Christmas season. Our list will try to touch on different categories, from timeless classics to other movies that aren’t necessarily “traditional” Christmas films. 

Timeless Classic Christmas Movies

It’s A Wonderful Life

It's A Wonderful Life
Photo Credit: RKO Radio Pictures

“Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives. And when he isn’t around, he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?”

It’s A Wonderful Life isn’t just a fantastic Christmas movie but also one of the film industry’s greatest accomplishments. 

Starring James Stewart, the movie tells the tale of George Bailey, a man contemplating suicide. With the help of the angel Clarence, Bailey soon realizes that he does indeed live a wonderful life. 

A Christmas Story

A Christmas Story best christmas movies
Photo Credit: MGM/UA Entertainment Co.

Even if you’ve somehow never seen A Christmas Story, there’s a good chance you’ve caught bits and pieces of it. TBS has aired the movie for 24 straight hours every year on Christmas Day. While my wife and I own the DVD, something about watching it on TV hits differently. 

A Christmas Story comes from the mind of Jean Shepard and features a collection of stories and anecdotes from his novel “In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash.” It stars Peter Billingsley as Ralph Parker, as Shepard narrates the story of the greatest Christmas a kid would ever know. 

The Muppet Christmas Carol

The Muppet Christmas Carol
Photo Credit: Disney

I have an incredibly soft spot for The Muppets in my heart. Their take on Charles Dickens’s “A Christmas Carol” was already going to make our list of the best Christmas movies. In all honesty, this may be the best version of the story ever made.

Starring Michael Caine as Ebeneezer Scrooge, the timeless tale features a perfect cast of Muppets playing iconic roles. Kermit the Frog is Bob Cratchit, Robin the Frog is Tiny Tim, and Statler is Jacob Marley. The Great Gonzo and Rizzo the Rat are the film’s narrators.

The touch of Muppet heart, charm, and musical numbers push this adaptation over the top. Its legacy and spirit make it a timeless classic despite releasing in 1990. 

Miracle on 34th Street 

Miracle on 34th Street 
Photo Credit: Disney

The 1994 remake starring Richard Attenborough, Dylan McDermott, and Mara Wilson is an enjoyable movie. Having said that, it has nothing on the original 1947 classic. Macy’s agreed with this take, as they didn’t allow their likeness to be used in the remake.

Miracle on 34th Street is about Kris Kringle assuming the role of Santa Claus. He’s unhappy that the actor playing Santa in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade isn’t taking the job seriously enough. From there, he assumes the role and becomes the store’s Santa before management is concerned that he’s passing himself off as the real Santa. 

While Miracle on 34th Street has seen the spotlight move to other Christmas classics, it’s still worth a watch. It will make even the most stubborn doubters a believer in Santa Claus. 

White Christmas

White Christmas
Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures

Bing Crosby is dreaming of a white Christmas in this 1954 classic, just like the ones he used to know.

The movie’s story is about a group of singers putting on a Christmas show in rural Vermont. They run into General Waverly, the former commander of performers Bob Wallace (Bing Crosby) and Phil Davis (Danny Kaye), who informs them he’s run on hard times. 

From there, it’s about putting on a show to brighten the spirits of Waverly. White Christmas features all of the magic and charm of a 1950s-era musical. 

The Best Modern Christmas Movies

We shouldn’t discount these films because they saw a more recent release. Classic Christmas movies don’t have to release in the 40s and 50s; they could come out in the 2000s and even the 2020s! 

Let’s discuss some of the most recently released Christmas movies worth watching during the holiday season.


Elf Best Christmas movies
Photo Credit: HBO Max

Will Ferrel makes this movie work on an impressive level. The concept is charming: a human has been raised at the North Pole thinking he’s an elf. Upon learning the truth, he ventures to New York City to meet his father. 


From director Jon Favreau, Elf is more than a Christmas movie completely carried by its lead actor. It’s a heartwarming tale that combines a stellar cast and a modern tale that pays homage to the timeless classics of Christmas old. 

Love Actually

Love Actually
Photo Credit: Peacock

If you’ve never seen Love Actually, there’s a good chance you’ve watched its iconic scene or at least a parody. 

The ensemble cast features ten interconnecting storylines in the lead-up to the Christmas holiday. Each story combines the magic of the Christmas season with personal love stories. While every character doesn’t necessarily interact or have a direct connection with each other, we see their stories tie together during the film’s epilogue.

Love Actually is the type of Christmas movie that perfectly balances Christmas as a theme and backdrop. The holiday isn’t the star of the film, but it’s not ignored either, instead helping to set everyone’s plot forward into motion. 

Happiest Season

Happiest Season
Photo Credit: Hulu

The newest film on our list of best Christmas movies, Happiest Season, was released on Hulu in 2020. 

Like Love Actually, Happiest Season uses the Christmas season to kickstart its plot. A key difference here is how Happiest Season isn’t afraid to tackle more mature themes in its story. 

The main storyline focuses on how Harper deals with coming out to her parents and hiding that she’s in a relationship with her girlfriend, Abby. Beyond that, supporting narratives include Abby coming to terms with getting back into the holiday spirit.

The Holiday

The Holiday
Photo Credit: Hulu

If you haven’t noticed, there’s a clear theme with these modern Christmas movies: they use the holiday as a setting and a catalyst for the plot. That’s the case once again with 2006’s The Holiday. The film stars Kate Winslet, Cameron Diaz, Jack Black, and Jude Law. 

Similarly to Love Actually, the two main story arcs are connected; Iris Simpkins (Winslet) and Amanda Woods (Diaz) swap houses for two weeks during the holiday season. From there, they overcome recent personal turmoil to get back into the holiday spirit and find much more than they anticipated. 

The Night Before

The Night Before
Photo Credit: Sony Pictures Releasing

There’s nothing like the Christmas season to remind you what’s most important: family. Not the one you’re born into and bonded by blood, but the family you actively choose and keep.

No, it’s not Fast and the Furious; we’re talking about The Night Before, the 2015 comedy starring Seth Rogen, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Anthony Mackie. 

Rogen and Gordon-Levitt proved they have great chemistry in a comedy-drama after 2011’s 50/50. Mackie is a natural inclusion alongside the duo. The movie focuses on coming to terms with the fact that no matter where you end up, you must remember what’s most important. 

Christmas Comedies To Make Your Spirits Bright

While the best Christmas movies highlight the magic of the holiday season, sometimes they can be a little too corny and cheesy. If you’re in the mood for a Christmas movie that takes things in a different direction, these comedies will be right up your alley. 

Bad Santa

Bad Santa
Photo Credit: Hulu

One of the raunchiest Christmas films of all time is also one of the funniest.

Billy Bob Thorton, Bernie Mac, and John Ritter star in Bad Santa, a movie about a, well, bad Santa Claus. Thornton’s character is a small-time crook who uses his job as a mall Santa as a front to steal cash on Christmas Eve. He’s also guilty of every vice you could possibly think of.

Thornton’s performance couples well with Mac and Ritter. The entire cast plays off of each other perfectly. Few movies have made me laugh as hard in the theater as Bad Santa did. Tell the kids it’s time for bed and treat yourself to one of the funniest holiday movies ever. 

Jingle All The Way

Jingle All The Way best christmas movies
Photo Credit: Hulu

It’s fun to dunk on this 1996 holiday flick starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sinbad, and Jake Lloyd. In reality, it’s a pretty darn funny Christmas movie that is also a surprisingly deep take on how commercialized the holiday has become.

The movie’s plot focuses on Howard Langston (Schwarzenegger) spending Christmas Eve attempting to find the hottest Christmas gift of the year: a Turbo Man action figure. 

Rita Wilson and Phil Hartman also co-star in this Christmas comedy that will have you dropping its quotable lines and jokes in no time. 

The Santa Clause

the santa clause
Photo Credit: Disney

In what may be Tim Allen’s most iconic role, The Santa Clause is a peak 1990s holiday comedy.

Allen stars as Scott Calvin, a divorced father, and corporate toy maker, as he accidentally kills Santa Claus after discovering him on the roof. Upon entering the sleigh and wearing the suit, he assumes the role of Santa for himself by triggering the Santa Clause contract.

The Santa Clause overcomes the odds. On the surface, it feels like a generic 90s holiday comedy. Thanks to the performance of its cast, it develops into a charming and hilarious movie to watch during the holiday season.

Home Alone

Home Alone
Photo Credit: Disney

One of the best Christmas movies of all time is also one of the most successful movies ever made.

Home Alone was written by John Hughes and directed by Christopher Columbus. It stars Macaulay Culkin as 8-year-old Kevin McAllister, who is left at home by his family as they travel to Paris. Cat burglars Harry (Joe Pesci) and Marve (Daniel Stern) attempt to rob the McAllister house on Christmas Eve, but Kevin has other ideas.

Between the stellar cast, fantastic writing and directing, and an all-time score by John Williams, Home Alone is an easy Christmas classic you can watch every year with your family. 

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation
Photo Credit: Disney

Where Home Alone is more on the family spectrum from John Hughes, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation is a Christmas movie for the older crowd. 

Chevy Chase continues to own the role of Clark Griswald, and the result is another beloved holiday classic. For some, this is the best movie in the National Lampoon franchise, thanks partly to the epic rant from Clark on Christmas Eve. 

The supporting cast may be the best in the series too. Beverly D’Angelo, Randy Quaid, Johnny Galecki, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus all give stellar performances.

Animated Christmas Specials You’ll Turn the TV On For

Some of the best Christmas movies you’ll watch are animated made-for-TV specials. Some of my fondest Christmas memories as a child were sitting in my parent’s bedroom and watching these as they aired. Even as an adult, these animated specials hold a special place in my heart; I proposed to my wife at the Charlie Brown Christmas tree at our local theme park.

It would be criminal to leave them off our list, so let’s list five of our favorites. 

A Charlie Brown Christmas

A Charlie Brown Christmas
Photo Credit: United Feature Syndicate

1965’s Charlie Brown Christmas special features one of the most iconic soundtracks for the holiday season. Its success helped pave the way for countless more Charlie Brown specials. 

It combines the heart and charm of a classic Peanuts tale with a heartwarming Christmas message. 

How the Grinch Stole Christmas

How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Photo Credit: Peacock

The original animated adaptation of the Dr. Seuss story is easily the best.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas combines everything that makes a fantastic old-school Christmas movie: a timeless story, great narration, memorable songs, and a heartwarming message. While other adaptations have been released, including a live-action movie starring Jim Carrey, nothing can beat the original. 

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
Photo Credit: CBS

He’s the most famous reindeer of all. He helped save one foggy Christmas Eve. And he stars in one of the best Christmas movies ever. It’s Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. 


The Rankin/Bass animated classic is a Christmas staple. It tells the story of Rudolph and how his red nose helped Santa find his way to deliver toys for Christmas day. The music of Burl Ives helps to deliver an unforgettable story. 

Frosty the Snowman

Frosty the Snowman
Photo Credit: CBS

While it doesn’t have the same animation style as Rudolph, this is still another Rankin/Bass hit. Frosty the Snowman is an animated classic with a timeless theme song to boot. 

Frosty is a light-hearted, old-school animated Christmas feature that, at times, stretches the source material thin. Still, it delivers what it aims to accomplish and is worthy of a watch with the kids. 

Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town

Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town
Photo Credit: Amazon

A common theme with these Rankin/Bass animated specials is that they’re all based on iconic Christmas songs. 

Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town features the same visual style as Rudolph and is better for it. While it lacks the memorable voice of Burl Ives, it still features an excellent soundtrack and fantastic songs. 

Wait, These Are Christmas Movies?

While these five films aren’t solely based around the Christmas holiday, they take place during the season. That’s good enough for us because they’re all great movies worth watching. 

Let’s go over five of the best Christmas movies that are a little “untraditional.”

Trading Places

Trading Places best christmas movies
Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures

Our first non-traditional Christmas movie is an 80s comedy classic starring Eddie Murphy, Dan Aykroyd, and Jamie Lee Curtis. 

It’s a clever take on Prince and the Pauper, with the twist being Murphy and Akroyd’s characters trading places unwillingly. 

The Christmas theme comes in during a climactic scene that sees a down on his luck Akyrod stoop to new lows while dressed in a Santa costume. 

Die Hard

Die Hard
Photo Credit: Hulu

It’s not Christmas until Hans Gruber falls from Nakatomi Plaza. 

Die Hard takes place on Christmas Eve. That’s where any connections to the holiday end. Despite that, the 1988 action thriller is still a common Christmas movie for many. It’s one of the beef action movies of all time. 

If you’re looking to spend your Christmas eve with some high-octane action, Die Hard is ready for you. 

Lethal Weapon

Lethal Weapon
Photo Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

If we’re talking action-packed Christmas movies, we must include Lethal Weapon.

The buddy cop action movie stars Danny Glover and Mel Gibson as LA detectives Roger Murtaugh and Martin Riggs, respectively. Whereas Die Hard sets the standard for the modern action flick, Lethal Weapon does the same for buddy cop movies. You can even argue that Lethal Weapon walked so Die Hard could run.

One thing that helps Lethal Weapon stand apart from other 80s action movies is the balance between its serious moments and over-the-top sequences. It’s this balance that 


Gremlins christmas
Photo Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

There are three important rules to remember with your new mogwai:

  • Do not expose the mogwai to light, especially sunlight, which will kill it.
  • Do not let it come in contact with water.
  • Above all, never feed it after midnight.

Gremlins is a black comedy horror that doubles as one of the best Christmas movies, especially for those looking for something different. The titular gremlins begin their havoc and rampage on Christmas Eve. It has since become a cult classic to watch year-round, not just during the holidays. 

Batman Returns

Batman Returns
Photo Credit: HBO

1992’s Batman Return is a great movie in its own right. The second of two Tim Burton Batman movies introduces Michelle Pfeiffer’s Catwoman and Danny Devito’s Penguin alongside Michael Keaton’s Batman. 

Best of all, it takes place during the holiday season! What better way to get into the mood for dark and gothic Christmas than with what is now legally obligated to be one of the best Christmas movies? You’ll also want to make sure you watch the original Batman to prepare for the sequel. 

Wrapping Up

That does it for our list of the best Christmas movies you can watch this holiday season!

Plenty of other wonderful Christmas films and specials didn’t quite make the cut. Hopefully, there are no hard feelings. What were your favorite Christmas movies? Did any make our list of the best holiday movies to watch? Let us know in the comments below!


Written by Jake Valentine

I am the Editor-In-Chief of BossLevelGamer. I'm also a lover of video games, food, and beer.

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