Essential Christmas Movies

by votesmall | created - 28 Nov 2011 | updated - 31 Oct 2013 | Public

All of the greatest, most necessary films to watch around Christmas.

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1. Die Hard (1988)

R | 132 min | Action, Thriller

8.2
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
70 Metascore

John McClane, officer of the NYPD, tries to save his wife Holly Gennaro and several others that were taken hostage by German terrorist Hans Gruber during a Christmas party at the Nakatomi Plaza in Los Angeles.

Director: John McTiernan | Stars: Bruce Willis, Alan Rickman, Bonnie Bedelia, Reginald VelJohnson

Votes: 654,634 | Gross: $83.01M

2. National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (1989)

PG-13 | 97 min | Comedy

7.6
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
49 Metascore

The Griswold family's plans for a big family Christmas predictably turn into a big disaster.

Director: Jeremiah S. Chechik | Stars: Chevy Chase, Beverly D'Angelo, Juliette Lewis, Johnny Galecki

Votes: 118,164 | Gross: $71.32M

This is so fun to watch. A must see.

3. A Christmas Carol (1984 TV Movie)

PG | 100 min | Drama, Family, Fantasy

7.9
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

An old bitter miser who rationalizes his uncaring nature learns real compassion when three spirits visit him on Christmas Eve.

Director: Clive Donner | Stars: George C. Scott, Frank Finlay, Angela Pleasence, Edward Woodward

Votes: 9,317

4. It's a Wonderful Life (1946)

PG | 130 min | Drama, Family, Fantasy

8.6
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.6/10 X  
89 Metascore

An angel is sent from Heaven to help a desperately frustrated businessman by showing him what life would have been like if he had never existed.

Director: Frank Capra | Stars: James Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore, Thomas Mitchell

Votes: 312,150 | Gross: $7.27M

Timeless classic about a man who is contemplating suicide, only to be shown what life without him would be like, detering him away from it.

5. P2 (2007)

R | 98 min | Crime, Horror, Thriller

5.9
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  
37 Metascore

A businesswoman is pursued by a psychopath after being locked in a parking garage on Christmas Eve.

Director: Franck Khalfoun | Stars: Rachel Nichols, Wes Bentley, Simon Reynolds, Philip Akin

Votes: 27,693 | Gross: $3.99M

This is a horror film, but it has to be on this list nonetheless. You see, this whole thing is riddled with Christmas themes, and it is very fun to watch around Christmas.

6. A Christmas Story (1983)

PG | 94 min | Comedy, Family

8.0
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  
77 Metascore

In the 1940s, a young boy named Ralphie attempts to convince his parents, his teacher, and Santa that a Red Ryder B.B. gun really is the perfect Christmas gift.

Director: Bob Clark | Stars: Peter Billingsley, Melinda Dillon, Darren McGavin, Scott Schwartz

Votes: 112,637 | Gross: $19.29M

The whole movie is riddled with laughs associated with a Christmas gone horribly awray.

7. Jingle All the Way (1996)

PG | 89 min | Comedy, Family

5.5
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A father vows to get his son a Turbo Man action figure for Christmas, however, every store is sold out of them, and he must travel all over town and compete with everybody else in order to find one.

Director: Brian Levant | Stars: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sinbad, Phil Hartman, Rita Wilson

Votes: 75,674 | Gross: $60.57M

This is a serious guilty pleasure about two dads who become bitter rivals while doing last minute Christmas shopping for the hottest toy of the season.

8. Elf (2003)

PG | 97 min | Comedy, Family, Fantasy

6.9
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
64 Metascore

After inadvertently wreaking havoc on the elf community due to his ungainly size, a man raised as an elf at the North Pole is sent to the U.S. in search of his true identity.

Director: Jon Favreau | Stars: Will Ferrell, James Caan, Bob Newhart, Zooey Deschanel

Votes: 165,695 | Gross: $173.40M

An orphan who was raised as one of Santa's elves, must adjust to life in New York City when he goes to find his father, but also must help Santa when he runs out of Christmas cheer.

9. The Ref (1994)

R | 96 min | Comedy, Crime, Drama

6.9
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A cat burglar is forced to take a bickering, dysfunctional family hostage on Christmas Eve.

Director: Ted Demme | Stars: Denis Leary, Judy Davis, Kevin Spacey, Robert J. Steinmiller Jr.

Votes: 20,787 | Gross: $11.44M

This movie is about a bank robber who holds a dysfunctional couple hostage, unaware that their dysfuntional family is about to arrive for the annual Christmas party. This whole thing, if you don't mind swearing, and I'm not kidding when I say a LOT of swearing, it is worth a lot of laughs.

10. Gremlins (1984)

PG | 106 min | Comedy, Fantasy, Horror

7.2
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
70 Metascore

A boy inadvertently breaks three important rules concerning his new pet and unleashes a horde of malevolently mischievous monsters on a small town.

Director: Joe Dante | Stars: Zach Galligan, Phoebe Cates, Hoyt Axton, John Louie

Votes: 160,197 | Gross: $148.17M

I know this film doesn't really seem like a Christmas movie now, but this whole thing is fun to watch because it is bustling with Christmas themed dark comedy.

11. Home Alone (1990)

PG | 103 min | Comedy, Family

7.5
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63 Metascore

An eight-year-old troublemaker must protect his house from a pair of burglars when he is accidentally left home alone by his family during Christmas vacation.

Director: Chris Columbus | Stars: Macaulay Culkin, Joe Pesci, Daniel Stern, John Heard

Votes: 357,284 | Gross: $285.76M

An essential classic, but the only thing that bugs me is the furnace scenes. That always spooked me and to this day will not watch those scenes. :)

12. Bad Santa (2003)

R | 91 min | Comedy, Crime, Drama

7.1
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
70 Metascore

A miserable conman and his partner pose as Santa and his Little Helper to rob department stores on Christmas Eve. But they run into problems when the conman befriends a troubled kid, and the security boss discovers the plot.

Director: Terry Zwigoff | Stars: Billy Bob Thornton, Bernie Mac, Lauren Graham, John Ritter

Votes: 119,521 | Gross: $60.06M

So I like dark Christmas movies. So?

13. Black Christmas (1974)

R | 98 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller

7.2
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During their Christmas break, a group of sorority girls are stalked by a stranger.

Director: Bob Clark | Stars: Olivia Hussey, Keir Dullea, Margot Kidder, John Saxon

Votes: 24,299 | Gross: $4.05M

This film is disturbing. The original slasher classic.

The less said about the remake the better.

14. Brazil (1985)

R | 132 min | Drama, Sci-Fi

8.0
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88 Metascore

A bureaucrat, in a retro-future world, tries to correct an administrative error, and becomes an enemy of the state.

Director: Terry Gilliam | Stars: Jonathan Pryce, Kim Greist, Robert De Niro, Katherine Helmond

Votes: 164,448 | Gross: $9.93M

There's no obvious reason why Terry Gilliam's dystopian nightmare is set at Christmas, except to reinforce the cold hand of a callous, bureaucratic state totally lacking in festive spirit.

15. Four Christmases (2008)

PG-13 | 88 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

5.6
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41 Metascore

A couple struggles to visit all four of their divorced parents on Christmas.

Director: Seth Gordon | Stars: Reese Witherspoon, Vince Vaughn, Mary Steenburgen, Robert Duvall

Votes: 53,000 | Gross: $120.15M

A young couple struggle to repair their relationship after attending Christmas with their dysfunctional families.

16. Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992)

PG | 120 min | Adventure, Comedy, Family

6.6
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One year after Kevin was left home alone and had to defeat a pair of bumbling burglars, he accidentally finds himself in New York City, and the same criminals are not far behind.

Director: Chris Columbus | Stars: Macaulay Culkin, Joe Pesci, Daniel Stern, Catherine O'Hara

Votes: 230,993 | Gross: $173.59M

A worthy sequel to an amazing film.

17. The Perfect Gift (2009)

Not Rated | 89 min | Drama

7.1
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A spoiled schoolgirl, her overworked executive mother, and a disillusioned young minister each receives an uplifting message about friendship, commitment, and the truest meaning of Christmas from a friendly, but mysterious drifter.

Director: Jefferson Moore | Stars: Jefferson Moore, Christina Fougnie, Matt Wallace, Tom Luce

Votes: 236

A Christian Independant film that tells that the most important gift isn't in wrapping.

18. Miracle on 34th Street (1994)

PG | 114 min | Family, Fantasy

6.4
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A lawyer and a little girl must prove that a man claiming to be Santa Claus is the real thing.

Director: Les Mayfield | Stars: Richard Attenborough, Elizabeth Perkins, Dylan McDermott, J.T. Walsh

Votes: 24,851 | Gross: $17.19M

People really underrate this film.

19. Home Alone 3 (1997)

PG | 102 min | Comedy, Crime, Family

4.3
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Alex Pruitt, a young boy of nine living in Chicago, fends off thieves who seek a top-secret chip in his toy car to support a North Korean terrorist organization's next deed.

Director: Raja Gosnell | Stars: Alex D. Linz, Olek Krupa, Rya Kihlstedt, Lenny von Dohlen

Votes: 84,674 | Gross: $30.88M

It is really bad, but it is very fun to watch, espescially around Christmas (despite the fact that it takes place in January). Not to mention it is always good for a few yuks.

20. Lethal Weapon (1987)

R | 110 min | Action, Crime, Thriller

7.6
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67 Metascore

A veteran policeman, Murtaugh, is partnered with a younger, suicidal officer, Riggs. They both have one thing in common: hating working in pairs. Now they must learn to work with one another to stop a gang of drug smugglers.

Director: Richard Donner | Stars: Mel Gibson, Danny Glover, Gary Busey, Mitchell Ryan

Votes: 206,319 | Gross: $65.21M

21. Christmas in Connecticut (1945)

Not Rated | 102 min | Comedy, Romance

7.5
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A food writer who has lied about being the perfect housewife must try to cover her deception when her boss and a returning war hero invite themselves to her home for a traditional family Christmas.

Director: Peter Godfrey | Stars: Barbara Stanwyck, Dennis Morgan, Sydney Greenstreet, Reginald Gardiner

Votes: 5,694

A young couple fall in love, but the greedy Uncle Felix is determined to have an arranged marriage.

22. Trading Places (1983)

R | 116 min | Comedy

7.5
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69 Metascore

A snobbish investor and a wily street con artist find their positions reversed as part of a bet by two callous millionaires.

Director: John Landis | Stars: Eddie Murphy, Dan Aykroyd, Ralph Bellamy, Don Ameche

Votes: 113,008 | Gross: $90.40M

23. Prancer (1989)

G | 103 min | Drama, Family, Fantasy

6.3
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A farm girl nurses a wounded reindeer she believes is one of Santa's, hoping to bring it back to health in time for Christmas. Her holiday spirit inspires those around her, something her disheartened father is having trouble understanding.

Director: John D. Hancock | Stars: Sam Elliott, Cloris Leachman, Rutanya Alda, Abe Vigoda

Votes: 3,567 | Gross: $18.59M

Cute film.

24. The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)

G | 85 min | Comedy, Drama, Family

7.7
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The Muppet characters tell their version of the classic tale of an old and bitter miser's redemption on Christmas Eve.

Director: Brian Henson | Stars: Michael Caine, Dave Goelz, Steve Whitmire, Jerry Nelson

Votes: 37,762 | Gross: $27.28M

A fantastic retelling of Dicken's classic with puppets. Michael Caine is an excellent Scrooge, and this film is fun for everyone espescially the kids, as there is songs as well as a theme that isn't too dark.

25. Die Hard 2 (1990)

R | 124 min | Action, Thriller

7.1
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
67 Metascore

John McClane attempts to avert disaster as rogue military operatives seize control of Dulles International Airport in Washington, D.C.

Director: Renny Harlin | Stars: Bruce Willis, William Atherton, Bonnie Bedelia, Reginald VelJohnson

Votes: 291,433 | Gross: $117.54M

26. Fred Claus (2007)

PG | 116 min | Comedy, Family, Fantasy

5.6
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42 Metascore

Fred Claus, Santa's bitter older brother, is forced to move to the North Pole to help Santa and the elves prepare for Christmas in exchange for cash.

Director: David Dobkin | Stars: Vince Vaughn, Paul Giamatti, Elizabeth Banks, John Michael Higgins

Votes: 34,322 | Gross: $72.01M

27. Ernest Saves Christmas (1988)

PG | 95 min | Comedy, Family, Fantasy

5.6
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Ernest helps Santa Claus as he searches for his successor.

Director: John R. Cherry III | Stars: Jim Varney, Douglas Seale, Oliver Clark, Noelle Parker

Votes: 8,617 | Gross: $28.20M

This is a serious guilty pleasure, and one of the sweetest Santas out there.

28. The Santa Clause (1994)

PG | 97 min | Comedy, Drama, Family

6.4
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57 Metascore

When a man inadvertantly kills Santa on Christmas Eve, he finds himself magically recruited to take his place.

Director: John Pasquin | Stars: Tim Allen, Judge Reinhold, Wendy Crewson, Eric Lloyd

Votes: 73,643 | Gross: $144.83M

An essential Christmas movie.

29. The Santa Clause 2 (2002)

G | 104 min | Comedy, Family, Fantasy

5.6
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48 Metascore

Scott Calvin has been a humble Santa Claus for nearly ten years, but it might come to an end if he doesn't find a Mrs. Claus.

Director: Michael Lembeck | Stars: Tim Allen, Spencer Breslin, Elizabeth Mitchell, Eric Lloyd

Votes: 39,062 | Gross: $139.24M

A worthy sequel.

30. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer & the Island of Misfit Toys (2001 Video)

Unrated | 74 min | Animation, Adventure, Comedy

5.5
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When the Evil Toy Taker takes all of Santa's toys, it's up to Rudolph and his friends Hermey, Yukon Cornelius and the Abominable Snowman "Bumbles" to stop him and bring Christmas to the children of the world.

Director: William R. Kowalchuk Jr. | Stars: Richard Dreyfuss, Jamie Lee Curtis, Rick Moranis, Kathleen Barr

Votes: 1,514

I know people hate this, but I always had a lot of fun watching this as a kid.

31. Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984)

R | 79 min | Horror, Thriller

5.9
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After his parents are murdered, a tormented teenager goes on a murderous rampage dressed as Santa, due to his stay at an orphanage where he was abused by the Mother Superior.

Director: Charles E. Sellier Jr. | Stars: Lilyan Chauvin, Gilmer McCormick, Toni Nero, Robert Brian Wilson

Votes: 10,482 | Gross: $2.49M

I know that this dark, campy and gory horror film probably shouldn't be on here, but this entire thing is Christmas. It must be seen at least once.

32. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964 TV Movie)

TV-G | 47 min | Animation, Adventure, Comedy

8.1
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A misfit reindeer and his friends look for a place that will accept them.

Director: Larry Roemer | Stars: Billie Mae Richards, Burl Ives, Larry D. Mann, Paul Soles

Votes: 19,856

Tells the tale of Rudolph perfectly.

33. Jack Frost (1979 TV Movie)

TV-G | 48 min | Animation, Family, Fantasy

7.2
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The Groundhog tells the story of how, for once, Jack Frost became human, and helped a knight win his lady love.

Directors: Jules Bass, Arthur Rankin Jr. | Stars: Buddy Hackett, Robert Morse, Paul Frees, Larry Storch

Votes: 2,160

Very entertaining classic.

34. Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town (1970 TV Movie)

TV-G | 48 min | Animation, Adventure, Comedy

7.8
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A mailman reveals the origin of Santa Claus.

Directors: Jules Bass, Arthur Rankin Jr. | Stars: Fred Astaire, Mickey Rooney, Keenan Wynn, Paul Frees

Votes: 8,769

Essential Christmas classic.

35. Santa Baby (2006 TV Movie)

PG | 89 min | Comedy, Fantasy

5.8
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Mary Class is a highly successful business executive - who just happens to be the daughter of Santa Claus. But when her father falls ill, Mary returns to the North Pole and the life she ... See full summary »

Director: Ron Underwood | Stars: Jenny McCarthy, Ivan Sergei, George Wendt, Kandyse McClure

Votes: 1,351

Fun film about Santa's naughty daugter. No pun intended. Espescially with Jenny McCarthy...

Okay, so that sounded so wrong.