17 Holiday Movies You Have to Watch at Least Once
If you're not in the holiday spirit yet, there's no better cure for that than a classic holiday movie. Though new festive films are made every year, only a handful qualify as essential annual viewing. We have compiled a group of cinematic classics that range from the black-and-white classics to more modern, irreverent fare. Chances are you've seen most of these, but there may be movies you have never gotten around to watching. In that case, let this list be your guide (some of these are even available to stream on Netflix). Have you seen them all?
It's a Wonderful Life
The movie's most quoted scene may be the last one, when George's daughter tells us how an angel gets its wings, but there are so many more memorable moments, like the dance scene where the floor opens up. If Jimmy Stewart's voice doesn't make you feel like Christmas is here, you need to watch this right now.
A Christmas Story
A Christmas Story is full of valuable life lessons, and beyond that, it's a timeless classic we can't stop quoting all year long.
With a slightly outrageous concept, Kevin McCallister lives out all your childhood fantasies in this '90s classic. Can't you just hear the John Williams-composed score now?
Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) goes absolutely bonkers in National Lampoon's take on Christmas, and we love every minute of it. We still aspire to be like Clark, decking our halls with as many lights as possible, and if you want to go that extra mile to be like him, you can get your own moose mug!
More than just the holiday movie your dad always insists on watching, White Christmas is a holiday classic for a reason. With a wartime prologue that starts you off on an emotional foot, things only get more warm and fuzzy as Bing Crosby sings you through classic songs like the title tune.
A Charlie Brown Christmas
Can you think of this movie and not hear the iconic music? Not only is the animated classic a nostalgic favorite, it's probably the movie that first exposed us to the fact that Christmas might be commercialized — and that a tiny tree could be perfect.
The Nightmare Before Christmas
Tim Burton's gothic holiday masterpiece seamlessly marries Halloween and Christmas with divine results. It's a perfect watch when all the other holiday movies are just a bit too sweet.
Miracle on 34th Street
It's so beloved that it spawned a 1994 remake, but the 1947 original version of Miracle on 34th Street is what makes it on the list. It's the one that reminds you how magical the holiday season can really be and why it's OK to still believe in Santa.
The Muppet Christmas Carol
This one brings together favorite childhood characters plus one iconic holiday tale. Michael Caine plays Scrooge, Kermit is Bob Cratchit, and the whole Muppet gang joins in for a nostalgic spin.
The eternally cool Bill Murray takes on the holidays with this '80s version of A Christmas Carol. You probably didn't get half the jokes when you watched this movie as a kid, which makes it even more fun to watch it now.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Jim Carrey made the Grinch come to life in an inspired live-action version of this tale, but nothing gets better than the animated classic. First released in 1966, the Boris Karloff-narrated movie never ceases to make our hearts grow three sizes.
Once you reach the age where you can start watching less-wholesome holiday movies, this is the movie that makes being naughty fun. Billy Bob Thornton is totally irreverent and justifies all your suspicions about those weird mall Santas.
The Santa Clause
Nineties mainstay Tim Allen becomes the jolly fat man in this comedy, giving us a new Santa origin story. The two sequels aren't nearly as good, but this one is fun and funny.
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
Yes, the stop-motion effects are practically ancient compared to special effects today. However, that's a huge chunk of the appeal of this movie about Santa's most maligned holiday buddy, which is always easy to catch on TV this time of year.
It's an unapologetic romantic comedy with homes that are entirely unrealistic, but we wish we could switch places with either Kate Winslet or Cameron Diaz in this festive film. God, those homes. Unrealistic, but drool-worthy.