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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.
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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 want something truly magical: Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey
There’s nothing quite like a few show-stopping musical numbers to put you in the Christmas spirit. Maybe a heartwarming plot? Decades after his apprentice betrays him, a once joyful toy maker finds new hope when his bright young granddaughter appears on his doorstep.
Colourful and full of wonder, Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey is a treat for viewers of all ages. An instant classic, the movie boasts several memorable performances and is overflowing with holiday cheer. It doesn’t get more magical than this.
- Forest Whitaker
- Keegan-Michael Key
- Hugh Bonneville
- Anika Noni Rose
2. For when you need a tear-jerker: It’s a Wonderful Life
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. It’s 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 landing around the holidays. If you haven’t seen this marvellous movie yet, it’s never too late to catch up.
- James Stewart
- Henry Travers
- Donna Reed
- Lionel Barrymore
3. For when you’re feeling romantic: Love Actually
Love Actually features nine intertwined stories which 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. It’s just a tad too mushy and bloated, but it’s a great holiday film overall.
- Alan Rickman
- Emma Thompson
- Hugh Grant
- Keira Knightley
4. For when you’re feeling romantic but hate Love Actually: The Holiday
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, the movie has plenty of light humour and sweet romance to keep you glued to the screen. The cast is great, allowing viewers to truly connect with these oddball characters. Also, the story has enough depth to avoid becoming saccharine.
- Cameron Diaz
- Kate Winslet
- Jude Law
- Jack Black
5. For when you just can’t feel the Christmas spirit: Elf
A refreshing and feel-good comedy, Elf follows Buddy, a man who was raised among elves at 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, the overall plot is as engaging as they come. You can’t stay grumpy for long when watching this one.
- Will Ferrell
- James Caan
- Zooey Deschanel
- Bob Newhart
6. For when you want a visual treat: The Nightmare before Christmas
Directed by Tim Burton, The Nightmare before Christmas centres 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
- Catherine O’Hara
- William Hickey
- Glenn Shadix
7. For when you’re drunk on eggnog: A Christmas Prince: The Royal Wedding
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, Amber, the American blogger 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 haemorrhaging 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 even need to have seen the first one to figure out what’s going on. The thirds movie in the series, A Christmas Price: The Royal Baby, is also available to stream.
- Rose McIver
- Ben Lamb
- Sarah Douglas
- Alice Krige
8. For when you need a movie to watch with children: The Christmas Chronicles
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, which takes them on a magical and unexpected journey. They now have to help Santa get on track in order to save Christmas, which is no easy feat.
The best thing about The Christmas Chronicles is Santa Claus himself, brilliantly played by Kurt Russell. He brings plenty of humour and energy to the role, making his portrayal of Father Christmas instantly memorable. Besides, the movie offers a thrilling ride for viewers young and old, taking them on an adventure for the ages.
- Kurt Russell
- Judah Lewis
- Darby Camp
9. For when you’re feeling nostalgic: Home Alone
A holiday classic, Home Alone follows Kevin, a young boy who is accidentally left behind when his extended family leaves for a Christmas vacation. He tries to enjoy the solitude at first, but soon discovers that a couple of robbers are targeting his house. As a result, he comes up with a complicated plan to protect his belongings.
Funny and perfectly cast, Home Alone stands the test of time as a highly enjoyable holiday hit. What’s better than watching a small boy best two grown-ups over and over again?
- Macaulay Culkin
- Joe Pesci
- Daniel Stern
- John Heard
10. For when you need something to watch in the background: Christmas with the Kranks
The Kranks scandalise everyone when they declare that they won’t be celebrating Christmas. Yet, when their daughter decides to come home, they get off on a mad rush to organise a spanking holiday last minute.
Look, is this a great movie? Definitely not. However, it has a solid cast and it brings on the laughs, so there’s no harm in having it run the background while you decorate cookies.
- Tim Allen
- Jamie Lee Curtis
- Dan Aykroyd
11. For when you hate humans and want to spend time alone: How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)
A fantasy movie based on the classic Dr. Seuss story, How the Grinch Stole Christmas revolves around Grinch, who lives in solitude just outside Whoville. He hates the townsfolk and despises Christmas. Yet Cindy Lou, a six-year-old girl who believes in the spirit of the holiday, sets out to reform him.
Jim Carrey shines in the lead role, offering a performance to remember. Plus, How the Grinch Stole Christmas will likely appeal to anyone who wants to enjoy the holidays in peace, maybe by catching up on sleep or finally making a dent in their watchlist. Oh, there’s also a dog in this and he is awesome.
- Jim Carrey
- Taylor Momsen
12. For when you want a feminist twist: Noelle
Noelle stars Anna Kendrick as Kris Kringle’s daughter, who is full of Christmas spirit and a little salty that her brother will inherit the family business and become the next Santa. But when her brother disappears, Noelle has to go to great lengths to find him before a lot of children end up disappointed.
This Disney+ original is fun and silly, with a solid cast and enough charm to keep you glued to the screen until the very end. It can get corny at times but, at the end of the day, that’s pretty much a given as far as holiday movies are concerned.
- Anna Kendrick
- Shirley MacLaine
- Bill Hader
- Kingsley Ben-Adir
13. For when you’re feeling naughty: Bad Santa
For lovers of black comedy, it’s difficult to find a holiday movie more appropriate than Bad Santa. The plot follows a con man who teams up with a friend to run a special scam each year during the holiday season. But when he gets a job as a mall Santa, he finds it hard to stay on target due to his potty mouth and general disdain towards… everybody.
Bad Santa is like an antidote to forced holiday mushiness, outrageous and profane. In other words, it’s like a breath of fresh air for the right audience. It doesn’t hurt that the movie is hilarious as well.
- Billy Bob Thornton
- Tony Cox
- Lauren Graham
- Brett Kelly
14. For when you want to laugh and laugh: The Santa Clause
This feel-good holiday flick centres on Scott, who finds that he’s inadvertently become the next Santa Claus. However, his ex-wife doesn’t take the news so well – in fact, she makes Scott undergo a psychiatric evaluation.
Tim Allen is universally beloved, so this movie is a fun watch for the entire family, especially if you’re low on Christmas spirit. The Santa Clause is lightweight entertainment, the kind of flick you can run in the background while you’re having dinner or falling asleep on the couch while the kids rejoice.
- Tim Allen
- Judge Reinhold
- Wendy Crewson
- Eric Lloyd
15. For when you’re craving a hidden gem: Klaus
A simple act of kindness always sparks another, even in a frozen, faraway place. That’s the premise behind this amazing animated film – which just happens to be an alternate Santa Claus origin story.
When Smeerensburg’s new postman befriends toymaker Klaus, their gifts melt an age-old feud and deliver a sleigh full of holiday traditions, leading to Christmas as we know it today. Wonderfully animated and exceptionally engaging, the movie is a joyous treat.
- Jason Schwartzman
- J.K. Simmons
- Rashida Jones
16. For when you want to feel warm and fuzzy inside: Arthur Christmas
Few Christmas flicks manage to feel as 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 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
- Bill Nighy
- Hugh Laurie
- Jim Broadbent
17. For when you want to cry your heart out: Last Christmas
Cynical and frustrated Kate, an aspiring singer, works as an elf in Central London. She gains a new perspective when she meets Tom, who opens her eyes towards all the wonders she can still enjoy in life.
A star-studded rom-com inspired by the music of George Michael, Last Christmas is silly and a little formulaic, but the charming leads make it work. Emilia Clarke and Henry Golding can do no wrong – and together, they’re a force to be reckoned with.
- Emilia Clarke
- Henry Golding
- Michelle Yeoh
- Emma Thompson
18. For when you really love elephants: Holiday in the Wild
After her husband ends their marriage, Kate embarks on a solo second honeymoon in Africa. There, she and Derek, a pilot, rescue a baby elephant. While nursing the elephant back to health, Kate discovers how much she loves her new surroundings. She might stay a while.
While the movie is a romance, it also shines light on the harsh life of orphan elephants. When their parents are slaughtered by ivory poachers, the little ones need help to make it on their own. It’s wholesome and undemanding, which makes it a perfect holiday flick.
- Rob Lowe
- Kristin Davis
- Fezile Mpela
19. For when you want a touch of horror: Gremlins
Billy’s father gets his son an adorable pet from China, with the caveat that Billy has to follow three simple rules when caring for it. Of course, Billy does not, which leads to him unleashing a horde or monsters upon the small town where he lives. Yikes!
A horror comedy, Gremlins is a classic, so you probably already know how the story ends. Still, we’re happy to report that the movie holds up and is still incredibly entertaining.
- Zach Galligan
- Phoebe Cates
- Hoyt Axton
20. For when you want your horror with a nice soundtrack: Anna and the Apocalypse
Described as Shaun of the Dead meets La La Land, Anna and the Apocalypse is set around Christmas. As a zombie apocalypse threatens the sleepy town of Little Haven, young Anna and her friends are forced to fight, slash and sing their way to survival, facing the undead in a desperate race to reach their loved ones.
Anna and the Apocalypse is whimsical and light, filled with characters you’ll root for immediately. It’s pretty much the zany zombie high school musical you never knew you needed and has cult favourite written all over it. We highly recommend you give it a go.
- Ella Hunt
- Malcolm Cumming
- Sarah Swire
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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