It's Christmas Day! After the presents are all opened and the return receipts are all lost (you're stuck with that tie, dad), gather the family together for a classic Christmas movie. But which one? All of them! We've gathered the best Christmas films to watch on all the popular streaming services, including Netflix, HBO Max, Amazon Prime Video, and more. From Christmas comedies like Elf and Home Alone, to family favorites like The Polar Express and A Christmas Story, you'll find it here.
In our list of the best holiday movies to watch this year, we've put together a mix of old and modern classics, some newer releases, and others we think you'll be looking for this season. Check out the list below. For more, check out our complete guide to every Christmas movie and special airing or streaming this year.
Will Ferrell stars as Buddy, a human raised by elves in the North Pole, who travels all the way to New York one Christmas to find his biological father. I defy you to find someone on this planet who hasn't at the very least seen a frame of this movie, which despite being released in 2003 feels like it's been around since the beginning of time. [TRAILER]
Jim Carrey plays Dr. Seuss' classic Christmas-hating character, who emerges from his hovel one fateful year to ruin the holiday for the residents of Whoville. Carrey is at his Carrey-est here, hamming it up under all the green fur. [TRAILER]
Much like the annual Die Hard discourse, someone always tries to drudge up an annual Love Actually discourse too, and I have to be honest with you, I'm not interested in hearing about it! I love this insane rom-com, about a bunch of interconnected love stories during the Yuletide season, because of how insane it is. Every famous British person ever invented has a role in it, but the Bill Nighy story is secretly the most moving one. [TRAILER]
It doesn't get more quintessentially Christmas than Home Alone, the movie about Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin), a kid who gets accidentally left behind when the rest of his family goes on vacation for the holidays. I personally think of this movie most fondly for its bumbling villains: two burglars, played by Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern, known as the Wet Bandits, who end up involved in a dangerous feud with Kevin. [TRAILER]
When you're done watching Home Alone, why not check out its sequel? There's a convincing argument to be made that Lost in New York, which finds Kevin (Culkin) getting separated from his family at the airport and ending up on a plane to New York City, is even better than the original. [TRAILER]
Every year, we're collectively burdened with many, many articles about how Die Hard is actually a Christmas movie (is anyone really disputing that at this point?), but even that doesn't take away from how great this film still is. Bruce Willis plays John McClane, a cop trying to save his wife and other hostages at a holiday party that gets taken over by German terrorists. [TRAILER]
Easily the most memorable of the Vacation film series, this is mostly a movie about a bunch of things going wrong for a family — but at Christmas! Chevy Chase plays the beleaguered patriarch who's determined to have a good holiday despite the presence of his wife's crazy cousin, his thankless job, and malfunctioning string lights. [TRAILER]
Like so many holiday movies, The Family Stone is super weird, but in a way that just makes it more lovable. It stars Sarah Jessica Parker as an uptight New York City business lady who goes to spend Christmas with her boyfriend's (Dermot Mulroney) family. And then they're all really nice and there is absolutely no conflict whatsoever... just kidding! His family, which includes Diane Keaton as his mom, Rachel McAdams as his sister, and Luke Wilson as his brother, are pretty judgmental, so much that SJP asks her sister (played by Claire Danes) to come act as her backup. I won't reveal what happens from there, but the whole movie is a ticking time bomb of weird family dynamics, all set against the backdrop of the holidays.
People will try to tell you this Sandra Bullock romantic comedy is insane, and those people will be correct, but make no mistake: It's one of those insane movies that just works. Bullock plays Lucy, a public transit worker who saves Peter (Peter Gallagher), a man she's been crushing on from afar, from getting hit by a train on Christmas Day. After he falls into a coma, Lucy becomes accidentally involved in an elaborate lie when Peter's family assumes she's his fiancée. She goes along with the ruse, further complicating things when she finds herself getting closer to his brother (Bill Pullman). [TRAILER]
In all of its extremely mid-2000s comedy-ness, this movie's kind of hit or miss, but I am of the opinion that it is actually very good, made even better when you watch it during the Christmas season. A pre-Deadpool Ryan Reynolds stars as a formerly overweight high schooler who returns home for the holidays ten years later, reuniting with the high school crush (Amy Smart) who rejected him at their graduation party. Are there a lot of jokes that definitely would not fly today? Of course. Does Anna Faris also give a pitch-perfect performance as Reynolds' character's eccentric pop star girlfriend? She sure does. Sometimes that's all you need. [TRAILER]
Since computer animation has advanced so much in the years since, the visual style of this movie is pretty outdated now, but at the time of its release, it was a huge deal that Tom Hanks, who plays the train conductor, did the motion capture for his character. The movie itself is still pretty sweet, following a young boy's journey on a train to the North Pole on Christmas Eve. [TRAILER]
You could wait for the annual 24-hour TBS marathon of this classic on Christmas, or you could just stream it whenever you want. A Christmas Story is one of our culture's most inescapable movies, centering on a young boy who wants nothing more than to be gifted a BB gun. Do you own one of those leg lamps? If you don't, I'm sure you know someone who does. [TRAILER]
The premise of this movie is pretty silly — Michael Keaton plays a husband and father who dies in a car accident only to come back to life as a snowman — and it was a total flop when it was released in 1998, but it's become a holiday classic for plenty of people in the years since. [TRAILER]
Nancy Meyers' rom-com is finally getting the cultural resurgence it deserves with the memeification of Jude Law's Mr. Napkin Head, but the whole movie, centering on two women who house-swap for the holidays in order to escape their unhappy lives, is worth watching. It's ridiculous and it rules. [TRAILER]
This is not only the greatest Christmas Carol adaptation ever made, but it's also one of the greatest Christmas movies ever made, period. You already know the story of Ebenezer Scrooge (played here by Michael Caine), but it's instantly made better by the presence of Kermit, Gonzo, and Miss Piggy. [TRAILER]
A Charlie Brown Christmas is great because it's about being depressed during the most wonderful time of the year, which is something we as a society could use more of. There are so many reasons why this cartoon has been such a reliable classic for so many years, from the soundtrack to the dancing to Linus' sweet little speech about the true meaning of Christmas. It just never gets old. [TRAILER]
There's no such thing as too many holiday rom-coms, and even if there was, this one would still make our list. Queen Latifah stars as a by-the-books single woman who, after learning she has only three weeks to live, decides to make the most of her last Christmas on Earth. She quits her boring department store job, takes a lavish European vacation, and, at some point, falls in love with LL Cool J. It's just silly enough to work.
Adam Sandler's animated musical is somehow still our culture's most mainstream Hanukkah movie, and while there are a lot of people who (justifiably) hate that, this film has its charms. Sandler voices Davey, an alcoholic sentenced to community service as the assistant referee for a youth basketball team during the holiday season. [TRAILER]
Two sisters with a song-and-dance act become involved with two singers, both professionally and romantically, and the four set out to save an inn from going out of business. This is just a nice, wholesome musical, if that's your thing. [TRAILER]
This is the ideal movie for anyone who can't stand all the holiday cheer and is already yearning for next Halloween. It's based on the German folklore about Krampus, a demonic beast who comes to kill bad kids, and centers on a dysfunctional family who have to band together to protect each other from the monster. This movie often verges on ridiculous — there's a scene where a bunch of gingerbread cookies come to life, for example — but that's part of the fun. [TRAILER]
What if Santa but bad? Billy Bob Thornton plays a conman posing as a mall Santa so he can rob the place with his partner, which gets complicated when he strikes up a friendship with a lonely little kid. Fun fact: Joel and Ethan Coen executive produced this movie. [TRAILER]
In case you needed another Christmas Carol adaptation, this is the one that stars Bill Murray as a disillusioned TV executive who is visited by a bunch of ghosts who try to help him regain his spirit. One of the ghosts is played by Carol Kane, which is fun. [TRAILER]
Why settle for just one Vanessa Hudgens when you can have two? At this point, Netflix has so many Christmas movies it's kind of impossible to know where to start, but we recommend beginning your journey here. Hudgens plays a duchess who switches places with a baker from Chicago (also played by Hudgens), who just happens to be her exact doppelgänger, and then — you'll never believe it — things get complicated. If you're as delighted by the insanity of this movie as we are, there are two more in the series. [TRAILER]
What did we say about Christmas movies about depressed people? This classic follows George Bailey (James Stewart), a man considering ending his life on Christmas Eve. He's visited by a guardian angel who shows him what life in his town would have been like had he not been there. This is a good one to watch if you want to feel good about humanity. [TRAILER]
Did you know Little Fockers — which is, somehow, the third movie in the Meet the Parents series — is technically a Christmas movie in that it takes place at Christmastime? It's true. The story picks up five years after Meet the Fockers, and is basically just a comedy of errors all about a man (Ben Stiller) trying way too hard to impress his father-in-law (Robert De Niro). It's easily the biggest dud in the trilogy, but if you're a fan, you're a fan. [TRAILER]
A young girl nurses a wounded reindeer back to health, believing it's one of Santa's and wanting to return it before Christmas. It's sweet! [TRAILER]
Abby (Kristen Stewart) goes home to meet her girlfriend's (Mackenzie Davis) family for the holidays, only to learn that her partner isn't out, forcing them to hide their relationship. More gay Christmas movies, please. [TRAILER]
Shazam, which follows a 14-year-old foster kid who gains the ability to transform into a superhero, can totally be read as a Christmas movie since it takes place during the holidays and is all about family and love and togetherness. Well, it's also about trying to defeat an evil scientist, but mostly the gushy stuff. [TRAILER]
When Tangerine came out in 2015, no one could stop talking about how it was shot entirely on an iPhone, which is definitely impressive and interesting, but certainly not the only thing worth noting about this film. Set on Christmas Eve, it centers on a sex worker who drags her friend all around Los Angeles to search for her pimp boyfriend after finding out he cheated on her while she was in prison. This movie is also notable for the fact that it features two transgender actresses — Kitana Kiki Rodriguez and Mya Taylor — in the main roles. [TRAILER]
If Krampus doesn't have enough scares for you, check out this horror film about a group of sorority sisters who are stalked by a killer during the holiday season. Its influence on the slasher genre can't be overstated, and its final scene will stick with you for a while. [TRAILER]
Klaus is so beautifully animated that you almost forget to pay attention to the story, which functions as a super sweet Santa Claus origin story: A lazy, underachieving postman (voiced by Jason Schwartzman) befriends a reclusive toymaker (voiced by J.K. Simmons), and the two set out to bring joy via handmade gifts to a dark, dreary town. [TRAILER]