One of the best ways to get into the Christmas spirit is to plop in front of the couch and watch a holiday film. There are a lot of Christmas movies that have been made over the years, and some will give you that heartfelt Christmas feeling more than others. You may have a go-to Christmas movie that you love to watch every year, but it’s also fun to spend some time watching Christmas movies you may not have seen in a while. Whether you’re sitting down to watch alone or cuddling up with your entire family, the measure of success for Christmas movies is that they make you appreciate the holiday season and what it is truly about. With all of the options out there, use this list of the 10 best Christmas movies to help you narrow down your search and to guarantee yourself a satisfying movie experience. Before delving a bit deeper into each movie on the list, here is a quick glimpse at the titles that made it:
- It’s a Wonderful Life
- National Lampoons’ Christmas Vacation
- Miracle on 34th Street
- Home Alone
- The Muppet Christmas Carol
- How the Grinch Stole Christmas
- The Santa Clause
- A Christmas Carol
- Bad Santa
Now let’s take a closer look at these fantastic Christmas movies…
- It’s a Wonderful Life – You will be hard pressed to top this classic holiday film. Released in 1946, It’s a Wonderful Life tells the story of George Bailey – a young businessman who is down on his luck. He finds himself on the brink of losing his business on Christmas Eve. Distraught at the idea of letting his family down, he contemplates suicide. In true Christmas fashion, an angel named Clarence steps in. In attempt to earn his angel wings, Clarence shows George what life would have been like had he never been born. These visions of an awful fate for both his town and his loved ones show Bailey that he has actually touched many people in a positive way, and he learns to truly cherish the wonderful life he has been given. It’s a Wonderful Life is a tear-jerker that is sure to get you in the spirit of Christmas and give you that all-over warm and fuzzy feeling.
- National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation – No list of the top Christmas movies is complete without a visit from the Griswold’s. This classic movie dates back to 1989, and it brings movie watchers as much joy now as it did back then. In this Christmas comedy, Clark Griswold starts out filled with enough holiday spirit for his entire family. But as the story unfolds, one thing after another goes wrong, slowly draining the Christmas spirit from the head of the Griswold family. From a holiday lights display gone awry to uninvited guests, disaster besets Clark in a very comical way. As Clark’s optimism is continually tested, viewers both young and old will find themselves chuckling with delight as the story unfolds in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.
- Elf – Even though Elf was not released until 2003, it quickly made its way onto the top Christmas movies list. The main character – Buddy the Elf – is actually an orphaned boy who is raised by elves. As he goes on an adventure to New York City to meet his biological father, comedy ensues as Buddy is ill-equipped for city life. His innocence and joy will make you laugh out loud as he diligently tries to win the heart of his workaholic and Scrooge-like father. Brimming with comedy, love and Christmas cheer, Elf will melt the heart of even the toughest Scrooge in the room.
- Miracle on 34th Street – As we return to the classics on our list, no viewing of Christmas movies is complete without Miracle on 34th Street. This 1947 film begins with an old man discovering that the Santa cast in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is drunk. The woman in charge of the parade – Doris Walker – replaces the drunk Santa with the man who discovered him this way. As events unfold, it turns out this replacement claims his name is Kris Kringle and believes he is the one and only Santa Claus himself. Doris (along with her daughter) is a firm non-believer, yet there is no denying the impact Kringle is having on everyone around him as he spreads the Christmas spirit. In a bad turn of events, Kris Kringle is committed to a mental hospital. Kringle has all but given up when Doris’s neighbor comes to his defense. As a formal hearing ensues, a Christmas miracle unfolds that you have to see to believe.
- Home Alone – In this 1990 holiday movie, the McCallister family is busy packing for a trip to Paris. Amidst a bustling and over-packed household, the youngest (and mischievous) McCallister – Kevin – is sent to bed early as a punishment. When a missed alarm clock causes a chaotic rush to the airport, Kevin is left behind. What starts out as a fun adventure quickly goes on a downward spiral as two burglars attempt to break into the house. Using his wits and scheming ways, Kevin bravely defends his home as his frantic mother tries to race home to find her son. Home Alone is the perfect combination of comedy, adventure and warmth.
- The Muppet Christmas Carol – Over the years there have been a variety of Muppet movies, and in 1992 these heartwarming characters celebrated Christmas. In The Muppet Christmas Carol, the Muppets retell the age-old Christmas tale of Ebenezer Scrooge. The Charles Dicken’s classic “A Christmas Carol” is reinvented through the loveable Muppets and is a holiday treat that is perfect for any family movie night.
- How the Grinch Stole Christmas – In 2000, the Dr. Seuss Christmas classic came to life with the production of How the Grinch Stole Christmas. With special effects and talented make-up artists, the Grinch and the inhabitants of Whoville beautifully come to life in this story of a lonely, grumpy old Grinch whose heart grows in size after his failed attempt to steal Christmas. How the Grinch Stole Christmas will not only warm your heart, but it will also entertain your senses with the visual effects and scenery.
- The Santa Clause – This 1994 Christmas movie was successful enough to spawn two sequels so it is a must-watch during the holiday season. The film begins with divorcee Scott Calvin accidentally killing Santa Claus when he startles him on his roof Christmas Eve night. Following the instructions left in Santa’s sleigh, Calvin puts on Santa’s suit and is immediately transported around the world to deliver Christmas presents. Upon arriving in the North Pole, Calvin is then informed he is the new Santa Claus and finds his body slowly transforming into Jolly Old St. Nick. As one might guess, these changes cause quite a bit of confusion and chaos in Calvin’s life, and as The Santa Clause unfolds viewers watch as he struggles to deal with this challenge to keep Christmas going.
- A Christmas Carol – While there have been several adaptations of A Christmas Carol, the original A Christmas Carol movie was released in 1938. Portraying the tale of the bitter Ebenezer Scrooge who is devoid of any and all Christmas spirit, the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future visit Ebenezer on Christmas Eve night. Each visit slowly but surely changes Scrooge’s outlook on life and by Christmas morning he awakes filled with the true meaning of the holiday. There is absolutely nothing wrong with partaking in any of the versions of this holiday story, but nothing quite beats the original A Christmas Carol movie. Sometimes it is simply better to stick with the classics.
- Bad Santa – Not your typical holiday film, Bad Santa is the only ‘R’ rated movie on this top Christmas movies list. So while this one is not appropriate for small children, it will surely lift the spirits of adults during the stressful holiday season. This 2003 film stars a conman named William Stokes who works as a Santa each year in order to rob the stores in which he is working. He and his partner in crime find themselves facing several hurdles this particular year, including a security guard who is onto their scheme. Bad Santa is an adult Christmas movie that is sure to make you laugh away any holiday stress that may have piled up during the day.
Whether you love the tried and true classics of old or are looking for a good laugh, this list of the 10 best Christmas movies has something for everyone. This is a list worth printing out so you can make sure you check each and every one off your list this holiday season. Happy viewing!