The holidays are a special time that bring back warm memories of family reunions, friends and traditions that are handed down over generations. It is a time of giving and appreciation for those that are close to you and around. It’s also a time for holiday movies that remind of us what the holiday season is all about and, if done well, reverberate in our memory throughout holiday seasons to come.
There are so many great holiday movies. You can watch them on regular broadcast or cable television channels or stream them on Netflix, Hulu or other services. There are also new, hopefully soon to be classics, appearing at your local movie theater.
However you watch holiday movies, they can stir that holiday spirit. Lift you out of that humbug mood. And they can bring back memories of holidays past.
There are a great many rankings of holiday movies and so many deserve to be on some type of list. Here are our top 10 holiday movies of all time. Happy holidays!
10. The Christmas Chronicles – Top 10 Holiday Movies of All Time
Release date: November 22, 2018
Director: Clay Kaytis
Cast: Kurt Russell, Darby Camp, Judah Lewis
Siblings Kate and Teddy Pierce hatch a scheme to capture Santa Claus on Christmas Eve. When the plan goes awry, the kids join forces with a somewhat jolly Saint Nick and his loyal elves to save the holiday before it’s too late.
9. How The Grinch Stole Christmas – Top 10 Holiday Movies of All Time
Release date: December 18, 1966
Director: Chuck Jones
Cast: Boris Karloff, Thurl Ravenscroft, June Foray
How the Grinch Stole Christmas! is a television special directed and co-produced by Chuck Jones. It is based on the eponymous children’s book by Dr. Seuss, the story of the Grinch trying to take away Christmas from the townsfolk of Whoville below his mountain hideaway.
8. A Christmas Story – Top 10 Holiday Movies of All Time
Release date: November 18, 1983
Director: Bob Clark
Cast: Peter Billingsley, Melinda Dillon, Darren McGavin
Based on the humorous writings of author Jean Shepherd, this beloved holiday movie follows the wintry exploits of youngster Ralphie Parker (Peter Billingsley),who spends most of his time dodging a bully (Zack Ward) and dreaming of his ideal Christmas gift, a “Red Ryder air rifle.” Frequently at odds with his cranky dad (Darren McGavin) but comforted by his doting mother (Melinda Dillon), Ralphie struggles to make it to Christmas Day with his glasses and his hopes intact.
7. White Christmas – Top 10 Holiday Movies of All Time
Release date: January 1, 1954
Director: Michael Curtiz
Cast: Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney
Singers Bob Wallace (Bing Crosby) and Phil Davis (Danny Kaye) join sister act Betty(Rosemary Clooney) and Judy Haynes (Vera-Ellen) to perform a Christmas show in rural Vermont. There, they run into Gen. Waverly (Dean Jagger), the boys’commander in World War II, who, they learn, is having financial difficulties;his quaint country inn is failing. So what’s the foursome to do but plan a yuletide miracle: a fun-filled musical extravaganza that’s sure to put Waverly and his business in the black!
6. It’s A Wonderful Life – Top 10 Holiday Movies of All Time
Release date: January 7, 1947
Director: Frank Capra
Cast: James Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore
George Bailey has so many problems he is thinking about ending it all – and it’s Christmas! As the angels discuss George, we see his life in flashback. As George is about to jump from a bridge, he ends up rescuing his guardian angel, Clarence – who then shows George what his town would have looked like if it hadn’t been for all his good deeds over the years.
5. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation – Top 10 Holiday Movies of All Time
Release date: December 1, 1989
Director: Jeremiah S. Chechik
Cast: Chevy Chase, Beverly D’Angelo, Juliette Lewis
As the holidays approach, Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) wants to have a perfect family Christmas, so he pesters his wife, Ellen (Beverly D’Angelo), and children, as he tries to make sure everything is in line, including the tree and house decorations. However, things go awry quickly. His hick cousin, Eddie(Randy Quaid), and his family show up unplanned and start living in their camper on the Griswold property. Even worse, Clark’s employers renege on the holiday bonus he needs.
4. Elf – Top 10 Holiday Movies of All Time
Release date: November 7, 2003
Director: Jon Favreau
Cast: Will Ferrell, James Caan, Bob Newhart
Buddy (Will Ferrell) was accidentally transported to the North Pole as a toddler and raised to adulthood among Santa’s elves. Unable to shake the feeling that he doesn’t fit in, the adult Buddy travels to New York, in full elf uniform, in search of his real father. As it happens, this is Walter Hobbs (James Caan), a cynical businessman. After a DNA test proves this, Walter reluctantly attempts to start a relationship with the childlike Buddy with increasingly chaotic results.
3. The Santa Clause – Top 10 Holiday Movies of All Time
Release date: November 11, 1994
Director: John Pasquin
Cast: Tim Allen, Judge Reinhold, Wendy Crewson
Divorced dad Scott (Tim Allen) has custody of his son (Eric Lloyd) on Christmas Eve. After he accidentally kills a man in a Santa suit, they are magically transported to the North Pole, where an elf explains that Scott must take Santa’s place before the next Christmas arrives. Scott thinks he’s dreaming, but over the next several months he gains weight and grows an inexplicably white beard. Maybe that night at the North Pole wasn’t a dream after all — and maybe Scott has a lot of work to do.
2. Home Alone – Top 10 Holiday Movies of All Time
Release date: November 16, 1990
Director: Chris Columbus
Cast: Macaulay Culkin, Joe Pesci, Daniel Stern
When bratty 8-year-old Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin) acts out the night before a family trip to Paris, his mother (Catherine O’Hara) makes him sleep in the attic. After the McCallisters mistakenly leave for the airport without Kevin, he awakens to an empty house and assumes his wish to have no family has come true. But his excitement sours when he realizes that two con men (Joe Pesci, Daniel Stern) plan to rob the McCallister residence, and that he alone must protect the family home.
1. Miracle On 34th Street – Top 10 Holiday Movies of All Time
Release date: May 2, 1947
Director: George Seaton
Cast: Edmund Gwenn, Maureen O’Hara, Natalie Wood
In this Christmas classic, an old man going by the name of Kris Kringle (Edmund Gwenn) fills in for an intoxicated Santa in Macy’s annual Thanksgiving Day parade. Kringle proves to be such a hit that he is soon appearing regularly at the chain’s main store in midtown Manhattan. When Kringle surprises customers and employees alike by claiming that he really is Santa Claus, it leads to a court case to determine his mental health and, more importantly, his authenticity.