Ah, the holiday season. It’s a magical time to cosy up on the couch with a hot chocolate and binge-watch classic Christmas flicks.
In anticipation of all 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 him 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 film 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 during the holidays. If you haven’t seen this marvellous 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 best 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 humour 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 Amazon Prime.
- 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 Amazon Prime.
- 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 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 (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 need to watch a movie with children: The Nutcracker and The Four Realms (2018)
All Clara wants is a key, a one-of-a-kind key that will unlock a box that holds a priceless gift from her late mother. A golden thread, presented to her at godfather Drosselmeyer’s annual holiday party, leads her to the coveted key, which promptly disappears into a strange and mysterious parallel world. It’s there that Clara encounters a soldier named Phillip, a gang of mice and the regents who preside over three Realms: Land of Snowflakes, Land of Flowers and Land of Sweets. Clara and Phillip must brave the ominous Fourth Realm, home to the tyrant Mother Ginger, to retrieve Clara’s key and hopefully return harmony to the unstable world. It’s a great Christmas movie for people of all ages, with a sparkling cast to match. But don’t take our word for it – see for yourself by streaming it on Disney+.
- Mackenzie Foy as Clara
- Morgan Freeman as Drosselmeyer
- Helen Mirren as Mother Ginger
- Tom Sweet as Fritz
7. For when you want a bit of a laugh: The Grinch (2018)
The Grinch is a festive classic. You’re probably already familiar with the 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. The Grinch is bright and colourful, although if you’re in a particularly crabby mood, you might end up identifying with the main character just a tad too much. You can stream the holiday classic on Amazon Prime.
- Benedict Cumberbatch as The Grinch
- Cameron Seely as Cindy-Lou Who
- Pharrell Williams as the Narrator
8. For when you want a movie with a great soundtrack: The Polar Express (2004)
The Polar Express follows 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. The boy 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 Amazon Prime.
- 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
9. 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
10. For when you’re looking for a movie to suit all ages: Noelle (2019)
Noelle has always had to support and encourage her brother Nick, who was ordained to take over as Santa. When Nick disappears right before Christmas, Noelle goes on a funny and heartfelt journey to find him and, ultimately, what Christmas is really about. Few Christmas films can please everyone, but whether you’ve got to keep little ones entertained or elderly relatives happy, Noelle can do just that. Who doesn’t like Anna Kendrick anyway?
- Anna Kendrick as Noelle
- Shirley MacLaine as Elf Polly
- Bill Hader as Nick Kringle
- Julie Hagerty as Mrs. Claus
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