Best Christmas Movies Ever | Moviefone

Bruce Willis as John McClane in 'Die Hard.'

Bruce Willis as John McClane in ‘Die Hard.’ Photo: 20th Century Fox.

With another Christmas upon us, it’s therefore time again to watch lots and lots of holiday movies!

While there are many great theatrical and made-for-TV movies to choose from this holiday season, Moviefone has assembled a collection of fun, unique and beloved Christmas classics to make sure you add to your annual holiday watchlist, including a few that were just released this year.

Let’s begin and Merry Christmas!

Joel Kinnaman as Godlock in 'Silent Night.'

Joel Kinnaman as Godlock in ‘Silent Night.’ Photo Credit: Carlos Latapi.

From legendary director John Woo and the producer of ‘John Wick‘ comes this gritty revenge tale of a tormented father (Joel Kinnaman) who witnesses his young son die when caught in a gang’s crossfire on Christmas Eve. While recovering from a wound that costs him his voice, he makes vengeance his life’s mission and embarks on a punishing training regimen in order to avenge his son’s death. Full of Woo’s signature style, Silent Night redefines the action genre with visceral, thrill-a-minute storytelling.

To watch our interviews with John Woo and Joel Kinnaman about ‘Silent Night,’ please click on the video player below.

Ryan Reynolds and Will Ferrell in 'Spirited,' premiering November 18, 2022 on Apple TV+.

Apple TV+

In ‘Spirited,’ Will Ferrell plays Christmas Present, who is considering retirement after the holidays but chooses to haunt Clint Briggs (Ryan Reynolds), an arrogant public relations executive who is completely aware of Charles Dickens’ famous story and that Present is trying to teach him about the true meaning of Christmas. The result is a fun twist on ‘A Christmas Carol,’ with fantastic musical numbers created by ‘La La Land’s Benj Pasek and Justin Paul.

2004's 'The Polar Express.'

2004’s ‘The Polar Express.’ Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures.

No matter where you come down on the “creepy or cute” debate over this film’s CGI characters, Robert Zemeckis’ first animated holiday film has a surprisingly tender and important message for audiences of all ages as a young boy goes on an odyssey to prove that he can hold onto his Christmas spirit in the face of too many reasons not to believe.

Seth Rogen, Anthony Mackie, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt in 'The Night Before.'

(L to R) Seth Rogen, Anthony Mackie, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt in ‘The Night Before.’ Photo: Sony Pictures Releasing.

As quite possibly the only Jewish-themed Christmas movie (at least on this list), Jonathan Levine’s story of three friends (Seth Rogen, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Anthony Mackie) searching for the ultimate Christmas party offers tons of laughs but also some surprisingly mature messages, all anchored by an unexpectedly delightful turn by Michael Shannon as the trio’s would-be guardian angel.

“Their past, present and future. All in one night.”


R1 hr 41 minNov 20th, 2015

1964's 'Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.'

1964’s ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.’ Photo: NBC.

Having run every year on television since 1964, “Rudolph” is the longest-running Christmas special in history. But Rankin/ Bass’ stop-motion adventure is full both of anachronistic, oddball charms and timeless lessons, as Burl Ives supplies a musical backdrop that make Rudolph’s search for friends – and eventually, self-acceptance – such an enduring story.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

“You might even say it glows!”

Bruce and Damian Wayne in 'Merry Little Batman.'

(L to R) Bruce and Damian Wayne in ‘Merry Little Batman.’ Copyright: © Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. Merry Little Batman and all related characters and elements are trademarks of and © DC. All rights reserved.

When a six-year-old Damian Wayne (Yonas Kibreab) finds himself alone in Wayne Manor, he must transform into “Little Batman” in order to defend his home and Gotham City from the crooks and super-villains intent on destroying Christmas.

Not Yet RatedDec 7th, 2023
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To watch our interview with Luke Wilson and director Mike Roth about ‘Merry Little Batman,’ please click the video player below.


Universal Pictures

This Ron Howard directed live-action remake of the beloved 1966 animated Dr. Seuss TV movie stars Jim Carrey in the title role and was an instant Christmas classic when it was released in 2000.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Tim Allen as Scott Calvin / Santa Claus in 'The Santa Clause.'

Tim Allen as Scott Calvin / Santa Claus in ‘The Santa Clause.’ Photo: Buena Vista Pictures Distribution.

Tim Allen’s 1990s hot streak continued with this story of a man who inadvertently inherits the mantle of Santa Claus and must adjust – and adjust his wardrobe – to accommodate the demands of one of the world’s most important jobs.

The Santa Clause

Bruce Willis as John McClane in 'Die Hard 2.'

Bruce Willis as John McClane in ‘Die Hard 2.’ Photo: 20th Century Fox.

Off-duty cop John McClane (Bruce Willis) is gripped with a feeling of déjà vu when, on a snowy Christmas Eve in the nation’s capital, terrorists seize a major international airport, holding thousands of holiday travelers hostage. Renegade military commandos led by a murderous rogue officer plot to rescue a drug lord from justice and are prepared for every contingency except one: McClane’s smart-mouthed heroics.

Die Hard 2

2011's 'Arthur Christmas.'

2011’s ‘Arthur Christmas.’ Photo: Sony Pictures Releasing.

If the movies teach us anything it’s that Santa has a lot of family members – but this might be the first time he not only has kids, but a father of his own. In this delightful animated film, Santa’s son and old, OLD Saint Nick team up to deliver a lost gift to a young girl in time for Christmas.

Arthur Christmas

“Ever wonder how 2 Billion presents get delivered all in 1 night?”


PG1 hr 37 minNov 23rd, 2011

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Warner Bros.

Warner Bros.

You may not remember, but ‘Lethal Weapon’ is totally a Christmas movie as it takes place over the holiday. On the eve of retirement, veteran LAPD detective Roger Murtaugh (Danny Glover) is assigned a new partner, Vietnam veteran Martin Riggs (Mel Gibson), a recent widower with suicidal tendencies. After initially bumping heads, the two come together to solve a homicide, bring down a group of heroin smugglers, and rescue Murtaugh’s family.

“If these two can learn to stand each other… the bad guys don’t stand a chance.”


R1 hr 50 minMar 6th, 1987

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Billy Bob Thornton as Willie T. Soke in 'Bad Santa.'

Billy Bob Thornton as Willie T. Soke in ‘Bad Santa.’ Photo: Miramax Films.

Terry Zwigoff’s midnight-black comedy offers a rejoinder to the notion that Christmas stories must be cheerful and bright, as alcoholic safe-cracker Willie Soke (Billy Bob Thornton) eats and drinks his way through the holiday season, holing up in the house of an outcast kid name Thurman who think he’s the real article as his partner Marcus tries to keep him in check (and sober enough to complete their annual Christmas Eve heist).

1947's 'Miracle on 34th Street.'

1947’s ‘Miracle on 34th Street.’ Photo: 20th Century-Fox.

The best holiday stories are those that remind you what it was like to be a kid – or at least that there’s some magic in the world – and this one is no exception: when a man dressed as Santa Claus and claiming to be him gets institutionalized, a young lawyer sets out to prove that he’s the real thing.

Miracle on 34th Street

“Capture the spirit of Christmas with this timeless classic!”


G1 hr 36 minJun 4th, 1947

1984's 'Gremlins.'

1984’s ‘Gremlins.’ Photo: Warner Bros.

Joe Dante created this mischievous romp about a mysterious little creature and the trouble caused when his owner (Zach Galligan) fails to obey the very simple and strict rules for taking care of him. Featuring a cavalcade of manic, menacing, oddball creatures and plenty of Dante’s own impish creativity, it’s a highly unconventional holiday film that has earned its place in the canon.


“Don’t get him wet, keep him out of bright light, and never NEVER feed him after midnight.”


PG1 hr 46 minJun 7th, 1984

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1966's 'How the Grinch Stole Christmas!'

1966’s ‘How the Grinch Stole Christmas!’ Photo: MGM Animation/Visual Arts.

At 26 minutes and using only hand-drawn animation, this television special might lack some of the pizazz of the live-action and computer-animated versions that followed. But its adaptation of Dr. Seuss’ classic children’s book gets all of the details the most right, and features the immortal Boris Karloff as narrator, lending the character’s journey from crank to Christmas superfan a theatrical elegance that’s never been matched.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

“You’re a mean one, Mr. Grinch”

Peter Billingsley as Ralphie Parker in 1983's 'A Christmas Story.'

Peter Billingsley as Ralphie Parker in 1983’s ‘A Christmas Story.’ Photo: MGM/UA Entertainment Co.

Bob Clark’s adaptation of Jean Shepherd’s “In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash” skillfully pays tribute to a bygone era of childhood fantasy and hilariously exposes the simple truth that it never really existed. Peter Billingsley is so good as the kid who wants nothing as much as a Red Ryder BB gun and will engage in any and all subterfuge to obtain one – and protect it even after his parents’ worst fears come true.

A Christmas Story

“Peace, Harmony, Comfort and Joy… Maybe Next Year.”


PG1 hr 33 minNov 18th, 1983

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Kevin Bacon, Pom Klementieff, and Dave Bautista in Marvel Studio's 'The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special.'


Written and directed by ‘Guardians of the GalaxyJames Gunn, the movie follows Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista) and Mantis (Pom Klementieff) as they set out to give Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) the best Christmas ever, after discovering that Yondu (Michael Rooker) ruined the holiday for him as a child. So, the two Guardians travel to Earth to kidnap Peter’s childhood hero, the ‘Footloose’ actor Kevin Bacon (playing himself), as the ultimate gift for Peter.

“The perfect present is a galaxy away.”


PG-1345 minNov 25th, 2022

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1965's 'A Charlie Brown Christmas.'

1965’s ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas.’ Photo: CBS.

This would make the list on the strength of Vince Guaraldi’s music alone, but this animated special qualifies as Charles Schulz’ magnum opus, as his beleaguered title character tries to find the true meaning of Christmas in a landscape marred by rampant commercialism.

A Charlie Brown Christmas

“That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown!”

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1993's 'The Nightmare Before Christmas.'

1993’s ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas.’ Photo: Buena Vista Pictures Distribution.

Tim Burton combines the best of two holidays with this stop-motion animated film about Jack Skellington (Danny Elfman), an authority on all things Halloween who decides to turn his macabre creativity loose on Santa’s favorite day of the year.

The Nightmare Before Christmas

Eddie Murphy as Chris Carver in 'Candy Cane Lane.'

Eddie Murphy as Chris Carver in ‘Candy Cane Lane.’ Photo: Claudette Barius. © AMAZON CONTENT SERVICES LLC.

A man (Eddie Murphy) is determined to win the neighborhood’s annual Christmas decorating contest. After making a pact with an elf (Jillian Bell) to help him win, the elf casts a spell bringing the 12 days of Christmas to life and unexpectedly bringing chaos to town.

“Be careful what you wish for.”


PG1 hr 57 minDec 1st, 2023

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To watch our exclusive interviews with the crew of ‘Candy Cane Lane,’ please click on the video player below.

10. ‘Elf‘ (2003)

Will Ferrell in 'Elf.'

(Right) Will Ferrell in ‘Elf.’ Photo: New Line Cinema.

Jon Favreau’s comedic chops balance perfectly with Will Ferrell’s wholesome, silly enthusiasm in this endlessly entertaining story of a human raised at the North Pole who treks to civilization and reconnect with his father, a cynical workaholic book publisher played to perfection by James Caan.

Macaulay Culkin as Kevin McCallister in 'Home Alone.'

Macaulay Culkin as Kevin McCallister in ‘Home Alone.’ Photo: 20th Century Fox.

John Hughes transitioned into decidedly more family-friendly territory with this script about a kid who gets left behind while the rest of his family heads out for their Christmas vacation. Macaulay Culkin became a star overnight as the precocious preteen who fends off burglars and holiday loneliness in Chris Columbus’ monster hit film.

Chevy Chase in 1989's 'National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation.'

Chevy Chase in 1989’s ‘National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.’ Photo: Warner Bros.

Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo come clashing back together as Clark Griswold and his loving, long-suffering wife Ellen, this time trying to survive the holiday season that much like every other Clark family gathering seems destined for disaster.

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation

Bill Murray as Frank Cross in 'Scrooged.'

Bill Murray as Frank Cross in ‘Scrooged.’ Photo: Paramount Pictures.

There have been a lot of great versions of Charles Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol,’ but Bill Murray makes his version of Scrooge one of the wildest, this time a television executive who loses his way in a cutthroat industry and gets visited by three ghosts unafraid to beat him (literally) into a Christmas morning epiphany.


“The spirits will move you in odd and hysterical ways.”


PG-131 hr 41 minNov 22nd, 1988

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James Stewart as George Bailey in 'It's a Wonderful Life.'

(Center) James Stewart as George Bailey in ‘It’s a Wonderful Life.’ Photo: RKO Radio Pictures.

Frank Capra’s 1946 film initially achieved ubiquitousness by virtue of endless syndicated showings on television, but it became a classic on the strength of its story – a portrait of sacrifice and generosity – as well as a performance by Jimmy Stewart that utilized both his fragile desperation and scrappy determination.

“It’s a wonderful laugh! It’s a wonderful love!”


PG2 hr 10 minDec 20th, 1946

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Dan Aykroyd as Louis Winthorpe III in 'Trading Places.'

Dan Aykroyd as Louis Winthorpe III in ‘Trading Places.’ Photo: Paramount Pictures.

A snobbish investor (Dan Aykroyd) and a wily street con-artist (Eddie Murphy) find their positions reversed as part of a bet by two callous millionaires.

Trading Places

“They’re not just getting rich… They’re getting even.”


R1 hr 56 minJun 7th, 1983

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Alexis Louder, and David Harbour in 'Violent Night.' © Universal Studios.

Universal Studios

Asking the age old question: “What would Santa Clause do if he was in ‘Die Hard?'” ‘Violent Night’ stars David Harbour as Father Christmas, who has lost faith in mankind. While delivering gifts to a wealthy family on Christmas Eve, he discovers a group of criminals have taken the family hostage, and its up to Santa to save the day and rescue a little girl and her family, who teaches him that some people still believe in Christmas miracles.

Emma Thompson as Karen and Alan Rickman as Harry in 'Love Actually.'

(L to R) Emma Thompson as Karen and Alan Rickman as Harry in ‘Love Actually.’ Photo: United International Pictures.

Richard Curtis’ enchanting tapestry of relationships in the days and weeks leading up to Christmas continues to inspire debates about exactly how healthy the behavior some of its cast of characters are, but that’s sort of the point of the movie itself: what we all want, what we’re pursuing, and at what cost all connects through love, even if in some cases that means the fractured relationship between a husband (Alan Rickman) and wife (Emma Thompson), and others, the recognition of a soul mate in a long-suffering tour manager (Gregor Fisher) and his unpredictable rock-star client (Bill Nighy).

1992's 'The Muppet Christmas Carol.'

1992’s ‘The Muppet Christmas Carol.’ Photo: Buena Vista Pictures Distribution.

This “Christmas Carol” adaptation has largely been reduced by the internet to a meme of its Ebenezer Scrooge (Michael Caine) dancing along with one of Jim Henson’s human-sized puppets, but the film remains one of the most magical – and emotional – versions of the story ever told, thanks to a Bob Cratchit, played by Kermit the Frog, who irresistibly embodies the everyman everyone loves.

The Muppet Christmas Carol

Bruce Willis as John McClane in 'Die Hard.'

Bruce Willis as John McClane in ‘Die Hard.’ Photo: 20th Century Fox.

Before John McClane became a superhero and Bruce Willis descended into super-stardom, his performance in this iconic original installment oozed with everyman charm as the New York cop loses his shoes, battles a skyscraper full of terrorists, and tries to make peace with his estranged wife (Bonnie Bedelia).

Die Hard


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