The Top 10 Christmas Films

Home Alone Christmas

A List of Our Favorite Christmas Movies 

It’s December, so that means studios are releasing their Oscar bait. Yes, that’s pretty much what happens every year. But there’s also something in December called Christmas, which means we’ll watch Christmas-related movies. In most cases, that’s whether we like it or not. 

But do not worry about awkward and boring holiday dinners. We have you covered with our lists of the top Christmas films we’ve ever seen. We consider all movies set on Christmas with the characters being better people or finding themselves at the end. Feel-good holiday stuff.  

10 National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

The follow-up to National Lampoon’s Vacation is the funniest and most watched of all Vacation movies. It’s a Christmas classic that we can’t help but watch every time it’s on TV, so it makes for a great background movie to leave on in family reunions. Once Chevy Chase is having his tantrum over his Christmas lights, everyone will be distracted and laughing out loud at all the Griswold’s antics. 

9 Elf

Another movie to stop flipping channels during the Christmas season, it’s also one of the funniest Will Ferrell performances of his career and a testament that Jon Favreau can do anything. As one of the most popular Christmas movies in recent years, Elf has become a classic. So go find your Buddy the Elf ornament, and enjoy watching this relatively new Christmas canon film.  

8 The Nightmare Before Christmas

My favorite part of this movie is the movie, but I dislike everything else outside of it. Hot Topic products, bootleg merchandise, and Jack Skellington figures are all things I dislike. Isn’t there a Fortnite Jack Skellington skin? I hate it, too! 

However, a good movie is a good movie, and regardless of how I felt about the trend surrounding it, it still holds up. The stop-motion animation will always be impressive, the songs are catchy, and the character design is pretty cool. This is a great Christmas film, after all. Or a great Halloween film. Whatever you want it to be. 

7 Tangerine

Let’s move on to the grittier side of things. Not everyone is having a merry Christmas, and this film exemplifies it. Taking place on Christmas Eve, we follow a transgender sex worker searching for her boyfriend and pimp after she finds out he cheated on her with a cisgender woman. Filmed with three iPhone 5S smartphones, director Sean Baker delivers a truthful look at the not-so-glamorous side of Tinseltown. 

This one is not to watch at family gatherings. 

6 It’s a Wonderful Life

The Christmas classic! Is there anything else to say about this film synonymous with the holiday season? It’s been parodied countless times and even inspired some movies like Donnie Darko and Back to the Future II. If a TV series made Holiday special episodes. It probably has its own It’s a Wonderful Life parody. So we can’t dream about a world without this movie. It wouldn’t be the same without it. 

5 The Holdovers

In addition to being one of the best films of 2023, Alexander Payne’s new film is one of the best Christmas films we’ve ever seen. Paul Giamatti delivers one of the best performances in recent memory as the cranky history teacher in a movie that feels like another feel-good holiday story yet is so refreshing. 

This movie not only takes us to a realistic Christmas season in New England during the 70s. It also takes us to another time when adult dramas would be an alternative to cash-grabbing restorative nostalgia or blockbuster franchises. It’s a poignant story with timeless themes surrounding human relationships. One that hopefully will be replayed every December from now on.

4 Home Alone

I’m an elder millennial. Of course, Home Alone is one of the best Christmas movies ever! If you also grew up between the ’80s and ’90s, you understand that this movie and its sequel were part of our childhood, and we all wanted to be Kevin McCallister. It’s a movie that is from our times, and only ours. It wasn’t made before, and a remake wouldn’t make sense in this day and age. 

3 Die Hard

*sighs* Moving on. 

2 Gremlins

We like horror, and we can make our own Christmas horror list. But no other scary Christmas film is part of our pop culture conscience as much as Gremlins. Nobody likes a preachy cautionary tale about obedience. But, put a cute pet that multiplies into grotesque creatures, and it will be one of the best things ever put into film. Make it a Christmas story, and it will be one of the best Christmas movies ever. 

Directed by cult horror filmmaker Joe Dante, everything from the Gremlin’s design to the soundtrack is close to perfect for me. This film is my second favorite Christmas film because of its chimney monologue. It’s one of the most darkly comedic dialogues ever. The way it appears with Gizmo’s cute face in the scene sums up what this movie is about. To be a wicked Christmas tale and get away with it.

1 The Apartment

Finishing up the list with one of our favorite films according to our letterboxd profile, Billy Wilder’s classic comedy, The Apartment. This is about a man trying to climb the corporate ladder in the most enabling and absurd ways. A pure embodiment of how a holiday experience can make somebody a better person reflects on the significance of life and our pride as human beings. 

It’s a movie on par with other Wilder classics like Some Like It Hot and Sunset Boulevard. It can be watched at any time of the year. But it’s a special treat for Christmas. Especially if you’re desolated or mournful. The Apartment will make you feel better. 

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