Merry Christmas 2021: If you haven’t started making your way through the best Christmas movies yet, what are you waiting for? Now that the festive season has rolled around, there’s certainly no shortage of options out there, but that also means it can be difficult to pick what to watch next.
That’s why we’ve done the hard work for you and narrowed down everyone’s favorite festive flicks to bring you the best holiday movies to make picking your next watch even easier.
From family-friendly comedies to spooky festive horror movies and heartwarming tear-jerkers to tense auctioneers (of course Die Hard made the cut), we’re sure there’ll be something here to get you in the holiday spirit.
So, without further ado, scroll on to discover our picks of the best Christmas movies of all time.
The movie: It might not be the most sophisticated festive film ever, but you can’t deny that Jack Frost is loads of fun. A touring musician Jack (Michael Keaton) gets a second chance at a relationship with his son when he’s reincarnated as a snowman a year after tragically dying in a car crash… look, screenwriters need Christmas, too.
Despite the almost laughable premise, Jack Frost will pull on your heartstrings in a way you never thought possible. Although it’s sad in places, it’s a fun-loving movie that’s perfect for a lazy afternoon post-Christmas lunch.
Watch it with your family and you’ll be hugging each other and crying in no time… and that’s what Christmas is all about, right?
Its most Christmassy moment: When snowman Jack absolutely obliterates a group of children in a snowball fight in order to save his son from being cornered. There’s nothing like watching him use his little twiglet arms to launch perfectly crafted snowballs into the faces of small children…
Home Alone 2: Lost In New York
The movie: You do really have to question the parenting skills of people who accidentally abandon their son not once, but twice. Poor little Kevin (Macaulay Culkin) ends up on a flight to the Big Apple, while the rest of his family are headed to sunny Florida for the holidays.
While he waits to be rescued, the little tyke once more causes grievous injuries to a pair of robbers (Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern’s Harry and Marv) and gets directions from a certain former US President.
Its most Christmassy moment: Most Christmassy Moment: Kevin McCallister (Macauley Culkin) is reunited with his mom under the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree.
The movie: In a time before Airbnb, there was house-swapping. That now old-fashioned practice is at the center of The Holiday, a festive romcom that sees two stuck in a rut singletons (Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz) impulsively decide on a transatlantic switcheroo holiday.
This is, of course, a Nancy Meyers film (What Women Want, Something’s Gotta Give), so both of our female leads find love where they least expected it more specifically in the form of Jack Black and Jude Law.
It’s very, very mushy stuff, and there’s a moment where Jude Law uses the word “problematic” without a hint of irony, but The Holiday is easygoing romcom material with a subtle Christmas tinge that will keep everyone content and quiet after dinner.
Its most Christmassy moment: After spending the entire movie apart, the two happy couples are seen celebrating New Year’s Eve together in England. No, it’s not technically Christmas Day, but there are presents, nibbles, and dancing, so it might as well be.
The movie: Love Actually might be a paint-by-numbers rom-com, but, love it or loathe it, you can’t deny that Richard Curtis’s modern British classic has a special something about it.
One of the most-watched Christmas movies of modern times, it’s easy to knock it’s overwhelming cheesiness. However, buried beneath all of the sentiment and sap, there’s a sweet always-relevant tale of goodwill to all men.
Love Actually sums up the spirit of Christmas and, we promise, we won’t tell your mates you watch it every year.
Its most Christmassy moment: Take your pick. All permutations are here, from grand romantic gestures (cue card-laden Andrew Lincoln in the snow), to quiet family bonds (Laura Linney and her mentally ill brother), to the raucous singletons’ Christmas of Bill Nighy and Gregor Fisher spending the big day together getting drunk and watching porn.
Babes in Toyland
The movie: Although Disney’s version, with Annette Funicello and Ray Bolger, is the most famous version of this story, Babes in Toyland was originally a 1903 operetta written by Victor Herbert.
Although Herbert’s story is a fairly dense one, concerning the villainous Barnaby’s attempts to acquire a young woman’s fortune, it takes place against the most magical of backdrops.
Babes in Toyland features a fairytale world rendered with all the scale and flair of a Golden Age Hollywood musical, as the screen fills up with all kinds of colors, music, and dancing.
Its most Christmassy moment: One particularly inventive scene sees stop-motion toy soldiers head out on a triumphant march.
The movie: Klaus has the honor of being Netflix’s first original animated feature. It makes sense that they’d go for a Christmas film, since there’s always been such a time-honored tradition of holiday-themed animations, think 1964’s stop-motion version of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer or 1982’s The Snowman.
This film offers a new origin story for Santa Claus, dealing with a postman who befriends a reclusive toymaker. Klaus really does have the makings of a future classic.
It’s a traditionally-animated film that looks absolutely gorgeous, with a sweet sentimentality that harkens back to the Disney Renaissance of the ’90s.
The movie: This dark Christmas fairytale is the perfect movie to watch when the family is bloated, on their 17th sweet sherry, and making passive-aggressive comments about the scented candle you bought them.
Max Engel (Emjay Anthony) is a good kid and an all-round Santa stan. After tearing up his Christmas letter after a fight with his nasty cousins, Max accidentally summons the horned Krampus.
The demon and his army of twisted toys then terrorize Max’s awful family, which will give you some much-needed emotional catharsis when your own festive spirit is wearing thin.
Its most Christmassy moment: When Max and the Krampus come face to face. Look, this isn’t a film with a lot of happy, jolly moments OK?
The movie: Successfully giving the Father Christmas mythos an upgrade, Aardman and Sony’s CG animation brims with invention, detailing the demands of the big night on the Clauses.
The S-1 spacecraft operates with military precision, but it’s down to gawky grandson Arthur (James McAvoy) to save the day and the spirit of the season when one present remains undelivered.
Multigenerational Santas voiced by a best-of-British voice cast (Bill Nighy, Jim Broadbent, Hugh Laurie) add sparkle to a delightful caper as colorful and warm as Arthur’s sweater.
Its most Christmassy moment: A family squabble outside a girl’s home about who will deliver a present is resolved when everybody remembers that it should be down to the person most eager to make the child happy, i.e. Arthur.
Jingle All the Way
The movie: We all know the pain of desperately trying to get your Christmas shopping done in time for the big day, but for parents, the pressure is really on to get their kids the exact thing they want from Santa.
That’s the premise of Jingle All the Way, which sees Schwarzenegger take on the role of a Dad who just wants to make his child happy by presenting him with a Turbo Man, the hottest toy around on Christmas Day.
This is a fun, slapstick comedy without much depth, but Schwarzenegger is often at his best when his big, muscle-bound physique is put in tandem with a mushy, emotional storyline, and the dangerous lengths he goes to get a Turbo Man will have you weeping with laughter.
Think your Christmas shopping is bad? Even the Terminator knows now why you cry.
Its most Christmassy moment: The scene where the store clerks laugh in Schwarzenegger’s face when he asks for a Turbo Man… It may not be very jolly, but it’s definitely an accurate depiction of the Christmas period.
The Santa Clause
The movie: It doesn’t get much better than your Dad turning into Santa Claus, does it? That’s what happens to young Charlie (Eric Lloyd) when his father Scott Calvin (Tim Allen) accidentally kills Santa Claus and has to take his place. It doesn’t happen overnight though…
According to The Santa Clause as in, the clause in a contract which states that whoever kills Santa becomes the new Santa Scott has a year to get his affairs in order before he must leave for the North Pole permanently.
The only problem is, he thinks it’s all a dream, which means it’s up to Charlie to convince him he’s really Santa in time for Christmas.
The heart-warming storyline and Allen’s excellent turn as the cynical Scott are both brilliant, but it’s really the set and costume design that makes The Santa Clause one of the best Christmas movies ever.
We challenge you to find a more magical depiction of the North Pole.
Its most Christmassy moment: After returning Charlie to his mom Laura and step-dad Neil, Santa leaves for his Christmas deliveries. But not before giving Laura and Neil their presents – the gifts they wanted as kids that never arrived and led them to believe Santa wasn’t real in the first place.
The Shop Around the Corner
The movie: It’s easy to forget that James Stewart has more than one Christmas movie to his name when It’s A Wonderful Life has such a grip over the festive pantheon of movies.
Yet, The Shop Around the Corner is one of Stewart’s most touching roles. It’s the busiest time of the year at a Budapest gift shop, and tensions are high between co-workers Alfred Kralik (Stewart) and Klara Novak (Margaret Sullavan).
Little do they realize that they are also secret pen-pals who have fallen in love via pen and paper. Sounds like a familiar plot? That’s because “You’ve Got Mail would borrow heavily from the movie so much that the bookstore in the movie is called “The Shop Around the Corner”.
Its most Christmassy moment: A declaration of love on Christmas Eve. Doesn’t get much weepy than that.