21 of the Best Christmas Movies: Bring Out the Christmas Cheer

Snuggle up under a couple of blankets, get the fire roasting and get the hot chocolate ready, because it’s time to watch some of the best Christmas movies I’ve singled out for you!

The holidays can be a trying time for some people – they feel they don’t have enough money to celebrate properly, or they have to spend time with relatives that are less than pleasant (think: mothers-in-law), or they are reminded of Christmases past that didn’t go too well or people who are no longer with them. But truly, Christmas should simply be about enjoying what the season brings – the food and the love.

Even if you need to spend Christmas Day with terrible in-laws, your own family is somewhat crazy, or you are missing your ex from last year, take some time to spoil yourself. Watch movies that bring out Christmas cheer. Roast some chestnuts. Drink some mulled wine and hot chocolate. Buy a gingerbread man or two. Fill your house with the scent of cinnamon.

Spoil yourself by loving yourself and send love to those you love. Start your own Christmas traditions and forget about the rest, even if only for a little while.

Later in the article, you will find a list of the best Christmas movies ever made of which at least one or two are bound to put a smile on your face. And don’t forget – you need to watch them whilst sipping or eating something Christmassy. So get that hot chocolate on the stove already!

1. The Holiday


This is my personal favorite. Two women, a Londoner and an Angeleno, decide to swap homes over Christmas. The Angeleno, Amanda (Cameron Diaz), is a well-paid film editor who was just dumped by a lousy boyfriend. She’s a notorious workaholic, and has pretty much forgotten how to live. The Londoner, Iris (Kate Winslet), has been in love with the same man for years – a man who dumped her, but never quite put an end to their relationship, and now went and got himself engaged.

As Amanda ends up in a small cottage outside of London and Iris gets to stay in a mansion in LA, their lives rapidly change. It’s a charming tale of what it is like to step outside your normal life, only to discover there’s more to life than you could ever dream of.

Some movies you love because they bring a special kind of magic to you. I watched this movie years ago, when it first came out, just after having been dumped by my then boyfriend. I remember it felt like such a treat to go to the big movie theatre in Leicester Square all by myself, and dream away with the movie whilst munching on ice cream. It was the perfect break-up movie. It was also a perfect day as I ended up on a date after the movie – just like the women in it; I was stepping into a new life.

So every time I see it again, I just get this big grin on my face, because it reminds me of what is possible. I also smile because I ended up moving to Los Angeles myself (the city I was never going to move to) and fell more in love with the city than I have with most men. And it’s true what they say – when the Santa Ana is blowing, anything is possible…

Iris: And after all that, however long all that may be, you’ll go somewhere new. And you’ll meet people who make you feel worthwhile again. And little pieces of your soul will finally come back. And all that fuzzy stuff, those years of your life that you wasted, that will eventually begin to fade.

2. It’s a Wonderful Life


Now, this is probably the Christmas movie of all time, isn’t it? A man who is feeling suicidal is taken on a journey through his life by an angel, so that he can see how much he has affected the people in his life for the better and how much they love him.

Clarence: Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives. When he isn’t around he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?

3. Home Alone

OK, OK, I confess – I’m an 80s kid. I grew up watching this movie over and over again, but let’s face it: it’s a good movie. And if you have kids they are sure to appreciate it. After all, who can resist the idea of being home alone when you are about eight years old? Oh the things you could have done…

If you have somehow missed this classic tale, it’s about an eight-year-old boy, who is accidentally left behind as his family sets of for Christmas vacation. Not only that – two stupid (with emphasis on stupid) burglars try to break into the house and he has to come up with ideas to defend himself, and the house. Of course, he comes up with the kind of ideas only an eight-year-old would come up with.

There are several follow up movies and whilst some are better than others, the first one is considered as the original and the best.

4. While You Were Sleeping


You have a crush on the man who walks by you every day, but whom you have never spoken to. One day, just before Christmas, you see him being mugged and pushed onto a train platform. Naturally, you jump down to save him from the oncoming train. Then, as you have to come with to hospital, you are mistaken for being the comatose man’s fiancée and soon you are his entire family’s favorite person…only you start falling for his brother, who is a bit less unconscious. What to do?

This charming romantic comedy is sure to warm you up inside and give you a bit of Christmas cheer. And there is a brilliant scene involving a newspaper delivery boy, a bike and a bit of ice. I saw this movie when it first came out and 19 years later I still remember this scene. Of course I didn’t really age nineteen years though, did I?

Lucy: Wh-why did you say that?
Nurse Wanda: Say what?
Lucy: I’m not his fiancee.
Nurse Wanda: Why did you tell me that you were?
Lucy: I’m not engaged. I’ve never even spoken to the guy.
Nurse Wanda: What? Well, do-, downstairs, you said, you said you were gonna marry him.
Lucy: Oh, geez, I was talking to myself.
Nurse Wanda: Well, next time you talk to yourself, tell yourself you’re single and end the conversation.

5. Love Actually


If you are a fan of both bitter and sweet, watching all these little tales weave together to bring you some thoughtful, funny and romantic moments will be just your cup of tea. Or if you just fancy a bit of Hugh Grant for that matter. Nothing wrong with a bit of Hugh Grant with that hot chocolate to bring you Christmas cheer…although, personally, I’m still waiting for DiCaprio to make a Christmas movie. I think I might learn some patience in the process.

6. The Shop Around the Corner


There’s just something endearing about “the good old days.” No, they did not have MacBooks, so chances of my survival would have been slim, but looking at movies from the 1940s, you are sometimes reminded of what it was like to truly woo someone. And it does the heart some good with a little good old fashioned romance. As long as it has Jimmy Stewart in it, that is.

This is the story about a girl and a boy who annoy each other half to death, only to realize that they are also each other’s anonymous penpals – falling in love with each other through writing. The story is conveniently set at Christmas time.

Doctor: Pardon me Mr.Katona? Precisely what position do you hold with Matuschek and Company?
Pepi Katona: Well, I would describe myself as a contact man. I keep contact between Matuschek and the customers… on a bicycle.
Doctor: Do you mean, an errand boy?
Pepi Katona: Doctor, do I call you a pill-peddler?

7. A Christmas Carol / Scrooge (1951)


This is the classic take on Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. There are few Christmas tales as famous as this one, and it really does focus on what makes Christmas special. And it’s not the money spent buying presents, let’s just put it that way. If you are watching this movie with children, you should consider the Disney version of the story.

8. Miracle on 34th Street


Despite what we tell our children, we don’t really believe in Santa Claus ourselves, do we (he’s a weird mixture of Jesus, Saint Nicholas, Odin and an elf)? So when a man is convinced he is Santa Claus, he is institutionalized, only to suddenly have a lawyer argue the case that he really is Santa Claus. It’s a charming classic Christmas fairy tale, but it is kind of ironic, isn’t it? We put on a large celebration with Santas in every corner, we sing about Santa Claus, we bake cakes with his face on them, and still, he’s just a made up man…

Mr. Shellhammer: But… but maybe he’s only a little crazy like painters or composers or… or some of those men in Washington.

9. The Nightmare Before Christmas


The chief of Halloween is trying to overtake Christmas. Oh well, anything’s possible in fairy tales, and this Tim Burton classic is a tale that continues to amuse both young and old, year after year.

10. The Elf


I must admit I’ve been avoiding mentioning this movie. You see, it’s got Will Farrell in it, and he has been in so many movies I disliked, that I have simply dismissed this one. For Christmas I want “feel good” movies, and Ferrell doesn’t do that for me. Of course, that’s pure prejudice though (not very Christmassy of me, is it?) and everyone’s raving about this oversized elf who leaves Father Christmas in the North Pole to try and track down his heritage amongst us, mere mortals, so I felt compelled to include it.

Buddy: [to Jovi] I think you’re really beautiful and I feel really warm when I’m around you and my tongue swells up.
Buddy: So… do you wanna eat food?

11. Stardust and Lord of the Rings


These movies might not have much Christmas in them, but there is something about some family adventures that make you feel like Christmas is here. That’s maybe because they were all originally released around Christmas, and the family gathered round to watch them. They are simply the kind of movies you should be watching around Christmas time – big adventures filled with love, magic and heroism.

12. Joyeux Noël


This is a movie about the famous Christmas Eve when there was cease-fire between the French, German and Scottish. Instead of shooting each other, they all got together to celebrate.

13. White Christmas


Here’s another old timer for you – a jolly Bing Crosby movie with everything you need for Christmas: snow, dancing, singing, romance and true Christmas spirit. Set in Vermont, it’s the tale of how two dance and musical acts join forces to save an inn.

14. Frozen


There’s enough snow in this movie to make it a Christmas movie. Besides, what would Christmas be without Disney? Maybe I’m swayed just a bit by the fact that I grew up in Sweden, and every Christmas Eve at 3pm sharp, there is the yearly Donald Duck Christmas show and all of Sweden is watching it. No kidding.

But I will tell you more about that in my article about Christmas celebrations around the world. For now, let’s stay on topic with Frozen, which is, in my opinion, one of Disney’s better movies. Anyone who has ever felt that their skills or talents accidentally caused harm to others, or fell for the first boy or girl who charmed them, will recognize themselves in this heartwarming tale about what it is like to find yourself, master yourself and find true love in the process.

15. 8 Women (8 Femmes)


If you like a bit of a Christmas mystery, this movie is for you. There’s eight women, one murdered man, one mansion – who is the guilty party? French humor in plenty, too.

16. A Christmas Story

17. Jingle All the Way


An amazing movie about a super dad trying to get a Turbo Man for his son for Christmas. This story will melt your hearts and bring back some of the best memories of past Christmases.

18. Serendipity


Coincidence or destiny? Do you believe in it? If you do, than this is the perfect movie for you! It is a story about true love and two people toying with destiny.

19. Treading Places


One name: Eddie Murphy! A story about a street con-artist and a millionaire trading places that will make you laugh. If you are looking for a comedy, this is a perfect choice for you.

20. Richie Rich’s Christmas


If you are a fan of Home Alone, you’ll love this one. It is the story about the richest kid in the world, and his efforts to save Christmas. Now you have a great excuse to invite your family and friends over, get comfortable and enjoy your holidays.

21. Bridget Jones’s Diary


This one must make it to your movies list! It’s a funny, interesting and a very girly movie about Bridget Jones, an average woman, who has problems with her weight, job and love life. If you want to laugh and identify with her everyday troubles in dealing with bad karma, you only need to pop that popcorn and enjoy.

Did I leave out a Christmas movie you love? Write about it in the comments, or tweet me.

About the author

Maria Montgomery

Writer. Social Entrepreneur. Foster mommy (twins). Change maker. Foodie. Health freak. Nature lover. Creative nutcase. Blogger (Confessions of a Dizzy Blonde). A friend of mine once described me by saying “One minute she’s like the Dalai Lama, the next a dizzy blonde” and maybe that does sum me up…

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