The holidays are officially here, and what better way to celebrate than with your favorite holiday movie? We’ve put together a list of some of the best and most beloved holiday movies of all time, and which streaming services are hosting them right now. So, gather the family, pop some popcorn, and enjoy the season.
A Christmas Carol (1951)
We start with one of three adaptations of Charles Dicken’s classic tale to make our list. Everyone is familiar with the story of the elderly miser Ebenezer Scrooge who is visited by the ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future. What sets this adaptation apart from the countless others is Alastair Sim’s quintessential depiction of Ebenezer. The Shakespearean actor puts his heart and soul into the role and warms this otherwise chilling tale of holiday redemption.
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A Christmas Prince (2017)
The most recent release on our list might also be the most controversial. At first glance, A Christmas Prince seems like a terrible movie. It’s the story of a journalist falling in love with the rogue prince of an imaginary country. However, it is the movie’s weaknesses that ironically make it perfect for holiday viewing. Character and story are simply window dressing for Christmas cheer, so sit back, turn off your brain and bask in holiday joy.
You can stream A Christmas Prince on Netflix.
A Christmas Story (1983)
No list of holiday films is complete without the nostalgia-soaked story of one boy’s quest for a Red Rider BB Gun. If you have cable, this Bob Clark classic will undoubtedly be playing on a 24-hour loop again this season, but if you can’t wait there are plenty of other ways to watch Ralphie and the gang.
A Christmas Story is available to stream through the TNT and TBS apps, and available to rent through Amazon Prime, VUDU, iTunes and many others.
Arthur Christmas (2011)
While this movie did not immediately click with American audiences when it was released in 2011, it was adored by critics and international audiences. This story about Santa’s clumsy youngest son Arthur is full of clever wit and rendered with Pixar-level animation. It is definitely worth your time to check it out.
Arthur Christmas is available to stream with Freeform and PlayStation Vue. You can rent it through Amazon Prime, iTunes, VUDU, and many others.
Babes in Toyland (1961)
Babes in Toyland was Disney’s first live-action musical. Taken from the Victor Herbert operetta, this musical mixes live-action with animated sequences. While the animation is particularly dated and the songs are not among Disney’s most memorable, this technicolor gem does have an abundance of quaint, timeless charm.
Babes in Toyland is available to stream on Disney+. It is available to rent through Amazon Prime, VUDU, iTunes and many others.
Will Ferrell is at his absolute best as a clownish orphan raised by Santa and his elves. That alone would be enough, but then he leaves him home in the North Pole and journeys to New York City to locate his biological father, the adventure really begins. This movie is completely absurd and surprisingly heartwarming. It is that rare comedy that strives to entertain the whole family from children to adults and actually succeeds.
If you want a little more naughty than nice in your holiday film choice, then look no further than Joe Dante’s 1984 horror comedy Gremlins. While the intense action and special effects might be a little too scary for younger viewers, this is the perfect change of pace for families with pre-teens and teens looking to spice up their holiday cheer with a little action and excitement.
Home Alone (1990)
From director Chris Columbus and writer John Hughes, this enduring family adventure comedy is still a treat. Macaulay Culkin is forgotten by his family and forced to battle a couple of dimwit thieves played by Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern. While the cartoon-like violence may go a bit overboard at times, this is still a wonderful ride full of childhood wish fulfillment and wonder.
Home Alone is available to stream on Freeform and can be rented through Amazon Prime, VUDU, Youtube, and many others.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)
While nothing replaces the original 1966 cartoon version with the voice talents of the legendary Boris Karloff, Jim Carrey’s frantic depiction of the Grinch possesses its own surreal charm. Pair the two together to get the full Grinch experience this holiday.
It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
For many, Frank Carpa’s 1946 fantasy defines the holiday season in a way that no other movie can. The story of George Baily and the town of Bedford Falls has touched generations of holiday viewers and remains one of, if not the, best movies to watch at this time of year.
It’s a Wonderful Life is available to stream on Amazon Prime. You can rent it through VUDU, iTunes, YouTube, and many others.
Jingle All the Way (1996)
Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sinbad as rival fathers competing for the season’s most popular toy, this holiday comedy mirrors the real-life frenzy over toys like the Cabbage Patch Kids and Tickle Me Elmo. This movie is full of kinetic fun. Kids will laugh at the slapstick antics, and parents will find the lengths the main characters go throgh to get that treasured toy all too relatable.
Jingle All the Way is available to stream on HBO Go and HBO Now. You can rent it through Amazon Prime, VUDU, Youtube, and many others.
Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
Miracle on 34th Street gives It’s a Wonderful Life a run for its money as the quintessential American holiday movie. The story of a man who claims to be the real Santa Claus is timeless. While we’ve listed the version with the original 1947 cast here, the 1994 remake starring Richard Attenborough and Mara Wilson is a good film as well.
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)
This installment of the Griswald family saga is the rarest of movies — a third installment as good as, or perhaps better than, the previous two. Clark Griswald’s legendary bad luck and poor decision making is made increasingly worse by a string of obnoxious family guests. This movie remains laugh-out-loud funny whether you are watching it for the first time or it is an annual tradition.
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation is available to rent through Amazon Prime, VUDU, Youtube, and many others.
Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (1987)
Planes, Trains, and Automobiles is the only Thanksgiving movie on our list. It is also undoubtedly the funniest Thanksgiving movie ever made. There is one caveat we feel obliged to mention: Planes, Trains, and Automobiles is an R-rated comedy. It is rated R for one particular seen in which Steve Martain goes on a long profanity-laden tirade. It’s something to keep in mind, just in case you were thinking of sitting down to watch it with the kids.
Planes, Trains, and Automobiles is available to stream on Epix. You can rent it through Amazon Prime, VUDU, Youtube, and many others.
The second adaptation of Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol on our list of the best holiday movies on streaming services is an updated retelling of the story that transforms the Scrooge character into a heartless television executive. This movie is pure Bill Murray. Much of Murray’s dialog was improvised, including a long, meandering monologue at the close of the film.
Scrooged is available to stream on Starz and Epix. You can rent it through Amazon Prime, VUDU, Youtube, and many others.
The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)
We have arrived at our final adaptation of A Christmas Carol, and it is a true beauty. This version is infused with Muppet magic from start to finish with original songs, zany humor, and that special Muppet brand of heartfelt whimsy. Sadly, Jim Henson died during the pre-production of this film, but his spirit still infuses every minute of it.
The Muppet Christmas Carol is available to stream on Disney+. You can rent through Amazon Prime, VUDU, iTunes, and many others.
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
This Tim Burton and Henry Selik masterpiece plays as well on Christmas morning as it does on Halloween night. If you are still debating whether it is one or the other, let us settle it for you right now. It is both.
The Nightmare Before Christmas is available to stream on Disney+. You can rent it through Amazon Prime, VUDU, iTunes, and many others.
The Polar Express (2004)
Tom Hanks, through the magic of motion capture, stars as The Boy, the Train Conductor, and Santa Claus in this meticulously rendered Robert Zemeckis fantasy. We are not going to try and argue that the animation doesn’t slip into the unsettling realm of the Uncanny Valley from time to time, so some might question the “best” ranking in the best holiday movies on streaming services list, but every scene also beams with excitement and cheer. That’s why it’s a perfect inclusion.
The Polar Express is available to rent through Amazon Prime, VUDU, iTunes, and many others.
The Santa Clause (1994)
Tim Allen stars as a divorced ad executive who must take on the role of Santa after the big guy falls from his roof. This movie is obviously great for children, but Allen adds just enough of his schtick to the role to keep adults engaged as well.
The Santa Clause is available to stream on Disney+. You can rent it through Amazon Prime, VUDU, iTunes, and many others.
White Christmas (1954)
Our list of the best holiday movies on streaming services was arranged alphabetically, but we can’t think of a better film to end it. There are plenty of reasons to celebrate this Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney staple — the rendition of the Irving Berlin penned title track is worth watching the film alone. That said, after a healthy holiday meal, the long runtime and slow plot might be a bit much for some. While it may not be for everyone, this classic is still as warm and welcoming as a winter fire.
White Christmas is available to stream on Netflix. You can rent it through Amazon Prime, VUDU, iTunes, and many others.