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A Reel Christmas

To help map out your holiday movie mega-marathon, we've put together a list of 80 Christmas movies that are considerably better than watching a video of a burning log on your television.

Article
Preview Staff
Photos
Courtesy
Posted
November 29, 2017

There’s no better way to decompress over the holidays than by losing yourself in hours upon hours of Christmas movies. And like gift giving, sometimes picking out just the right one can be tedious.

There are Christmas movies and then there are can’t-miss flicks that have a way of touching, inspiring and thrilling even the meanest of the scrooges. They’re all so different and so charming in their own ways, but some have to be considered better than others. Deciding between old classics and modern classics, as well as originals and remakes, can be pretty difficult, however.

While many of these types of lists focus on films that are whimsical and full of family fun (yeah, we like those to), they often leave out some classics that have a dash of violence, a few monsters and the occasional bad guys who get their comeuppance, which is part of the Christmas spirit, right? And if anyone ever tries to tell you that Die Hard is not a Christmas film, they are just wrong.

We hope you enjoy. And “Merry Christmas, ya filthy animal!”

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A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)
G | Animation, Comedy
When Charlie Brown complains about the overwhelming materialism that he sees amongst everyone during the Christmas season, Lucy suggests that he become director of the school Christmas pageant. Charlie Brown accepts, but it proves to be a frustrating struggle. When an attempt to restore the proper spirit with a forlorn little fir Christmas tree fails, he needs Linus’ help to learn what the real meaning of Christmas is.

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A Christmas Carol (2009)
PG | Animation, Drama, Family
Miser Ebenezer Scrooge is awakened on Christmas Eve by spirits who reveal to him his own miserable existence, what opportunities he wasted in his youth, his current cruelties, and the dire fate that awaits him if he does not change his ways. Scrooge is faced with his own story of growing bitterness and meanness, and must decide what his own future will hold: death or redemption. The computer animated motion-capture film directed by Robert Zemeckis (Back to the Future, Forrest Gump) stars Jim Carrey in a multitude of roles, including Scrooge as a young, middle-aged, and old man, and the three ghosts who haunt Scrooge.

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A Christmas Story (1983)
PG | Comedy, Family
Christmas is approaching and 9-year-old Ralphie only wants one thing: a Red Ryder Range 200 Shot BB gun. When he mentions it at the dinner table, his mother’s immediate reaction is that he’ll put his eye out. He fantasizes about what it would be like to be Red Ryder and catch the bad guys. When the big day arrives, he gets lots of present under the tree including a lovely gift from his aunt that his mother just adores. But what about the BB gun? If you have cable, it’ll no doubt be playing on a 24-hour loop on some Turner network this month. A timeless classic that is easily quoted line for line, no Christmas would be complete without at least one viewing of this perfectly crafted film.

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Bad Santa (2003)
R | Comedy, Crime, Drama
A miserable conman (Billy Bob Thornton) and his partner pose as Santa and his Little Helper to rob department stores on Christmas Eve. But they run into problems when the conman befriends a troubled kid, and the security boss (Bernie Mac) discovers the plot.

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Christmas with the Kranks (2004)
PG | Comedy, Family
With their daughter Blair away for the holidays, the Kranks (Tim Allen and Jamie Lee Curtis) decide to skip Christmas altogether until Blair suddenly decides to come home, causing an uproar when they have to celebrate the holiday at the last minute.

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Die Hard (1988)
R | Action, Drama
NYPD cop John McClane (Bruce Willis) goes on a Christmas vacation to visit his wife Holly in Los Angeles where she works for the Nakatomi Corporation. While they are at the Nakatomi headquarters for a Christmas party, a group of bank robbers led by Hans Gruber take control of the building and hold everyone hostage — with the exception of John — while they plan to perform a lucrative heist. Unable to escape and with no immediate police response, John is forced to take matters into his own hands.

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Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (1966)
NR | Animation, Comedy
Bitter and hateful, the Grinch is irritated at the thought of the nearby village having a happy time celebrating Christmas. Disguised as Santa Claus, with his dog made to look like a reindeer, he raids the village to steal all the Christmas things. Directed by Chuck Jones, it features the voice of Boris Karloff.

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Edward Scissorhands (1990)
PG-13| Drama, Fantasy, Romance
In a castle high on top of a hill lives an inventor’s greatest creation — Edward, a near-complete person. The creator died before he could finish Edward’s hands, so instead, Edward is left with metal scissors for hands. He lives alone until a kind lady discovers him and welcomes him into her home. At first, everyone welcomes him into the community, but soon things begin to take a change for the worse.

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Elf (2003)
PG | Comedy, Family, Fantasy
Buddy (Will Ferrell) was a baby in an orphanage who stowed away in Santa’s sack and ended up at the North Pole. Later, as an adult human who happened to be raised by elves, Santa allows him to go to New York City to find his birth father, Walter Hobbs. Hobbs, on Santa’s naughty list for being a heartless jerk, had no idea that Buddy was even born. Buddy, meanwhile, experiences the delights of New York City (and human culture) as only an elf can. When Walter’s relationship with Buddy interferes with his job, he is forced to re-evaluate his priorities.

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Frosty the Snowman (1969)
G | Animation, Comedy
A discarded silk top hat becomes the focus of a struggle between a washed-up stage magician and a group of schoolchildren after it magically brings a snowman to life. Realizing that newly-living Frosty will melt in spring unless he takes refuge in a colder climate, Frosty and a young girl who he befriends stow away on a freight train headed for the North Pole. Little do they know that the magician is following them, and he wants his hat back.

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Four Christmases (2008)
PG-13 | Comedy, Drama, Romance
Brad (Vince Vaughn) and Kate (Reese Witherspoon) have been together three years. They are in love, having fun, doing all sorts of things together with no intention of marriage or children. Christmas morning, they’re on their way to Fiji, having told their two sets of divorced parents that they’re off to do charity work. Through a fluke, they have no choice but to visit each of their four idiosyncratic parents. Do they know each other well enough to weather the storms families bring?

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Gremlins (1984)
PG | Comedy, Fantasy, Horror
There’s far more naughtiness than niceness on display in Joe Dante’s terrific horror comedy in which a boy inadvertently breaks three important rules concerning his new pet and unleashes a horde of malevolently mischievous monsters on a small town.

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Home Alone (1990)
PG | Comedy, Family
It is Christmastime and the McCallister family is preparing for a vacation in Paris. But the youngest in the family, Kevin (Macaulay Culkin) gets into a scuffle with his older brother Buzz and is sent to his room on the third floor of his house. Then, the next morning, while the rest of the family is in a rush to make it to the airport on time, they completely forget about Kevin, who now has the house all to himself. Being home alone is fun for Kevin, having a pizza all to himself, jumping on his parents’ bed, and making a mess. Then, Kevin discovers two burglars, Harry and Marv, are going to rob his house on Christmas Eve. Kevin must act quickly by wiring his own house with makeshift booby traps to stop the burglars and to bring them to justice.

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How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)
PG | Comedy, Family, Fantasy
Yes, the original animated film was a classic, but Jim Carrey really brings the Grinch to life in a way that only he could. Inside a snowflake exists the magical land of Whoville. In Whoville live the Whos, an almost mutated sort of munchkin-like people. All the Whos love Christmas, yet just outside of their beloved Whoville lives the Grinch. The Grinch is a nasty creature who hates Christmas, and plots to steal it away from the Whos which he equally abhors. Yet a small child, Cindy Lou Who, decides to try befriend the Grinch.

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It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
PG | Drama, Family
Few films define Christmas like Frank Capra’s masterpiece in which an angel is sent from heaven to help a desperately frustrated businessman (James Stewart) by showing him what life would have been like if he had never existed.

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Krampus (2015)
PG-13 | Comedy, Fantasy, Horror
When his dysfunctional family clashes over the holidays, young Max is disillusioned and turns his back on Christmas. Little does he know, this lack of festive spirit has unleashed the wrath of Krampus: a demonic force of ancient evil intent on punishing non-believers. All hell breaks loose as beloved holiday icons take on a monstrous life of their own, laying siege to the fractured family’s home and forcing them to fight for each other if they hope to survive.

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Lethal Weapon (1987)
R | Action, Crime, Drama
Martin Riggs (Mel Gibson) is an L.A. cop with suicidal tendencies and Roger Murtaugh (Danny Glover) is the unlucky police officer with whom Riggs is assigned. Together they uncover a huge drug-smuggling operation, and as their success rate grows so does their friendship.

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National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)
PG-13 | Comedy
It’s Christmastime and the Griswolds are preparing for a family seasonal celebration, but things never run smoothly for Clark (Chevy Chase), his wife Ellen and their two kids. Clark’s continual bad luck is worsened by his obnoxious family guests, but he manages to keep going knowing that his Christmas bonus is due soon.

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The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
PG | Animation, Family, Fantasy
Jack Skellington, the pumpkin king of Halloween Town, is bored with doing the same thing every year for Halloween. One day he stumbles into Christmas Town, and is so taken with the idea of Christmas that he tries to get the resident bats, ghouls, and goblins of Halloween Town to help him put on Christmas instead of Halloween. But alas, they can’t get it quite right.

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Office Christmas Party (2016)
R | Comedy
When the CEO (Jennifer Aniston) tries to close her hard-partying brother’s branch, he (T.J. Miller) and his chief technical officer (Jason Bateman) must rally their co-workers and host an epic office Christmas party in an effort to impress a potential client and close a sale that will save their jobs.

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The Polar Express (2004)
G | Animation, Adventure, Family
This is the story of a young boy on Christmas Eve who boards a powerful magical train that’s headed to the North Pole and Santa Claus’s home. During this ride, he embarks on a journey of self-discovery which shows him that the wonder of life never fades for those who believe.

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The Ref (1994)
R | Comedy, Crime, Drama
An unfortunate cat burglar (Denis Leary) is abandoned by his partner in the middle of a heist, and is forced to take an irritating Connecticut couple (Kevin Spacey, Judy Davis) hostage. He soon finds that he took on more than he bargained for when the couple’s blackmailing son and despicable in-laws step into the picture. Before long, they’re driving him nuts with their petty bickering and family problems.

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Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964)
G | Animation, Comedy, Family
Sam the Snowman relays the story of a young red-nosed reindeer who, after being ousted from the reindeer games because of his beaming honker, teams up with Hermey, an elf who wants to be a dentist, and Yukon Cornelius, the prospector. They run into the Abominable Snowman and find a whole island of misfit toys. Rudolph vows to see if he can get Santa to help the toys, and returns to the North Pole on Christmas Eve in time to help Santa.

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The Santa Clause (1994)
PG | Comedy, Drama, Family
When a father (Tim Allen) inadvertently kills Santa on Christmas Eve, he finds himself magically recruited to take his place.

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Scrooged (1988)
PG-13 | Comedy, Drama
Frank Cross (Bill Murray) runs a television station that is planning a live adaptation of Dickens’ Christmas Carol. Frank’s childhood wasn’t a particularly pleasant one, and so he doesn’t really appreciate the Christmas spirit. With the help of the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future, Frank realizes he must change. And you’d be hard pressed to find another actor who does “bah humbug” better than Murray.

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Trading Places (1983)
R | Comedy
A snobbish investor (Dan Aykroyd) and a wily street con artist (Eddie Murphy) find their positions reversed as part of a bet by two callous millionaires.

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Also Check Out

3 Godfathers (1948)
NR | Drama, Western

A Christmas Carol (1938)
NR | Drama, Family, Fantasy

A Christmas Carol (1951)
NR | Drama, Fantasy

A Christmas Tale (2008)
NR | Comedy, Drama

A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas (2011)
R | Adventure, Comedy

About a Boy (2002)
PG-13 | Comedy, Drama, Romance

All I Want for Christmas (1991)
 G | Comedy, Family, Romance

The Apartment (1960)
NR | Comedy, Drama, Romance

Arthur Christmas (2011)
PG | Animation, Adventure, Comedy

Babes in Toyland (1934)
NR | Comedy, Family

The Best Man Holiday (2013)
R | Comedy, Drama

The Bishop’s Wife (1947)
NR | Comedy, Drama

Black Christmas (1974)
R | Horror

Christmas in Connecticut (1945)
NR | Comedy, Romance

Daddy’s Home 2 (2017)
PG-13 | Comedy, Family

Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas (1977)
NR | Comedy, Family

Ernest Saves Christmas (1988)
PG | Comedy, Family

The Family Man (2000)
PG-13 | Comedy, Drama

The Family Stone (2005)
PG-13 | Comedy, Drama, Romance

Fred Claus (2007)
PG | Comedy, Family

Friday After Next (2002)
R | Comedy, Drama

The Holiday (2006)
PG-13 | Comedy, Romance

Holiday Affair (1949)
NR | Comedy, Drama, Romance

Holiday Inn (1942)
NR | Comedy, Drama, Musical

Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992)
PG | Adventure, Comedy, Family

It Happened on Fifth Avenue (1947)
NR | Comedy, Music, Romance

Jack Frost (1998)
PG | Comedy, Drama, Family

Jingle All the Way (1996)
PG | Comedy, Family

Joyeaux Noel (2005)
PG-13 | Drama

Just Friends (2005)
PG-13 | Comedy, Romance

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)
R | Comedy, Crime, Drama

The Long Kiss Goodnight
R | Action, Crime, Drama

Love Actually (2003)
R | Comedy, Drama, Romance

Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)
NR | Comedy, Drama, Family, Musical

Metropolitan (1990)
PG-13 | Comedy, Drama, Romance

Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
NR | Comedy, Drama, Family

Miracle on 34th Street (1994)
PG | Family, Fantasy

Mixed Nuts (1994)
PG-13 | Comedy, Drama

The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)
G | Comedy, Family

The Nativity Story (2006)
PG | Drama, Family

One Magic Christmas (1985)
G | Family, Fantasy

The Perfect Holiday (2007)
PG | Comedy, Family

The Preacher’s Wife (1996)
PG | Comedy, Drama, Fantasy

Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (2010)
R | Fantasy, Horror

Reindeer Games (2000)
R | Action, Adventure, Crime

Santa Claus: The Movie (1985)
PG | Adventure, Family

The Santa Clause 2 (2002)
G | Comedy, Family

The Santa Clause 3 (2006)
G | Comedy, Family

Scrooge (1970)
G | Drama, Family, Musical

The Shop Around the Corner (1940)
NR | Comedy, Drama, Romance

Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984)
R | Horror

Surviving Christmas (2004)
PG-13 | Comedy, Romance

Trapped in Paradise (1994)
PG-13 | Adventure, Comedy, Crime

Unaccompanied Minors (2006)
PG | Adventure, Comedy, Family

White Christmas (1954)
NR | Comedy, Musical, Romance

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