Available on Amazon Video, HBO and Netflix
With Thanksgiving just one day away, it’s time to move on and focus on Christmas. Think twinkle lights, hot chocolate and gingerbread. From your favorite classics to festive romantic comedies, stream these movies to get you in the holiday spirit.
On Amazon Video
Left: Miracle on 34th Street, Top: Elf, Bottom: A Christmas Story
Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
Maureen O’Hara, a single mother who has closed off her heart, is in charge of the Macy’s Day Parade and must find a replacement for Santa. Enter Edmund Gween as Kris Kringle, whose love and look define our notion of that jolly old sole. Kris is put to the task by the Supreme Court of New York State: “Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.”
The Year Without a Santa Claus (1974)
What’s more fun than stop-motion animated holiday movies? Absolutely nothing. The Year Without a Santa Claus shows us what would happen to the world if Santa just decided to call it quits. It also features a determined Mrs. Claus basically trying to save Christmas.
A Christmas Story (1983)
This is one of several holiday films to gain more appreciation as a cult classic over time. It manages to balance a nostalgic childhood view of Christmas with more cynical comedic elements. The tale of Ralphie’s quest to receive a BB air-rifle is delightful with an amusing narration to keep the adults’ full attention.
Just picturing actor Will Ferrell in his bright green elf suit, saffron tights and pointy hat working the toy assembly line at Santa’s headquarters brings tears to my eyes. His performance as the naive, somewhat dim-witted Buddy, brought to the North Pole as a baby when he strayed into the old boy’s sack during a Christmas stop, has become a classic. Wanting to reunite with his biological , his journey to NYC is hilarious.
Top left: When Harry Met Sally, Top right: Bad Santa, Bottom left: The Muppet Christmas Carol, Bottom right: Home Alone
A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)
Is it Christmas if we don’t hear the Peanuts’ theme song? Is it Christmas if Pig-Pen doesn’t dance? What if Linus doesn’t drag his blankie? The answer is emphatically “no.” We need you, Charlie Brown. You’re a Christmas classic.
When Harry Met Sally (1989)
Okay…so it’s a chick-flick. We should probably hate this film for conning us into thinking that our one true love would propose at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve, but it’s still adorable.
Home Alone (1990)
Set to spend Christmas in Paris with his family, Kevin, portrayed by a young Macaulay Culkin, wants everyone to disappear. His wish is granted when he is left behind by his preoccupied parents. But the novelty wears off when a pair of burglars target the house and Kevin decides to spring into action by devising traps to catch the culprits.
The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)
There are countless versions of A Christmas Carol, but why not have yours with a Muppets twist? There’s also the added benefit of Michael Cain playing surly old Scrooge.
Bad Santa (2003)
Bernie Mac and John Ritter in the same film? Hold it…together? And, maybe watch this one after the kids have gone to bed.
Top: White Christmas. Bottom left: How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Bottom right: The Nightmare Before Christmas
White Christmas (1954)
When four performers arrive at Columbia Inn during the Christmas season and there’s not a speck of snow, they stage a musical to encourage guests to visit the rural Vermont town. Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, and Vera-Ellen star in this holiday musical, which features music by the legendary Irving Berlin and is based on the 1942 classic Holiday Inn.
For those who like their holiday with a bit of horror, this ’80s flick follows a young man who receives a mysterious monster for Christmas. Honestly, the worst present ever.
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
A holiday-transcending stop-motion masterpiece, Tim Burton explores what happens when Pumpkin King Jack Skellington brings Christmas to Halloween Town.
The Santa Clause (1995)
Long ago, in the glory days of Home Improvement, Tim Allen was the Santa Claus that every kid needed. Or at the very least, he was required to be Santa Claus due to a legal clause. The best part? Understanding all the jokes now that you’re not a child.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)
Dr. Seuss’ book comes alive with Jim Carrey’s exuberant portrayal of the grumpy, green downright nasty Grinch. The villain takes his vengeance out on the cheerful Who’s by stealing their presents. But they celebrate anyway, teaching us that it’s not the presents but the spirit of Christmas that counts.
Bridget Jones Diary (2001)
Though this rom-com wouldn’t necessarily fall under the category of “holiday” film, the movie opens with an iconic scene at the Jones’s annual New Year’s party, setting the tone for an hour and a half of laugh-out-loud ridiculousness.
A chance meeting while celebrating Christmas in New York brings together two strangers, portrayed by Kate Beckinsale and John Cusack. If that sounds cheesy, just know that it is. But we could also use a little cheesy during the holidays.
Love Actually (2003)
Depending on who you ask, this film is either schmaltzy or a festive heart-warmer. “Love is all around” in this ensemble comedy with a cast that includes Hugh Grant, Liam Neeson, Emma Thompson, Kiera Knightly, Ejiofor Chiwetel, Colin Firth, Billie Bob Thorton, Alan Rickman and Claudia Schiffer. But the standout role goes to Bill Nighy as an aging rockstar hoping to win the Christmas number-one hit. Somehow, despite many turns and twists, the film ends with everyone perfectly paired.
Christmas with the Kranks (2004)
What happens when the neighborhood’s most festive family decides to skip Christmas? Mass chaos, that’s what. Tim Allen and Jamie Lee Curtis star in this holiday film based on John Grisham’s novel Skipping Christmas.
The Legend of Frosty the Snowman (2005)
When you have your own theme song, you’re kind of a big deal. At least, in the holiday world. The Legend of Frosty the Snowman is the perfect holiday movie to watch with your children, siblings, nieces and nephews and grandchildren.
Just Friends (2005)
Long before Ryan Reynolds was the internet’s favorite boyfriend, he was the star of this classic. Yes, it is a classic. Reynolds is at his sarcastic best in this one. And never forget the magic of Anna Farris as a pop star whose voice will haunt your dreams after you hear songs like “Forgiveness.”
Top left: A Very Murray Christmas, Top right: The Radio City Christmas Spectacular, Bottom: The Holiday
The Holiday (2006)
Both dealing with recent breakups and facing the holidays alone, English journalist Kate Winslet and Hollywood movie trailer producer Cameron Diaz decide to swap houses. As luck would have it, they meet Joe Black and Judd Law respectively. There’s romance, great real estate – a charming countryside cottage in Surrey and a stylish Beverly Hills mansion – and shared laughs as the attractive cast find their soulmates.
The Radio City Christmas Spectacular (2007)
Just because you can’t make it to New York City, doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the magic of the Radio City Christmas Spectacular. It’s feel-good holiday fun filled with dancing, lights and high kicks, courtesy of the Rockettes.
Happy Christmas (2014)
When a reckless 20-something moves in with her older brother and his wife in their Chicago home, she and her friend shake up their seemingly normal lifestyle. Anna Kendrick, Melanie Lynskey, Joe Swanberg and Lena Dunham star in this indie drama.
Mariah Carey’s Merriest Christmas (2015)
How does the official queen of Christmas celebrate? With her own holiday special, of course. Prepare for the most random of celebrity cameos Lacey Chabert, Kelsey Grammar and Babyface and all the glitter a die-hard Mariah fan can handle.
A Very Murray Christmas (2015)
When Bill Murray wakes up on the day of his live holiday special and realizes a storm has snowed in most of his guests, you’d think it’d be chaos. But with a little song, dance and special appearances by Amy Poehler, George Clooney, Paul Schaffer, Chris Rock, Maya Rudolph, Rashida Jones, Jason Schwartzman and Miley Cyrus, it turns out a snowstorm isn’t so bad after all.