The 15 best Christmas movies to watch this season: funny, family, classic & new
One of the best parts of the holiday season is undoubtedly throwing a few blankets on the couch, making some hot chocolate and throwing on your favorite Christmas movies.
Whether you're in the mood for a classic, something that will keep you laughing or a good family flick, here are the flicks that should be on everyone's nice list.
Best classic Christmas movies
Any classic Christmas movie list has to start with "It's a Wonderful Life." The 1946 story of George Bailey boasts a 94% on Rotten Tomatoes and tops their annual list of the 65 best movies for the season.
Another Christmas classic is the 1942 movie that introduced "White Christmas" to the world, "Holiday Inn." Starring Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire, and Irving Berlin, the all-star cast leads the musical to a whopping 100% Rotten Tomatoes score.
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For sheer nostalgia alone, the original 1947 version of "Miracle of 34th Street" is the definition of a Christmas classic. When Kris Kringle surprises customers and employees alike at Macy's by claiming that he really is Santa Claus, it leads to a court case to determine his mental health and, more importantly, his authenticity.
One more classic you may not have seen is "Meet me in St. Louis." The 1944 Judy Garland film is a romantic musical comedy that focuses on four sisters, and it's rarely met a disapproving critic with a 100% Rotten Tomatoes score.
Best funny Christmas movies
Since there's already a family section on this list, and you already know the staples like "Elf," "Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer," and "The Nightmare Before Christmas," these will mostly be movies to give the adult crowd a laugh.
If all this holiday cheer has you needing some dark comedy, spike that eggnog and settle in for some "Bad Santa." It certainly isn't for everyone, but for some, watching this Billy Bob Thornton flick will be as much a yearly tradition as his character's annual holiday con. If this is your type of humor, give "A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas" a try. Set six years after their last adventure, it reunites the friends with enough laughs to make it worth a watch.
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For all you Sopranos fans that can't get enough James Gandolfini, "Surviving Christmas" has a cast that also includes Ben Affleck and Christina Applegate and centers around something we can all understand — nostalgia for your childhood home at Christmas time.
One more under-the-radar pick for dark humor is the 2015 comedy featuring Seth Rogen, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Anthony Mackie "The Night Before." The trio spends a memorable night out searching for the Holy Grail of Christmas parties in New York in this "R" rated option.
"A Christmas Story" could fit in any of the categories on this list, but it's practically mandatory viewing already with the annual marathons. If somehow you still haven't sat down and watched it start to finish, there's a reason it's played on a loop in houses across the country as family gathers.
Best family Christmas movies
Personal favorite "Home Alone" has absolutely everything you want in a great family Christmas movie. The soundtrack is Christmas in audio form, the plot and performances are timeless and the house can actually be rented this holiday season. It's listed on AirBNB, complete with an appearance from Buzz, and the 90's snacks that bring us elder Millennials back to the good old days.
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"A Charlie Brown Christmas" could have fallen into the Classic portion of the list, but for the fact that in the time before DVR's it was a mark-your-calendar event for families. This was the kind of movie you'd scream to your sister grabbing popcorn in the kitchen that it was back from commercial, and she'd come sliding (which was hard to do in feety pajamas) into the living room trying not to miss a second. If somehow you or your kids haven't seen it yet, the songs alone make it worth a yearly viewing.
Another one that could fit into several categories but demands to be listed is "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation." Keep tradition alive and watch it with the family when the kids are young and make it a yearly event. If you aren't referencing this movie at least once while putting up your lights, you're doing it wrong.
One more that slips under the radar is 1994's "The Santa Claus." Tim Allen accidentally killing a man in a Santa suit may not sound like fuel for family movie night, but it delivers a fun story when the Tool Man was at the height of his powers.
Best new Christmas movies
If you like new Christmas movies, you probably need the Hallmark Channel. Their prolific production of stories in their genre makes Stephen King jealous, and they're cranking out the movies to match. Is that D.J. from Full House? Yes. Yes it is.
I'll be honest, new Christmas movies aren't my area of expertise. Call me when they've been quoted for a decade, am I right? Could 2020's "Christmas in the Rockies," about Katie Jolly entering a lumberjack competition to save her family's business be a solid choice? Absolutely. Should you have watched the 2021 flick with a 100% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes, "Christmas with Felicity," by now? Possibly. But in the interest of giving some guidance, here are some stories to get you on the right track:
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Is Die Hard a Christmas movie?
Yes, of course it is. The whole movie takes place during an office Christmas party, what else do you need?
Constant Christmas references? YEP! "Now I have machine gun. Ho, ho, ho," anyone?
Not only is it a Christmas movie, it's the best Christmas movie. Well, it's at least among the most popular, according to this DISH Network release. DISH says it racked up 2.4 million views during the 2017 holiday season, topping holiday-favorites like Miracle on 34th Street, Home Alone and The Santa Clause.
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