Top 10 Best Holiday Movies of All Time

With Hollywood churning out new movies every holiday season, the long list of bad movies continues to grow. But there are plenty of exceptions. Update your holiday movie marathon list a little early with these 10 best holiday movies of all time and if your favorites made to the list.

Top 10 Best Holiday Movies of All Time

10Elf (2003)

best holiday movies Elf (2003)
Will Ferrell in Elf (2003)

First, on our best holiday movies list is the Christmas comedy film, Elf (2003), which stars Will Ferrell as Buddy an orphan raised by Santa Claus himself. The film follows his journey from the North Pole to New York City in order to find his real father who happens to be a less than jolly book publisher played by veteran actor James Caan.

The film is a classic fish-out-of-water story with most of its comedic relief coming from Buddy’s struggles and triumphs to fit in the world of cynical humans and bring them the holiday cheer he grew up with.

9Love Actually (2003)

best holiday movies Love Actually (2003)
Chiwetel Ejiofor and Keira Knightley in Love Actually (2003)

Featuring a star-studded cast of your favorite British actors, Love Actually (2003) is the film that started the trend of ensemble cast movies centered on a specific holiday.

Whether you’re one of those who finds it endearing or grossly cheesy, the film is still a favorite among audiences once the winds of winter start blowing.

Marketed as the ultimate rom-com, the film features twelve main characters who we follow over the course of the weeks leading up to Christmas in London.

8Christmas in Connecticut (1945)

best holiday movies Christmas in Connecticut (1945)
Barbara Stanwyck and Dennis Morgan in Christmas in Connecticut (1945)

You can never go wrong with the classics, so you’ll find plenty of them on our list of best holiday movies.

Let’s start with the classic romantic comedy, Christmas in Connecticut (1945), a story about a New York newspaper food writer, Elizabeth Lane, who disguises herself as a farm wife and mother in order to keep the charade life she created for her articles.

She then meets a war hero and one of her loyal fans, Jefferson Jones, when she was obligated to host a dinner for his return from service.

7Remember the Night (1940)

There’s really something about Christmas and falling in love, huh?

Remember the Night (1940) is another Christmas-themed romantic comedy film but what sets it apart from the rest of its kind is its perfect blend of sentimentality, humor, and romance. This is thanks to the skillful direction of Mitchell Leisen and excellent screenplay by Preston Sturges.

The love story in this film is between a lawyer and a shoplifter that he is tasked to prosecute. Stuck in jail alone for the holidays, the shoplifter is taken in by the kind lawyer to spend Christmas with his welcoming family.

6Miracle on 34th Street (1947)

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Miracle on 34th Street (1947)

Miracle on 34th Street (1947) is an old but gold Christmas film directed by George Seaton based on an original story by Valentine Davies.

It tells the story of a bearded man, Kri Kringle, hired to replace a drunk department store Santa Claus to lead the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade. He proves to be a great choice for the store giving excellent gift-giving advice to shoppers. There’s one problem though, Kris thinks he’s the real-life Santa Claus.

The film was well-received on its release garnering three Oscar awards including one for best screenplay. It has become a holiday staple for the American family over the decades and has also been chosen for preservation by the Library of Congress. Miracle on 34th Street is one of the best holiday films of all time.

5A Christmas Carol (1938)

best holiday movies A Christmas Carol (1938)
A Christmas Carol (1938)

We all know the story by now whether you first knew it through reading its original source or watching that Donald Duck special. Ebenezer Scrooge is a miserable miser who values money more than his family. He is then taught a lesson when he was visited by three ghosts who show him his past, present, and future.

This Charles Dickens classic has been adapted numerous of times but one of its best reincarnations is its 1938 version directed by Edwin L. Marin.

4The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

best holiday movies The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

Aside from being the fashion inspiration of an entire generation of emo kids, this Tim Burton stop-motion fable is also one of the best Christmas movies ever made.

It follows Jack Skellington, also known as Pumpkin King, a successful Halloween Town resident looking for something more than the dark and spooky in his life. After stumbling upon a portal which brought him to Christmas Town, he decides to makeover his town and stages the spookiest Christmas the world has ever seen. The Nightmare Before Christmas is one of the best animated films of all time.

3White Christmas (1954)

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Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney in White Christmas (1954)

The holidays aren’t complete without some cheery tunes. White Christmas (1954) is a Christmas musical comedy which popularized a new version of the song ‘White Christmas’.

It stars Bing Crosby as a Broadway entertainer turned soldier in World War II Europe and Danny Kaye as an aspiring entertainer turned soldier as they make the best of their less than ideal Christmas destination amidst war through song and dance.

The film features songs composed by Irving Berlin and is famous for being first released in the VistaVision format.

2The Thin Man (1934)

best holiday movies The Thin Man (1934)
The Thin Man (1934)

While technically a comedic detective film, The Thin Man (1934) Christmas time setting has made it a staple film to watch during the holidays.

The story follows Nick, a retired detective living in New York who is hired by the daughter of an old client to solve her father’s (the titular thin man) disappearance. The task becomes more complicated when the missing person’s case becomes a quest to solve a murder. Not very Christmasy, eh? But the film’s comedic aspect makes it all work. The Thin Man is one of the best holiday movies ever made.

1It’s A Wonderful Life (1946)

best holiday movies It's a Wonderful Life (1946)
It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)

The Christmas movie of all Christmas movies, It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) makes it to the top our best holiday movies list.

The film tells the story of the night George Bailey decides to commit suicide on Christmas Eve after a life of helping other people led him to sacrifice his dreams. Fortunately, he is visited by a guardian angel, Clarence Odbody, who tries to convince him to continue on living by showing him the lives of the people he has helped and how his community would’ve turned out to be if we were never born.

Did you see your favorite holiday films on our list of 10 best holiday movies of all time? Don’t forget to share this article with your friends as an advance holiday gift.