Top 20 Christmas Movies of All Time—Ranked

Did your favorite flick make the list of the all-time best?

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20. The Muppet Christmas Carol

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Charles Dicken's A Christmas Carol story endures because it's all about the Ebenezer Scrooges of the world. (We're looking at you, Mr. Grinch!) The Muppets version of the Scrooge tale ends up being one of the best Christmas movies because it's so relatable. Everyone gets a little grouchy when the Christmas spirit doesn't come easily. Scrooge is a mean old man who gets visited by the Ghosts of Christmas Past and learns a few valuable lessons along the way. Out of all the remakes and adaptations, the Muppets version rises to the top. Michael Caine is perfect as Scrooge, and the beloved Muppets manage to be both witty and heartwarming in a way that both kids and adults enjoy together. Check out this best life advice from the Muppets!

19. The Preacher's Wife

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This updated remake of the Cary Grant classic Christmas movie, The Bishop's Wife, is even better than the original. It stars Denzel Washington as a super handsome angel who comes along to help out Whitney Houston with some family problems right around Christmas. Houston gives show-stopping gospel performances in the church choir. Meanwhile, her preacher husband, played by Courtney B. Vance, learns how to pull together his marriage and congregation with the help from the dashing Christmas angel. This is one of the sweetest Christmas movies to warm your heart with music and a little bit of angelic magic during the season when you need it most. Don't miss another inspiring tale about Christmas.

 

18. Trading Places

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This 1980s Christmas comedy catapulted Eddie Murphy to super-stardom. He plays the hapless man who falls victim to the schemes of two ultra-rich stockbroker bad guys, but he turns the joke on them. This zany romp is set during Christmas season with a theme involving taking down class structures and critiquing wealth. You don't want to miss Dan Ackroyd's scenes as a Santa who upturns all the social conventions we hold so dear—there's a lesson in there too! And all the gags hold up over time. Look for Jamie Lee Curtis' winning performance as a character who redefines what class is all about.

17. Arthur Christmas

 

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One of the best recent Christmas movies is this CGI animated tale that brings a contemporary entry into the best Christmas movies. Arthur Christmas is an unexpected delight with a heartwarming story that captures audience members of every age. You'll find the voice talents of James McAvoy and Hugh Laurie with Jim Broadbent as Santa himself. The story follows Santa's son Arthur on his quest to deliver a lost toy before the deadline is up! Cleverness and wit elevate the familiar scenario and give it a sophisticated punch packed with the delights of sentiment done right! Check out this surprising Christmas trivia you never knew.

 

16. Nothing Like the Holidays

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During the holiday season, nothing hits the spot like a great family Christmas movie set around the dinner table. This one seems like traditional fare, and the critics missed its essence. Its charm relies in strong emotional performances by the largely Latino ensemble cast featuring such underrated talents as Luis Guizman, John Leguizamo, Jay Hernandez, Freddy Rodriguez, and the late Elizabeth Pena, among others. The story follows a Puerto Rican family in crisis: The parents are about to divorce and the youngest son has just returned from Iraq. Sentimental and straightforward, it's also a family melodrama that depicts strong bonds and the love that ties us together in relatable and heartfelt scenes by great performers.

15. Die Hard

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All the important adventures take place on Christmas Eve—including one of the best Christmas movies to feature a heist on the Nakatomi skyscraper. Detective Jack McClane to the rescue! Who needs Santa when Bruce Willis delivers the goods on Christmas morning? Willis saves the day in epic battles with German terrorists. In the end, he gets the girl (his estranged wife), and proves that he's a blast at office Christmas parties. Holiday seasons need a little action, and Die Hard is the best of the genre that pumps adventure into a Christmas movie. Looking ahead to New Year's? Here's the best movies set right around the big night.

 

14. Love Actually

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Love Actually feels like a ridiculous and romantic trifle! And it is. Giving into its implausible plots and nutty scenarios is part of the ever-watchable charm that makes it one of the best Christmas movies. The opening sequence depicting airport reunions (in the aftermath of September 11th) captivated the hearts of audiences who needed some feel-good love to go along with heartbreak. Liam Neeson's dad character endures loss, as do characters played by Emma Thompson and Laura Linney. Meanwhile, Colin Firth and Hugh Grant get the girl in unlikely, fantastical ways. It's an up-and-down romp that ends with a Christmas pageant replete with lobsters, a little embarrassment, and dollops of gushy romance. Get ready for Andrew Lincoln's card scene because "To me, you are perfect!" Merry Christmas! (Here are more romantic movies to keep the gush going.)

13. National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation

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Christmas lights will never be the same after you see the Griswold display. Chevy Chase plays the dad who tries to do what's right for his family amid nonstop epic and hilarious fails. Beverly D'Angelo is perfect as his long-suffering wife. The Griswolds try to host the perfect Christmas, but what fun would it be if everything went right? Laugh your heart out at a family Christmas gone wrong and be glad your own Christmas bonus didn't go up in flames! Somebody check the lights and make sure you've got the fuse box covered! Don't miss this story about a real life extravagant light display that may be a hazard.

 

12. The Charlie Brown Christmas Special

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When television movies are this iconic they almost automatically make the list of the best Christmas movies ever. Nothing quite captures the spirit of Christmas like Charlie Brown's forlorn little Christmas tree. His friends ridicule it, and Charlie's sadness represents the fraility of the human condition—that sometimes grows during the holidays. Charlie Brown feels like a cynical failure and a social outcast. Snoopy saves the day, with some help from the ultimate wise man, Linus, plus the crowd of kids who learn the meaning of Christmas. We all could use some reminding and the Peanuts Gang never fail! This is one to watch every Christmas. Read these classic Peanuts' Comic strip quotes to get you in the mood.

11. Black Nativity

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Don't miss Mary J. Blige as the Christmas angel in this musical drama based on Langston Hughes' famous play. Jennifer Hudson stars (and sings!) as a single mom whose son (Jacob Latimore) makes his way home to her parents, played by Forest Whitaker and Angela Bassett. The movie comes alive during the musical numbers which are both lyrical and sometimes ultra-realistic. Check out this family story about four generations participating in a live nativity each Christmas.

 

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