MOVIESPOP CULTURETVTop 10 Christmas Movies of All Time

It’s that time of the year and though this Holiday Season is indelibly different we can still indulge in one of my favorite pastimes in watching Christmas movies. Throughout my life there are a few classics that are near and dear to my heart but on my list you will see some newcomers and curveballs as well. For me if a movie’s story takes place during the holiday season and namely Christmas is part of...
J-Walk12 months ago29819 min

It’s that time of the year and though this Holiday Season is indelibly different we can still indulge in one of my favorite pastimes in watching Christmas movies. Throughout my life there are a few classics that are near and dear to my heart but on my list you will see some newcomers and curveballs as well. For me if a movie’s story takes place during the holiday season and namely Christmas is part of the plot then I consider it a Christmas movie. So lets not waste anymore time and get to the list but first here are some honorable mentions! Jingle All the Way, Friday After Next, and Bad Santa are all hilarious Christmas movies but they did not make my list. Jingle All the Way is too formulaic and Bad Santa as well as Friday After Next aren’t movies you can watch with the whole family, that is why they are on the outside looking in. 

10-The Santa Clause

Following the 90’s archetype of Dad who works too much, divorced father Scott played by Tim Allen accidentally kills Santa Claus and in return needs to take the place of Santa for the following Christmas as the new Chris Cringle due to fine print on a business card. He reluctantly takes the over responsibilities of the former Santa and like most movies on this list, finds out the true meaning of Christmas. Though this story is heartwarming but consistent plot holes and gratuitous Home Improvement references make this movie very unappealing or rewatchable for my adult self. That being said the movie’s warmth and Tim Allen’s acting make it Christmas classic. 


Salesman/Inventor brings home an early Christmas present for his son in the form of a rare pet found at a back alley antique shop in Chinatown whose species is only known as the Mogwai. Though the seller gave strict instructions of not getting the creature wet, feeding them after dark, or avoiding bright lights his new owners of course failed miserably causing the original Mogwai named Gizmo to multiply and transform into violent gremlins. The gremlins run a muck and basically ruin the Christmas season bringing chaos to this small midwest town.  Product of Executive Producer Steven Spielberg we have a neo horror that plays off of classic monster movies. The film is set during the Christmas season with a snowy backdrop while the town prepares for the big holiday creating a fun aesthetic and a familiar setting. It may be the best movie on the list but it is far down due to the fact that the story is set during Christmas, it is not the center theme to the movie. 

8-Die Hard

Possibly the most disputed movie on this list due to the fact of it being a bloody action thriller but Die Hard covers all the criteria of an authentic Christmas movie. New York City cop John Mclain played by Bruce Willis travels to Los Angeles to visit his estranged wife at her company Christmas party. The party is hijacked by German radical Hans Gruber looking to steal $640 million in untraceable bonds, what a real scrooge! Mclain’s cop instincts kick into play, killing the terrorist one by one and eventually saving his family while learning the true meaning of Christmas. The film’s score opens with Run DMC’s Christmas in Hollis, “Joyful, Joyful” playing during the final fight scene, and when the end credits roll “Let it Snow” plays while the restored couple drives away from a fateful Christmas Eve. The movie is draped in Christmas references and I have fond memories of watching this with family during the holiday season. 


Buddy the Elf played by the hilarious Will Ferrell never fit in as a worker at Santa’s toyshop in the North Pole. After accidentally learning that he is actually a human orphan, Buddy’s world is flipped upside down and leaves the North Pole for New York City in search of his father. Hilarity ensues watching Buddy’s complete innocence juxtaposed with the grittiness of the real adult world. Directed by Jon Faverou, Elf is heartwarming, hilarious, and a movie the whole family can watch which differs from most of Ferrel’s comedies. The film pulls much of its inspiration from the classic Christmas made for TV movies of the 70’s and 80’s, most noteworthy being Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. For this reason I have to keep Elf where it is on this list for the fact it is completely carried by Will Ferrel’s excellent performance. 

6-The Grinch (All Versions)

An outsider and all around Holiday hater, the Grinch has lived in the outskirts of Whoville for most of his lifetime loathing the Christmas loving citizens of this snow covered town. After his plan to steal Christmas is foiled, the kind hearted Cindy-Lou Who teaches him compassion and helps him reconcile with the aforementioned townspeople. This Christmas staple has been redone many times but most notably in cartoon form in 1966 and infamously by Jim Carey in the 2000 live action adaptation of the classic. While the original story originates from the 1957 Dr. Seuss book How the Grinch Stole Christmas it seems that the big studios want to reinvent the story for the upcoming generations. Most recently in 2018 The Grinch returned in 3D animation form with a modern soundtrack from Tyler the Creator. Though this story is a classic, there isn’t a film that is the standout benchmarks of the three, I personally am a fan of the original animation but many cling to the Jim Carey version, either way the Grinch is here to stay!

5-Nightmare before Christmas

Is it a Christmas movie or is it a Halloween Movie? Honestly, it’s both and i’m here for it. Birthed from the dark mind of Tim Burton, A Nightmare Before Christmas is a visual masterpiece following Jack Skelinton, the Pumpkin King of HalloweenTown. On a late night excursion Jack discovers that there is another holiday called Christmas and vows to bring the tradition back to his friends in Halloween town to do it bigger and better. When chaos ensues Jack is left with the guilt of possibly hurting the people he loves by his obsession to create the perfect Christmas. With all original Music A Nightmare Before Christmas has the best original soundtrack of any movie on this list. The film is a borderline musical that somehow creates a one of a kind experience with dark characters but also has a great story of redemption and how differing perspectives can create misconstrued expectations. The reason it is not higher is due to the fact that it is equal parts Halloween movie and Christmas movie. 

4-National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

Bumbling father Clark Griswald played by Chevy Chase tries his hardest to make this Christmas the best ever for his family but in true National Lampoon fashion this ends in a giant disaster. This may be the most relatable Christmas movie because of the characters of the extended family, most notably Cousin Eddie and his fleet of insubordinate children. Every family has pockets of miscreants that always make the holidays more interesting! Clark, a hard working corporate man is awaiting his Christmas bonus but receives a Jelly of the Month subscription after anticipating a cash payout. This film touches on the pitfalls of large family gatherings while also reminding us that it’s not about the gifts but the memories we make along the way. This memorable comedy is full of raunchy jokes and belly laughs that make it rewatch able to this day!

3-Rudolph the RedNosed Reindeer

 Rudolph a young Reindeer in Santa’s North Pole learns early that he is an outcast due to his bright red nose causing him to run away from home. After leaving he joins a rag tag group of travelers including Hermes the Toy Building Elf who wants to be a dentist and Yukon Cornelius the prospector on the search for silver and gold. Their adventures pit them against the abominable snowman, navigating the island of misfit toys, and saving Christmas using his bright red nose that made him an outcast in the first place. This made for TV masterpiece based off of the classic Christmas carol paved the way for countless spinoffs and influenced future films most notably Elf. This stop motion feature captures a unique story that has become a staple for every Christmas and is a time capsule from a simpler time. The beloved characters, the music, and cheesy dialogue make for a one of a kind quintessential Christmas classic.  

2-Home Alone 1 & 2

In both films young Kevin Mcallister played by Mculley Culkin is left behind by his family on Christmas and he has to learn some hard lessons on the fly including how to protect himself from violent burglars. They both have the same morals; Kevin learns never to judge a book by it’s cover (Old man Marley & the Pigeon Lady) and the true meaning of Christmas is family. The Home Alone franchise has become iconic and has survived a few decades as a Christmas classic still being relevant today. The stellar performance by Culkin is the life blood of the film but both stories are well written and many (myself included) believe the sequel improves on the first installment. McCallister’s ingenuity of creating booby traps to narrow the playing field with burglars is hilarious and surprisingly violent. Also, the way he navigates the adult world is endearing and carries a deeper meaning that is unique to each viewer due the movies ability to be outrageous as well as realistic. This is an every Christmas staple at my familie’s party and I always enjoy the younger kids getting a kick out of it the same way I did growing up.

1- A Christmas Story

Ralphy, a jovial 9 year old from rural Ohio has a dream of getting a Red Ryder BB Gun for Christmas but everyone in the adult world insists that he’ll shoot his eye out. This movie perfectly captures the innocence of childhood through the eyes of the narrator reflecting on his past. Countless memorable moments like licking the pole, the tire change scene, beating up the bully, and the infamous pink bunny pajamas. This movie has become such a staple for American Christmas that TBS plays the movie on repeat for 24 hours. Everytime I watch this movie I laugh at the same parts because the moments are genuine and witty. The film takes place during the 1950’s representing the innocence of America juxtaposed by the innocence of childhood. This is my top pick because it encapsulates the Christmas ethos, laugh out loud funny, and timeless in its themes. 



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