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The best Christmas movies for every holiday mood
Relax with our list of Christmas movies you can stream for every occasion.
Ah, the holiday season. A magical time to cozy up on the couch with a hot cocoa and binge-watch classic Christmas flicks.
To anticipate the festivities, we’ve rounded up some of the top Christmas movies — and as a bonus, they’re all available to stream. We’ve got one for every mood you’re likely to experience this holiday season, so whether you’re jolly or grumpy, you’ll find something to suit you.
1. For when you need a tear-jerker: It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
A true holiday classic, It’s a Wonderful Life follows George Bailey, a man whose imminent suicide on Christmas Eve prompts his guardian angel to take action. The angel takes George on a magical journey, showing him exactly how he touched the lives of those around and how much impact he had on his community.Released in 1946, It’s a Wonderful Life is considered one of the greatest films ever made, for good reason. Touching and heartwarming, the flick is the perfect stream for when you’re feeling mellow and have a few tears to spare. It can be watched any time of the year, but its message has a better chance of sticking around the holidays. If you haven’t seen this marvelous movie yet, it’s never too late to catch up.
- James Stewart as George Bailey
- Henry Travers as Clarence Odbody
- Donna Reed as Mary Hatch Bailey
- Lionel Barrymore as Mr. Henry F. Potter
2. For when you’re feeling romantic: Love Actually (2003)
Love Actually features nine intertwined stories that examine the complexities of love — the one emotion that connects us all. We’ve got a story revolving around a newly-elected British prime minister, one about a married man who is tempted by his secretary and one about another man in love with his friend’s wife, among others. You’ll laugh, you’ll weep and you’ll want to re-watch it immediately.The best thing about Love Actually is the tremendously talented ensemble cast, which manages to inflict whimsy, even in the dullest of stories. Some might find it to be a tad mushy, but it’s a delightful holiday flick nonetheless.
- Alan Rickman as Harry
- Emma Thompson as Karen
- Hugh Grant as David
- Keira Knightley as Juliet
3. For when you’re feeling romantic but hate Love Actually: The Holiday (2006)
As suspicious as it may sound, some people just can’t stand the phenomenon that is Love Actually. For them, we have The Holiday, a charming rom-com about two women who decide to swap houses in an effort to escape their dreadful lives full of heartbreak and spend a few days away, licking their wounds. To their astonishment, quite a few surprises are in store once they reach their destinations.Touching and captivating, this movie has plenty of light humor and sweet romance to keep you glued to the screen. The cast is great, allowing viewers to truly connect with these oddball characters, and the story boasts enough depth to avoid becoming saccharine. The Holiday is available to stream on Netflix.
- Cameron Diaz as Amanda Woods
- Kate Winslet as Iris Simpkins
- Jude Law as Graham Simpkins
- Jack Black as Miles Dumont
4. For when you just can’t feel the Christmas spirit: Elf (2003)
A refreshing and feel-good comedy, Elf follows Buddy, a man who was raised among elves in the North Pole. When he finds out that he’s actually a human, Buddy decides to go looking for his biological father in New York, spreading plenty of holiday cheer along the way.This movie is perfect to watch when you just can’t get into the holiday spirit, as Buddy’s enthusiasm is infectious enough to put a smile on your face. Will Ferrell is a hoot in the lead role, the dialogue is sharp and witty and the overall plot is as engaging as they come. You can’t stay grumpy for long when watching this one. Elf is available to stream on Netflix.
- Will Ferrell as Buddy Hobbs
- James Caan as Walter Hobbs
- Zooey Deschanel as Jovie
- Bob Newhart as Papa Elf
5. For when you want a visual treat: The Nightmare before Christmas (1993)
Directed by Tim Burton, The Nightmare before Christmas centers on Jack Skellington, Halloweentown’s Pumpkin King. When he accidentally stumbles through a portal to Christmastown, Jack, who has grown weary of the same routine year after year, decides to take over Christmas and celebrate it — with a few twists.The film is gorgeous to look at, a tremendous work of stop-motion animation, but the story is captivating as well, with stellar characters and deliciously gothic undertones. Plus, the soundtrack is the stuff of dreams. All in all, The Nightmare before Christmas is pure poetry – original, macabre and beautifully animated.
- Chris Sarandon (speaking voice) and Danny Elfman (singing voice) as Jack Skellington
- Catherine O’Hara as Sally
- William Hickey as Doctor Finklestein
- Glenn Shadix as Mayor of Halloweentown
6. For when you’re drunk on eggnog:
A Christmas Prince: The Royal Wedding (2018)
The first one is so bad that it’s good. The second one is more of the same, but this time the plot is even more ludicrous. One year after the events in the original, American blogger Amber and Richard, King of Aldovia, are still engaged and planning their wedding. However, Amber is having trouble with everyone’s expectations about how the ceremony should look. Even more troubling, there’s something going on in Aldovia that doesn’t make sense – the country is hemorrhaging money and no one seems able to figure out why.We’ll give it to you straight: A Christmas Prince: The Royal Wedding is trash, but it’s soothing, comforting trash. In other words, it’s likely to appeal to your drunken state, as the plot is very easy to follow and you don’t need to have seen the first one to figure out what’s going on. See for yourself by streaming it on Netflix.
- Rose McIver as Queen Amber
- Ben Lamb as King Richard
- Alice Krige as Queen Helena
- Honor Kneafsey as Princess Emily
7. For when you need a movie to watch with children:
The Christmas Chronicles (2018)
The Christmas Chronicles follows Kate and Teddy, two siblings who plan to catch Santa in the act on Christmas Eve by setting up a camera and waiting for him to show up. One thing leads to another, and the two accidentally crash Santa’s sleigh, taking them on a magical and unexpected journey. They now have to help Santa get on track in order to save Christmas.The best thing about The Christmas Chronicles is Santa Claus himself, brilliantly played by Kurt Russell. He brings plenty of humor and energy to the role, making his portrayal of Father Christmas instantly memorable. Besides, the movie offers a thrilling ride for viewers of all ages, taking them on an adventure for the ages. You can check out this new holiday classic by streaming it on Netflix.
- Kurt Russell as Santa Claus
- Judah Lewis as Teddy Pierce
- Darby Camp as Kate Pierce
8. For when you want a movie with a great soundtrack:
The Polar Express (2004)
The Polar Express follows Billy, a boy who longs to believe in Santa Claus but finds it quite difficult to do so. This all changes on Christmas Eve, when a magical train stops by his house in the middle of the night. Billy is astonished by the apparition, but when he finds out that the train will take him and a group of other lucky children to the North Pole for a visit with Santa, he decides to join in the fun — a decision that will lead him on an exciting journey of self-discovery.The soundtrack for this movie is enchanting, featuring tunes from the likes of Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby and Perry Como, as well as a couple of original songs. Plus, the story is pretty great, heartwarming and Christmassy. If you want to feel like a child again, The Polar Express will grant your wish. This film is available to stream on Netflix.
- Tom Hanks as the Hero Boy/father/conductor/hobo/Scrooge/Santa Claus
- Leslie Zemeckis as Sister Sarah/mother
- Eddie Deezen as Know-It-All
- Nona Gaye as Hero Girl (voice)
9. For when your extended family is getting on your nerves:
Four Christmases (2008)
A happily unmarried couple manages to avoid their respective families around the holidays by going on vacation. One year, though, their plans are derailed and they find themselves obligated to attend four relative-choked festivities, since they both come from divorced parents. As the holiday progresses, they expect the worst, but the reality far surpasses their expectations.Four Christmases is a fun comedy that will soothe the soul of anyone who is held hostage by their relatives during the holidays. Vince Vaughn and Reece Witherspoon make for a delightfully mismatched pair, while the flick itself is offbeat and surprisingly entertaining, with just enough heart to make it work.
- Vince Vaughn as Bradford “Brad” McVie
- Reese Witherspoon as Kate
- Jon Voight as Creighton
- Jon Favreau as Denver McVie
10. For when you believe that Die Hard is indeed a Christmas movie: Die Hard (1988)
As Conan O’Brien said it best, there are two kinds of people: those who insist that Die Hard is a Christmas movie and those who just don’t care. No matter which category you fall into, the movie is ridiculously entertaining, so you should stream it nonetheless. It stars Bruce Willis as John McClane, an off-duty police officer who is caught in a skyscraper during a heist on Christmas Eve.An action flick for the history books, Die Hard spanned an entire franchise and rightfully earned a spot in pop culture, so you’re really missing out if you haven’t seen this gem yet. Equally violent and funny, the movie manages to still feel fresh all these years later, thanks to some great performances and a compelling plot.
- Bruce Willis as John McClane
- Alan Rickman as Hans Gruber
- Alexander Godunov as Karl
- Bonnie Bedelia as Holly Gennero-McClane
11. For when you hate humans and want to spend time alone:
How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)
You’re probably already familiar with this story, but here goes: the movie revolves around the Grinch, a misanthropic creature who hates Christmas and all the residents of Whoville, the town below his cave dwelling. He gets so annoyed with the festivities that he decides to ruin the holiday for everyone. To his surprise, he ends up learning an important message along the way.How the Grinch Stole Christmas is bright and colorful, although if you’re in a particularly crabby mood, you might end up identifying with the main character just a tad too much. That being said, Jim Carrey is perfect in the lead role, offering a tremendous performance. You can stream the holiday classic on Netflix.
- Jim Carrey as The Grinch
- Taylor Momsen as Cindy Lou Who
- Jeffrey Tambor as Mayor Augustus May Who
- Christine Baranski as Martha May Whovier
12. For when you’re a stickler for the rules: Gremlins (1984)
A young man named Billy receives a small, furry creature for Christmas. All he has to do is follow three simple rules: Don’t expose it to bright lights, don’t get it wet and don’t feed it after midnight. How hard can that be? Turns out, incredibly hard for Billy, who fails miserably. As a result, the adorable creature multiplies and its gang transforms into mischievous monsters who threaten the entire town.If you’re the kind of person who always follows the rules and gets annoyed quickly at those who break them, there’s a good chance you’ll get a fair amount of joy from this cult classic. The black comedy works well against the Christmas setting and although some of the special effects look dated, Gremlins remains a solid horror-comedy, both creepy and fun. You can stream the movie on Netflix.
- Zach Galligan as Billy Peltzer
- Phoebe Cates as Kate Beringer
- Hoyt Axton as Randall “Rand” Peltzer
- Frances Lee McCain as Lynn Peltzer
13. For when you’re feeling sinister: Better Watch Out (2017)
Yes, there are Christmas-themed horror movies — what did you expect? We’re happy to report that this is one of the best. It’s twisted, silly and adorably sinister. Better Watch Out is a home-invasion flick that centers on Ashley, a teen who is babysitting two little boys. Suddenly, strange things start to happen in and around the house, and Ashley has to do her best to defend the boys from intruders. Or so she thinks.The movie is violent and bloody, so we would in no way recommend this one for kids. But if you’re in the mood for a festive and clever horror flick, filled with dark humor and great performances, this is an excellent pick.
- Olivia DeJonge as Ashley
- Levi Miller as Luke Lerner
- Ed Oxenbould as Garrett
- Aleks Mikic as Ricky
14. For when you want to laugh and laugh: A Christmas Story (1983)
This hilarious holiday classic centers on Ralphie Parker, who, now an adult, narrates the story of a particularly interesting Christmas that happened when he was nine years old. Back then, all he wanted was an official Red Ryder BB rifle. The movie is presented in a series of vignettes, each funnier than the next, perfectly capturing the spirit of the season.If you’re into Christmas movies in general, you can’t miss this one. Never boring, A Christmas Story is sweet and sappy, witty and enjoyable. We guarantee that it will make you laugh.
- Peter Billingsley as Ralphie Parker
- Ian Petrella as Randy Parker
- Melinda Dillon as Mrs. Parker
- Darren McGavin as Mr. Parker
15. For when you want to feel warm and fuzzy inside:
Arthur Christmas (2011)
Few Christmas flicks manage to feel as magical and earnest as this one. Arthur Christmas revolves around Arthur, Santa’s clumsy son, who discovers that one little girl will be left without a Christmas present because of a mishap. He decides to save the day and goes on an adventure with a little help from his grandfather, an enthusiastic elf and a fleet of magical but untrained reindeer. Arthur Christmas has a lot going for it, including some great animation. The story is clever and emotional, the jokes land, the characters have plenty of personality and the effects are wildly imaginative. You’ll be filled with holiday joy in no time.
- James McAvoy as Arthur Claus
- Bill Nighy as Grandsanta
- Hugh Laurie as Steven Claus
- Jim Broadbent as Malcolm “Santa” Claus
Whether you’re looking to for something festive to play for your holiday parties or something to snuggle up on the sofa and get into the Christmas mood, you’ll be sure to find something that suits your streaming needs with our Internet TV guide. You can also check out our guide to the top free Christmas music playlists to create the ultimate holiday ambiance.
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