Get the popcorn – not just for eating, but for stringing! And pour yourself some cocoa (maybe with a shot of something even warmer depending on your cinematic selection).
There are many things to love about Christmas, and we’re reminded of all of them as a result of the warm and fuzzy, dirty and naughty, heartwarming and downright horrific movies listed below.
There’s something for every mood and every color of the Christmas spirit. I’ll start with the darkest and work my way into the lighter and most inspirational.
- Black Christmas
If you’re stuck in a dorm room with a roommate you hate, watching this movie may or may not be a bad idea.
This movie is a warning to us all: get some f-ing Christmas spirit or suffer the consequences.
- Die Hard
Welcome to the party, pal.
- Lethal Weapon
The same reason that Die Hard is often considered a Christmas movie? So is Lethal Weapon.
- Bad Santa 1 & 2
Santa is very bad, but there’s something redeemable about him. Or you want there to be. And Lauren Graham is darling and dirty at the same time.
- The Ref
This is one of my absolute favorites. If you haven’t seen it, you should. A home invasion turns into magnified dysfunction for the victims trapped in a house with a bungling, angry burglar.
This comic take on A Christmas Carol stars Bill Murray as the Scrooge in question. He gets his ass handed to him by the three spirits and wakes up just in time for Christmas a changed man, but just as funny.
- Trading Places
While this movie doesn’t revolve around Christmas, a lot of the story occurs at Christmastime, and there is an obvious underlying “give until it hurts” theme that just seems to go along with real Christmas spirit. This is a not-to-be-missed classic at any time of the year.
- A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas
This is a very funny movie, but I would watch it for the scenes with Neil Patrick Harris and his husband alone. They steal the show and are great at being “fake gay” for a quick buck and a snort of something.
- A Christmas Carol
Unless you want to get all theological, and I doubt that you do, this was THE first Christmas story. If you haven’t seen it – or read it – do so. Trust me when I say you’ll learn something.
- Jingle all the Way
If you want to see Arnold Schwarzenegger trample other shoppers for toys for his kid, you’ll love this.
- National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
Attack squirrels, electrified cats, disintegrating turkeys, and a full toilet. Christmas with Cousin Eddie is always magical.
- A Christmas Story
Spoiler! No one loses an eye.
- Home Alone 1 & 2
These movies should be included in education films about overpopulation. If you have so many kids that you only remember you left one at home when you’re IN. THE. AIR? You have too many.
- Christmas with the Kranks
Terrible human beings celebrate Christmas too.
- Fred Claus
Who knew Santa had a brother. And that he’s named Fred?
- Home for the Holidays
No, this isn’t a Christmas movie, per se. It’s a Thanksgiving movie. But so few people have seen it, that I have to mention it here. And I think it’s okay because – let’s face it – Thanksgiving – for most – is the start of the holiday season. Holly Hunter and Robert Downey Jr. are hilarious in this adorable little movie.
- The Family Man
Imagine a take on A Christmas Carol that involves Nicolas Cage? You’re welcome.
- The Family Stone
This movie is hilarious, heart-warming and gut-wrenching. Watch it. Diane Keaton is amazing.
20. Just Friends
MY. GOD. I just… there are so many things to say about this movie. First, it’s got Ryan Reynolds. I know… enough said there. But the characters are funny, the story is cute and the romance is touching. It’s just EVERYTHING. I feel about this movie almost as strongly as I do Love Actually, which is saying a lot.
- Last Holiday
Another spoiler: she doesn’t die. But it’s a great story as she figures out that even if she did she’d learned how to live a full life and be loved.
- Four Christmases
Who doesn’t love a romantic comedy starring Reese Witherspoon. Bonus points for the Christmas theme.
- The Holiday
*Sigh* Christmas perfection. After seeing this movie, how many of us have fantasized of being the one in that little cottage with Jude Law? And tying him up and never letting him leave? No? Just me? K.
- Love Actually
Did I already use the words “Christmas perfection”? Well I need a more impressive description anyway. I can’t watch this movie enough. The impressive array of actors, the diversity of the stories and the clever way in which they all come together makes this – to me – the consummate Christmas movie.
- Jack Frost
A walking, talking snowman isn’t creepy at all.
You’ve gotta have a reindeer movie at Christmastime.
- The Santa Claus 1, 2 & 3
There’s something about these movies… they just FEEL like Christmas. A great explanation for Santa’s longevity is finally offered while also pairing the theme with a sweet little love story.
- Polar Express
Tom Hanks makes you want to watch anything in which he is involved. He somehow makes this Christmas movie feel even more Christmasy with his very presence in the film.
- You’ve Got Mail
A remake of Shop Around the Corner, this movie also does not revolve solely around Christmas, but the Christmas moments are powerful enough that it feels like it is. You can imagine that this little book store at Christmas time is where you would want to be if you were there.
I know people who don’t love this movie. And I don’t like them. I’m not saying there’s something wrong with you if you don’t like it, but… there’s certainly not something RIGHT with you.
- Frosty the Snowman
Now we’re getting into the classics. Frosty is something that I started watching every year as a child and that I continue to watch every year. It’s a part of our collective Christmas consciousness, much like the next selection…
- Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
I remember when Frosty and Rudolph were shown back to back during my childhood. I was allowed to stay up to watch both because what kind of parent is going to turn off the television during Rudolph if they love their children AT ALL?!
- How the Grinch Stole Christmas
I’m talking here about the animated classic and not the live action movie. I don’t have much to say about the live action film, but the classic animation is something that – again – reminds me of being very little and sitting in the dark watching on my non-dvr television.
- The Nightmare Before Christmas
There must be something to a movie that has created such a successful line of clothing.
- A Charlie Brown Christmas
More childhood nostalgia. Charlie Brown makes any child – for just a little while – feel normal and accepted and like everything will be okay.
- Muppet Christmas Carol
It’s Scrooge and Miss Piggy. What more could you want?
- Mickey’s Christmas Carol
And yet another take on the classic. But I’ll allow it since Mickey Mouse is involved.
Not exactly a Christmas movie, but a great reminder of what a white Christmas should look like!
- Babes in Toyland
The origin of the Island of Misfit Toys.
- Christmas in Connecticut
Where else would you want to celebrate Christmas. If it were me I’d choose Hawaii, but to each his own.
- The Bishop’s Wife
Cary Grant in the snow… *sigh*
- White Christmas
And now we’ve finally arrived in the area of Christmas movies that can only be called masterpieces… the movies that you watch over and over because you’ve been doing so for so many years that you can recite each line verbatim. “I want to wash my hands, my face, and hair with snow…”
- Holiday Inn
Try not to get your back up when the blackface performers come out at the end. No, it’s not okay, but it was the 40’s. And the early 40’s at that. The rest of the movie is Christmas perfection.
- Miracle on 34th Street
No, NOT the remake. The original – with Natalie Wood and the most perfect Santa Claus ever cast in the history of film.
- It’s a Wonderful Life
Nothing I say about this movie will do it justice. I’ve used the words “perfect” and “classic” and “masterpiece.” This is all of those. If you don’t watch any other movie this Christmas season, watch this one. I’m serious. If you’ve never seen this before, sit down right now and do it. You’ll thank me later. “Atta boy, Clarence.”