Screen Rant’s Favorite Christmas Movies

Published 1 year ago by This is a list post.

favorite christmas movies

It's Christmas time once again and many, many films and TV shows have been created to commemorate the holiday, so we thought we'd share some of our favorites with you. Yes, we posted this last year, but we're republishing this for new readers who weren't around then. :)Some of these are traditional and others are modern takes (or completely different twists) on the season. It's difficult to narrow favorites down to one (or two, or three) film(s) that really speak to each of us this time of year - but we've managed to whittle things down to keep this fairly brief for you.So read on to see what each of us here on the Screen Rant team consider the films that define the holiday season. :)

Vic Holtreman: (Owner, Screen Rant)

Miracle on 34th Street"I'd have to say that in a showdown between the original Miracle on 34th St. and It's a Wonderful Life, the latter takes the crown for me. It's the one movie that I think embodies the spirit of Christmas better than any other. While "Miracle" is a wonderful story as well, "Life" keeps me riveted no matter how many times I've seen it and I *always* choke up at the end. Every time. I think a runner-up might be A Christmas Story because it really takes me back to my childhood in many ways. If I were to pick a modern day favorite, I'd have to say it's Jon Favreau's Elf."

Kofi Outlaw: (Editor-in-Chief)

The Grinch Who Stole ChristmasThe Grinch Who Stole Christmas. (1966)"The Christmas movie that takes me back to childhood. I always identified with the Grinch - except for the ending. Never forgave old Grinchy for going soft on me like that."Runner Up: A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)Honorable Mention: Rudolph The Red Nose Reindeer" (1964 - stop-motion animated version)

Rob Keyes: (Editor, Public Relations)

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Raindeer"By far my most favorite Christmas movie is Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer from 1964.""The stop motion animated TV special about the story of Rudolph and his... birth defect is something I watched every year as a child and something that I never got bored of.""It was charming, funny, emotional and the abominable snowman really did freak me out."

Ben Kendrick: (Managing Editor)

The Nightmare Before Christmas"While it might not not represent the most traditional Christmas movie experience, I'm still a huge fan of Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas - and watch it every year during the the holidays. Other film-fans might love seeing New York decked-out in holiday cheer or hand-drawn animated Christmas adventures but I'll never forget the memorable character designs and intriguing "be yourself" message of Jack Skellington.""That said, anyone who has never seen The Star Wars Holiday Special is also missing out - as Chewbacca's son, Lumpy, simultaneously epitomized and destroyed my childhood dreams."

Anthony Ocasio: (TV Editor)

The Muppets ChristmasThe Muppets Christmas CarolRunner Up: Santa's SlayThe Year Without A Santa ClausWhile You Were Sleeping"Since the age of 8, my philosophy has been that anything could be made better with the addition of Muppets. Since I doubt there's ever going to be a Muppets Ghostbusters, this faithful retelling of Charles Dickens' classic A Christmas Carol will have to do. Not only does this wonderful film affirm my childhood notions, but the songs are so good that they remain on my MP3 player all year 'round (just don't tell anyone -- I've got a manly persona to protect)."

Sandy Schaefer: (Day News Editor)

A Charlie Brown Christmas"There are so many Christmas movies that I love (It's A Wonderful LifeThe Nightmare Before ChristmasThe Muppet Christmas Carol, to name a few) that picking my favorite one is pretty difficult. However, there are two short Yuletide cartoons that I always remember to watch each holiday season.""One is The Snowman, the 1982 adaptation of Raymond Brigg's picture book. It's virtually wordless (save for the live-action prologue and the song 'Walking in the Air'), features beautiful hand-drawn animation, a fun story - and, frankly, if you don't get a little choked up while watching the end, then you may secretly be a rock.""The other short is A Charlie Brown Christmas. I just love the cartoony style, simple morals, and the "adult humor" (here, that's actually a good thing). Plus, Vince Guaraldi's jazz score is awesome."

Ben Moore: (Editor)

Mickey's Christmas Carol"Not a single Christmas goes by that I don't watch National Lampoon's Christmas VacationDie HardScroogedLove ActuallyThe Grinch Who Stole Christmas (1966), The Snowman, and so forth. But more than any of those films, Mickey's Christmas Carol -- starring Scrooge McDuck as the infamous Ebenezer Scrooge -- fills me with the sort of whimsy and warmth that I enjoyed as a child on Christmas Eve."

Andrew Dyce: (Writer)

Chevy Chase Christmas Vacation
"Without question, the one movie I will not only force relatives or friends to watch come Christmas, but end up quoting throughout the entire season is National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. More than any other, it has come to include just about every feeling the holiday season brings: nostalgia, warmth, stress, joy, and the horrors of distant relatives."
"As the years go by, I find I can relate to Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) more and more, meaning the film always has something new to offer. But it never fails to remind me that even the most disastrous holidays can be saved by friends and family."

Hannah Shaw-Williams: (Writer)

Olivia Hussey in Black Christmas "What says "Christmas" more effectively than perverted phone calls and brutal murder? While probably not the kind of movie that you should settle in to watch with grandma, Black Christmas is one of the first great slasher movies and laid the groundwork for better-known horror franchises like Halloween.""I watch Black Christmas every year when the holidays roll around, regardless of whether or not I can convince anyone to watch it with me. It might not be the most cheerful of Christmas movies, but even the jolliest of days deserves a few good scares."

Robert Yaniz Jr: (Writer)

Will Ferrell in Elf"There are a number of childhood favorites – from animated classics like How the Grinch Stole Christmas to Bill Murray’s Scrooged – that I could list here. However, I’ll go with Jon Favreau’s 2003 comedy Elf, as it’s one of the only recent films to truly become a holiday tradition.""Anchored by Will Ferrell’s earnest performance, Elf manages to perfectly balance the style and optimism of the old-school Rankin/Bass productions (like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer) with a more modern sensibility. Even better, it’s infinitely re-watchable, insanely quotable (“You sit on a throne of lies.”) and possesses that rare ability to evoke the inner child from even the most cynical soul."

Paul Young: (Writer)

Laurel & Hardy in 'Babes in Toyland'"I'm going to reach way back to the the Golden Age of Films with my choice - the 1934 version of Babes in Toyland starring Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy. Disney released a successful remake in 1961 starring Annette Funicello and Tommy Sands and while I thoroughly enjoy that version nothing can hold a candle to the wonderful film director Hal Roach gave the world. The movie is often forgotten because of the 1961 version but to me it is one great Christmas movie.""The movie isn't chock full of lots of Christmas references but it is still a film I enjoy watching each Christmas season. Hopefully when my children get old enough to appreciate classic black and white films Phineas and Ferb reign supreme right now - I can get them to watch this Babes in Toyland with me."

Kyle Hembree: (Writer)

During the late '80s, my parents made great use of their newly acquired VCR to create "mix-tapes" of cartoon episodes, clandestinely copied movies, and event television. My favorite of these VHS treasure troves was composed only of Christmas specials – the crown jewel of which was the utterly demented Rankin-Bass production The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus.  The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus traces the career of the jolly elf as he's raised by fairies, taught by an immortal named The Great Ak, and (despite his good intentions) causes a battle between light and darkness. For a televised Christmas special, it's pretty heavy stuff.  All I knew at the time was that combining the legend of Santa Claus with monsters, magic, and high fantasy was awesome. I watched that movie so many times as a kid that it more or less wore out the tape it was recorded on. For that alone, this weird, half-forgotten artifact maintains a special place during the holiday season."During the late '80s, my parents made great use of their newly acquired VCR to create "mix-tapes" of cartoon episodes, clandestinely copied movies, and event television. My favorite of these VHS treasure troves was composed only of Christmas specials – the crown jewel of which was the utterly demented Rankin-Bass production The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus.""The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus traces the career of the jolly elf as he's raised by fairies, taught by an immortal named The Great Ak, and (despite his good intentions) causes a battle between light and darkness. For a televised Christmas special, it's pretty heavy stuff. All I knew at the time was that combining the legend of Santa Claus with monsters, magic, and high fantasy was awesome. I watched that movie so many times as a kid that it more or less wore out the tape it was recorded on. For that alone, this weird, half-forgotten artifact maintains a special place during the holiday season."

Anthony Taormina: (Writer)

Jingle All the WayMy favorite Christmas movie as a kid was Jingle All the Way. Yes, I know, it's extremely silly, but there was something about the quest to obtain the most popular toy on Christmas Eve that I really loved. Maybe that's because I know my parents did such a thing on occasion, or maybe it's because I was so entranced by the thought of getting my own Turbo Man figure. Whatever the case, Jingle All the Way is a movie I can't help but watch anytime it's on during the holidays.As far as my favorite adult Christmas movie that would have to be Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. It's not a particularly Christmas-y movie, but it's set around the holidays just like all of Shane Black's films. It's also hilarious.

Kevin Yeoman: (Writer)

Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine in Billy Wilder's The Apartment 1960"Like Die Hard, this one technically isn't a Christmas movie, but the narrative of Billy Wilder's 1960 classic, The Apartment, winds its way through the Christmas holiday and on into New Year's Eve with an equal measure of sardonic wit and clever melancholy, effectively rendering those watching grateful for everything they have. No mere romantic comedy, the film eschews sentimentality for a depiction of how, after the holiday parties and workplace gatherings are over, some are left with no particular place to go. In the case of Jack Lemmon's upwardly mobile office drone, C.C. Baxter, he spends Christmas Eve in a seedy bar, only to find Shirley MacLaine's lovely, but despondent, Miss Kubelik attempting the unthinkable, when he finally returns to his 'empty' apartment.""Yes, there's a mordant streak running through this critique of corporate culture and the lonely plight of the wage earner – which still feels incredibly relevant – but The Apartment adroitly balances that with a brilliant tenderness that's made all the more poignant by the film's holiday setting, and Miss Kubelik's strangely affectionate last line, telling Baxter to 'shut up and deal.'"

Andrew Crump: (Writer)

Gremlins Christmas Carolling"Joe Dante's boisterous little horror-comedy romp, Gremlins, might be better qualified as an anti-Christmas movie. For just shy of two hours, this film takes all the wind out of the holiday's sails, shredding seasonal traditions and symbols - from caroling to Santa Claus - with the glee usually reserved for unwrapping one's presents.""But Gremlins captures the Yuletide spirit in its own ways; after all, the whole thing starts off with the giving of a gift, and what kid wouldn't want an awesome Mogwai for a pet? (Though as Billy Peltzer's ordeal proves, it isn't always the thought that counts.) Ho, ho, Gizmo!"

Jason Tabrys: (Writer)

Bill Murray in Scrooged"The holiday season means that my Die Hard DVD will get a spin and I'll stumble upon White Christmas and find myself glamoured by Danny Kaye's song and dance skills at some point, but nothing tops Bill Murray at Christmas.""Truth is, Scrooged and the caustic Frank Cross suit my slightly bah-humbug-y spirit, but every year without fail, I always have more holiday cheer after watching Murray go through Charles Dickens’ guilt gauntlet.""Does this tradition keep my three ghosts at bay? I hope so."

Rob Frappier: (Writer)

It's a Wonderful Life1) It's a Wonderful Life 2) Die Hard 3) A Christmas Story"For me, the awesomeness of Die Hard and the hilariousness of A Christmas Story just can't match up with the sheer joy I get from watching It's a Wonderful Life. Does any movie deliver such a rich and emotionally satisfying ending? We can all empathize with George Bailey. He's basically a good and decent man, but life has a way of wearing on you. Between his responsibilities to the savings and loan, his family, and the town, no one can blame him for losing hope and falling into depression. By the time Clarence the angel swoops in to save George from suicide (and 'earn his wings'), we're right there on the bridge with him. When George finally sees what the world would be like without him, he (and we) learn just how one man really can make a difference in the world. It's a truly inspirational film and one of my favorite Christmas traditions."

What are your favorites?

favorite christmas moviesSo there's our list of timeless Christmas favorites - Which are your favorites that you find yourself watching year after year?Oh, and... Merry Christmas!


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  1. Glad to see Scrooged got some love.
    One of my faves is Satoshi Kon’s animated heartwarmer Tokyo Godfathers.

  2. Dammit Rob, I’ve actually never watched It’s a Wonderful Life. I think I might have read a little too much, I did stop reading after the whole angel sentence though… guess I gotta turn on the TV one of these nights and watch it, lol.

  3. You guys just made me all warm and fuzzy inside. Where’s my girlfriend at so I shower her with love! Love this site since I found it! But what about “the REF”?

  4. Ah christmas movies. How lovely. This an old poster i made of a Christmas movie i wish someone would make. Sorry about the dodgy photoshop work in advance, made this nearly two years ago. Thought this would be the place to share it.

    Again sorry about the crappy photoshopping but in christmas spirit, it’s the thought that counts.

  5. @Ken J

    Sorry bud. It’s a Wonderful Life is such a classic, it never occurred to me to write SPOILER ALERT. :-) Honestly, I just watched it for the first time myself two years ago and, even though I knew the plot, I was still very moved by the film. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it too.

    • I watch Its A Wonderful Life every year and my bought it for me and I told her I would never watch the dvd. It would take away the meaning to me!

  6. @ Paul

    Jingle All The Way is amazing! I’ve watched that movie so much in my childhood! Lol

    But, as for me. It’s A Wonderful Life takes the gold! James Stewart is my all-time favorite actor ever!

    Honorable Mentions:
    Home Alone, Scrooged, Jingle All The Way, I’ll add Die Hard cause if I were John McClane I would hate Christmas forever lol.

  7. Die Hard, Batman Returns, Lethal Weapon: Not holiday movies per se, but favorites nonetheless.

  8. My family’s Christmas movie for the past several years has been Bad Santa.

  9. 1. Die Hard (my favorite movie ever)
    2. Jingle All The Way
    3. Home Alone
    4. Bad Santa

  10. I have a few favorites. Of course I love all of the classics like The Grinch and Rudolph and Frosty, but other than that…
    (in no particular order)

    1. Elf
    2. Jingle All The Way
    3. A Christmas Story

    Anyway.. Merry Christmas everyone!

  11. It’s A Wonderful Life.

    I watch it every Christmas Eve. Come to think of it. I better pack it before I forget it….

  12. nothing beats a christmas story for me.

  13. Scrooge (1951) with Alastair Sim ..his transformation at the end is one of the best performances ever IMO

    Scrooge (1938)with Reginald Owen as Ebeneezer Scrooge

    It’s a WOnderful Life with James Stewart..when he looks in his pockets and finds Zuzu’s petals..makes me shed a tear..

    Home Alone two oldest children ages 6 and 4 laugh so hard at that film that it’s impossible not to love it..especially the part where he is tossing the bricks off the roof…It’s like a live action Road Runner taking on two coyotes..

    Scrooged with Bill Murray..some of the lines he delivers and his callous nature…The ghost of CHristams Present..I love the way she slaps Frank around..sometimes the truth hurts Frank…If you touch me again I am going to rip your god****** wings off!! Love that line..and then she ends the encounter by flattening Frank with a toaster!!

    Rudolph’s Shiny New Year … Stop motion from Rankin-Bass

    Mickey’s CHristmas Carol…an all-time great version of the classic tale!!

    The Year Without A Santa Claus (1974).. Rankin-Bass those stop-motion CHristmas SPecials they produced..

    Frosty the Snowman..

    A CHristmas Story.. A genuine Red Rider Carbine action Air Rifle!!

    Scrooge (1970)with ALbert Finney..not usually fond of musicals but they put another great spin on the classic tale!!

    I have a few more I could add but these are some of my favorites!!

    Merry CHristmas !! :)

  14. I forgot CHRISTMAS VACATION!!! oops

    “Hey! If any of you are looking for any last-minute gift ideas for me, I have one. I’d like Frank Shirley, my boss, right here tonight. I want him brought from his happy holiday slumber over there on Melody Lane with all the other rich people and I want him brought right here, with a big ribbon on his head, and I want to look him straight in the eye and I want to tell him what a cheap, lying, no-good, rotten, four-flushing, low-life, snake-licking, dirt-eating, inbred, overstuffed, ignorant, blood-sucking, dog-kissing, brainless, d**kless, hopeless, heartless, fat-a$$, bug-eyed, stiff-legged, spotty-lipped, worm-headed sack of monkey sh!* he is! Hallelujah! Holy sh!*! Where’s the Tylenol?”

    Cousin Eddy explaining why he had to have the metal plate in his head replaced with a piece of plastic..

    ” Every time Catherine revved up the microwave, I’d pi$$ my pants and forget who I was for about half an hour or so. ”

    I LMAO everytime I hear that line!!

  15. Most of my favorites have already been listed, but I have to throw Nightmare Before Christmas and The Santa Clause (the Tim Allen one) in there. The latter one, especially, has been a favorite of mine since I was a kid.

  16. My top Xmas movies –

    5. The Grinch who stole Christmas (original)
    4. Elf
    3. Bad Santa
    2. Santa Claus the movie (1985)
    1. National Lampoons Christmas Vacation

  17. Other faves of mine for Christmas in no particular order:

    Die Hard (“It’s Christmas, Leo – a time of miracles”)
    A Christmas Carol (personally I’m fond of the George C. Scott version but will be recording the 1938 version early Friday morning)
    Charlie Brown Christmas
    Home Alone


  18. The original Miracle on 34th street AND its remake .
    I just LOVE that story and the remake had its heart in the right place.

  19. @GreenKnight

    THANK YOU for getting Christmas Vacation in there. Can’t believe it didn’t get mentioned sooner. Inside of all the craziness and anarchy is still a good family movies. So many great parts to it, and your last line there GreenKnight, just reading it made me laugh at my computer thinking of the scene.

    Little trivia for a few of our Big Bang fans, little Rusty Griswold is none other than Leonard Hofstadter (Johnny Galecki). Didn’t realize that until watching it this past weekend and saw the credits.

  20. Merry Christmas every one!

    I’d have to say Elf and Scrooged are my favorits, also here’s movie no one has mentioned “Gremlins”, its a Christmas classic in my books.


  21. Christmas Vacation is by FAR my favorite Christmas movie. It’s not the Christmas season until I see that movie! I also love “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

    1. Christmas Vacation
    2. A Christmas Story
    3. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
    4. It’s a Wonderful Life
    5. Elf

  22. Nice list everyone! For all your It’s A Wonderful Life fans, I wrote a song called George Bailey, all about the man and the movie. I sing and play bass, and we tried to recapture that classic Phil Spector Christmas sound. I’d love for you all to check it out – you can listen on my website or watch the youtube video below.

    Nice mention of Gremlins, definitely a holiday classic in my book… and I can help but have a soft spot for Die Hard.

    Happy holidays!
    Carolyn Sills

  23. I finally added mine in there; Rudolph and The Abominable Snowman for the win!

  24. @ Sin
    Hey, another person who likes Jingle All the Way! That is an underappreciated movie. So quotable.

    My faves are as follows..
    1. A Christmas Story
    Hilarious and so true to life. Not to mention an extremely well-made movie.

    2. Miracle on 34th St.
    Gotta love Maureen. Such a sweet movie.

    3. A Muppet Christmas Carol
    Michael Caine makes this one. The man should’ve won an Oscar. xD

  25. 1) Die Hard
    2) Lethal Weapon
    3) Die Hard 2: Die Harder

  26. My favorites (in random order)

    - Bad Santa
    - Die Hard
    - The Gremlins
    - The Muppets Christmas Carol
    - The Santa Clause
    - Home Alone

  27. The latest Doctor Who, Dvd tele/movie. “The Next Doctor” is a great Christmas episode. It takes place during Christmas.

    Also you know I’ve found myself watching “Superman Returns” today with some family and its real good on second viewing. I don’t get the hate on this???

  28. I love Scrooged and all the other movies mentioned. I only want to add ‘The Long Kiss Goodnight’ and ‘Merry Christmas Mr. Bean’ which is not a movie but a fantastic holiday episode which I watch every Christmas. I also love watching ‘A very Supernatural Christmas’.

    1. Scrooged
    2. The Long Kiss Goodnight
    3. Christmas vacation

  29. Christmas Vacation (1989)

    i can watch that every damn year and still laugh my ass of!