What is the BEST Christmas Movie?

What truly is the top Christmas movie? Learn about some of the top five holiday movies from some websites – maybe some that you haven’t even heard of.

What is the BEST Christmas Movie?

Jasmine Washington

Christmas is finally approaching, and that means trees are coming up and traditions are falling in. As the holiday season continues, families fall into the usuals of watching Christmas movies. Each family has their own favorite movies…so what is really the best Christmas movie? It’s almost an impossible answer – could it be Elf, Home Alone, or the classic The Nightmare Before Christmas (a debatable topic)? 

   Well, if you’re the top trendsetter and lover of number one things, I have the lists for you! According to several different websites, the best Christmas movie of all time is a different thing. Depending on which holiday movie is an icon to you, maybe you haven’t been drinking the right eggnog…

   According to Vulture, a New York-based website, their look on the top forty movies might not be what you believe. According to Vulture, the top five holiday movies are: 

  • It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) 

Apparently a classic I never knew about, It’s a Wonderful Life is still in the black & white film filter. Also the number one movie by Thrillist, this holiday film is about a character named George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart), who is unaware of the greatness of his actions. Surprisingly, George is planning on ending his life before an angel named Clarence (Henry Travers) shows up to change his mind and show him another way. A darker Christmas movie, this film is apparently a favorite because it is dark, but also heartfelt. Stewart is highly credited for his acting as George Bailey, betraying a character who would be on top of the world one moment and then crashing down the next.

Fun fact: the Great Depression and World War II inspired this movie – likely why it has a darker underlying theme. Regardless of this though, the writer of this article states, “…it’s vision of holiday kindness, and of the sort of country most of us would want to live in and the values of kindness and generosity most of us share, remains timeless.” 

  • Tangerine (2015) 
  • Miracle on 34th Street (1947) 

Another late 1940’s classic, Miracle on 34th Street is about a little girl (Natalie Wood) whose mother (Maureen O’Hara) hires someone to be Santa at a Macy’s store. Going into several genres of fantasy, romance, and thriller, this film is cherished for its overall idea of letting children be children for as long as possible. It plays with the idea of a man who may actually be Santa, making a wondrous movie of Christmas miracles and cheerful music. 

  • A Christmas Carol (1951)

Ebenezer Scrooge! Apparently one of the most memorable versions of Scrooge thanks to Alastair Sim. It goes into the topic of how we can only change ourselves, dealing with a man who hates Christmas and then goes through his past, present, and future (with the help of ghosts, of course). Scrooge learns the importance of opening up his heart and caring about the world. It’s a great movie about the importance of character development, and thanks to Sim, this movie has become an ultimate masterpiece. 

  • The Shop Around the Corner (1940)

   According to Entertainment Weekly, their list of top twenty movies features quite a lot of the movies I grew up watching. Including movies like The Santa Clause (1994), White Christmas (1954), Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964), and How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1996), their list of the top five holiday movies is a bit more modern…

  • It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
  • A Christmas Story (1983) 
  • A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965) 

An actual classic to some of my friends, A Charlie Brown Christmas is the type of movie that just fills you with happiness from the start. The author of this article states, “I could watch those Peanut kids…on an eternal loop and never get tired of it. Plus, if there was ever a movie that made you want to take home the saddest, baldest tree at the nursery, this is the one.” 

  • Elf (2003) 

My mother’s favorite Christmas comedy, this is the type of movie to make you laugh out loud and appreciate the little things of the holiday season. Will Ferrell’s incredible acting in this film truly made it a classic – acting like such a child and an adult all at the same time. Elf follows a lot of things that people still do today – like Buddy’s foods that he eats throughout the movie, and the iconic “Santa!” meme that spread around the Internet for years, a movie about the importance of finding your family (biological or not) and opening your mind to others, this comedy is sure to make you wish you were on the North Pole.

  • How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966) 

Not the live-action movie that most are familiar with, before Jim Carrey, this animated movie follows most of the same things that the live-action movie. Based on Dr. Seuss’s novel, it’s rhyming dialogue adds to the cheerful, giddy feeling viewers get when watching this film. Though it’s likely that everyone’s seen the movie, and it’s not their slice of roast beast, there’s no denying its impact on Christmas and how we celebrate it.

   In the eyes of Town & Country, their top five movies are as following: 

  • A Christmas Story (1983) 
  • The Santa Clause (1994) 

To this website, which gives a memorable quote and keywords/concepts of the movies, the most memorable quote from The Santa Clause is: “Seeing isn’t believing. Believing is seeing.” – Elf Judy. 

  • Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964)

My favorite childhood Christmas movie (other than Frosty the Snowman), the 1964 version of Rudolph may be oddly animated, but so much work was put into these older movies. It takes a more unique path with this classic Christmas name, adding the abominable snowman, an ice-climber who’s (when looking back at it) very odd, and the Island of Misfit Toys (literally used to make me cry), there’s no denying that this turn on a usual holiday story is quite interesting to experience.

  • A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965) 
  • National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)

Another one of my family’s favorite Christmas movies, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation is a holiday comedy, going quite into depth about the wildness of extended families and what happens when they mix on Christmas. It’s complete comedic relief to watch on Christmas Eve, featuring a wild cast and an interesting family (starring the fried cat). It’s a movie that’ll definitely hook you from the start and leave you laughing on the floor.



Now, I know what you’re thinking: what about The Nightmare Before Christmas? Or the actual How the Grinch Stole Christmas starring Jim Carrey. All of these movies are perfect for the holiday season – but even directors of The Nightmare Before Christmas consider it to be a Halloween movie. Though it does deal with the topic of Christmas, it’s highly executed to be a terrifying animated children’s movie, showing how what you’re born into isn’t always horrible.


Fortunately, hundreds and thousands of Christmas movies have been made over the years – you have so much to watch! So whether your family is virtually watching a movie together or sitting on the couch next to a fire, the holidays can be spectacular with some movies to get you in the holiday mood. Any Christmas movie can work – yes, even the classic Polar Express (2004). So prepare your Netflix account and bake some cookies – it’s time to be jolly!



Information Sources: 


Entertainment Weekly 

Town & Country

Image Sources: 

Featured Image: Babble Top

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