A British short called Santa Claus was the first holiday-themed movie back in 1898. Since then, many Christmas flicks have come along, which is why there are so many choices today and available to stream in your favorite TV streaming services. The good is this means there are many possibilities with seasonable movie marathons. The only downside is deciding what to watch since, unfortunately, the holiday season isn’t never-ending.
We’re here to help you out by presenting our recommendations for the best classic Christmas movies of all time. Available to watch in major streaming services.
It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
Despite being considered a box office failure upon its initial release, this Frank Capra chestnut has achieved legendary status among Christmas classics – thanks largely to repeated TV airings. Even if you already know how things turn out for George Bailey, this movie is still worth at least one or two watches each holiday season.
Miracle On 34th Street (1947)
Mr. Kringle temporarily loses his mojo in this Christmas classic until he discovers a little girl who needs some help recapturing the ability to be less jaded by the real world. The 1947 original is the best of the best of the two theatrical versions of this movie, although the 1994 remake has its own charm.
White Christmas (1954)
It was actually the 1942 movie Holiday Inn that introduced the holiday tune that shares its title with this 1954 Christmas classic. Bing Crosby leads an exceptional cast in this equally superior film, which presents an engaging story interspersed with memorial musical numbers.
The Santa Clause (1994)
Home Improvement star Tim Allen ends up getting the gig of all gigs when the big guy meets his demise in the first of the three Santa Clause movies. The ’90s original is still the best of the lot thanks to its perfect blend of sentiment and humor.
A Christmas Story (1983)
Based on Jean Shepherd’s semi-fictionalized childhood recollections, A Christmas Story remains an endearing classic nearly 40 years after its release. The story mainly centers on young Ralphie’s quest to get a Red Ryder air rifle. It’s all the “extra stuff” that happens that makes this film a true classic.
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)
Critics Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert weren’t too thrilled with this movie when it came out in 1989. Even so, audiences have embraced it over the years. This time around Clark Griswold deals with unexpected visitors and a series of hilarious mishaps.
Charles Dickens’ classic cautionary tale about a miserly lifestyle got an ’80s-style makeover in this now-classic Christmas movie. Bill Murray gives a knockout performance as the title character, who ends up learning his lesson with the help of three persistent spirits.
The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)
Movies with the Muppets are often hit and miss, but this 1992 take on the Dickens’ classic is one of the better ones. Michael Caine fits in perfectly as Ebenezer Scrooge among a slew of familiar Muppet characters peppered throughout this film.
The Polar Express (2004)
Based on the best-selling 1985 book, this 2004 film dazzled moviegoers with its then-new approach to animation. Tom Hanks assumes many roles in this heartwarming tale of a boy losing his ability to believe who takes a magical train ride to the North Pole with a group of new friends.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)
Directed by Ron Howard, the 2000 theatrical release of Dr. Seuss’ charming holiday yarn about the wayward Grinch who ends up changing his ways once his icy heart melts holds up well. We get more backstory, along with fantastic performances by an unrecognizable Jim Carrey and a delightful Christine Baranski as the Grinch’s love interest.
It’s not easy to create a newer Christmas classic, but that’s exactly what was accomplished with this charmingly funny movie. Will Ferrell leads a well-rounded cast as an adopted elf searching for his real parents. The movie even inspired a Broadway musical and a stop-motion special that aired in 2014 on NBC.
Home Alone (1990)
The Christmas aspect isn’t played up too much in this John Hughes classic, which was recently re-booted as Home Sweet Home Alone. The 1990 original is still the version that stands out, however, thanks to a stellar performance by a precocious Macaulay Culkin and a fine cast of supporting players.