Christmas is the most important day in the Christian calendar. Even non-Christian faiths hold this occasion in high esteem. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that hundreds of Christmas-themed movies have been made, just to attempt to capture the spirit of this glorious occasion.
One of the best things about Christmas movies is that they stretch across the full spectrum. Whether you’re into comedy, horror, or superhero films, there’s definitely a Christmas movie dedicated to your unique genre.
This article highlights the top 20 most entertaining, sobering, and heart-warming Christmas movies ever made.
1. Home Alone (1990)
Christmas is a special occasion to spend some quality time with your near and dear ones. But what happens when Macaulay Culkin’s family accidentally flies to Paris without him.
Does he wind up lonely? Maybe he does. But the introduction of two burglars adds a newer and more exciting twist to the plot. What follows is a series of some of the most creative self-defense techniques you’ll probably find nowhere else.
2. Gremlins (1984)
Gremlins is a horror-themed Christmas movie that’s set in a serene American town known as Kingston Falls. The movie is all about a cuddly little creature with an evil offspring that’s determined to ruin the Christmas season. There are only three rules on how to calm him down. Keep him in dimly-lit conditions, keep him dry all the time, and don’t you dare to feed him after midnight.
3. The Holiday (2006)
The Christmas season may be a time to spread love. But what if your entire life has been filled with terrible love stories? Well, one of the strangest things you’d do is to exchange homes with someone else with whom you share similar disappointing love stories.
In The Holiday, a film trailer editor named Amanda (Cameron Diaz) and a wedding columnist known as Iris (Kate Winslet) do just that. Do they finally find love? Be the judge.
4. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)
Writer and film director Shane Black is no stranger to Christmas movies. But unlike films like Lethal Weapon and Iron Man 3 that blend several themes, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is almost exclusively about Christmas. The film is about a New York thief named Harry Lockhart (Robert Downey Jr.) who searchers for a new start and in the process, turns into an actor and private eye.
5. Scrooged (1988)
At first glance, Scrooged portrays a man who turns over a new leaf, thanks to Christmas. But beneath this casual depiction, Scrooged also brings into focus some of the dark sides of Christmas that most people would rather avoid talking about. An example is the commercialization of this sacred occasion.
6. Elf (2003)
It’s difficult to spread the message of love, cheer, and positivity in a world full of cynicism. It’s even harder when you’re a human who has shared a past with elves and somehow, you can’t seem to convince your fellow humans that you’re actually one of them.
On Christmas Eve, a young boy accidentally falls into Santa Claus’ sack and is transported to the North Pole. He is adopted by Santa’s elves. But on discovering what befell him, he decides to travel back to New York City, apparently to meet his dad.
7. It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
Don’t let this Christmas movie’s title fool you. The events that unfold for the better part of the film are anything but wonderful. The movie revolves around a bank clerk who is on the verge of suicide. Like anyone else in his situation, he needs spiritual uplifting. A trainee angel comes along but instead of pulling the clerk from the brink of despair, the angel reveals to him how the world would be without him.
8. A Christmas Carol (1999)
A Christmas Carol is one of the numerous screen adaptations of Charles Dickens’ iconic novel by the same title. The movie is a comic depiction of a nasty miser known as Ebenezer Scrooge (Alastair Sim), who is accosted by the ghosts of his Christmas past, present, and future.
9. Die Hard (1988)
There has always been a fierce contention as to whether Die Hard is actually a Christmas movie or not. But the fact that the events take place on Christmas Eve qualifies it as an excellent Christmas film. Plus, the action-packed movie is laden with Christmas references, including the iconic phrase ‘ho-ho-ho.’
10. Happy Christmas (2014)
Jeff (Joe Swanberg) is a loving, caring, and responsible family man. He is having the time of his life with his wife, blissfully unaware that his charismatic but irresponsible younger sister, Jenny (Anna Kendrick), is about to ruin his happiness. Scenes by Melanie Lynskey add more color to this exciting Christmas movie.
11. Four Christmases (2008)
Every Christmas, most of us take trips down the memory lane to relive some of our fondest childhood memories. Well, there are those of us who prefer to analyze every aspect of our childhood, and not necessarily the best memories. In Four Christmases, Reese Witherspoon and Vince Vaughn play a couple that sets off to a somewhat bizarre tour. Apparently, the couple visits all the four homes of their divorced parents.
12. Jingle All the Way (1996)
Arnold Schwarzenegger is more into action thrillers than comedy. You’re even less likely to find him featured in Christmas movies. So, when he stars in a Christmas family comedy film, you can only expect to see another side of the legendary actor.
After repeatedly letting his son down, he is determined to make him happy this Christmas by getting him the Turbo-Man action figure. But several other dads have made similar promises, leading to the ultimate showdown.
13. How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)
This Christmas fantasy comedy-drama movie that portrays how your Christmas celebrations can be ruined when you least expect it. The film revolves around a devious green-furred creature that begins as a harmless and timid child who is adopted by two sisters. It’s not until several years later that Grinch finally embarks on his Christmas-ruining missions.
14. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
Here is an excellent recommendation if you’re into Christmas and Halloween, thanks to the creative, bone-chilling presentation of visual tricks. But while this dark fantasy film captures various elements of these two iconic celebrations, it leans a bit towards Christmas. The Nightmare Before Christmas is probably the only Christmas movie where Santa Claus appears as a skeleton.
15. Klaus (2019)
Klaus is a plain and sobering movie on how we should all spread kindness during Christmas. Kindness is what the season is mostly about anyway. The movie reveals how a simple act of kindness can beget another, even in unlikely situations. The protagonist is a distraught postman who is reluctantly posted to a remote town in the Far North, who later befriends a reclusive toymaker.
16. While You Were Sleeping (1995)
Sandra Bullock plays a Chicago Transit Authority token collector. On Christmas Day, she saves a man who was pushed in front of a train. The man winds up as a coma patient and as she admires him from afar, the hospital staff mistakenly identifies her as the patient’s fiancé. While You Were Sleeping has a deep romantic aura, with a positive and joyous ending.
17. Miracle on 34th Street (1994)
This is undeniably one of the best Christmas movies of all time. The fact that it chronicles the events from Thanksgiving Day to Christmas Day makes it all the more entertaining. Things appear to work just fine for Kris Kringle (Edmund Gwenn). But when he claims that he is the real Santa Claus, he finds himself battling a lawsuit intended to determine his mental health as well as authenticity.
18. Edward Scissorhands (1990)
Edward Scissorhands revolves around a humanoid named Edward, who is part of an unfinished creation. Edward has scissor blades for hands. After a suburban family adopts him, Edward falls in love with the family’s teenage daughter named Kim. The love affair turns out to be one of his worst nightmares.
19. Metropolitan (1990)
Metropolitan follows after the lives of a group of Upper East Siders during a debutante season in the late-‘80s. As the young men banter over their debutante parties, another young from the other side of the park, named Tom, infiltrates their group.
As the group is about to find, Tom also hailed from a wealthy family. Tom reveals that since his dad left the family for another woman, he has always harbored a love-hate relationship with wealth.
20. Bad Santa (2003)
All Santa Clauses are good, until you meet a bad one. Now, anyone with the guts to masquerade as Santa is a fraudster par excellence. In this movie, two conmen pose as Santa and his helper, with the intention of robbing department stores on Christmas Eve. However, the con artists run into problems when the phony Santa befriends a troubled kid.
The above reviewed Christmas movies are drawn from various genres, including comedy, action, horror, etc. In addition to getting you entertained, each of these movies aptly portrays the fundamental reasons behind the Christmas season. The onus is on you to unravel the underlying messages and ensure that your next Christmas lives up to the spirit of the occasion.