The 25 Best Christmas Movies, Ranked

Playing Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas” tune is great and all, but there’s nothing like a beloved Christmas movie to put you in the holiday mood. From classics like Miracle on 34th Street to contemporary crowd-pleasers like Elf, we put together a list of the 25 best ones to watch, ranked from good to very merry. Pick your favorites to stream from now until December 25 (or, you know, year-round) and settle in with a cup of hot cocoa and cozy weighted blanket.

Disney Just Released a ‘Nightmare Before Christmas’ Homeware Line & Now Our Holiday Decorating Is Done

ernest saves christmas1
Touchstone Pictures

25. Ernest Saves Christmas

It’s a Christmas emergency: Santa Claus needs a successor and the accident-prone Ernest (Jim Varney) is just the man to help him out. Or not.

the best man holiday
Universal Pictures

24. The Best Man Holiday

Age-old rivalries (and romances) resurface when college friends—including Taye Diggs, Regina Hall, Nia Long and Terrence Howard—reunite for Christmas.

four christmases
Warner Bros.

23. Four Christmases

Was Reese Witherspoon and Vince Vaughn’s chemistry great in this film? Nah. But did we laugh out loud when their vacation plans go awry and they’re forced to spend Christmas bouncing between the homes (four to be exact) of relatives? Definitely.

the family stone
20th Century Fox

22. The Family Stone

Type A Sarah Jessica Parker does not blend in seamlessly when Dermot Mulroney—her fiancé—brings her home to Connecticut at Christmas to meet his quirky family.

die hard
20th Century Fox

21. Die Hard

Yes, it’s a Christmas movie. Yes, we love that 1980s superstar Carl Winslow (Reginald VelJohnson) basically saves the day.

about a boy
Universal Pictures

20. About a Boy

Come on, the penultimate scene takes place over Christmas in this film about a rich, child-free selfish Londoner (Hugh Grant) who never makes time for others until a 12-year-old boy won’t leave him alone.

the santa clause
Walt Disney Pictures

19. The Santa Clause

It’s Tim Allen at his finest. When he accidentally kills a man in a Santa suit, he’s transported to the North Pole to assume the role before the following Christmas arrives, much to the delight of his son.

the holiday1
Universal Pictures

18. The Holiday

Before there was Airbnb, there was this film about Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet swapping homes between LA and the British countryside—and meeting the men (Jude Law and Jack Black) of their dreams.

Paramount Pictures

17. Scrooged

This 1980s riff on Charles’ Dickens A Christmas Carol stars Bill Murray as a TV exec who feels no qualms firing a staffer right before the holidays—until he’s visited by a series of ghosts.

meet me in st louis

16. Meet Me in St. Louis

Not only does it star Judy Garland, this musical about four sisters learning about life and love before the 1904 World’s Fair features one of the best-ever renditions of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” sung by Garland herself.

the preachers wife
Mundy Lane Entertainment

15. The Preacher’s Wife

A neglected preacher’s wife (Whitney Houston) gets spiritual guidance from the most charming guardian angel of all time (Denzel Washington).

bad santa
Columbia Pictures

14. Bad Santa

Old St. Nick—at least the mall version—just isn’t himself in this film starring Billy Bob Thornton as a Santa Claus poser with big plans to rip off shopping outlets on Christmas Eve.

grinch who stole christmas
Universal Pictures

13. How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Jim Carrey breathes new life into the Dr. Seuss tale about a Christmas Eve grump who plans to steal (versus distribute) all the kids’ toys.

nightmare before christmas
Walt Disney Pictures

12. The Nightmare Before Christmas

It’s Tim Burton at his best. When pumpkin king Jack Skellington gets bored scaring people in Halloweentown, he moves on to Christmastown and a new target: Santa Claus.

Warner Bros.

11. Elf

As a toddler, Will Ferrell was mysteriously transported to the North Pole and raised by Santa’s elves. Now, he’s on a mission to find his real dad—played by James Caan—in New York. Things don’t go well.

muppet christmas
Walt Disney Pictures

10. The Muppet Christmas Carol

Kermit the Frog is Bob Cratchit in yet another beloved retelling of Charles’ Dickens famous tale.

miracle on 34th street
20th Century Fox

9. Miracle on 34th Street

Kris Kringle steps in to replace a drunken Santa Claus in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade and people love him—that is, until he starts going around town claiming to be the real deal.

white christmas
Paramount Pictures

8. White Christmas

You’ve got Bing Crosby (and Rosemary Clooney, George’s aunt) crooning about the holidays in snow-covered Vermont. What’s not to love?

it s a wonderful life
Paramount Pictures

7. It’s a Wonderful Life

Tough day at the office: When George Bailey (James Stewart) wishes aloud that he had never been born, an angel appears to show him exactly how life would be without him. (Cue the tears.)

national lampoon christmas
Warner Bros.

6. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

If Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) doesn’t inspire you to give your all when putting up your holiday lights, no one will.

home alone
20th Century Fox

5. Home Alone

Vintage Macaulay Culkin. You can’t go wrong.

love actually
Universal Pictures

4. Love Actually

Permission to replay Hugh Grant’s prime minister dance routine 17 times the next time you watch.

while you were sleeping1
Hollywood Pictures

3. While You Were Sleeping

So, Sandra Bullock invents a relationship with a guy (Peter she’s been crushing on who’s now in a coma.) It’s still a total classic.

charlie brown christmas
Lee Mendelson Film Productions

2. A Charlie Brown Christmas

If this film—featuring the Peanuts gang—about the commercialization of Christmas doesn’t calm your holiday anxiety after a trip to the mall, nothing will.

a christmas story1
Warner Bros.

1. A Christmas Story

Hey, there’s a reason TBS plays this film commercial-free for 24 hours straight every Christmas.

Rachel Bowie Headshot
Rachel Bowie

Royal family expert, a cappella alum, mom

Rachel Bowie is Senior Director of Special Projects & Royals at PureWow, where she covers parenting, fashion, wellness and money in addition to overseeing initiatives within...
read full bio