Happy holidays, folks! The Christmas movie season might be more limited than spooky season, but holiday films definitely feel more unique than just any old horror movie. Here’s a list of the 10 best movies to watch while the snow falls.
10. “Krampus” (2015)
A family is tormented by a mysterious Christmas demon after their son (Emjay Anthony) renounces Christmas.
Look, what can I say? This film is an absolute joke, but if you know me, you’ll know I adore stupid movies like this. At the same time though, is this movie actually good? Who even knows. It’s got some genuine scares, plus an all-star cast including Toni Collette and David Koechner.
9. “Elf” (2003)
Once long ago, a human (Will Ferrell) was adopted by Santa’s elves. Years later, he leaves the North pole to connect with his real father (James Caan) and spread Christmas cheer.
The odds are you’ve not only seen “Elf,” but you probably already knew it was on this list. The number of iconic lines and moments that have come from this movie are innumerable. Really the only thing you can fault it for is the fact that it has become so overdone and overwatched throughout the years. Oh well, still a great movie.
8. “Black Christmas” (1974)
A group of college students finds themselves stalked during Christmas break in this 1974 horror classic.
More than just a Christmas movie, “Black Christmas” is a nightmare. It’s incredibly influential in the horror genre (it’s likely the Michael Myers franchise would not exist without this movie coming first). On top of that, it’s a genuinely scary film that creeped me out when I watched it the first time. An underrated classic.
7. “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” (1966)
A creature known as the Grinch (Boris Karloff) decides to ruin Christmas by breaking and entering into people’s homes to steal all of their Christmas presents and decorations.
While most people our age likely remember the live-action Jim Carrey version, this is the definitive “Grinch” for me. The simple yet unique animation, the deep growling voice of the title character and the song. How can we forget about the theme song?
6. “White Christmas” (1954)
Two showmen (Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye) put on a big musical performance to help their old army general (Dean Jagger) save his motel.
This film is a big flashy song and dance spectacular with some really odd lines. It’s a movie I love mostly for the nostalgia factor (I’ve been watching it every year since I was about four), but I also am a sucker for this kind of big-budget musical. It’s a delight.
5. “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” (1989)
Clark Griswold Jr. (Chevy Chase) attempts to give his family the perfect Christmas, though the imminent arrival of his extended family causes chaos.
“The little lights are not twinkling!” This is one of the movies I quote the most, especially around the holidays. Almost every single scene has at least one great line or one moment that can make me absolutely lose it. It’s endlessly entertaining.
4. “The Muppet Christmas Carol” (1992)
The Muppets put their own unique spin on this classic story, with comedy and music on their side.
The Ebenezer Scrooge story has been done countless times, but arguably the very best adaptation of Charles Dickens’ short story is this version starring…the Muppets. It’s funny, cute, charming, heartfelt and everything in between, and makes the story accessible for all ages.
3. “A Charlie Brown Christmas” (1965)
Charlie Brown (Peter Robbins) tries to find a way to discover the meaning of Christmas while also maneuvering through the annual holiday play.
This is not a full-length movie, but it really deserves a place on this list more than anything else here. Nothing screams “Christmas” more than this (except the desperate wails of Mariah Carey; I will continue to bring that song up in every article I can). This is a fantastic little short that’s fun for the whole family and a necessity for sure.
2. “A Christmas Story” (1983)
A young boy (Peter Billingsley) tries to convince his family to get him the perfect Christmas present. Mayhem and hilarity ensue.
Almost everyone has seen this movie, and even if you haven’t, you’re bound to recognize Ralphie’s giant glasses, his toy BB gun and the plastic leg-shaped lamp. It’s a hilarious, nostalgic look back to the holiday that brings out the child in everyone. “A Christmas Story” is a yearly must-watch, especially since it has a sequel out now.
1. “It’s A Wonderful Life” (1946)
A man (James Stewart) goes through life not realizing how much his presence has impacted and changed the people around him.
“It’s A Wonderful Life” is an oldie but most definitely a goodie. This isn’t just one of the best Christmas movies ever, but it’s a personal favorite of all time as well. It’s a heartwarming story, told through a strong script and iconic performances, especially from Stewart in the lead role.
There are obviously a ton of other movies that could work for a list like this (looking at you, “Polar Express”), but this is a reference point for anyone looking for some holiday cheer.