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Best Christmas Movies

30 Christmas Movies That Don’t Suck

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 the same old holiday values. To save you a few wasted hours on Christmas day, we’ve created a list of the 30 Christmas movies that don’t suck. Consider this our gift to you.

On our list, we’ve decided that Christmas movies don’t have to directly involve Christmas, just be set around the holiday. This means movies with a key event or scene involving Christmas will qualify for our list, along with all the classics.

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1. Die Hard

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-kicking’s and bullets, as he takes on a league of terrorists lead by Alan Rickman. Whether it’s Christmas or not, Die Hard is well worth your time.

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

2. Love Actually

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.

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

3. Home Alone

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.

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

4. It’s a Wonderful Life

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.

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

5. A Christmas Story

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.

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

6. Miracle on 34th Street

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?

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

7. Elf

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.

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

8. Little Women

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.

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

9. The Nightmare Before Christmas

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.

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

10. Bad Santa

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.

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

11. Trading Places

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.

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

12. The Santa Clause

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.

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

13. Gremlins

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 warned 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.

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

14. Eyes Wide Shut

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.

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

15. A Christmas Tale

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.

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

16. The Ref

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.

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

17. The Best Man Holiday

The Best Man Holiday is the Christmas sequel to The Best Man. A reunion of college friends for Christmas celebrations reignites long-forgotten rivalries and romances, inspiring laughter, and tears. This Xmas movie will have you calling up your buddies to catch up soon.

Director: Malcom D. Lee
Starring: Monica Calhoun, Morris Chestnut, Melissa De Sousa
IMBD Rating: 6.7/10
Run Time: 2h 3min

18. The Muppet Christmas Carol

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.

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

19. The Apartment

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.

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

20. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

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. Another John Hughes classic, masterfully led by Chevy Chase.

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

21. Scrooged

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.

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

22. A Christmas Carol

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.

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

23. Charlie Brown Christmas

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.

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

24. Black Christmas

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.

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

25. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

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.

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

26. How The Grinch Stole Christmas

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.

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

27. Edward Scissorhands

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.

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

28. The Holiday

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.

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

29. Jingle All the Way

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.

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

30. The Polar Express

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.

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

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General 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.

About the author

About the author
CONTRIBUTOR

Lachlan Twose

Lachlan Twose is a Sydney-based content producer with a background in film and television. He completed Bachelor of Media, Majoring in Screen Practice and Production at Macquarie University in 2020 and currently works as a credit analysis in the financial industry. He specialises in film and television, pop culture and restaurant coverage.