It’s not truly the holiday season until you start watching Christmas movies, is it? Whether it’s a big new release or a nostalgic flick from yesteryear, there’s much joy to be derived from these festive flicks. If you’re unsure where to start, we’ve got you covered with this list of ten must-watch movies. If you want to geek out more, check out Christmas Con (like Comic Con but for Xmas and online), a 24/7 online livestream of the Christmas Story House and Museum or this virtual exhibition of “White Christmas,” featuring original costumes, props and memorabilia.
As far as rom-coms go, Love Actually is a true modern classic for the holidays. It dives into various forms of love and relationships, from romantic to platonic, from funny to relatable. Plus points for one of the most creative nativity scenes in film history.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas
If you’re not feeling the cheer this year, this is a good place to start. It’s not immediately pleasant, but it may just reach out to your inner Grinch and revive your excitement for Christmas. Oh, there’s also a 2018 animation, but we can’t vouch for any version without Jim Carrey.
It has been 30 years since its release, but Home Alone is one of those classic Christmas movies that ages well. It’s easy to find poignant lessons in the midst of the mischief and mayhem. Though it may be a little on-the-nose for those of us stranded abroad this Christmas, it’s an entertaining, nostalgic watch that’s sure to elicit laughs (and maybe a few tears).
Straight from the list of the world’s all-time favourite Christmas movies is this comedy directed by Jon Favreau. It sets the Santa fantasy on full throttle, telling the story of a human man raised by elves, who sets out into New York one Christmas. Lessons on identity, kinship, and virtue are delivered alongside one of Will Ferrell’s most memorable performances.
How often do you get “Santa” in a shirt that says, “Now I have machine gun. Ho, ho, ho”? Christmas movies are not all tinsel and snow; Die Hard delivers nail-biting action driven by the dynamics of friendships and family. Classic Christmas songs like “Winter Wonderland” and “Let it Snow!” also appear on the soundtrack.
The story of Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy is a tale many are familiar with. Yes, its major scenes take place around Christmas, but this tale of love, loss, and success is also warm yet bittersweet (which sounds like any young adult’s holiday break, doesn’t it?). Check out Greta Gerwig’s critically-acclaimed version. As Meghan O’Keefe wrote for Decider, Little Women’s “undercurrent of melancholy and depiction of estrangement make it perhaps the perfect movie for Christmas 2020.”
The Christmas Chronicles
From the creators of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and Home Alone comes a holiday film that’s fun and fantastical. Kurt Russell plays Santa, who stumbles into an unlikely adventure with two children from a struggling family on Christmas Eve. The Christmas Chronicles is a relatively new entry on this list; you can find it on Netflix, along with the recently-released sequel.
The Nightmare Before Christmas
Tim Burton fans need no introduction to this cult classic. This stop-motion flick redefined dark fantasy animation forever, presented by the vocal talents of Danny Elfman and Catherine O’Hara, among others. By the way, it’s perfectly acceptable to watch this from Halloween all through to Christmas.
Look, it’s not a Christmas movie spree without at least three Santa recommendations. Klaus is an Oscar-nominated flick with a highly original plot that sends a postman on an adventure to the North Pole. Lending to this fresh take is the blend of 2D and 3D animation styles, along with indigenous representation and satisfying character arcs.
The Polar Express
If you haven’t seen this family movie, prepare to be spellbound. It adopts a unique animation style in the vein of Chris Van Allsburg, using human characters animated using live-action motion capture. Take a train to the North Pole with the young boy, as well as multiple characters voiced by the one and only Tom Hanks.