Christmas is a time for sharing and caring, a time for the family to bond over gifts and goodwill in the living room, and ultimately, a time for love and comfort. So the Christmas holidays can never be complete without getting under your blanket and tuning into some funny and entertaining Christmas movie with your loved ones.
Be it something as ordinary as the whole family getting together to unwrap gifts under the Christmas tree or the lonely or the geeky girl finding her soulmate as the past of a Christmas miracle, Christmas movies have this uncanny ability to just get you in the right spirit for the Holiday week.
Christmas-themed movies have evolved so much over the last ten years. From movies like Home Alone to Tangerine and Carol, these movies only reflect the gradual transgression of Holiday movies from being a simple run-of-the-mill entertainment blockbusters to something wholesome and thoughtful.
Christmas is the time for the entire family to come together and bond over shared tastes and cinnamon-flavored cakes, and there simply could not be a better way to spend some quality time with your loved ones on the Eve than to tune in to some similarly themed movies.
So without further ado, here is the list of the top 39 Christmas-themed movies that you can watch with your family and friends over the holiday season.
1. It’s a Wonderful Life
Frank Capra turns up the sweetness quotient with this particular direction that also stars Donna Reed and Jimmy Stewart, two of the most renowned Hollywood stars in the 1950s. Jimmy plays the role of George Bailey, who is driven to the brink of despair by the capitalist economy and, in particular, a rich, bald banker who tends to make his mark everywhere he sets foot.
George’s wife, Mary, played by Donna Reed, is a charming woman in the small town who looks after their three kids. So when George gets suicidal, plagued by the money problems that seem to surmount even more during the holiday season, only an angelic intervention might be able to cure him of this misery.
The movie, despite its symbolic connotations, is ideal for a Christmas binge-watch, with Jimmy Stewart delivering one of the best performances of his career.
2. Miracle on 34th Street
This movie, yet again, is not your ordinary feel-good Christmas movie, but one that’ll rack your brain and make you think and feel and experience. The movie is perhaps one of the greatest courtroom dramas, second to To Kill a Mockingbird and 12 Angry Men, that showcases Kris Kringle in an attempt to assert himself in the middle of a scandal.
The movie also stars a young Natalie Wood, who plays a young Susan who needs someone in her life to look up to. This 1947 classic directed by George Seaton narrates a beautiful story with capitalism at the crux of it and the Christmas season frivolous spending bearing the brunt of it.
John Favreau and Will Ferrell pulled off a ripper with this Christmas-themed commercial movie that focuses on the latter playing a house elf and delivering to the T. Will Ferrell plays the role of Buddy, a New York guy who secretly believes himself to be a house elf.
So when Christmas is just around the corner, he embarks on a journey to meet his father, played by the charming and agile James Caan, which kicks off a series of unexpected events. This candy-gobbling box office phenomenon is a fun watch for the whole family and one that you should include in your to-watch list.
4. A Christmas Carol
Charles Dickens’s famous Christmas story by the same name found a fresh screen adaptation in this 1951 movie that focuses on a grumpy and miserly old man, Ebenezer Scrooge. Scrooge likes to be left alone, unbothered. He tends to guard his money and finances closely and detests every little frolic and vigor that other people tend to enjoy in the spirit of Christmas.
So on the Eve of Christmas, he gets visited by three ghosts from the Past, Present, and Future, and they take him on a revealing journey that transforms him into an entirely different person. Written mostly as a children’s story, the depiction on screen however is more than that. The movie is thoroughly enjoyable, thoughtful, and apt for the holiday binge list.
5. Bad Santa (2003)
Directed by Terry Zwigoff, this American comedy revolves around a guy, Willy, and his friend Bob, who plan to rob the local supermarket during Christmas. They hatch a plan to pose as the mall Santa and wait about till everyone is gone and the mall is closed.
But their plans get spoiled when they befriend a chubby kid, Thurman, who has his own set of struggles. Starring Billy Bob Thornton, Brett Kelly, and John Ritter, this is one of those must-watch movies that’ll leave you happy and satisfied.
6. Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)
This is a classic Christmas movie directed by Vincente Minnelli and distributed by MGM. It is more of a musical comedy that focuses on four sisters from St. Louis, a small town in Louisiana, who experience love and life, all on the pretext of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition or the World Fair.
The movie is composed of a series of seasonal vignettes from summer to spring, over a year, all shot in Technicolor that shows each sister’s journey through life as she learns new things courtesy of the pretty boy next door, but ever so occasionally. It stars Judy Garland, Margaret O’Brien, Lucille Brenner, and Mary Astor and is probably one of the most Christmassy movies you’re likely to watch.
7. Trading Places (1983)
Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd star in this American comedy that has been nominated for one Oscar and has won three awards in all.
Aykroyd plays the role of Louis Winthorpe, a businessman working with a firm, Duke and Duke, owned by brothers Mortimer and Randolph Duke. The brothers, however, hardly get along with each other on even the slightest of issues, and this time Winthorpe caught their fancy.
To test a personal conjecture, they decide to fire Louis and offer the job to a street person instead, Valentine, played by Murphy. The rest of the narrative follows how Valentine and Louis get along and figure it all out and try to keep their heads floating above the water. The movie is fun, with plenty of comical sequences to keep you hooked.
8. The Santa Clause (1994)
This movie could be very well interpreted as the Man who saved Christmas. Scott has an unfortunate reawakening when the fictional Santa drops on his roof and hurts himself. Santa Clause can now no longer be out and about distributing gifts to children. So Scott must take on the task himself.
Scott then decides to fill up Santa’s shoes and takes on the onus of responsibility of distributing gifts and goodwill among the local kids, but it is no easy job.
Now he has a suspicious wife on his trail who’s of the idea that her husband might be having some sort of affair, and their 6-year-old, who believes his father to be the real Santa. Starring Tim Allen, Judge Reinhold, and Wendy Crewson, this feel-good movie is appropriate for the holiday to binge-watch.
9. A Christmas Tale (2008)
This 150-minute-long French family drama can get a bit slow and meddling in parts, but if you are looking for a movie that captures the holiday spirit, this will be it. Junon is the family matriarch who has just been diagnosed with leukemia and calls upon her children during Christmas, hoping one of them might volunteer for a bone marrow transplant.
However, none of her kids share the best of relations with her, owing to the loss of their brother and Junon’s oldest son Joseph when he was just a kid. As the movie progresses, it results in cats spilling out of the bags, trauma, and grief, but also a heartfelt reunion later that ends with forgiveness. This French family drama is different and poignant and involves a good old family gathering over the holidays.
10. Holiday Inn (1942)
This Bing Crosby-Fred Astaire starrer should put the whole family in a good mood for the Christmas holidays. It is one of those classic American retro movies that follows Linda and Jim, two friends but star-crossed lovers who decide to start a holiday inn.
Jim has previously been ditched by his long-time girlfriend Lila, and Lila has run off with her dancing partner Ted. Ted now comes in with charm and swagger, ready to sweep Linda off her feet. Directed by Mark Sandrich, the movie features some of the best Holiday spirited songs like Happy Holiday, Abraham, and Be Careful It’s My Heart.
11. Holiday Affair (1949)
Directed by Don Hartman, this American retro movie focuses on a young widow who has to choose between a well-to-do lawyer for whom she has no romantic feelings and her romantic partner with no job prospects whatsoever. Janet Leigh plays Connie Ennis, a commercial spy who catches the fancy of Carl, the lawyer, who is yet unaware of her true identity.
On one of her ventures at the mall, store clerk Steve manages to unmask her true identity but lets her go without any tribulation. This warms Connie towards Steve but also results in the latter getting fired. Now Connie has to choose between Carl and Steve, keeping in mind her financial affairs, what her heart wants and what she needs to sustain her son and herself.
12. About a Boy
Chris Weitz and Paul Weitz pull off a commercial rom-com with Christmas in the background with this 2002 movie that also stars Hugh Grant and Nicholas Hoult. Grant plays the filthy rich, selfish, and self-centered 30-something billionaire Will, who looks forward to dating single moms during the holiday season.
On the other hand, is 8-year-old Marcus, who lives with his chronically depressed mother, Fiona, and wants to do everything that might help his mother overcome the grief of losing her husband. Will and Fiona meet, and while they hit it off, Marcus becomes their bone of contention.
Will develops an uncanny liking towards Marcus, owing to their mutual losses, and Marcus helps Will become a more mature person. The movie won several awards and nominations, including an Oscar.
This is yet another slightly offbeat adaptation of the beloved kids’ story, A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens. Set in modern times, Bill Murray plays Frank Cross, a selfish and salty TV executive who detests the holiday spirit, festivities, and especially Christmas.
Drawing parallels with the protagonist from Dickens’ novel, Ebenezer Scrooge, Murray aptly portrays a cynical, miserly man who has an epiphany on Christmas Eve. He gets paid three visits by three ghosts, who try to make him realize how much he might be missing out on and makes him celebrate and experience Christmas all over again. This 1988 fantasy American comedy is a must-watch for the holiday season.
14. A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas
Picking up the threads from where they left off in Guantanamo Bay, stoner buddies Harold and Kumar have not been in touch. Harold has been entrusted with the job of protecting and looking after his father-in-law’s Christmas tree, something he looks forward to doing with elan since it might result in him liking Harold.
Kumar, however, is again up to no good. Six years later, he shows up at Harold’s doorstep with a mysterious package and ends up setting fire to the tree. Thus starts a series of misadventures of the two friends that once again packs in lots of plot twists and laugh-out-loud comical interludes.
15. Love Actually
This movie is an anthology of sorts of several love stories unfolding in and around New York during the Christmas holidays concerning several unrelated individuals.
There is High Grant, who plays the British Prime minister who is loved by all but plagued by the idea as to whether his assistant likes him back romantically. There is Daniel, played by Liam Neeson, who has recently lost his wife and is left with their pre-adolescent son, who needs some love advice.
Again there’s Juliet and Peter, a newly married couple looking forward to starting a journey of their lifetime, and Peter’s best friend, Mark, who is secretly in love with Juliet, played by Keira Knightley. There are several other actors and their respective stories, each dealing with love, loss, friendship, benevolence, and gratitude, all in the name of Christmas.
16. The Preacher’s Wife
Denzel Washington and Whitney Houston team up to deliver this American fantasy movie that follows the story of a pastor struggling with his personal life until he gets handed some expert advice courtesy of a Divine Intervention. Henry Biggs is a simple-minded small-town pastor who wants to serve the community well and also sustain his family.
Julia, Biggs’ wife, is dissatisfied as Henry seems to spend most of his time helping out people at the church, and Henry is plagued by the impending acquisition of the parish by businessman Joe.
He prays to God for a Christmas miracle and is instead bestowed upon by an angel from heaven, played by Houston. The movie has been critically acclaimed and also features some of Houston’s original compositions, all of which make it a true Christmas movie by essence.
17. White Christmas
A song-and-dance type of movie, this 1954 American retro comedy star Bing Crosby as Bob Wallace, a World War ll veteran who teams up with Phil Davis to become a stage performer. His field of expertise and interest is tap dancing and singing but getting into the nuances of the dance appears to be much harder than his time at the army barracks.
The duo encounters a pair of beautiful sisters, who would also be performing at a Christmas show, and they all take a trip to a family lodge. However, the owner of the lodge is none other than their commander. What follows next is a series of romantic mix-ups as they try to find rhythm and poise, grace and frolic. The movie was nominated for an Oscar and has received several other awards and recognition.
Directed by Sean Baker, this American indie drama is one of those Christmas oddballs that you’ve never experienced before, but once you do, you’re left with a deep, indelible impression in your mind. Sin-Dee is a prostitute woman in California who is gearing up to earn some money during the Christmas season so she can get away from this hellhole with her lover of 26 years, Chester.
Chester also happens to be her pimp, and the two have been planning to run away and start a family from scratch. However, Sin-Dee finds out that Chester has been cheating on her, and this makes her embark on a quest for vengeance and confrontation.
The movie is not exactly in tandem with the holiday spirit, but the brilliant script and even better acting by each of the cast members make it an extremely wholesome and worthy watch.
Adapted from the novel, The Prince of Salt, this 2015 romantic period drama stars Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara in a forbidden love affair with the holiday season beckoning upon them. Therese Belivet is a young, 20-something woman working as a clerk in the department store when she encounters an older woman, Carol, who also happens to be an aspiring photographer.
The two strike off an uncanny friendship that borders on something more intimate and romantic but the social prejudice and conditions could hardly be ideal for them to pursue each other. Carol is also married and a mother, which puts her in even bigger chaos. The movie was a huge success, depicting a lesbian love story that is neither cliched nor very strong in its symbolism. It earned six Oscar nominations and several awards.
20. Ernest Saves Christmas
Jim Varney plays a hapless taxi driver, running chores in and around Manhattan during the holiday season when Santa Claus seeks him out to help him pass on the mantle of hosting Christmas to another guy. The guy in question, who should be looking forward to serving time as Santa Claus, is none other than TV representative Joe Carruthers, played by Oliver Clark, who lives across Florida.
Now Ernest and a teen girl, Harmony, must help Santa get to Joe in time for Christmas so that the holiday doesn’t go in vain. The movie is a riot of laughter and punchlines, comical moves, and heartfelt moments, all of which should appeal to the kids. It is the perfect watch for Christmas.
21. Eyes Wide Shut
This movie is slightly neurotic, a far-fetched psychological thriller, and packs in quite a few A-rated scenes that may not be appropriate for a big family watch. But if you’re having a movie night with your friends, this should top your list. Tom Cruise plays Dr. William Hartford, who embarks on a series of sexual adventures after his wife Alice expresses her deepest desires, fantasies, and unfulfilled longings for the same.
He encounters an old friend, Nick Nightingale, who tells him of such sexual parties where men are required to participate blindfolded, and the women are all going and beautiful. Danger befalls them, however, when Hartford gets spotted by a close acquaintance. The movie also stars Nicole Kidman, Sydney Pollack, and Madison Eginton and is regarded as one of Kubrick’s best works to date.
22. Christmas in Connecticut
Directed by Peter Godfrey, the movie stars Barbara Stanwyck as journalist Elizabeth Lane, one of the most famous food bloggers in New York. The irony is that Elizabeth is neither a housewife nor a cook. She lives all by herself in New York without any ability to cook but pens some extraordinary stuff centering her fictional life as a housewife from Connecticut.
The recipes are sourced from her good friend Felix. So when the editor of the magazine invites himself to her place for a Christmas meal, Lane knows her career may be in jeopardy, and the ruse would be up unless she learns how to cook. The movie also stars Dennis Morgan, Sydney Greenstreet, and Reginald Gardiner and is one of those entertaining, feel-good, lighthearted cinemas.
23. Home Alone
Christmas simply cannot be done without a rerun of this classic and defining American comedy-drama centering on a kid who has been left all by himself to man the house by his parents during Christmas. Macaulay Culkin plays Kevin Macallister, who has been left by himself at their suburban house by his parents, who have left for a trip to France.
Kevin enjoys his company and the freedom of not being constantly watched over or supervised, but things take a funny turn when two thieves try to break in. The movie is a riot of several funny occurrences, all stitched up to make for a hilarious family drama just at the onset of Christmas. The sequels to this movie also pack in quite a punch and should be thoroughly enjoyable.
24. A Christmas Carol (2009)
Adapted from Charles Dickens’s novel by the same name, this animated version follows the story of a grumpy and miserly old businessman, Ebenezer Scrooge, who despises Christmas and everything it stands for. More so, he hates people who celebrate Christmas and engage in mirth and splendor, all of which he feels is such a waste.
So on Christmas Eve, he encounters three spirits and the ghost of his best friend Marley, who tries to redeem him from such mediocrity. Directed by Robert Zemeckis, the movie includes voiceovers by some of the most notable names in Hollywood, like Jim Carrey, Colin Firth, Gary Oldman, and Cary Elwes. The movie is perhaps the best-animated adaptation of the novel and one that you might enjoy with the gang.
25. Happiest Season
This 2020 queer-themed Christmas family drama stars Kirsten Stewart, Mackenzie Davis, and Aubrey Plaza. Stewart plays the role of Abby, who is invited over to her girlfriend’s place to celebrate Christmas with her family.
Abby plans to propose to Harper while she’s having dinner with the family but is in for a rude shock when she discovers Harper has not yet made their relationship public, nor has she come out to her parents.
Clea Duvall delivered an almost autobiographical direction with this movie that not only focuses on the Christmas theme but also sends an important message about dealing with homosexuality. This movie packs in quite a punch and vigor and could be an apt item to binge-watch over the holidays.
26. Just Friends
Ryan Reynolds and Amy Smart play a romantic couple in this classic American rom-com that also serves as an ideal holiday watch. Directed by Roger Kumble, Reynolds plays a formerly overweight guy, Chris, who has been in love with his friend Jamie, played by Smart, ever since he has known her, except Jamie doesn’t feel quite the same.
He tries multiple times to seal the deal and get Jamie to see him differently, but his looks stand in the way. Faced with rejection, Chris runs off to LA, loses all the weight, and becomes an eligible music manager but doesn’t get over Jamie easily. When he returns to his hometown later, just in time for Christmas, the two meet again, and this time, love might just be in the cards for him.
27. Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey
Forest Whittaker and CC funny guy, Keegan Michael Key, pair up to deliver a Christmas miracle in this 2020 American comedy movie that has equal parts sci-fi and comedy. Whittaker plays the role of Jeronicus, a legendary toymaker from the fictional town of Cobbleton whose inventions are glorious, fanciful, and simply extraordinary.
He has a granddaughter, Madeline, who’s equally creative and imaginative and loves her grandfather’s creations. So when Jeronicus’s trusted apprentice steals his latest invention that has magical healing properties, it is up to the grandfather-granddaughter dup to straighten things out.
This movie, made especially for kids, is entertaining, wholesome, and one of the perfect movies to watch with your kids around the holidays.
28. Arthur Christmas (2011)
Directed by Sarah Smith, this is yet another animated Fantasy drama that follows Santa’s son, Arthur, on a quest to redeem Christmas for the little girl who hasn’t received her gifts on time owing to his fault. James McAvoy does the voiceover for Arthur, while Bill Nighy and Hugh Laurie do the same for Santa Claus and his brother, Steve Claus, respectively.
Arthur sets out on an adventure to help win over the little girl within a short span of two hours with nothing at his disposal except the retired young elf, Godsanta, and a reindeer. The animation and special effects in the movie make for quite a marvelous watch, especially if you have kids over for the weekend.
An act of kindness can go a long way. This is, in short, the essence of the movie that is directed by Sergio Pablos and Carlos Martínez López. The movie is an animated one that focuses on a mediocre student, Jesper, from the postal academy who has been posted on a frozen island off the Arctic Circle.
Jesper feels incredibly lonely and isolated in this regard and seeks to change jobs but befriends local teacher Alva, played by Rashida Jones, and a carpenter, Klaus.
The rest of the movie follows the trajectory of Jesper as he tries to fill the town with laughter and recreation just in time for Christmas. The voiceovers have been done by Jason Schwartzman, J.K. Simmons, and Will Sasso and make up for a hilarious and wholesome watch.
Produced by Walt Disney, this movie follows the journey of Noelle Kringle, Kris Kringle’s daughter, who only wishes to be appreciated by her father and follow in the footsteps of her brother Nick. Noelle is bright, cheerful, bubbly and all decked up in Holiday spirit.
When Nick steps away for some casual retreat a few days before taking over the family business and doesn’t return, it is up to Noelle to find and bring him back. Starring Anna Kendrick, Bill Hader, Shirley Maclaine, and Billy Eichner, this movie should serve as the perfect start to your holidays.
31. The Polar Express
Directed by Robert Zemeckis, this Christmas-themed movie focuses on Hero Boy, a young guy who wants to find Santa. Desperate in his search, he jumps onto the Polar Express that is headed towards the North Pole and is Santa’s residence on Christmas Eve.
On the train, he encounters several other characters who leave an indelible impression on him and makes him believe in Christmas and every little kind of magic and miracle that the festival stands for. Voiced over by Tom Hanks, Chris Coppola, Michael Jeter, and Peter Scolari, this movie has already earned several nominations and awards.
This 1986 musical comedy is based on the famous play, The Nutcracker and features High Bigney and Patricia Barker. It is a Pacific Northwest Ballet performance on Christmas Eve, and people are cloaked in the holiday spirits and festivities.
Clara is given a big bag full of gifts by her grandfather, Drosselmeier, among which there is the wooden Nutcracker. So when the entire family goes to sleep, she quietly steps down to inspect the gifts under the tree, only to discover that the Nutcracker has come to life.
She then runs off into a dark and fictional world with the wooden toy and encounters a series of misadventures as she struggles to find her way back.
33. The Princess Switch
Vanessa Hudgens and Sam Palladio star in this Christmas-themed movie directed by Mark Rohl that serves as the perfect watch for the holidays. Stacy is a small-town Baker who takes a trip to the charming kingdom of Belgravia with her friend, Kevin, to participate in a bake-off.
On her trip, she encounters an identical stranger who wishes to switch places with her. This stranger is none other than the famous Duchess, Margaret Delacourt, who is set to marry the Prince of Belgravia, keeping in terms with her duties and responsibilities. The movie is a fun watch and sure to appeal to both the young and the old in the family.
Anna and Elsa are two princesses living in a fictional kingdom where people are happy, and everyone lives peacefully and harmoniously. Elsa, the eldest of the two, is set to be the queen after her parents pass away, but there is a curse upon her that threatens her position and should word her out. Elsa has been cursed with the power to turn everything into blocks of ice if she ever gets anxious or scared or feels threatened.
Anna, on the other hand, is cheerful and optimistic and has no idea of the curse her sister carries. When an unfortunate incident results in her secret powers being divulged to the people of Arrendelle, Elsa runs off, but Aa needs to follow suit. This animated movie is directed by Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee and will surely appeal to people of all ages.
35. The Smurfs: A Christmas Carol
Directed by Troy Quane, this animated movie follows the Smurfs as they make plans for Christmas. Grouchy Smurf is, however, not very happy with the prospect of spending Christmas amidst fun and frolic and has ended up behaving pretty rudely with almost everyone.
He then gets called upon by three ghosts from the past, present, and future who attempt to make him change his opinion of Christmas. Voiced over by Jack Angel, Fred Armisen, Hank Azaria, and George Lopez, this movie is ideal for kids to binge-watch during the holidays.
36. Love Hard
Director Hernán Jiménez pulls off a romantic clincher with this Nina Dobrev starrer that has a Christmas theme to it. Natalie is a single 30-something journalist from LA who wants to find true love and gets on the dating site just around the holidays. She swipes right on a dreamy-looking guy named Tag from the East Coast, and the two hit it off instantly.
The only problem is that they have not met each other. So Natalie decides to fly down to the East coast to surprise Tag but instead gets shocked when she finds out that she has instead been catfished by a short, geeky Chinese dude. The movie is hilarious in places and has potential, but it might lack the depth or clarity of a script in places. Overall it makes for a lighthearted watch on the holiday weekend.
37. Falling for Christmas
Lindsay Lohan returns to the screens and our living room once again with this Christmas-themed American romantic comedy directed by Janeen Damian and starring Chord Overstreet. Newly engaged heiress Sierra goes on a skiing trip just around Christmas but meets with an unfortunate accident that leaves her with no recollection of the past.
She is taken in by an interesting-looking lodge owner and his daughter, Jake, and Avy, who look after her and nurse her back to health. In the process, Sierra and Jake fall for each other, but Sierra is engaged, and Jake has no idea about her true identity. The movie is a gushy romantic comedy that has a feel-good factor to it and will keep you engaged for the entire 90 minutes of running time.
38. Peter Pan
Directed by PJ Hogan, this 2003 adventure movie is adapted from the famous novel Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie. Set in the early 1900s, the Darling brothers and sister, Wendy, receive a visit from the mysterious Peter Pan, the boy who never grows up.
Enamored by Peter’s charms, they follow him to Neverland and encounter a series of adventures, including fighting the evil Captain Hook and meeting the frisky fairy, Tinker Bell. Starring Jeremy Sumpter as Pan, Rachel Hardwood as Wendy, and Jason Isaacs as Captain Hook, this movie is one of the best that you could get hooked on for Christmas Eve.
So here is your list of the top 38 Christmas-themed movies that you can watch with your entire family over the holidays. Each of these has been handpicked carefully, keeping in mind that it maintains and upkeeps the spirit of Christmas and everything the festival stands for. So get to finishing this list as soon as possible and have holly-jolly Christmas.