25 Christmas Movies Worth Watching Every Year

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It's that time of year when the struggle is all too real: what Christmas movie to watch? Some on this list are pretty obvious. But there’s a reason you want to watch them every December. They’re just the best. Unlike a lot of greatest-holiday-films-ever lists, this one covers the movies that I actually enjoy watching, and not just because they’re “classic” or “tradition.” And there are some of those too. But what follows are the films that don't get tired. At least for me.

Elf (2003)

Well, duh! Who doesn’t love watching this one over and over? It’s quotability alone keeps it in our memories all year. And brings out the child in all of us.

Christmas Vacation (1989)

This one is my favorite. I quote it all the time. It’s not the holiday season until it’s been watched. And the season’s not over until it’s been watched at least 3 times. "It's all part of the experience, honey."

A Christmas Story (1983)

I see this one at the top of nearly every Christmas movie list. For good reason. Nothing embodies the spirit of Christmas like it. No one gets tired of quoting this one either.

Love Actually (2003)

This is probably one of the best films ever made, despite being completely passed over for every award out there. The intertwining stories of love, family, and friendship will tug at the heartstrings of even the coldest Grinch you know. (And yes, we’ll get to him too.)

Home Alone (1990)

Ok, another obvious choice, but again for good reason. It’s a classic (at 25 years old) and every person no matter their age dies with laughter at the end.

Home Alone 2 (1992)

In my opinion, how do you watch the first one without watching the sequel? It’s just as funny (if not funnier in the prank department) and Tim Curry just MAKES it.

The Holiday (2006)

Jude Law for the eye-candy, Cameron Diaz for the hot girl factor. Need I say more? (Ok, I will anyway. Kate Winslet and Eli Wallach are just adorable. And it’s just an adorable movie.)

Die Hard (1988)

Yes, it’s a Christmas movie. No, it’s not just for guys. C’mon.

A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)

It’s just not Christmas without Charlie Brown, his tree, Schroeder’s version of Jingle Bells, and Linus explaining the true meaning of the holiday.

Scrooged (1988)

Bill Murray is your reason to watch this. Do you need another one?

Gremlins (1984)

For those of us who don’t need constant cheer and feel-good fairy tales, this 80s favorite is great for those moments when you wouldn’t mind fantasizing about little creatures terrorizing your town.

Joyeaux Noël (2005)

Sure you need to read subtitles most of the film (unless you’re Scottish), but it’s the incredible true story of three nations coming together during one of the worst wars this world has ever seen. It’s a beautiful reminder how precious life is, and that peace is possible.

Trading Places (1983)

So this one I usually save for that week between Christmas and New Year’s. It takes us back to a time when Eddie Murphy, Dan Akroyd, and Jamie Lee Curtis were super young. And it’s hilarious. Any Coming to America fan should love it.

It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)

I’ve always balked at the fact this movie only takes place at Christmas for about 10 seconds, but what puts it on my must-watch list anyway is how great a reminder it is, especially during such a commercialized frenzy, that all we really need are the people we love.

Dr. Seuss' How The Grinch Stole Christmas! (1966)

Now I’m probably as big a Jim Carrey fan there ever was, but his version with Ron Howard just wasn’t a winner. It’s okay every few years, but I’d rather have the original TV release featuring the talents of Chuck Jones and Boris Karloff.

A Christmas Carol (2009)

This is the best version of this story I’ve ever seen (and where I get my Jim Carrey fix). Robert Zemeckis has always been such a brilliant visionary and story teller. It’s just so beautiful to watch.

Miracle on 34th Street (1947)

I prefer the original, well because it’s original, which really captures the era. And Natalie Wood was much cuter than that other kid. And no other film will convince you that Santa is real the way this one does (except maybe this next one…)

The Polar Express (2004)

Another example of the cinematic genius that is Bob Zemeckis. Sure, I could do without the annoying kid on the train, but Tom Hanks as every grown man is brilliant, and it gets me singing the HOT HOT HOT hot chocolate song for hours.

The Family Stone (2005)

This heart-warming drama is clever and profound. It makes you want to hug your mom and never let go. It’s a beautiful, non-traditional story about a non-traditional family that will make you laugh and cry.

Christmas With the Kranks (2004)

I don’t know that I can truly say it’s one I love to watch every year. But if nothing else, it prompts me to read the original version by John Grisham, which is a fantastic book, to which the film just doesn’t do justice. If you’re looking for a superior Tim Allen flick, choose The Santa Clause instead.

In Bruges (2008)

When you feel like you can’t hold back the profanities any longer, this is the one for you. Assassins, vulgarity, drugs, and whole lotta language set against the beautifully serene backdrop of Bruges, Belgium during the advent season (while not actually having anything to do with Christmas). Not for the faint of heart. But some of the funniest sh*t you’ll ever watch in your life (see, there I go already).

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)

Think Christmas Crime Novel starring Robert Downy, Jr. and Val Kilmer. Clever, witty, and somewhat disturbing. And just funny as hell.

Just Friends (2005)

Please don’t judge my taste by this one guilty pleasure. Sure, it’s cheesy and by all standards, not a very good movie. But I can’t help it. Ryan Reynolds is so. damn. funny.

The Ref (1994)

How have you not seen this?! It’s Denis Leary and Kevin Spacey for crying out loud. Once again, lots of language. But hilarious. And who doesn’t love to see a criminal redeem himself? Speaking of…

Bad Santa (2003)

This may be the most vulgar and crude Christmas film ever made. So definitely not for anyone under the age of 30. Or over the age of 40. Or anyone sensitive to bad language, people being mean to kids, criminal behavior, alcoholism, sex, vomiting… should I go on?
*I should add, this was actually the first year I’ve seen this one. But I am absolutely confident it will find it’s way on every year.

So you’ve got twenty five days of movies here. Did I miss your favorite? I’m always looking for more holiday flicks to add to the repertoire, so please share with me your must-watches, your obscure, your guilty pleasure holiday films! And to all a good night!

Seriously. CinemaJulie Kanta