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50 Best Christmas Movies

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50 Best Christmas Movies; Traditional and Non-Traditional Holiday Films

What are the greatest Christmas movies?

Christmas is all about spending time with family, eating well, drinking holiday cocktails, and of course, giving presents. But let’s not forget the time-honored tradition of relaxing in front of the television with your family while watching your favourite Christmas movies.

The thing is, there are so many great Christmas movies to choose from, yet everyone I know watches the same two or three holiday films every year. I’m all for traditions but why not try watching a holiday movie you’ve never seen before?

If you ask ten people to name their favorite holiday films, you may get as many as 30 different titles named off between all ten individuals. Let’s face it, we all have different tastes and with so much to choose from, you’ll be surprised what others would pick. But if you’re looking to try something new, look no further. I’m here to help!

I’ve put together a list of what I think are the 50 best Christmas movies; and more importantly, it’s a list that features both traditional and non-traditional holiday films. So, whether you’re in the mood for a tried-and-true family holiday classic or a romantic Hallmark Christmas movie or a Christmas-themed horror movie, there’s something for everyone in the list below. My definitive list of the best Christmas movies of all time features flicks old and new, classic and modern; a ton of hidden gems and a few movies you may have forgotten take place during the holiday season.

From the heartwarming classics like It’s a Wonderful Life to Christmas movie legends such as Die Hard, here are the greatest Christmas movies of all time!

Editor’s Note: This list includes only full-length feature films and does not include short films or TV specials such as Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer or A Charlie Brown Christmas.

Official plot synopsis per film via IMDB.com.

The 50 Best Holiday Christmas Movies

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best christmas movies
Image: 20th Century Fox

50) Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992)
Directed by Christopher Columbus
Starring Macaulay Culkin, Tim Curry, and Joe Pesci
Genre: Dark Comedy
What is it about: After snarky youth Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin) loses track of his father at the airport, he mistakenly gets on a plane headed for New York City — while the rest of the McCallisters fly to Florida. Now alone in the Big Apple, Kevin cons his way into a room at the Plaza Hotel and begins his usual antics. But when Kevin discovers that the Sticky Bandits (Joe Pesci, Daniel Stern) are on the loose, he struggles to stop them from robbing an elderly man’s toy store just before Christmas.

the Lodge 2019

49) The Lodge (2019)
Directors: Severin Fiala, Veronika Franz
Starring Riley Keough, Jaeden Martell, and Lia McHugh
Genre: Horror
What is it about: A soon-to-be stepmom is snowed in with her fiancé’s two children at a remote holiday village. Just as relations begin to thaw between the trio, some strange and frightening events take place.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)

(48) How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)
Directed by Ron Howards
Starring Jim Carrey, Taylor Momsen
Genre: Family Adventure / Comedy
What is it about: On the outskirts of Whoville lives a green, revenge-seeking Grinch who plans to ruin Christmas for all of the citizens of the town.

Anna and the Apocalypse (2017)

47) Anna and the Apocalypse (2017)
Directed by John McPhail
Starring Ella Hunt, Malcolm Cumming, Sarah Swire
Genre: Horror
What is it about: A zombie apocalypse threatens the sleepy town of Little Haven – at Christmas – forcing Anna and her friends to fight, slash and sing their way to survival, facing the undead in a desperate race to reach their loved ones. But they soon discover that no one is safe in this new world, and with civilization falling apart around them, the only people they can truly rely on are each other.

Christmas Vacation (1989)

46) Christmas Vacation (1989)
Directed by Jeremiah S. Chechik
Starring Chevy Chase, Beverly D’Angelo, and Juliette Lewis
Genre: Comedy
What is it about: The Griswold family’s plans for a big family Christmas predictably turn into a big disaster.

The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)

45) The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)
Directed by Brian Henson
Starring Michael Caine, Dave Goelz, Steve Whitmire
Genre: Family Adventure
What is it about: The Muppet characters tell their version of the classic tale of an old and bitter miser’s redemption on Christmas Eve.

Inside 2007

44) Inside (2007)
Directors: Alexandre Bustillo, Julien Maury
Starring Alysson Paradis, Jean-Baptiste Tabourin, and Claude Lulé
Genre: Horror / Slasher
What is it about: Four months after the death of her husband, a woman on the brink of motherhood is tormented in her home by a strange woman who wants her unborn baby.

Klaus

43) Klaus (2019)
Directed by Sergio Pablos, Carlos Martínez López
Starring Jason Schwartzman, J.K. Simmons, and Rashida Jones
Genre: Animated / Adventure
What is it about: A simple act of kindness always sparks another, even in a frozen, faraway place. When Smeerensburg’s new postman, Jesper, befriends toymaker Klaus, their gifts melt an age-old feud and deliver a sleigh full of holiday traditions.

The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996)

42) The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996)
Directed by Renny Harlin
Starring Geena Davis, Samuel L. Jackson, Yvonne Zima
Genre: Action / Crime
What is it about: Samantha Caine lives in a small town with her daughter. Eight years ago she emerged, two months pregnant, from a nearby river with no memory of her past or who she is. However, she’s getting closer to finding out about her past.

A Christmas Horror Story

41) A Christmas Horror Story (2015)
Directors: Grant Harvey, Steven Hoban, Brett Sullivan
Starring William Shatner, George Buza, and Rob Archer
Genre: Horror
What is it about: Interwoven stories that take place on Christmas Eve, as told by one festive radio host: A family brings home more than a Christmas tree, a student documentary becomes a living nightmare, a Christmas spirit terrorizes, Santa slays evil.

Krampus

40) Krampus (2015)
Directed by Michael Dougherty
Starring Emjay Anthony, Adam Scott, and Toni Collette
Genre: Horror
What is it about: A boy who has a bad Christmas accidentally summons a festive demon to his family home.

Shazam!

39) Shazam! (2019)
Directed by David F. Sandberg
Starring Zachary Levi, Mark Strong, Asher Angel
Genre: Sci-Fi / Fantasy
What is it about: A newly fostered young boy in search of his mother instead finds unexpected super powers and soon gains a powerful enemy.

best christmas movies

38) Serendipity (2001)
Directed by Peter Chelsom
Starring John Cusack, Kate Beckinsale and Jeremy Piven
Genre: Romantic Comedy
What is it about: A couple search for each other years after the night they first met, fell in love, and separated, convinced that one day they’d end up together.

The Children 2008 horror movie

37) The Children (2008)
Directed by Tom Shankland
Starring Eva Birthistle, Stephen Campbell Moore, Jeremy Sheffield
Genre: Horror
What is it about: A relaxing Christmas vacation turns into a terrifying fight for survival as the children begin to turn on their parents.

Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (2010)

36) Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (2010)
Directed by Jalmari Helander
Starring Onni Tommila, Jorma Tommila, and Tommi Korpela
Genre: Horror
What is it about: In the depths of the Korvatunturi mountains, 486 meters deep, lies the closest ever guarded secret of Christmas. The time has come to dig it up. This Christmas everyone will believe in Santa Claus.

Go 1999 movie

35) Go (1999)
Directed by Doug Liman
Starring, Stars: Katie Holmes, Sarah Polley, Suzanne Krull
Genre: Action / Crime
What is it about: The aftermath of a drug deal as told from three different points of view.

The Shop Around the Corner

34) The Shop Around the Corner (1940)
Directed by Ernst Lubitsch
Starring Margaret Sullavan, James Stewart, and Frank Morgan
Genre: Drama
What is it about: Two employees at a gift shop can barely stand each other, without realizing that they are falling in love through the post as each other’s anonymous pen pal.

best christmas movies

33) Metropolitan (1990)
Directed by Whit Stillman
Starring Carolyn Farina, Edward Clements, and Chris Eigeman
Genre: Drama
What is it about: A group of young upper-class Manhattanites are blithely passing through the gala debutante season, when an unusual outsider joins them and stirs them up.

best christmas movies
Image: Universal Pictures

32) Love Actually (2003)
Directed by Richard Curtis
Starring, Bill Nighy, Gregor Fisher, and Rory MacGregor
Genre: Romantic Comedy
What is it about: Follows the lives of eight very different couples in dealing with their love lives in various loosely interrelated tales all set during a frantic month before Christmas in London, England.

Polar Express

31) The Polar Express (2004)
Directed by Robert Zemeckis
Starring Tom Hanks, Leslie Zemeckis, Eddie Deezen
Genre: Animation / Adventure
What is it about: On Christmas Eve, a young boy embarks on a magical adventure to the North Pole on the Polar Express, while learning about friendship, bravery, and the spirit of Christmas.

The Silent Partner 1978

30) The Silent Partner (1978)
Directed by Daryl Duke
Starring Elliott Gould, Christopher Plummer, and Susannah York
Genre: Crime / Drama
What is it about: A timid bank teller anticipates a bank robbery and steals the money himself before the crook arrives. When the sadistic crook realizes he’s been fooled, he tracks down the teller and engages him in a cat-and-mouse chase for the cash.

Bad Santa
Image: Miramax Films

29) Bad Santa (2003)
Directed by Terry Zwigoff
Starring, Billy Bob Thornton, Tony Cox, Brett Kelly
Genre: Dark Comedy
What is it about: A miserable conman and his partner pose as Santa and his Little Helper to rob department stores on Christmas Eve. But they run into problems when the conman befriends a troubled kid.

Scrooged

28) Scrooged (1988)
Directed by Richard Donner
Starring, Mitch Glazer, Michael O’Donoghue, Charles Dickens
Genre: Comedy
What is it about: A selfish, cynical television executive is haunted by three spirits bearing lessons on Christmas Eve.

best christmas movies
Image: Touchstone Pictures

27) The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
Directed by Henry Selick
Starring, Danny Elfman, Chris Sarandon, Catherine O’Hara
Genre: Animation / Family
What is it about: Jack Skellington, king of Halloween Town, discovers Christmas Town, but his attempts to bring Christmas to his home causes confusion.

Lethal Weapon | best christmas movies

26) Lethal Weapon (1987)
Directed by Richard Donner
Starring Mel Gibson, Danny Glover, and Gary Busey
Genre: Action Comedy
What is it about: Two newly paired cops who are complete opposites must put aside their differences in order to catch a gang of drug smugglers.

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

25) Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)
Directed by Shane Black
Starring Robert Downey Jr., Val Kilmer, and Michelle Monaghan
Genre: Action Comedy
What is it about: After being mistaken for an actor, a New York thief is sent to Hollywood to train under a private eye for a potential movie role, but the duo are thrown together with a struggling actress into a murder mystery.

Day of the Beast

24) The Day of the Beast (1995)
Directed by Álex de la Iglesia
Starring Álex Angulo, Armando De Razza, Santiago Segura
Genre: Horror
What is it about: Bent on committing as many sins as possible to avert the birth of the beast, a Catholic priest teams up with a Black Metal aficionado and an Italian connoisseur of the occult. Now, he must become an unrelenting sinner. Is there still hope?

Die Hard 2

23) Die Hard 2 (1990)
Directed by Renny Harlin
Starring Bruce Willis, Bonnie Bedelia, and William Atherton
Genre: Action
What is it about: John McClane attempts to avert disaster as rogue military operatives seize control of Dulles International Airport in Washington, D.C.

Batman Returns
Image: Warner Bros.

22) Batman Returns (1992)
Directed by Tim Burton
Starring Michael Keaton, Danny DeVito, Michelle Pfeiffer
Genre: Sci-Fi / Fantasy / Crime
What is it about: While Batman deals with a deformed man calling himself the Penguin wreaking havoc across Gotham with the help of a cruel businessman, a female employee of the latter becomes the Catwoman with her own vendetta.

Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990)

21) Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990)
Directors: Joe Dante, Chuck Jones
Starring Howie Mandel, Tony Randall, and Zach Galligan
Genre: Dark Comedy / Creature Feature
What is it about: The Gremlins are back, and this time, they’ve taken control of a New York City media mogul’s high-tech skyscraper.

A Christmas Story 1983
Image: Warner Bros.

20) A Christmas Story (1983)
Directed by Bob Clark
Starring John Cusack, Kate Beckinsale, and Jeremy Piven
Genre: Comedy
What is it about: In the 1940s, a young boy named Ralphie attempts to convince his parents, his teacher and Santa that a Red Ryder BB gun really is the perfect Christmas gift.

Black Christmas 1974

19) Black Christmas (1974)
Directed by Bob Clark
Starring Olivia Hussey, Keir Dullea, and Margot Kidder
Genre: Horror / Slasher
What is it about: During their Christmas break, a group of sorority girls are stalked by a stranger.

A Christmas Tale (2008)

18) A Christmas Tale (2008)
Directed by Arnaud Desplechin
Starring Catherine Deneuve, Jean-Paul Roussillon, Anne Consigny
Genre: Drama
What is it about: The troubled Vuillard family is no stranger to illness, grief, and banishment, but when their matriarch requires a bone-marrow transplant, the estranged clan reunites just in time for Christmas.

best christmas movies

17) 8 Women (2002)
Directed by François Ozon
Starring Virginie Ledoyen, Danielle Darrieux, and Firmine Richard
Genre: Murder Mystery / Dark Comedy
What is it about: One murdered man, eight women, each seeming to be eager than the others to know the truth. Gimme, gimme, gimme some clues to make up my mind. And eventually enter the truth. Oh, thou cruel woman!

The Proposition (2005)

16) The Proposition (2005)
Directed by John Hillcoat
Starring Richard Wilson, Noah Taylor, Jeremy Madrona
Genre: Western / Crime
What is it about: A lawman apprehends a notorious outlaw and gives him nine days to kill his older brother, or else they’ll execute his younger brother.

miracle on 34th street | best christmas movies
Image: 20th Century Fox

15) Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
Directed by George Seaton
Starring, Maureen O’Hara, John Payne, and Edmund Gwenn
Genre: Drama
What is it about: After a divorced New York mother hires a nice old man to play Santa Claus at Macy’s, she is startled by his claim to be the genuine article. When his sanity is questioned, a lawyer defends him in court by arguing that he’s not mistaken.

Millions Danny Boyle Christmas Movie
Image: Fox Searchlight Pictures

14) Millions (2004)
Directed by Danny Boyle
Starring, Alex Etel, Lewis McGibbon, and James Nesbitt
Genre: Comedy / Crime
What is it about: Ethics, being human and the soul come to the fore when a 7-year old finds a bag of Pounds just days before the currency is switched to Euros and learns what we are really made of.

Gremlins

13) Gremlins (1984)
Directed by Joe Dante
Starring Hoyt Axton, John Louie, Keye Luke
Genre: Dark Comedy / Creature Featutre
What is it about: A young man inadvertently breaks three important rules concerning his new pet and unleashes a horde of malevolently mischievous monsters on a small town.

Tangerine movie

12) Tangerine (2015)
Directed by Sean Baker
Starring Kitana Kiki Rodriguez, Mya Taylor, and Karren Karagulian
Genre: Dark Comedy / Drama
What is it about: A hooker tears through Tinseltown on Christmas Eve searching for the pimp who broke her heart.

Carol movie

11) Carol (2015)
Directed by Toddy Haynes
Starring Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, Kyle Chandler
Genre: Drama
What is it about: An aspiring photographer develops an intimate relationship with an older woman in 1950s New York.

Elf
Image: New Line Cinema

10) Elf (2003)
Directed by Jon Favreau
Starring, Will Ferrell, James Caan, and Bob Newhart
Genre: Comedy
What is it about: Raised as an over-sized elf, a human travels from the North Pole to NYC to meet his biological father who doesn’t know he exists and is in desperate need of some Christmas spirit.

L.A. Confidential  | best christmas movies

9) L.A. Confidential (1997) 
Directed by Curtis Hanson
Starring Kevin Spacey, Russell Crowe, and Guy Pearce
Genre: Crime / Drama
What is it about: As corruption grows in 1950s Los Angeles, three policemen – one strait-laced, one brutal, and one sleazy – investigate a series of murders with their own brand of justice.

In Bruges

8) In Bruges (2008)
Directed by Martin McDonagh
Starring, Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, and Ralph Fiennes
Genre: Action / Thriller / Dark Comedy
What is it about: Guilt-stricken after a job gone wrong, hitman Ray and his partner await orders from their ruthless boss in Bruges, Belgium, the last place in the world Ray wants to be.

Home Alone
20th Century Fox

7) Home Alone (1990)
Directed by Christopher Columbus
Starring, Macaulay Culkin, Joe Pesci, and Daniel Stern
Genre: Black Comedy
What is it about: An eight-year-old troublemaker must protect his house from a pair of burglars when he is accidentally left home alone by his family during Christmas vacation.

edward scissorhands
Image: 20th Century Fox

6) Edward Scissorhands (1990)
Directed by Tim Burton
Starring, Johnny Depp, Winona Ryder, Dianne Wiest
Genre: Drama / Fantasy
What is it about: An artificial man, who was incompletely constructed and has scissors for hands, leads a solitary life. Then one day, a suburban lady meets him and introduces him to her world.

Brazil

5) Brazil (1985)
Directed by Terry Gilliam
Starring Jonathan Pryce, Robert De Niro, and Katherine Helmond
Genre: Sci-fi
What is it about: A bureaucrat in a dystopic society becomes an enemy of the state as he pursues the woman of his dreams.

Die Hard

4) Die Hard (1988)
Directed by John McTiernan
Starring Bruce Willis, Bonnie Bedelia, and Reginald VelJohnson
Genre: Action
What is it about: An NYPD officer tries to save his wife and several others taken hostage by German terrorists during a Christmas party at the Nakatomi Plaza in Los Angeles.

best christmas movies

3) Eyes Wide Shut (1999)
Directed by Stanley Kubrick
Starring, Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman, and Madison Eginton
Genre: Thriller / Drama
What is it about: A Manhattan doctor embarks on a bizarre, night-long odyssey after his wife’s admission of unfulfilled longing.

The Apartment 1960 | best christmas movies

2) The Apartment (1960)
Directed by Will Wilder
Starring Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine, and Fred MacMurray
Genre: Comedy / Drama
What is it about: A Manhattan insurance clerk tries to rise in his company by letting its executives use his apartment for trysts, but complications and a romance of his own ensue.

best christmas movies
Image: RKO Pictures

1) It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
Directed by Frank Capra
Starring James Stewart, Donna Reed, and Lionel Barrymore
Genre: Drama
What is it about: An angel is sent from Heaven to help a desperately frustrated businessman by showing him what life would have been like if he had never existed.

Written By

Some people take my heart, others take my shoes, and some take me home. I write, I blog, I podcast, I edit, and I design websites. Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Goomba Stomp and Tilt Magazine. Host of the Sordid Cinema Podcast and NXpress Nintendo Podcast. Former Editor-In-Chief of Sound On Sight, and host of several podcasts including the Game of Thrones and Walking Dead podcasts, as well as Sound On Sight. There is nothing I like more than basketball, travelling, and animals. You can find me online writing about anime, TV, movies, games and so much more.

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