The Best Christmas Movies Of All Time

From Home Alone and Elf to classics like Miracle on 34th Street, I’ve made my list of great holiday films and checked it at least twice. Now, to all you nice boys and girls out there, we present the Best Christmas Movies ever!

Christmas has come to represent different things to people over the years, and the movies here reflect that in kind. If you’re traditional and feeling nostalgic, you’ll be pleased to see where It’s A Wonderful Life and Holiday Inn made it on our list of top holiday films. If this time of the year reminds you of sitting around the TV, eagerly awaiting those annual specials, look out for A Charlie Brown Christmas and How the Grinch Stole Christmas. There’s horror (Black Christmas), comedy (Trading Places), horror and comedy (Gremlins), and even a superhero covered in tinsel somewhere (Batman Returns). For those with an independent streak to celebrate, check out Tangerine and Carol. Meanwhile, Netflix has made great strides in the Kris Kringle quadrant with The Christmas Chronicles and Klaus. And if Christmas means traveling somewhere you don’t want to be, stuck in a building with people you don’t like, have we got the ultimate movie for you: Die Hard! Ho ho ho, now we have a complete list of great Christmas movies.

Wondering how we put this Christmas movie list together? Every movie on the list is Fresh and plays around with the spirit of Christmas and the holidays as a central theme. Then we sorted them all by our ranked formula, which factors in the movie’s release year its number of reviews, to make the ultimate list of holiday films that melted even the most cynical critics’ hearts.

And now you’re ready to enter a wonderland of cinematic history, with the 58 Best Christmas Movies ever!

 

#58
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: The 1947 holiday classic Miracle on 34th Street is transplanted to the 1990s with few changes in this family-oriented remake…. [More]
Directed By: Les Mayfield

 

THE PREACHER’S WIFE (1996)
60%

#57
Critics Consensus: Solid performances and a steady directorial hand help The Preacher’s Wife offer some reliably heartwarming – albeit fairly predictable – holiday cheer.
Synopsis: An angel wonders if love can be Heaven on Earth in this family-themed romantic fantasy. Rev. Henry Biggs (Courtney B…. [More]
Directed By: Penny Marshall

 

#56
Critics Consensus: Viewers seeking a fresh holiday viewing option — or those simply in the mood for Santa Kurt Russell — should find The Christmas Chronicles well worth a yuletide stream.
Synopsis: THE CHRISTMAS CHRONICLES, a holiday adventure from producer Chris Columbus (“Home Alone”, “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone”) and director… [More]
Directed By: Clay Kaytis

 

LOVE ACTUALLY (2003)
64%

#55
Critics Consensus: A sugary tale overstuffed with too many stories. Still, the cast charms.
Synopsis: All of London is in love — or longing to be — in Four Weddings and a Funeral writer Richard… [More]
Directed By: Richard Curtis

 

KRAMPUS (2015)
66%

#54
Critics Consensus: Krampus is gory good fun for fans of non-traditional holiday horror with a fondness for Joe Dante’s B- movie classics, even if it doesn’t have quite the savage bite its concept calls for.
Synopsis: When his dysfunctional family clashes over the holidays, young Max is disillusioned and turns his back on Christmas. Little does… [More]
Directed By: Michael Dougherty

 

Critics Consensus: While Christmas Vacation may not be the most disciplined comedy, it’s got enough laughs and good cheer to make for a solid seasonal treat.
Synopsis: This is the third in the “National Lampoon” series about the Griswold family. In this sequel, the Griswolds must deal… [More]

 

Critics Consensus: Still raunchy, still irreverent, and still hit-and-miss, this Harold & Kumar outing also has a Christmas miracle: The audience gets to see the sweeter side of the duo.
Synopsis: Following years of growing apart, Harold Lee (Cho) and Kumar Patel (Penn) have replaced each other with new friends and… [More]
Directed By: Todd Strauss-Schulson

 

#51
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A 1983 animated version of the Dickens classic, with Mickey Mouse as Bob Cratchit and Scrooge McDuck as the miserly… [More]
Directed By: Burny Mattinson

 

THE NIGHT BEFORE (2015)
68%

#50
Critics Consensus: The Night Before provokes enough belly laughs to qualify as a worthwhile addition to the list of Christmas comedies worth revisiting, even if it isn’t quite as consistent as the classics.
Synopsis: Ethan (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), Isaac (Seth Rogen) and Chris (Anthony Mackie) have been friends since childhood, and for a decade, their… [More]
Directed By: Jonathan Levine

 

HOME ALONE (1990)
65%

#49
Critics Consensus: Home Alone uneven but frequently funny premise stretched unreasonably thin is buoyed by Macaulay Culkin’s cute performance and strong supporting stars.
Synopsis: Home Alone is the highly successful and beloved family comedy about a young boy named Kevin (Macaulay Culkin) who is… [More]
Directed By: Chris Columbus

 

FROSTY THE SNOWMAN (1969)
73%

#48
Critics Consensus: Frosty the Snowman is a jolly, happy sing-along that will delight children with its crisp animation and affable title character, who makes an indelible impression with his corncob pipe, button nose, and eyes made out of coal.
Synopsis: This special release celebrates the 45th anniversary of an animated Christmas classic, Frosty the Snowman. First airing on CBS, the… [More]

 

THE BEST MAN HOLIDAY (2013)
71%

#47
Critics Consensus: The Best Man Holiday manages honest laughs out of broad humor, and affects convincing drama from a deeply conventional plot.
Synopsis: After nearly 15 years apart, Taye Diggs (television’s Private Practice), Nia Long (Soul Food), Morris Chestnut (Kick-Ass 2), Harold Perrineau… [More]
Directed By: Malcolm D. Lee

 

SCROOGED (1988)
71%

#46
Critics Consensus: Scrooged gets by with Bill Murray and a dash of holiday spirit, although it’s hampered by a markedly conflicted tone and an undercurrent of mean-spiritedness.
Synopsis: A darkly comic and surreal contemporization of Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, this effects-heavy Bill Murray holiday vehicle from 1988… [More]
Directed By: Richard Donner

 

THE SANTA CLAUSE (1994)
71%

#45
Critics Consensus: The Santa Clause is utterly undemanding, but it’s firmly rooted in the sort of good old-fashioned holiday spirit missing from too many modern yuletide films.
Synopsis: Television sitcom star Tim Allen made his big screen debut with this light, family-friendly holiday comedy. Allen stars as Scott… [More]
Directed By: John Pasquin

 

BLACK CHRISTMAS (1974)
71%

#44
Critics Consensus: The rare slasher with enough intelligence to wind up the tension between bloody outbursts, Black Christmas offers fiendishly enjoyable holiday viewing for genre fans.
Synopsis: Black Christmas is an effective, frightening above average slasher movie with a good cast and a frightening, surprise ending. Barb… [More]
Directed By: Bob Clark

 

THE REF (1994)
72%

#43
Critics Consensus: Undeniably uneven and too dark for some, The Ref nonetheless boasts strong turns from Denis Leary, Judy Davis, and Kevin Spacey, as well as a sharply funny script.
Synopsis: Caroline and Lloyd (Judy Davis and Kevin Spacey) are a married couple constantly at each other’s throats, masters at crafting… [More]
Directed By: Ted Demme

 

Critics Consensus: The poignant humanity on display in Joyeux Noel makes its sentimentality forgivable.
Synopsis: Scottish, French and German troops declare a spontaneous Christmas Eve truce in the trenches of World War I in this… [More]
Directed By: Christian Carion

 

HAPPY CHRISTMAS (2014)
76%

#41
Critics Consensus: Intelligent, well-acted, and satisfyingly low-key, Happy Christmas marks another step in prolific filmmaker Joe Swanberg’s creative evolution.
Synopsis: When Jenny (Anna Kendrick), a hard partying 20-something moves in with Kelly (Melanie Lynskey), a budding novelist, her film director… [More]
Directed By: Joe Swanberg

 

#40
Critics Consensus: It may not be the finest version of Charles Dickens’ tale to grace the screen, but The Muppet Christmas Carol is funny and heartwarming, and serves as a good introduction to the story for young viewers.
Synopsis: Brian Henson, the son of Muppet founder Jim Henson, took over directing duties after the untimely death of his father… [More]
Directed By: Brian Henson

 

#39
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: It’s the season of joy, peace, and goodwill… unless you live in Bailey Downs. Last Christmas Eve, two teens came… [More]

 

LET IT SNOW (2019)
81%

#38
Critics Consensus: Comfortably cliché, Let It Snow wears its influences on its sleeve, but works anyway thanks an excellent ensemble and just the right amount of holiday cheer.
Synopsis: When a snowstorm hits a small midwestern town on Christmas Eve, a group of high school seniors find their friendships… [More]
Directed By: Luke Snellin

 

WHITE CHRISTMAS (1954)
77%

#37
Critics Consensus: It may be too sweet for some, but this unabashedly sentimental holiday favorite is too cheerful to resist.
Synopsis: This Christmas classic starring Bing Crosby is a romantic tale that takes place in a Vermont lodge- where it is… [More]
Directed By: Michael Curtiz

 

#36
Critics Consensus: Anna and the Apocalypse finds fresh brains and a lot of heart in the crowded zombie genre – not to mention a fun genre mashup populated by rootable characters.
Synopsis: A zombie apocalypse threatens the sleepy town of Little Haven — at Christmas — forcing Anna and her friends to… [More]
Directed By: John McPhail

 

#35
Critics Consensus: While You Were Sleeping is built wholly from familiar ingredients, but assembled with such skill — and with such a charming performance from Sandra Bullock — that it gives formula a good name.
Synopsis: This offbeat romantic comedy has some rather dark underpinnings that add, rather than detract from the fun. It is the… [More]
Directed By: Jon Turteltaub

 

BAD SANTA (2003)
79%

#34
Critics Consensus: A gloriously rude and gleefully offensive black comedy, Bad Santa isn’t for everyone, but grinches will find it uproariously funny.
Synopsis: The Christmas season just got a lot less joyous in this very dark comedy. Willie T. Stokes (Billy Bob Thornton)… [More]
Directed By: Terry Zwigoff

 

Critics Consensus: The Man Who Invented Christmas adds holiday magic to the writing of A Christmas Carol, putting a sweetly revisionist spin on the story behind a classic yuletide tale.
Synopsis: The Man Who Invented Christmas tells of the magical journey that led to the creation of Ebenezer Scrooge (Christopher Plummer),… [More]
Directed By: Bharat Nalluri

 

BATMAN RETURNS (1992)
80%

#32
Critics Consensus: Director Tim Burton’s dark, brooding atmosphere, Michael Keaton’s work as the tormented hero, and the flawless casting of Danny DeVito as The Penguin and Christopher Walken as, well, Christopher Walken make the sequel better than the first.
Synopsis: In the second of the blockbuster Batman films, the legendary hero does battle against the mysterious Cat Woman and the… [More]
Directed By: Tim Burton

 

THE BISHOP’S WIFE (1948)
84%

#31
Critics Consensus: The Bishop’s Wife succeeds thanks to the strength of winning performances from a stellar cast, which includes Cary Grant and Loretta Young.
Synopsis: A harassed bishop’s prayers are answered when an angel (Cary Grant) is sent from heaven to help him raise money… [More]
Directed By: Henry Koster

 

ELF (2003)
84%

#30
Critics Consensus: A movie full of Yuletide cheer, Elf is a spirited, good-natured family comedy, and it benefits greatly from Will Ferrell’s funny and charming performance as one of Santa’s biggest helpers.
Synopsis: For his sophomore stab at directing, actor/writer/director Jon Favreau (Swingers, Made), took on this holiday comedy starring Saturday Night Live-alum… [More]
Directed By: Jon Favreau

 

#29
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: War hero Dennis Morgan becomes the object of a publicity stunt staged by magazine publisher Sidney Greenstreet. The corpulent print… [More]
Directed By: Peter Godfrey

 

A CHRISTMAS CAROL (1951)
85%

#28
Critics Consensus: The 1951 adaptation of Charles Dickens’ timeless classic is perhaps the most faithful film version — and Alastair Sim’s performance as Scrooge is not to be missed.
Synopsis: Widely considered to be the definitive of the many film versions of Charles Dickens’ classic novel is this 1951 British… [More]
Directed By: Brian Desmond Hurst

 

Critics Consensus: A sharp black comedy about a chaotic family holiday gathering, A Christmas Tale is always involving, thanks to an impressive ensemble cast.
Synopsis: The devastating reverberations of a profound tragedy echo through generations of a long-suffering French family in this emotional family drama… [More]
Directed By: Arnaud Desplechin

 

GREMLINS (1984)
85%

#26
Critics Consensus: Whether you choose to see it as a statement on consumer culture or simply a special effects-heavy popcorn flick, Gremlins is a minor classic.
Synopsis: “Don’t expose him to bright light. Don’t ever get him wet. And don’t ever, ever feed him after midnight.” This… [More]
Directed By: Joe Dante

 

TRADING PLACES (1983)
87%

#25
Critics Consensus: Featuring deft interplay between Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd, Trading Places is an immensely appealing social satire.
Synopsis: The “nature-nurture” theory that motivated so many Three Stooges comedies is the basis of John Landis’s hit comedy. The fabulously… [More]
Directed By: John Landis

 

BETTER WATCH OUT (2017)
89%

#24
Critics Consensus: Carried by its charismatic young cast, Better Watch Out is an adorably sinister holiday horror film.
Synopsis: This holiday season, you may be home, but you’re not alone… In this fresh and gleefully twisted spin on home-invasion… [More]
Directed By: Chris Peckover

 

TOKYO GODFATHERS (2003)
90%

#23
Critics Consensus: Beautiful and substantive, Tokyo Godfathers adds a moving — and somewhat unconventional — entry to the animated Christmas canon.
Synopsis: Tokyo Godfathers, the acclaimed holiday classic from master director Satoshi Kon (Paprika, Perfect Blue), returns to theaters in a brand-new… [More]
Directed By: Satoshi KonShôgo Furuya

 

KISS KISS, BANG BANG (2005)
86%

#22
Critics Consensus: Tongue-in-cheek satire blends well with entertaining action and spot-on performances in this dark, eclectic neo-noir homage.
Synopsis: A murder mystery brings together a private eye, a struggling actress, and a thief masquerading as an actor…. [More]
Directed By: Shane Black

 

Critics Consensus: Rare Exports is an unexpectedly delightful crossbreed of deadpan comedy and Christmas horror.
Synopsis: It’s the eve of Christmas in northern Finland, and an ‘archeological’ dig has just unearthed the real Santa Claus. But… [More]
Directed By: Jalmari Helander

 

A CHRISTMAS STORY (1983)
89%

#20
Critics Consensus: Both warmly nostalgic and darkly humorous, A Christmas Story deserves its status as a holiday perennial.
Synopsis: In the 1940’s, in the town of Hammond, 9-year-old Ralphie wants one thing for Christmas — an official Red Ryder… [More]
Directed By: Bob Clark

 

LITTLE WOMEN (1994)
92%

#19
Critics Consensus: Thanks to a powerhouse lineup of talented actresses, Gillian Armstrong’s take on Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women proves that a timeless story can succeed no matter how many times it’s told.
Synopsis: This newest version of Louisa May Alcott’s tender novel is considered to be among the best as it chronicles the… [More]
Directed By: Gillian Armstrong

 

EDWARD SCISSORHANDS (1990)
90%

#18
Critics Consensus: The first collaboration between Johnny Depp and Tim Burton, Edward Scissorhands is a magical modern fairy tale with gothic overtones and a sweet center.
Synopsis: Tim Burton’s Edward Scissorhands opens as an eccentric inventor (Vincent Price) lovingly assembles a synthetic youth named Edward (Johnny Depp)…. [More]
Directed By: Tim Burton

 

KLAUS (2019)
94%

#17
Critics Consensus: Beautiful hand-drawn animation and a humorous, heartwarming narrative make Klaus an instant candidate for holiday classic status.
Synopsis: When Jesper (Jason Schwartzman) distinguishes himself as the postal academy’s worst student, he is stationed on a frozen island above… [More]
Directed By: Sergio Pablos

 

Critics Consensus: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is a yule-tide gem that bursts with eye-popping iconography, a spirited soundtrack, and a heart-warming celebration of difference.
Synopsis: This stop-motion animagic version of the classic Christmas tale adds a bit of a twist when Rudolph encounters an abominable… [More]
Directed By: Maury LawsLarry Roemer

ARTHUR CHRISTMAS (2011)
92%

#15
Critics Consensus: Aardman Animations broadens their humor a bit for Arthur Christmas, a clever and earnest holiday film with surprising emotional strength.
Synopsis: The 3D, CG-animated family comedy Arthur Christmas, an Aardman production for Sony Pictures Animation, at last reveals the incredible, never-before… [More]
Directed By: Sarah SmithBarry Cook

 

DIE HARD (1988)
94%

#14
Critics Consensus: Its many imitators (and sequels) have never come close to matching the taut thrills of the definitive holiday action classic.
Synopsis: It’s Christmas time in L.A., and there’s an employee party in progress on the 30th floor of the Nakatomi Corporation… [More]
Directed By: John McTiernan

 

REMEMBER THE NIGHT (1940)
100%

#13
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: With a deft blending of humor, sentimentality and romance, this Preston Sturges-penned comedy centers on the romance between a caring… [More]
Directed By: Mitchell Leisen

 

BABES IN TOYLAND (1934)
100%

#12
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Two bumbling apprentices to the master toymaker of Toyland try to raise money to help Little Bo-Peep and her sweetheart… [More]

 

TANGERINE (2015)
96%

#11
Critics Consensus: Tangerine shatters casting conventions and its filmmaking techniques are up-to-the-minute, but it’s an old-fashioned comedy at heart — and a pretty wonderful one at that.
Synopsis: A working girl tears through Tinseltown on Christmas Eve searching for the pimp who broke her heart. (C) Magnolia… [More]
Directed By: Sean Baker (II)

 

CAROL (2015)
94%

#10
Critics Consensus: Shaped by Todd Haynes’ deft direction and powered by a strong cast led by Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara, Carol lives up to its groundbreaking source material.
Synopsis: In this adaptation of the novel “The Price of Salt” by Patricia Highsmith, Therese (Rooney Mara), a young department-store clerk… [More]
Directed By: Todd Haynes

 

MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS (1944)
100%

#9
Critics Consensus: A disarmingly sweet musical led by outstanding performances from Judy Garland and Margaret O’Brien, Meet Me in St. Louis offers a holiday treat for all ages.
Synopsis: Sally Benson’s short stories about the turn-of-the-century Smith family of St. Louis were tackled by a battalion of MGM screenwriters,… [More]
Directed By: Vincente Minnelli

 

LITTLE WOMEN (2019)
95%

#8
Critics Consensus: With a stellar cast and a smart, sensitive retelling of its classic source material, Greta Gerwig’s Little Women proves some stories truly are timeless.
Synopsis: Writer-director Greta Gerwig (Lady Bird) has crafted a Little Women that draws on both the classic novel and the writings… [More]
Directed By: Greta Gerwig

 

Critics Consensus: The Nightmare Before Christmas is a stunningly original and visually delightful work of stop-motion animation.
Synopsis: Despite having recently presided over a very successful Halloween, Jack Skellington, aka the Pumpkin King, is bored with his job… [More]
Directed By: Henry SelickTim Burton

 

Critics Consensus: How the Grinch Stole Christmas brings an impressive array of talent to bear on an adaptation that honors a classic holiday story — and has rightfully become a yuletide tradition of its own.
Synopsis: Chuck Jones’ animated version of the classic Dr. Seuss book How the Grinch Stole Christmas originally aired on television in… [More]
Directed By: Chuck JonesBen Washam

 

#5
Critics Consensus: Deftly directed by Ernst Lubitsch from a smart, funny script by Samson Raphaelson, The Shop Around the Corner is a romantic comedy in the finest sense of the term.
Synopsis: The Shop Around the Corner is adapted from the Hungarian play by Nikolaus (Miklos) Laszlo. Budapest gift-shop clerk Alfred Kralik… [More]
Directed By: Ernst Lubitsch

 

HOLIDAY INN (1942)
100%

#4
Critics Consensus: With the combined might of Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire, and Irving Berlin working in its favor, Holiday Inn is a seasonal classic — not least because it introduced “White Christmas” to the world.
Synopsis: Music by Irving Berlin, songs by Bing Crosby and dancing by Fred Astaire all add up to a really delightful… [More]
Directed By: Mark Sandrich

 

#3
Critics Consensus: Irrefutable proof that gentle sentimentalism can be the chief ingredient in a wonderful film, Miracle on 34th Street delivers a warm holiday message without resorting to treacle.
Synopsis: Edmund Gwenn plays Kris Kringle, a bearded old gent who is the living image of Santa Claus. Serving as a… [More]
Directed By: George Seaton

 

#2
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Christmastime is here. Happiness and cheer. And for Peanuts fans everywhere, it just wouldn’t be Christmas without this classic holiday… [More]
Directed By: Bill MelendezPhil Roman

 

#1
Critics Consensus: The holiday classic to define all holiday classics, It’s a Wonderful Life is one of a handful of films worth an annual viewing.
Synopsis: This is director Frank Capra’s classic bittersweet comedy/drama about George Bailey (James Stewart), the eternally-in-debt guiding force of a bank… [More]
Directed By: Frank Capra

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

You can check out my books here: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

Listen to Phicklephilly LIVE on Spotify!

Author: phicklephilly

Copyright © 2016 by Phicklephilly All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law. All stories and characters are based on real people and events. The names and images have been changed to protect their privacy. Comment Rules: Remember what Fonzie was like? Cool. That’s how we’re gonna be — cool. Critical is fine, but if you’re rude, we’ll delete your stuff. Please do not put your URL in the comment text and please use your PERSONAL name or initials and not your business name, as the latter comes off like spam. Have fun and thanks for adding to the conversation!”

What are your thoughts on this subject?