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The 56 Very Best Christmas Movies of All Time

These classic holiday films, from It's a Wonderful Life to Home Alone, will get you in the holiday spirit, stat.

christmas movies

Snuggling up with a mug of hot cocoa on the couch and watching a marathon of the best Christmas movies ever made is the perfect way to get into the holiday spirit, and it's never too early to start. Everyone knows that watching a heartwarming holiday flick as the snow falls outside is one of the merriest parts of the season (along with decorating the tree and baking grandma's famous Christmas cookie recipe, natch).

Whether you're in the mood for a tried-and-true family holiday classic or a romantic Hallmark Christmas movie that's as saccharine as a plate of freshly-baked sugar cookies, there are so many must-watch holiday films to choose from on our list, including Christmas movies for kids, so-bad-they're good holiday rom-coms, funny Christmas comedies and even Christmas horror movies. Our definitive list of the best Christmas movies of all time features flicks old and new, classic and modern, so there's truly something for everyone in the family to bond over. So whip up some Christmas cocktails and home-theater snacks (a.k.a. gingerbread cookies), hunker down and start your holiday movie marathon right now!

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56 Remember the Night (1940)
best christmas movies - remember the night
Amazon Prime

When Barbara Stanwyck's character gets arrested for shoplifting right before Christmas in this rom-com, it's up to the D.A. (played by Fred MacMurray) to help her get out of jail.

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55 A Christmas Prince (2017)
christmas prince

A Christmas Prince packs every rom-com cliche you can think of into 90 minutes — and that's exactly what makes it so delicious to watch. When a journalist is assigned to cover the handsome but mysterious prince of a small country named Aldovia, she gets more than she bargained for (of course!).

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54 Scrooge (1951)
best christmas movies   scrooge  a christmas carol 1951
Amazon Prime

There are too many film adaptations of Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol to count, but this 1951 version (originally called Scrooge when it was first released) is considered to be the best version, according to The New York Times film critic A.O. Scott.

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53 The Bishop's Wife (1947)
best christmas movies  the bishop's wife
Amazon Prime

Cary Grant plays an angel in this movie that inspired '90s remake The Preacher's Wife starring Denzel Washington and Whitney Houston.

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52 Ernest Saves Christmas (1988)
best christmas movies ernest saves christmas

Santa Claus is on the hunt for his successor — and kooky but lovable Earnest is here to help save the day.

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51 Love Actually (2003)
best christmas movies - love actually
Amazon Prime

This rom-com — which follows the love stories of almost a dozen couples throughout the holiday season — has quickly become part of the classic canon of Christmas movies, though it's not without its detractors (some critics have even called it the least romantic film of all time).

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50 A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas (2011)
a very harold  kumar 3d christmas
Amazon Prime

Looking for something to watch after the little ones go to bed? Press play on this bawdy holiday comedy, which is the third installment of the Harold & Kumar series.

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49 It Happened on 5th Avenue (1947)
best christmas movies - it happened on 5th avenue
Amazon Prime

Set in New York during the holidays, this classic black-and-white film is about a homeless man who squats in a 5th Avenue mansion while the owners are wintering somewhere warmer.

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48 Last Holiday (2014)
last holiday 2006 movie poster
Amazon Prime

In this heartwarming rom-com, Queen Latifah plays a small-town saleswoman who spends her life savings on a holiday trip to Europe after finding out she has a terminal illness ... except there's a twist! Celebrate the most wonderful time of the year and show a bit of gratitude during the season.

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47 Prancer (1989)
prancer 1989 movie poster
Amazon Prime

A magical fantasy drama that the whole family can enjoy, Prancer follows a little girl who finds a hurt reindeer in the woods, whom she believes to be none other than Santa's Prancer.

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46 Holiday Affair (1949)
best christmas movies   holiday affair
Amazon Prime

Set in a New York department store during the holiday season, this romantic comedy was a box office failure when it originally came out in the '40s. Since then, it's turned into a Christmas movie classic thanks to repeated airings on TCM over the years.

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45 Santa Claus: The Movie (1985)
santa claus the movie

A Santa Claus origin story, this film stars Dudley Moore as an enterprising elf and John Lithgow as a sinister toy manufacturer.

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44 The Night Before (2015)
best christmas movies - the night before
Amazon Prime

Once the kids go to bed, turn on this rated-R Christmas comedy about three best friends (Anthony Mackie, Seth Rogen and Joseph Gordon-Levitt) who are on the hunt for the ultimate holiday party — the "Nutcracker Ball."

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43 The Polar Express (2004)
best christmas movies - the polar express
Amazon Prime

The Polar Express features Tom Hanks in an animated adventure based on the children's book by Chris Van Allsburg. In the fantasy flick, a little boy takes a magical train ride to the North Pole and discovers the significance of the holiday along the way.

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42 Disney's A Christmas Carol (2009)
a christmas story
Disney

A must-watch for the entire family, Disney's animated take on the classic Charles Dickens tale offers a unique visual experience (and also stars the hilarious Jim Carrey as the curmudgeonly Scrooge).

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RELATED: 20+ Easy Christmas Traditions to Start With Your Family

41 Mixed Nuts (1994)
best christmas movies - mixed nuts
Amazon Prime

This 1994 Nora Ephron dramedy stars Steve Martin as the director of a crisis hotline on Christmas Eve.

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40 National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (1989)
best christmas movies - national lampoon's christmas vacation
Amazon Prime

Do you dread having your in-laws visit for the holidays? Watching this Chevy Chase movie will make anything your family does at Christmas seem totally normal by comparison.

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39 Office Christmas Party (2016)
best christmas movies - office christmas party
Amazon Prime

Jason Bateman and Jennifer Aniston star in this hilarious movie about a high-stakes (you guessed it) office Christmas party.

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38 A Christmas Carol (1938)
best christmas movies - a christmas carol
Amazon Prime

This classic Christmas movie is one of the earlier (and better) full-length film adaptations of the Charles Dickens classic.

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37 JIngle Jangle (2020)
Netflix

In this fantastical sci-fi holiday tale, an aging toymaker betrayed years earlier by his trusted apprentice finds renewed interest in his work when his granddaughter shows up on his doorstep.

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36 Black Christmas (1974)
best christmas movies black christmas

Hey, some people like their Christmas movies with a side of gore — we're not here to judge. If you're a fan of holiday horror movies, get into this slasher flick about a group of sorority sisters is stalked by a killer. (There's also a 2019 remake you can check out, too.)

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35 The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)
best christmas movies   the muppet christmas carol
Amazon Prime

If you want to introduce your kids to this classic Christmas tale, then give them a good starting point with a musical that pulls on the heartstrings featuring all of their favorite Muppets (think: Kermit and Gonzo) playing Charles Dickens's characters. Jim Henson fans will adore this magical holiday tale.

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34 Babes in Toyland (1961)
best christmas movies - babes in toyland (1961)
Amazon Prime

Disney reinterpreted the classic Christmas tale in Technicolor with this 1961 musical starring Annette Funicello.

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33 The Family Man (2000)
best christmas movies the family man

Nic Cage stars as a workaholic bachelor in New York City, who wakes up on Christmas Day to find himself in a New Jersey suburb — with a family and a completely different life.

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32 Tokyo Godfathers (2003)
best christmas movies - tokyo godfathers
Amazon Prime

In this hand-illustrated anime reinterpretation of the Nativity story, a homeless group in Tokyo stumbles across an abandoned baby on Christmas Eve. Tokyo Godfathers is a surprisingly funny tale of friendship, family and the universal desire to belong.

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31 Miracle on 34th Street (1994)
best christmas movies - miracle on 34th street
Amazon Prime

This '90s remake of the classic film, starring Richard Attenborough as Kris Kringle, is an excellent reimagining of the original.

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30 Joyeux Noel (2006)
best christmas movies - joyeux noel
Amazon Prime

You might not have heard of this French film about the Christmas truce during WWI, but it's worth watching. It was even nominated for the best foreign language Academy Award in 2006.

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29 Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)
best christmas movies - meet me in st louis
Amazon Prime

This movie takes place over the course of an entire year, so it's not entirely a holiday film. But we couldn't exclude the movie that gave us Judy Garland singing "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," could we?

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RELATED: 50+ Festive Christmas Songs to Get You in the Holiday Spirit

28 Jingle All the Way (1996)
best christmas movies - jingle all the way
Amazon Prime

Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sinbad as dads competing to get their sons the most popular Christmas toy of the year, this movie is as silly — and fun — as it sounds.

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27 The Shop Around the Corner (1940)
best christmas movies - the shop around the corner
Amazon Prime

The plot of this 1940 black-and-white Christmas film is pretty much the same as You've Got Mail — just swap emails for letters and Tom Hanks for Jimmy Stewart, and there you have it.

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RELATED: 40 Forgotten Christmas Movies You Should Watch Right Now

26 A Christmas Tale (2008)
best christmas movies - a christmas tale
Amazon Prime

Even if you haven't heard of this French film before, this family drama set during Christmas and starring Catherine Deneuve is worth adding to your must-watch list.

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25 The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
best christmas movies - the nightmare before christmas
Amazon Prime

Is it a Christmas movie? Is it a Halloween movie? Tim Burton blends both holidays together in a way that's both spooky and heartwarming at the same time. Be prepared to want to (oogie) boogie to the catchy songs in this '90s holiday favorite.

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RELATED: 30 Best Christmas Movies on Disney+ Because Nobody Does the Holidays Like Disney

24 Almost Christmas (2016)
almost christmas

Danny Glover is a retired widower who only wants one thing for Christmas: His grown children and their families to get along for the holidays. This performances from this talented ensemble cast will make you grateful for your folks this December.

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23 Christmas in Connecticut (1945)
best christmas movies - christmas in connecticut
Amazon Prime

Barbara Stanwyck stars in this romantic comedy about a magazine writer who lies about her perfect (and fictitious) country life in her columns. She must figure out how to cover her tracks when her boss and a returning war hero invite themselves over for Christmas dinner.

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22 Arthur Christmas (2011)
best christmas movies - arthur christmas
Amazon Prime

Santa does the unthinkable and forgets to deliver a gift to a child on Christmas Eve — and his youngest son, Arthur, must make the delivery before dawn. Pixar-level animation and wry British humor from the Wallace & Gromit team make this a heartwarming flick for the whole family.

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21 Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)
best christmas movies - how the grinch stole christmas
Amazon Prime

The Grinch gets the live-action treatment in this feature-length film starring Jim Carrey. This whimsical holiday film is a feast for the eyes — not to mention it will make your heart grow three sizes.

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20 The Christmas Chronicles (2018)
the christmas chronicles 2018 movie poster
Netflix

Starring Kurt Russell as Santa Claus, this jolly Netflix original film follows two kids who encounter Santa in their own home — and find themselves on a magical adventure to help him save Christmas. If you're a fan, add The Christmas Chronicles: Part Two to your watchlist, as well.

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RELATED: 30 Best Kids' Christmas Movies on Netflix to Stream in 2021

19 Klaus (2019)
klaus 2019 movie poster
Netflix

This Netflix original about a postman who befriends a reclusive toymaker is a great family Christmas film — especially with the beautiful animation that will leave you really feeling the holiday magic.

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RELATED: The 17 Best Christmas Movies to Watch on Netflix Right Now

18 Christmas With the Kranks (2004)
christmas with the kranks 2004
Amazon Prime

In the mood for a light-hearted holiday comedy? This funny flick follows a couple, played by Tim Allen and Jamie Lee Curtis, who anger their neighbors by making plans to skip Christmas in favor of taking a Caribbean cruise instead.

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17 The Best Man Holiday (2013)
best man holiday

A sequel to 1999's The Best Man, director Malcom D. Lee reunites the original cast, including Taye Diggs, Terrence Howard and Nia Long for a holiday-themed comedy.

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16 Four Christmases (2008)
best christmas movies - four christmases
Amazon Prime

Christmas has a way of bringing everyone together — even when you least expect it. In this modern Christmas tale, Reese Witherspoon and Vince Vaughn play an unhappily married couple whose tropical holiday plans get derailed.

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15 Die Hard (1988)
best christmas movies die hard
Amazon Prime

Is Die Hard a Christmas film? We say yes. This action flick about an office Christmas party taken over by terrorists is sure to add a bit of adrenaline to your holiday. Yippee-ki-yay!

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14 Scrooged (1988)
best christmas movies - scrooged
Amazon Prime

This modernized version of A Christmas Carol stars Bill Murray as a curmudgeonly New York City TV executive who learns the true meaning of Christmas.

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13 The Man Who Invented Christmas (2017)
best christmas movies - the man who invented christmas
Amazon Prime

This story behind the story of how Charles Dickens wrote the classic A Christmas Carol stars Dan Stevens (of Downton Abbey fame) and is a delight for all ages. Trust us: This film can jump-start joy in any Scrooge.

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12 Bad Santa (2003)
best christmas movies - bad santa
Amazon Prime

Leave this dark comedy for when the kids have gone to bed and you want a good laugh.

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11 Home Alone (1990)
best christmas movies - home alone
Amazon Prime

Over thirty years have passed since beloved Christmas movie Home Alone earned $285 million at the box office, but we'll never tire of watching 8-year-old Kevin McCallister foil the Wet Bandits' home burglary plans.

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10 The Santa Clause (1994)
best christmas movies - the santa clause
Amazon Prime

When a divorced businessman (Tim Allen) accidentally kills Santa, he must step in to fill his shoes (not to mention his giant red suit).

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RELATED: See How 'The Santa Clause' Cast Has Changed Over the Years

9 The Santa Clause 2 (2002)
the santa clause 2 2002 movie poster
Amazon Prime

If you loved the first Santa Clause movie, then you'll want to follow it up with this heartwarming sequel about Santa's search for the perfect Mrs. Claus.

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8 The Holiday (2006)
best christmas movies - the holiday
Amazon Prime

This romantic comedy about a pair of house-swappers that fall in love abroad might make you want to spend next Christmas in a charming English cottage (and make out with Jude Law, of course).

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7 Dr. Seuss' The Grinch (2018)
dr seuss' the grinch 2018 movie poster
Amazon Prime

No list of Christmas movies is truly complete without an appearance from the Grinch, and this new-ish animated version deserves a place in the holiday movie canon, thanks to Benedict Cumberbatch's memorable take on everyone's favorite green holiday grump.

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RELATED: 35 of the Best Animated Christmas Movies to Watch All Season Long

6 Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992)
best christmas movies - home alone 2 lost in new york
Amazon Prime

Kevin McCallister's family manages to leave him behind yet again in Home Alone 2 ... and this time around he winds up in New York City, where he manages to outwit the Wet Bandits once more (sorry, the Sticky Bandits).

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5 Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
miracle on 34th street christmas movie still
Hulton ArchiveGetty Images

When Kris Kringle goes on trial to prove his identity in this magical holiday classic, he'll have you (and especially your kids) believing in the magic of Santa Claus.

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4 Elf (2003)
Cartoon, Fictional character, Illustration, Holiday,

Even though this hilarious but heartwarming movie, about a human man raised by Santa's elves in the North Pole, was released less than 20 years ago, it's quickly become a holiday classic. In short: If you don't think Elf is one of the greatest Christmas movies ever made, you're a cotton-headed ninny muggins.

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3 A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)
Amazon Prime

In this timeless cartoon, Charlie Brown seeks out the true meaning of Christmas with the help of his friends, his curious dog and one tiny (yet strong) Christmas tree.

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2 A Christmas Story (1983)
best christmas movies   a christmas story
Amazon Prime

This movie deserves a major award! There's a reason why TBS plays A Christmas Story for 24 hours straight every Christmas. The classic gave us the infamous leg lamp and Red Ryder BB guns — and most importantly, it taught us to never lick a frozen pole (even under the intense pressure of a "triple dog dare").

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RELATED: Where Was A Christmas Story Filmed?

1 It's a Wonderful Life (1946)
best christmas movies - it's a wonderful life
Amazon Prime

Frank Capra's iconic film isn't just one of the best Christmas movies of all time — it's one of the best movies ever made, period. It's a Wonderful Life was nominated for six Academy Awards and ranks #11 on the American Film Institute's original list of the 100 Greatest American Films of All Time.

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