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. Here, 25 of the best ones, ranked from good to very merry.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
10. ‘The Muppet Christmas Carol’
Kermit the Frog is Bob Cratchit in yet another beloved retelling of Charles’ Dickens famous tale.
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.
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.)
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.
5. ‘Home Alone’
Vintage Macaulay Culkin. You can’t go wrong.
4. ‘Love Actually’
Permission to replay Hugh Grant’s prime minister dance routine 17 times the next time you watch.
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.
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.
1. ‘A Christmas Story’
Hey, there’s a reason TBS plays this film commercial-free for 24 hours straight every Christmas.