5 Best Classic Christmas Movies of All Time


Curling up on the couch with some hot cocoa and starting a real Christmas movie marathon is one of the best holiday traditions. But alas, the season is short; instead of wasting your valuable holiday time searching through streaming websites or channel-surfing, bookmark our comprehensive list of the top classic Christmas movies. Here are some Christmas movies that the whole family will enjoy, from nostalgic favorites like It’s a Wonderful Life to the legendary Home Alone.

It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)

Classic Christmas Movies

The fantasy drama directed by Frank Capra’s hard-won triumph and uplift hasn’t lost any impact over the years. George Bailey, a banker who learns the worth of his life after receiving a visit from his guardian angel, is one of James Stewart’s most recognizable roles. The American Film Institute claims that It’s a Wonderful Life is the all-time most inspirational film.

Where to watch it: Stream on Amazon; rent on iTunes, VUDU, or YouTube.

Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

Classic Christmas Movies

You’ll miss the joyous message demonstrating why Tim Burton and Henry Selick’s macabre, stop-motion cartoon is both a “Halloween movie” and a “Christmas movie” if you waste your time discussing whether it’s one or the other. Jack Skellington becomes persuaded that there is a “proper” way to live after crossing over from his world, a horrifying nightmare locked in constant trick-or-treat mode, into the snow-covered Christmas Town. The Pumpkin King of Halloween Town manages to insert the beating heart of Christmas into the chest cavity of his ghastly existence with a little assistance from his Frankensteined girlfriend Sally, his spectral dog Zero, and even Santa Claus.

Where to watch it: Stream on Disney+; rent on Amazon, iTunes, VUDU, or YouTube.

A Christmas Carol (1951)

This gloomy rendition of A Christmas Carol—which deservingly earned the name Scrooge—was released in the UK. Alastair Sim, who has a dark heart, embodies Ebenezer to the hilt, perfectly embodying the original description by Charles Dickens: “The cold within him froze his old features, nipped his pointed nose, shriveled his cheek, stiffened his gait; made his eyes red, his thin lips blue; and spoke out shrewdly in his grating voice.”


The rhythms are well-known, but Sim is a Shakespearean actor who treats the happy tale with the same seriousness as any of Bard’s tragedies. Sim is one of the few who cowers next to the Ghost of Christmas Present or melts from calcified wretch into childlike giddiness when the sun rises on Christmas morning.

Where to watch it: Stream on Amazon; rent on iTunes, VUDU, or YouTube.

Elf (2003)

Classic Christmas Movies

It’s difficult to recall a period when Will Ferrell wasn’t among the biggest names in comedy. He became a favorite in dorm rooms thanks to Anchorman, but Elf was the movie that made him into a candy-eating, box office-dominating juggernaut. James Caan’s oily smarmy portrayal of Buddy, an adult who grew up believing he was an elf, is performed by Will Ferrell.

Buddy journeys to New York to discover his biological father. Director Jon Favreau weaponizes Will Ferrell’s crazy energy for a Christmas movie that is sweeter than a candy cane but doesn’t leave you with a headache after the sugar rush by drawing on the childlike sense of mischief inherent in his best SNL characters. It’s the ideal stocking stuffer because it’s kind, humorous, and little, and it’s not a pair of socks.

Where to watch it: Stream on Amazon, HBO Max, or Hulu; rent on iTunes, VUDU, or YouTube.


Home Alone (1990)

Classic Christmas Movies

KEVIN! Only John Hughes, the king of suburban wish fulfillment, could have created a bizarre, slapsticky, greeting card-style movie reminiscent of Dennis the Menace. Hughes crams Home Alone with oddball details like Buzz’s tarantula, that greasy pizza dinner, Harry’s gold tooth, the exhilarating fake gangster flick Angels with Filthy Souls, the shovel guy, and all of the traps in the elaborate madhouse in the grand finale, and he rips through them like a child on Christmas morning.

In his role as Kevin McCallister, Macaulay Culkin channels all of Tom Hanks’ charm and joy from Big (minus three feet), and as his mother rushes Home in parallel, his smile ages just so. Who knows how Hughes came up with this film, but Home Alone is an flawless idea.

Where to watch it: Stream on Disney+; rent on Amazon, iTunes, VUDU, or YouTube.

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