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The Hollywood Insider 25 Christmas Movies Watchlist

Photo: Christmas Movies

More Than Just Hallmark

As the nights get longer and the snow begins to stick, people tend to stay in their homes and soak it all in. Staying in comfy pajamas and drinking hot chocolate, it’s the perfect time to snuggle up and watch a movie. With Christmas right around the corner, watching your favorite holiday movie is the perfect way to look forward to the magical season. The corny Hallmark films may not be for everyone so it’s important to expand our boundaries and explore new territory. This list holds the classic favorites that are a must-watch every year, but also some films that may mix up your holidays. 

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There can only be so many on one list, but this is the ultimate watchlist for this holiday season, enjoy!

The 25 Christmas Movies Countdown:

25. ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’ (1965)

It’s essential to start off strong with one of the most classic holiday films. ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’ not only holds true childhood nostalgia but also characters that no matter who you are you know and love. Directed by Bill Melendez, a fun watch for the little ones and a relatable watch as they grow up and understand the good grief that Charlie Brown feels around this time of year. 

24. ‘Single All The Way’ (2021)

One of the more recent Netflix releases is ‘Single All The Way’ directed by Michael Mayer. This lovable rom-com holiday film is a must-watch this season. As more genres show more LGBTQ representation, it’s important they be celebrated as they enter into mainstream media. But who could deny watching a film with Jennifer Coolidge?

23. ‘Jack Frost’ (1998)

Not the best-rated film, but a film that seems to stick in people’s minds. Michael Keaton stars in ‘Jack Frost’ directed by Troy Miller, as a father who isn’t the best dad. When he is killed in a car accident, he returns as a snowman to make up everything for his son. Some call it a fever dream, others, a holiday classic. 

22. ‘Miracle on 34th Street’ (1947)

George Seaton directs ‘Miracle on 34th Street’ a black and white classic that embodies the feeling of Christmas joy. Kris Kringle is asked to be the Santa at Macey’s after his wonderful performance during the Thanksgiving parade. People slowly start to believe that he is the real Santa Clause. 

21. ‘Edward Scissorhands’ (1990)

Edward Scissorhands’ may sound more like a Halloween movie, but it is indeed a holiday film. Tim Burton answers the question of how does it snow in this weird, wholesome, and monochromatic neighborhood. Johnny Depp and Winona Ryder bring cheer to this fantastic film.

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20. ‘Santa Clause is Comin’ to Town’ (1970)

Jules Bass & Arthur Rankin Jr. are the absolute kings of Christmas classics. ‘Santa Clause is Comin’ to Town’ is not only self-explanatory of why it’s on the list but fills people’s hearts with joy by just seeing the animation that is so suited for Christmas time. 

19. ‘Die Hard’ (1988)

The big split between the human race is not whether or not pineapple is on pizza, but if ‘Die Hard’ is considered a Christmas film. John McTiernan’s film has caused quite the controversy so I will just leave this here.

18. ‘The Polar Express’ (2004)

The Polar Express’ directed by Robert Zemeckis completely takes the viewers into the holiday season filled with silver bells, hot chocolate, and the strange animation that has somehow scared every viewer as well. Nonetheless, it is a must-watch.

17. ‘Carol’ (2015)

There is something so lovely about the 1950s New York City vibe during Christmas time. This may not be on people’s radar of being a holiday film, but the tone that Todd Haynes brings to the table for ‘Carol’ creates the same warm feeling of being by the fireplace.

16. ‘Frosty The Snowman’ (1969)

Jules Bass & Arthur Rankin Jr. are at it again with the classic ‘Frosty The Snowman’. A short film that somehow always breaks the hearts of everyone in the end, but always goes back the next season. The tale of a man-made of snow bringing joy to school children when a magical hat is placed on his head.

15. ‘Anna and the Apocalypse’ (2017)

This lesser-known holiday tale not only holds the spirit of a Christmas movie but also throws in being a zombie film and musical. Seems like a whole lot, but the comedy shines through as John McPhail is able to deliver on this insane genre mash-up, ‘Anna and the Apocalypse’. 

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14. ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ (1946)

Frank Capra delivers one of the most classic Christmas movies of all time, ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’. Not only does it feed your soul to appreciate life, but also turns anyone into an optimist. It shows what the true meaning of Christmas and life is, so when you forget make sure to rewatch this classic.

13. ‘Gremlins’ (1984)

Another surprising addition to this list is based on one of the strangest, but best gifts someone has received on Christmas. ‘Gremlins’ directed by Joe Dante shows the dangers of not following the strict rules of getting something that you want.

12. ‘The Santa Clause’ (1994)

Tim Allen stars in ‘The Santa Clause’ directed by John Pasquin. When a father accidentally knocks Santa unconscious he must undertake the duties and become the new Kris Kringle. This film also follows with some strong sequels that are arguably just as good as the first.

11. ‘Happiest Season’ (2020)

Another modern holiday film that shows representation of the LGBTQ community, ‘Happiest Season’. Directed by Clea DuVall and starring Kristen Stewart, this Hulu original tells the story of a girl who plans to propose to her girlfriend come to a halt when she realizes her partner is not out to her conservative parents.

10. ‘Movies That Made Us- Holiday Edition’ (2021)

This incredible Netflix series is about the making of movies that have impacted us. Each episode focuses on one film and has interviews and behind-the-scenes footage of the film. It is very interesting and fascinating how these films are made. The ones though to focus on during the holiday season are the ones about ‘Elf’, ‘Home Alone’, and if you’d like ‘Die Hard’. 

9. ‘Elf’ (2003)

After watching the ‘Movies That Made Us’ episode about ‘Elf’ it’s hard to resist watching it immediately. This Will Ferrell film directed by Jon Favreau could very well possibly be favored as the best Christmas film of all time. Buddy the Elf took the world by storm in 2003 and is played on repeat and quoted for the entire season.

8. ‘Jingle All The Way’ (1996)

This may not be a favored holiday watch for people, but I believe it best captures the absolute madness of capitalism in America during Christmas time. Directed by Brian Levant and starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, ‘Jingle All The Way’ is about a disappointing father who has one more chance to win over his son and get him the hottest toy that is sold out everywhere.

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7. ‘The Muppet Christmas Carol’ (1992)

There have been so many different versions of the story of Scrooge, but there is one that somehow tops them all. ‘The Muppet Christmas Carol’ directed by Brian Henson. It isn’t the picture-perfect telling of the tale, but it has the Muppets which is hard to beat. 

6. ‘National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation’ (1989)

This Chevy Chase comedy is always a must-watch during the holiday season. Directed by Jeremiah S. Chechik,  National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation’ tells the story of a family and their bad luck when they preparing for their family season celebration.

5. ‘Batman Returns’ (1992)

Batman Returns’ is the perfect film to shake up your holiday watchlist. Straying away from the more classic feel-good film, a Batman film filled with Gotham Christmas celebrations, Danny Devito as the Penguin, and Tim Burton “Esque” visuals.

4. ‘A Christmas Story’ (1983)

Inching closer and closer for the big day brings more classic holiday films. ‘A Christmas Story’ plays for twenty-four hours on TV on Christmas Eve which gives it a spot on this ultimate guide. Bob Clark directed the story of Ralphy and his need for the Bebe gun and the leg lamp that is a staple in our minds.

3. ‘Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer’ (1964)

Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer’ is the classic tale of being okay to be a misfit in society. Whether your nose glows red or an elf wants to be a dentist, coming together and celebrating differences is the most important part of life. Larry Roemer captures that in this Christmas classic. 

2. ‘Home Alone’ (1990)

I would never forget about the boy who was forgotten. ‘Home Alone’ directed Chris Columbus is definitely one of the best Christmas movies of all time. A stellar cast including Joe Pesci and Catherine O’Hara, this film captures the hecticness of Christmas and the importance of family. 

1. ‘How The Grinch Stole Christmas’ (2000)

Last and certainly not least is Jim Carrey’sHow The Grinch Stole Christmas’ directed by Ron Howard. It was difficult to choose between the animated classic and the live filming, but Carrey’s portrayal of the grinch will always be one of his best performances. During each watch, there is always something new or funny to discover, an enjoyable watch for the kids and for the adults of the world. 

Happy Holidays!

By Jack Colin

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