Readers’ All-Time Favorite Holiday Movies
Our Facebook fans pitched us their holiday movie favorites, including National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, The Preacher’s Wife, Elf and A Christmas Story.
In a year of disruption, classic holiday movies seem all the more appealing—a dose of predictable comfort from that film whose dialogue you've practically memorized. Need a little inspiration, though? We asked our Facebook readers to name their favorite holiday films. Here’s a list of more than 35 movies to enjoy this season, with both classics and contemporary spinoffs.
1. Follow along with the Griswolds in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989) as Clark and his family prepare for their anything-but-ordinary seasonal celebration. “That movie makes me laugh every time I watch it,” Facebook follower Wilma Kirby said.
2. The Santa Clause (1994) stars Tim Allen as Scott, who wakes on Christmas Eve to find himself in the body of Santa Claus.
3 Nine-year-old Ralphie dreams of getting a Red Ryder BB rifle in A Christmas Story (1983) but keeps getting told, "You'll shoot your eye out." (If you’re a die-hard Christmas Story fan, be sure to put a visit to Cleveland’s A Christmas Story House & Museum on your wish list. The filming location for the classic holds all the goods that sparked decades of relentless quoting and holiday schtick.)
4. Thinking his life is over after financial chaos, depressed George Bailey (James Stewart) is paid a visit by an angel who helps him find his true value in It’s a Wonderful Life (1946).
5. In Home Alone (1990), eight-year-old Kevin, played by Macaulay Culkin, lives in luxury while his family vacations in Paris until he’s faced with two Christmas Eve burglars and must protect his home. Continue watching Kevin’s journey in Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992), as he takes on New York City, not knowing his burglars aren’t far behind.
6. Computer-animated The Polar Express (2004), based on a children’s book of the same name, follows a boy’s journey as he rides a train all the way up to the North Pole.
7. In the animated classic A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965), based on the comic strip Peanuts, Charlie Brown uncovers the true meaning of Christmas.
8. Reverend Henry Briggs (Courtney V. Vance) struggles to balance his marriage to Julia (Whitney Houston) and his time to the church in The Preacher’s Wife (1996). He prays to God for help, and angel Dudley (Denzel Washington) appears on the scene. The film is an updated version of the classic The Bishop’s Wife (1947), in which angel Dudley (Cary Grant) helps Bishop Henry (David Niven) and his wife (Loretta Young) build a new cathedral.
9. Sandra Bullock, Bill Pullman and Peter Gallagher play Lucy, Jack and Peter, whose lives become entangled after Lucy saves Peter from a Chicago “L” train accident, in While You Were Sleeping (1995).
10. Join Neal (Steve Martin) as he travels home for Thanksgiving in Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987). All goes smoothly until his flight gets canceled, and he finds himself accompanied by Del, a kooky shower curtain ring salesman (John Candy).
11. Elf (2003) is a timeless holiday favorite about how Buddy the Elf, played by Will Ferrell, realizes he’s a human and flees to New York City to find his birth father.
12. Directors have made many renditions of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, where grumpy Ebenezer Scrooge is shown the faults of his ways by three ghosts. Reader Virginia Bennett says,“The older, the better!” (A version starring Sir Seymour Hicks as Scrooge dates to 1935.) Reader Mike Lanski says “the Alastair Sim version is the best”—that would be Scrooge (1951), a British film released in the United States as A Christmas Carol.
Reader Daisy Shade prefers Scrooged (1988) starring Bill Murray; she says it’s the “best Christmas movie.” Mickey’s Christmas Carol (1983) and The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992) are kid-friendly takes on Dickens’ famous story.
13. In Christmas in Connecticut (1945) Barbara Stanwyck portrays food writer Elizabeth Lane, whose stories about a fictitious Connecticut farm and family start to unravel when her boss and a returning war hero visit for the holidays.
14. Watch as a song-and-dance team and a sister act band together to help General Waverly at the Vermont inn in the musical White Christmas (1954). Stars include Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye and Rosemary Clooney.
15. The 26-minute animated version of a classic Dr. Seuss book, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, quickly became a classic after it originally aired on TV in 1966. Boris Karloff voices the Christmas-loathing Grinch and the narrator. In 2000, a full-length animated feature was released with Jim Carrey as the voice behind the Grinch.
16. Scrooge-like Susan Stone (Ally Walker) finds no value in life or the holidays in If You Believe (1999)—until she meets a young girl named Suzie who represents her younger self and shows her the life she once loved.
17. Watch the 1949 original or a 2019 remake of Little Women, featuring the March sisters who tell stories of their lives during the American Civil War. Amanda Spencer Ricks says, “I love that one! Watch it every Christmas.”
18. Love Actually (2003) takes place in London five weeks before Christmas and tells the interconnected stories of characters played by Hugh Grant, Liam Neeson, Colin Forth, Laura Linney, Emma Thompson, Alan Rickman, Keira Knightley and others.
19. Gus (Denis Leary) picks the wrong family to take hostage. In The Ref (1994), this burglar’s partner leaves him alone at Christmas time to deal with a family that’s sneakier and more mischievous than he thought.
20. Starring Diane Keaton and Rachel McAdams, The Family Stone (2005) shows how a conservative businesswoman comes to terms with her boyfriend’s free-spirited family at a Christmas gathering.
21. Miracle on 34th Street (1947), tells the story of how a lawyer and a young girl prove a department store Santa is the real deal.
22. After a series of unfortunate events, Claudia Larson faces spending Thanksgiving with her dysfunctional family in Home for the Holidays (1995).
23. The Christmas Chronicles (2018) follows the story of siblings Kate and Teddy as they try to catch Santa in action on camera on Christmas Eve.
24. The Christmas love story, A Shop Around the Corner (1940), is about two co-workers who can’t stand each other in real life but fall in love over pen and paper as one another’s secret pen pals. The movie was remade in 1988 as You’ve Got Mail, starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, with pen and paper replaced by America Online email.
25. In the stop-motion animated TV special The Year Without a Santa Claus (1974), Santa Claus (voiced by Mickey Rooney) contemplates skipping his Christmas Eve deliveries, but his wife and elves work to change his mind.
26. Deck the Halls (2006) represents a competitive neighborhood Christmas light face-off, featuring Danny DeVito, Kristin Davis and Kristin Chenoweth.
27. Roy Del Ruth’s It Happened on 5th Avenue (1947) tells the story of how homeless Jim (Victor Moore) recruits some friends to live in a New York City mansion with him.
28. The Christmas Eve journey begins in Bad Santa (2003) when a conman and his little helper plot to rob a department store.
29. In The Holiday (2006), Amanda (Cameron Diaz) and Iris (Kate Winslet) have romance troubles until they decide to swap locations to find the man of their dreams.
30. After losing her job in New York City, Allie (Danica McKellar) lands a gig in the European country of Winshire to work for a royal family in A Crown for Christmas (2015).
31. Ernest P. Worrell is a delusional taxi driver who, in Ernest Saves Christmas (1988), helps Santa Claus find his successor.
32. Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer (1964) tells how misfit Rudolph, with a bright, shiny nose, finds a place where he’s truly accepted.
33. For a classic action film, it’s hard to beat Die Hard (1988), starring Bruce Willis caught in a terrorist takeover at a Los Angeles skyscraper on Christmas Eve.