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Best christmas movies

30 Best Christmas Movies of All Time

Let’s face it, even the best Christmas movies can be a little corny. In fact, there are a pretty slim amount of Christmas movies that don’t suck. Some flicks go overkill on the preachy messages, while others will bore you to sleep with the same old holiday values. To save you a few wasted hours this holiday season we’ve created a list of the 30 Christmas movies that don’t suck. Consider this our gift to you.

Best of Christmas Movies

1. Die Hard (1988)

  • Director: John McTiernan
  • Starring: Bruce Willis, Alan Rickman, Bonnie Bedelia
  • IMBD Rating: 8.2/10
  • Run Time: 2h 12min

Starting off our list of the Christmas movies that don’t suck is Die Hard. This is the perfect example of a Christmas movie where it just happens to be Christmas, without dominating the story. Rather than handing out presents, Bruce Willis delivers ass-kickings and bullets, as he takes on a league of terrorists led by Alan Rickman. Whether it’s Christmas or not, Die Hard is well worth your time, just don’t ask Roger Ebert.

The film critic extraordinaire gave the movie a cold-blooded 2/5 and found particular disinterest in the character of the Deputy Police Chief. “Here’s a suggestion for thriller-makers,” he wrote. “You can’t go wrong if all of the characters in your movie are at least as intelligent as most of the characters in your audience.”

Ouch. Despite his less-than-blazing critique, Die Hard managed to nab a ridiculous USD$139 billion at the box office and gave birth to one of the most significant action franchises of all time.

2. Love Actually (2003)

  • Director: Richard Curtis
  • Starring: Hugh Grant, Liam Neeson, Emma Thompson
  • IMBD Rating: 7.6/10
  • Run Time: 2h 15min

Many will tell you that Love Actually is the undisputed best Christmas movie, and it’s hard to disagree. The movie stars an ensemble cast of Britain’s best, who you will undoubtedly recognise from flicks new and old. The plot follows the lives of eight different couples, in loosely related adventures all leading to Christmas. Love Actually is one of the best Christmas movies for your festivities this year.

3. Home Alone (1990)

  • Director: Chris Columbus
  • Starring: Macaulay Culkin, Joe Pesci, Catherine O’Hara
  • IMBD Rating: 7.6/10
  • Run Time: 1h 43min

Home Alone is a must-watch Christmas movie for the whole family. A very young Macaulay Culkin must protect his family home from burglars after he’s left behind from his family’s Christmas holiday. The movie is filled with that John Hughes goodness you know and love from The Breakfast Club and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. We can’t recommend this movie highly enough for you and your loved ones this Christmas.

4. It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)

  • Director: Frank Capra
  • Starring: James Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore
  • IMBD Rating: 8.6/10
  • Run Time: 2h 10min

It’s a Wonderful Life may be an oldie, black and white movie, but it has themes that still hold up to this day. An overworked businessman is shown what he’s sacrificing for his work, reflecting on life, family, and personal well-being. Christmas holidays are a great time to reflect on friends and family, making this one of the top Christmas movies of all time.

5. A Christmas Story (1983)

  • Director: Bob Clark
  • Starring: Peter Billingsley, Darren McGavin, Melinda Dillion
  • IMBD Rating: 7.9/10
  • Run Time: 1h 33min

A Christmas Story is another classic on our list. Ralphie is trying to convince his parents, and anyone who will listen, that he needs a BB gun for Christmas. Much like Home Alone, it’s a child vs the world (except not so literally in this movie). Also featured is the great tongue frozen to the lamp post scene.

6. Miracle on 34th Street (1994)

  • Director: George Seaton
  • Starring: Edmund Gwenn, Maureen O’Hara, John Payne
  • IMBD Rating: 7.9/10
  • Run Time: 1h 36min

Miracle on 34th Street is a Christmas movie with a truly unique story. A man claiming to be Santa is sent to an insane asylum. A young lawyer takes on the task of defending the man in court, claiming he is the real deal. Who’d have thought Christmas in a courthouse could be so fun?

7. Elf (2003)

  • Director: Jon Favreau
  • Starring: Will Ferrell, James Caan, Mary Steenburgen
  • IMBD Rating: 6.9/10
  • Run Time: 1h 37min

Elf follows the story of Buddy, an orphan raised by Elves who travels back to the real world to find his biological father. Starring Will Ferrell in one of his most iconic roles, you’ll find it hard not to smile at the antics on screen. Elf is a fantastic flick for the whole family to enjoy.

8. Little Women (1994)

  • Director: Gillian Armstrong
  • Starring: Winona Ryder, Susan Sarandon, Kristen Dunst
  • IMBD Rating: 7.3/10
  • Run Time: 1h 55min

For Little Women, we’ll be looking at the 1994 version for our list, rather than the most recent 2019 version. Set in the 19th century, Little Women explores the lives of four women growing up in post-Civil War America. This is one of the movies on our list that isn’t directly about Christmas but has references throughout.

9. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

  • Director: Henry Selick
  • Starring: Chris Sarandon, Catherine O’Hara, Ken Page
  • IMBD Rating: 8/10
  • Run Time: 1h 16min

Is The Nightmare Before Christmas a Christmas movie, or a Halloween movie? We’d have to say both. Jack Skellington, king of Halloween town, discovers the holiday of Christmas and becomes obsessed. The claymation (animation with clay, like Wallace & Gromit) is visually stunning, and every scene could be paused and hung on your wall.

10. Bad Santa (2003)

  • Director: Terry Zwigoff
  • Starring: Billy Bob Thornton, Tony Cox, Lauren Graham
  • IMBD Rating: 7.10
  • Run Time: 1h 32min

Firstly, Bad Santa is not a Christmas movie to watch with the kids, let’s make that clear. Billy Bob Thornton stars as a conman using department store Santa work to steal from stores on Christmas Eve. While the movie is certainly rude, risqué, and raunchy, there are some heart-warming moments. But we repeat, not for kids.

11. Trading Places (1983)

  • Director: John Landis
  • Starring: Eddie Murphy, Dan Aykroyd, Ralph Bellamy
  • IMBD Rating: 7.5/10
  • Run Time: 1h 56min

Trading Places is another Christmas movie that isn’t totally about Christmas. The movie follows a high up stockbroker and a nearly broke every-man, who are manipulated into ‘trading places’ for the entertainment of the stockbroker’s bosses. While not exploring the usual themes of giving and joy, Trading Places is a hilarious movie well worth adding to your big-day movie binge.

12. The Santa Clause (1994)

  • Director: John Pasquin
  • Starring: Tim Allen, Wendy Crewson, Judge Reinhold
  • IMBD Rating: 6.5/10
  • Run Time: 1h 37min

The snarky wit we all know and love from Tim Allen is on full display in The Santa Clause. When the current Santa falls off his roof, Allen must deliver the presents instead. This enters him into ‘the Santa clause’, an agreement that makes him the new Santa. While this clause seems to be anything but legally binding, as pointed out by Youtuber Mr Sunday Movies, it makes for a fun Christmas watch.

13. Gremlins (1984)

  • Director: Joe Dante
  • Starring: Zach Galligan, Phoebe Cates, Hoyt Axton
  • IMBD Rating: 7.3/10
  • Run Time: 1h 46min

Although not something you’d expect from a Xmas movie, Gremlins is the perfect mix of comedy and horror. When Billy is given the adorable Gizmo for Christmas, he is warned of three things. Under no circumstances should he feed Gizmo after midnight, get him wet, or expose him to bright lights. He, of course, does all three, and Gizmo transforms into a nasty, green gremlin. This is a classic premise that could only have come from the ’80s.

14. Eyes Wide Shut (1999)

  • Director: Stanley Kubrick
  • Starring: Nicole Kidman, Tom Cruise, Sydney Pollack
  • IMBD Rating: 7.4/10
  • Run Time: 2h 39min

Eyes Wide Shut is a movie about sex, secret societies, and drugs, among other things. The movie only takes place around Christmas, so you don’t have to worry about Santa getting down and dirty. Kidman and Cruise’s married couple want to explore their sexual fantasies, leading to a secret society where things get wild. This is another Xmas movie you probably shouldn’t watch with the kids.

15. A Christmas Tale (2008)

  • Director: Arnaud Desplechin
  • Starring: Catherine Deneuve, Jean-Paul Roussillon, Mathieu Amalric
  • IMBD Rating: 7/10
  • Run Time: 2h 30min

A Christmas Tale is a French comedy-drama, exploring a family’s troubled relationships over the holiday period (how relatable). The family comes together for Christmas, soon discovering that their mother has leukemia. While not the brightest premise, there are still laughs to be had at this dysfunctional family.

16. The Ref (1994)

  • Director: Ted Demme
  • Starring: Denis Leary, Judy Davis, Kevin Spacey
  • IMBD Rating: 6.9/10
  • Run Time: 1h 36min

Unfortunately, The Ref is not a sports Christmas movie (but why isn’t that a thing yet? Somebody call Hollywood ASAP). Instead, this dark comedy explores the common fights and riffs that can occur over with family over the season. A cat burglar bites off more than he can chew on Christmas Eve, when he takes a bickering couple hostage. Driven mad from their fighting, he becomes the referee of their problems.

17. Violent Night (2022)

  • Director: Tommy Wirkola
  • Starring: David Harbour, John Leguizamo
  • IMBD Rating: 7.1/10
  • Run Time: 1h 52min

The newest film to make an appearance on the list, Violent Night stars Stranger Things‘ David Harbour as a vengeful and downright terrifying St Nick. Forced to go up against a team of mercenaries invading a family’s home on Christmas Eve in search of $300 million, Harbour’s Santa dishes out a seemingly endless amount of ass-whoppings. Whether he’s using tinsel, decorative star lights, or hand grenades, Santa’s a force to be reckoned with. This is no family-friendly holiday flick that’ll fill the kiddies with the Christmas spirit.

18. The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)

  • Director: Brian Henson
  • Starring: Michael Caine, The Muppets
  • IMBD Rating: 7.7/10
  • Run Time: 1h 25min

The Muppet Christmas Carol is a Muppets take on the age-old story by Charles Dickens. If nothing else about that premise appeals to you, it’s funny enough just to see Sir Michael Caine as Scrooge sharing the screen with Kermit.

19. The Apartment (1960)

  • Director: Billy Wilder
  • Starring: Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine, Fred MacMurray
  • IMBD Rating: 8.3/10
  • Run Time: 2h 5min

While not a particularly well-known title, The Apartment may be the most critically successful movie on our list of good Christmas movies. A dedicated worker lets the executives of his office use his apartment for their affairs and one night stands, in hope of a promotion. But when he finds love with his bosses’ mistress, hilarity ensues. All this, paired with an ending you won’t see coming, makes this a great movie for you next Christmas binge.

20. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)

  • Director: Jeremiah Chechik
  • Starring: Chevy Chase, Beverly D’Angelo, Juliette Lewis
  • IMBD Rating: 7.6/10
  • Run Time: 1h 37min

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation is a sequel to the Vacation series that can well and truly stand on its own. Beloved by families across the world, Christmas Vacation has long held a place in the annual movie binge. The Griswolds’ plans of a quiet family Christmas are put on hold, as the extended family flood in and cause mayhem.

21. Scrooged (1988)

  • Director: Richard Donner
  • Starring: Bill Murray, Karen Allen, John Forsythe
  • IMBD Rating: 7/10
  • Run Time: 1h 41min

From one master of ’80s comedy to another, Bill Murray stars in Scrooged. Dickens’ Christmas Carol story is given a modern spin, as Murray plays a cynical television executive. While funny, there are probably better Bill Murray roles out there if you’re really looking for a laugh, such as Caddyshack or Meatballs.

22. A Christmas Carol (2009)

  • Director: Robert Zemeckis
  • Starring: Jim Carrey, Gary Oldman, Robin Wright
  • IMBD Rating: 6.8/10
  • Run Time: 1h 36min

It was only a matter of time before we got to Jim Carrey’s adaption of A Christmas Carol. The comedy and acting chops of Carrey steal the show, in this faithful retelling of the original story. This also stands out from our list as one of the two computer-animated films on our list by director Robert Zemeckis.

23. Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)

  • Director: Bill Melendez
  • Starring: Ann Altieri, Chris Doran, Sally Dyer
  • IMBD Rating: 8.3/10
  • Run Time: 25 min

In Charlie Brown Christmas, we see Charlie Brown and the Peanuts gang in search for the deeper meaning of Christmas. The themes depicted, such as the commercialisation of the holiday are still relevant today, making this film ageless apart from its unique animation. This is a TV movie, so more like an episode in a series, coming in at only 25 minutes long.

24. Black Christmas (1974)

  • Director: Bob Clark
  • Starring: Olivia Hussey, Keir Dullea, Margot Kidder
  • IMBD Rating: 7.2/10
  • Run Time: 1h 38min

Black Christmas is a horror movie that’s been remade a few times now, and we can see why. The original film finds a group of sorority girls being stalked by a stranger over their break. Saying any more than that would give away the movie. The latest 2019 remake hasn’t had the best reception, so we recommend watching the original this Christmas.

25. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)

  • Director: Shane Black
  • Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Val Kilmer, Michelle Monaghan
  • IMBD Rating: 7.5/10
  • Run Time: 1h 43min

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is a movie set around a murder, that partners a private detective and a thief. Witty, quirky, this movie has every bit of banter you’ve come to expect from characters in a Shane Black movie. Also, like almost all Black movies, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang takes place over Christmas, making it eligible for our list.

26. How The Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)

  • Director: Ron Howard
  • Starring: Jim Carrey, Taylor Momsen, Jeffery Tambor
  • IMBD Rating: 6.2/10
  • Run Time: 1h 44min

How The Grinch Stole Christmas is another Jim Carrey Christmas movie, based on the book by Dr Seuss. As the title suggests, the grinch plots to steal Christmas from the town of Whoville, and it’s as fun as it sounds. Carrey is given free rein to do impressions, screams, and slapstick, as he chews the scenery throughout the movie.

27. Edward Scissorhands (1990)

  • Director: Tim Burton
  • Starring: Johnny Depp, Winona Ryder, Dianne West
  • IMBD Rating: 7.9/10
  • Run Time: 1h 45min

Edward Scissorhands is the story of an outsider who tried to adapt to suburban life. Oh, and he also has scissors for hands. As a Tim Burton film, you’ll find all the quirkiness you’ve come to expect from the director. The climax of the film takes place at a Christmas party, as do other scenes and flashbacks, qualifying it on our list of the best Christmas movies.

28. The Holiday (2006)

  • Director: Nancy Meyers
  • Starring: Kate Winslet, Cameron Diaz, Jude Law
  • IMBD Rating: 6.9/10
  • Run Time: 2h 16min

The Holiday is another Christmas movie where a key scene just happens to take place over Christmas. The two female leads swap homes in the search for love and self-discovery. They find this in lovers Jude Law and Jack Black, with Black playing against type of his usual goofy persona. This isn’t your usual rom-com, with more time given to self-respect and independence than to finding happiness through a love-interest.

The Holiday movie where a key scene just happens to take place over Christmas. The two female leads swap homes in the search for love and self-discovery. They find this in lovers Jude Law and Jack Black, with Black playing against type of his usual goofy persona. This isn’t your usual rom-com, with more time given to self-respect and independence than to finding happiness through a love-interest.

29. Jingle All the Way (1996)

  • Director: Brian Levant
  • Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sinbad, Phil Hartman
  • IMBD Rating: 5.6/10
  • Run Time: 1h 29min

Jingle All the Way is a fantastic Christmas departure from Arnie’s usual high-octane, action flicks. Arnie promises his son that they’ll find him the super popular Turbo Man action figure for Christmas. Only problem is, Turbo Man is Pokémon level popular, and sold out everywhere. Hijinks ensue as Arnie tries to keep his promise. This is an awesome, fun Christmas movie, and deserves a lot more praise.

30. The Polar Express (2004)

  • Director: Robert Zemeckis
  • Starring: Tom Hanks, Nora Gaye, Leslie Zemeckis
  • IMBD Rating: 6.6/10
  • Run Time: 1h 40min

Rounding out our list of best Christmas movies that don’t suck, is The Polar Express. Once you get past the nightmarish animation, it’s actually a pretty fun and entertaining movie. The story follows a young boy on an adventure to the north pole, along the way learning about friendship and the spirit of Christmas. Tom Hanks leads in a variety of roles, with his range of voice acting truly impressive.

Alternatives to Best Christmas Movies

Don’t have an itching to get into the Christmas spirit? No worries! Why not have a browse of some of the best movies and shows on Netflix and across the streaming world?

How We Choose This List of the Best Christmas Movies

Think of us like IMDB/Rotten Tomato/data crunching ninjas who’ve scoured the internet to find the best Christmas movies of all time. We’ve read reviews from critics and fans alike to get a real gauge of what’s worthy of your time – no snooze-fest films shows here! And, with this list of the best Christmas movies having roughly an IMDB score of 7 or higher– ya know it’s good stuff. Better still, this list of full of flicks that don’t always directly involve Christmas, they simply need to be set around the holiday. This means movies with a key event or scene involving the festive season will qualify for our list, along with all the classics.

Best Christmas Movies FAQ

What is the best Christmas Movie?

While everyone has an opinion on which Christmas movie is the best, it's hard to go past the classics. Family adventures like Home Alone and National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation are among the best Christmas movies, however, Die Hard is a big one for guys. For the tear-jerker, Miracle of 34th Street is always a winner.

How is Die Hard a Christmas Movie?

Die Hard takes place over Christmas, with multiple references throughout the movie. This therefore, loosely, makes it a Christmas movie.

What is the funniest Christmas movie?

It’s all down to taste, but it’s hard not to laugh at Will Ferrell in an elf suit. Other flicks, such as Love Actually, The Grinch and Home Alone are all worth a few chuckles too.