Top 10 Christmas Movies, Ranked

Ralphie (played by Peter Billingsley) sits on the lap of a mall Santa Claus (played by Jeff Gillen) in A Christmas Story (1983)

A truly great Christmas movie should summon all of the feel-good, holiday bliss that we crave so deeply around this time of year. Since we all celebrate Christmas a little differently, that means that everyone’s short list of holiday movies may vary from home to home. Whether you deck the halls with the black-and-white classics like the original Miracle on 34th Street (1947), or cherish the gleefully vulgar comedies like Bad Santa (2003), we all have our own traditions when it comes to Christmas movies. 

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So whatever your list of holiday favorites looks like, here is our list of the top 10 Christmas movies that, in our opinion, perfectly capture the spirit of Christmas! 

 

10. THE SANTA CLAUSE (1994)

The Santa Clause-Lloyd and Allen
Charlie (Eric Lloyd) and Scott Calvin (Tim Allen) in The Santa Clause (1994)

So many Christmas movies follow the quintessential blueprints of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, but The Santa Clause took it to the next level when Christmas crank and Santa non-believer Scott Calvin ends up becoming Kris Kringle himself. In a movie that not only highlights some very real-life family issues around the holidays, we receive some classic Tim Allen banter all wrapped up in a heartwarming holiday message. 

 

9. RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER (1964)

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
Hermey (voiced by Paul Soles) and Rudolph (voiced by Billie Mae Richards) in Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964)

In an epic tale following the journey of a mutant reindeer and an ostracized elf who desperately wants to become a dentist, we get a big helping of classic 1960’s claymation in this holiday classic. As arguably one of the most aired Christmas specials of all time, the movie contains a message of loving yourself despite your imperfections is a timeless theme we all need to be reminded of.  

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8. HOME ALONE (1990)

Home Alone-Macaulay Culkin
Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin) and Harry (Joe Pesci) in Home Alone (1990)

When Macaulay Culkin’s Kevin McCallister finds himself unexpectedly left behind by his family who mistakenly flies to Paris without him, we embark on one of the most slap-sticky, over-the-top, comedic journeys ever to grace the Christmas movie canon. As we watch this 8-year-old boy mercilessly torment a pair of (deserving) home invaders, we almost wish that our parents left us home alone more often. 

 

7. A CHRISTMAS CAROL (1938)

A Christmas Carol 1938-Carroll and Owen
Jacob Marley (Leo G. Carroll) and Ebenezer Scrooge (Reginald Owen) in A Christmas Carol (1938)

With one of the most crotchety versions of Scrooge, this first major adaptation of Charles Dickens' novella of the same name, is the first version to have all of the ghostly visitors appear in a single night—a tweak to the original writing that would become a staple for all following versions of the movie. 

 

6. NATIONAL LAMPOON’S CHRISTMAS VACATION (1989)

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation-Chase and Hickey
Clark (Chevy Chase) and Lewis (William Hickey) in National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (1989)

Rarely has a movie series' third installment equated to the quality of its predecessors, but with the Christmas-themed chapter of the National Lampoon’s Vacation franchise, we may have been gifted the best of the three. We watch through parted fingers as bumbling family man, Clark Griswold, attempts to give his family the perfect Christmas in a movie that perfectly captures the anxiety of hosting your entire family for the holidays. 

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5. HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS! (1966)

How the Grinch Stole Christmas
The Grinch (voiced by Boris Karloff) in How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (1966)

Apologies to all Jim Carrey fans out there, but there is no beating the Chuck Jones animated, 1960’s classic of Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (1966). This poetic, Christmas masterpiece tells a tale of kindness and understanding that is enough to make all of our hearts grow three full sizes. 

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4. ELF (2003)

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Buddy (Will Ferrell) and Walter (James Caan) and in Elf (2003)

“The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.” This is just one of many unforgettable quotes from the Christmas man-child, Buddy the Elf. Perfectly played by Will Ferrell, Buddy’s enthusiasm and Christmas spirit is undeniably contagious. With everything from child-like antics to a feel-good love story, Elf (2003) gives us a hysterical look at Christmas that could make any cynic’s heart melt. 

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3. MIRACLE ON 34th STREET (1947)

Miracle on 34th Street 1947-Wood and Gwenn
Susan Walker (Natalie Wood) and Kris Kringle (Edmund Gwenn) in Miracle on 34th Street (1947)

Miracle on 34th Street (1947) was not just one of the best Christmas movies but one of the best movies to be released that year. Securing an Oscar® for Best Adapted Screenplay, as well as one for Edmund Gwenn in his role as Kris Kringle, you can't go wrong with this perennial Christmas staple following the trial of a man claiming to be Santa Claus. With a performance so believable, this Christmas classic will leave us wondering if Santa really does exist. 

 

2. A CHRISTMAS STORY (1983)

A Christmas Story-tongue on pole
Flick (Scott Schwartz) and Ralphie (Peter Billingsley) in A Christmas Story (1983)

From 1974’s Black Christmas director, Bob Clark, comes a drastically different kind of Christmas movie. The movie follows Ralphie (played by Peter Billingsley) in the days before Christmas as he tirelessly attempts to persuade his mother (and Santa) to bring him the coveted Red Ryder air rifle. Captured in a fashion that feels as though this movie was shot sometime in the 1950’s, this Christmas classic is wrapped up tight in nostalgia. Go ahead and try to name a better Christmas movie—we TRIPLE DOG DARE YA! 

 

1. IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE (1946)

It's a Wonderful Life-Grimes and Stewart
Zuzu (Karolyn Grimes) and George Bailey (James Stewart) in It's a Wonderful Life (1946)

Well, ok there may be one better. Frank Capra’s classic tale of redemption has eternally secured itself at the top of our best Christmas movies of all time list thanks to Jimmy Stewart’s passionately enthusiastic performance. The message of overcoming your hardships and realizing the importance and beauty of life has come to represent the spirit of Christmas itself. Not to mention that It's a Wonderful Life produced one of the greatest, all-time movie villains in the heinous Mr. Potter. 

 

To help you get into the Christmas spirit, Little Women is now playing at Regal.

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