Albert Finney as Ebenezer Scrooge in the 1970 film musical 'Scrooge', adapted from the novel by Charles Dickens.

50 of the best Christmas movies of all time

Written by:
December 15, 2022
Keystone Colour // Getty Images

50 of the best Christmas movies of all time

The holidays have arrived, and that makes now the time to revisit history's most beloved Christmas movies. But what is a Christmas movie, exactly? So goes a question that continues to be hashed out on the internet, with titles such as "Die Hard" inspiring heated levels of debate. As if to fan the flames, the following list contains certain movies that only feature Christmas or the holidays in a fleeting capacity yet still make for quality viewing.

Then there are the no-brainer inclusions, which employ a holiday-based setting and run with the concept. Popular examples include timeless classics like "A Christmas Story" and "Elf," as well as the recent animated fantasy "Klaus." On the other end of the spectrum are bleaker titles such as "Black Christmas" and "Gremlins," which arguably subvert the holiday spirit by dispensing pure chaos or occasional bouts of violence. Just as all moviegoers are not the same, neither are all Christmas movies.

Stacker used IMDb and Metacritic to round up 50 of the best Christmas movies of all time. To qualify for the list, films had to have at least a 7.0 IMDb user rating or 70 Metascore and at least 5,000 IMDb user votes. Films are listed chronologically. Whip up the hot chocolate, pick your personal favorite, and enjoy.

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A man and woman dressed up in a restaurant looking longingly at one another.
1 / 50
Paramount Pictures

Remember the Night (1940)

- Director: Mitchell Leisen
- IMDb user rating: 7.6
- Metascore: 78
- Runtime: 94 minutes

In "Remember the Night," Barbara Stanwyck plays a shoplifter who falls in love with the man prosecuting her. Such a premise might sound tawdry at first, but sprinkle on a little Hollywood fairy dust, and you end up with a bona fide Christmas classic, not to mention a film that's truly stood the test of time.

James Stewart stands smiling at a woman in a Christmas shop.
2 / 50
MGM

The Shop Around the Corner (1940)

- Director: Ernst Lubitsch
- IMDb user rating: 8
- Metascore: 96
- Runtime: 99 minutes

Two rival gift shop employees (James Stewart and Margaret Sullavan) forge an unwitting romance as anonymous pen pals in this old Hollywood classic. The 1998 comedy "You've Got Mail" later adapted the same source material, replacing letters with emails.

Walter Brennan, Barbara Stanwyck, and Edward Arnold standing in a line looking seriously at Gary Cooper.
3 / 50
Frank Capra Productions

Meet John Doe (1941)

- Director: Frank Capra
- IMDb user rating: 7.6
- Metascore: data not available
- Runtime: 122 minutes

Before making "It's a Wonderful Life," director Frank Capra helmed this prescient romantic dramedy. Ambitious reporter Ann Mitchell (Barbara Stanwyck) conjures a human interest story out of thin air and spawns an unexpected social movement. The narrative builds toward an emotional Christmas Eve climax.

Fred Astaire and Bing Crosby talking with a man and woman in front of Christmas trees.
4 / 50
Paramount Pictures

Holiday Inn (1942)

- Directors: Mark Sandrich, Robert Allen
- IMDb user rating: 7.3
- Metascore: data not available
- Runtime: 100 minutes

With Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire sharing screen time, you already know you're looking at vintage movie gold. That gold is called "Holiday Inn," and was released in 1942. True to its name, the movie centers around an exclusive inn only open on the holidays, where Crosby and Astaire go head-to-head over a young woman's affection. One of the songs written for the film was "White Christmas," which won Irving Berlin an Oscar and remains a holiday favorite.

Judy Garland laughing with a woman and little girl in the middle of snowmen and bears made of snow.
5 / 50
MGM

Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)

- Director: Vincente Minnelli
- IMDb user rating: 7.5
- Metascore: 94
- Runtime: 113 minutes

This blockbuster musical takes place in St. Louis at the turn of the 20th century and tells the story of the well-to-do Smiths. With plans to move after Christmas, the family must learn to let go of the things they hold dear. It introduced a number of iconic holiday songs, including "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas."

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Barbara Stanwyck and Dennis Morgan holding their hands together in the air while other dancers go under them.
6 / 50
Warner Bros.

Christmas in Connecticut (1945)

- Director: Peter Godfrey
- IMDb user rating: 7.4
- Metascore: 64
- Runtime: 101 minutes

"Christmas in Connecticut" sees film star Barbara Stanwyck playing a food writer who doesn't actually know how to cook. Things are going smoothly for the writer until her boss and a war hero invite themselves to Christmas dinner. The premise might seem like something out of a modern-day sitcom, but the movie makes it work, hence the solid ratings and enduring reputation.

Ingrid Bergman, dressed as a nun, and Bing Crosby, holding a hat, standing together.
7 / 50
Rainbow Productions

The Bells of St. Mary's (1945)

- Director: Leo McCarey
- IMDb user rating: 7.2
- Metascore: data not available
- Runtime: 126 minutes

Bing Crosby reprised the Oscar-winning role of Father Chuck O'Malley from 1944s "Going My Way" in this musical dramedy. He and a stubborn nun (Ingrid Bergman) must overcome their differences if they want to save an inner-city parish. Between its original December release date and the inclusion of a holiday pageant scene, the movie has become associated with Christmas.

James Stewart and Donna Reed look out the window of a car.
8 / 50
Liberty Films

It's a Wonderful Life (1946)

- Director: Frank Capra
- IMDb user rating: 8.6
- Metascore: 89
- Runtime: 130 minutes

As if sent by an angel, "It's a Wonderful Life" is pure holiday perfection. Witness the story of George Bailey (James Stewart), who discovers what life would have been like had he never existed. Something of a flop upon theatrical release, it's now one of the most enduring Christmas movies ever made.

A man showing a woman how to hold a long gun while both are smiling.
9 / 50
Roy Del Ruth Productions

It Happened on Fifth Avenue (1947)

- Director: Roy Del Ruth
- IMDb user rating: 7.6
- Metascore: 66
- Runtime: 116 minutes

Actor Victor Moore delivers an indelible performance as drifter Aloysius T. McKeever in this Christmas-themed comedy. When the world's second-richest man (Charles Ruggles) heads to Virginia for the winter, McKeever moves into the millionaire's vacated mansion. "In the long run the sour millionaire is sweetened up, all disguises are cast off, and everybody is happy, including the audience," wrote critic James Agee for Time Magazine.

A man and a priest look seriously at one another in front of a Christmas tree.
10 / 50
Samuel Goldwyn Company

The Bishop's Wife (1947)

- Director: Henry Koster
- IMDb user rating: 7.5
- Metascore: 72
- Runtime: 109 minutes

Based on a 1928 book of the same name, "The Bishop's Wife" is about an angel taking human form to help a bishop build a cathedral and save his marriage. Originally, star Cary Grant wanted to play the bishop, but he was convinced to take on the role of the angel instead. It ended up being one of his most noteworthy performances.

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Santa Claus smiling.
11 / 50
Twentieth Century Fox

Miracle on 34th Street (1947)

- Director: George Seaton
- IMDb user rating: 7.9
- Metascore: 88
- Runtime: 96 minutes

The 1994 version may be the one most children would have seen, but 1947s "Miracle on 34th Street," about a man who claims he's the real Santa Claus and must convince others of the same thing, proves the original is usually the best. Not just one of the best Christmas movies to be found, it's also #9 on the American Film Institute's list of the 100 Most Inspiring Movies of All Time.

John Wayne, holding a baby, standing next to two cowboys next to a covered wagon.
12 / 50
Argosy Pictures

3 Godfathers (1948)

- Director: John Ford
- IMDb user rating: 7.1
- Metascore: 82
- Runtime: 106 minutes

One among many collaborations between director John Ford and actor John Wayne, this colorful Western reimagines a famous Bible story. Three rugged bank robbers double as stand-ins for the three Wise Men, who must bring a newborn baby to New Jerusalem. It takes place around the holidays and features a rendition of "Silent Night."

A woman opens the door to a man holding wrapped gifts.
13 / 50
RKO Radio Pictures

Holiday Affair (1949)

- Director: Don Hartman
- IMDb user rating: 7.2
- Metascore: 63
- Runtime: 87 minutes

Starring screen legends Robert Mitchum and Janet Leigh, "A Holiday Affair" is about the romance between a young widow and the shop clerk she accidentally got fired. RKO Studios originally released the film, but it's been given a second life on TCM, which airs it during the holidays.

An older man standing with Santa Claus.
14 / 50
Walt Disney Pictures

A Christmas Carol (1951)

- Director: Brian Desmond Hurst
- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- Metascore: data not available
- Runtime: 86 minutes

One of the best adaptations of Charles Dickens' famous tale, this film features a deft performance by Alastair Sim as Scrooge. Sim later voiced a made-for-television version of the Dickens novella that also made it to the silver screen.

A man and woman sitting at a table having a serious conversation.
15 / 50
Paramount Pictures

White Christmas (1954)

- Director: Michael Curtiz
- IMDb user rating: 7.5
- Metascore: 56
- Runtime: 120 minutes

Starring Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye, "White Christmas" hits many of the same pitch-perfect notes as "Holiday Inn." This time around, a duo of male entertainers teams up with their female counterparts to save a failing inn. To call the film a song and dance-filled extravaganza would be practically redundant.

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Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine sitting on a couch dressed up with Champagne on the coffee table.
16 / 50
The Mirisch Corporation

The Apartment (1960)

- Director: Billy Wilder
- IMDb user rating: 8.3
- Metascore: 94
- Runtime: 125 minutes

This Billy Wilder comedy explores infidelity and interoffice romance while using Christmas as an occasional plot device. Insurance clerk C.C. Baxter (Jack Lemmon) lets executives use his apartment for their extramarital affairs as means to a promotion. It features an office holiday party and a recurring joke about Christmas fruitcake.

A man in his pajamas talks to a man wrapped in chains in front of a red background.
17 / 50
Cinema Center Films

Scrooge (1970)

- Director: Ronald Neame
- IMDb user rating: 7.5
- Metascore: 58
- Runtime: 113 minutes

The Charles Dickens novella "A Christmas Carol" inspired countless film adaptations, including this musical version from 1970. Albert Finney plays the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge, who's shown the true meaning of Christmas by an assortment of ghosts.

A young woman sitting in a floral armchair talking on the phone in front of Christmas lights.
18 / 50
August Films

Black Christmas (1974)

- Director: Bob Clark
- IMDb user rating: 7.1
- Metascore: 65
- Runtime: 98 minutes

Nearly a decade before he helmed "A Christmas Story," director Bob Clark churned out this holiday-themed slasher classic. It unfolds over a college winter break and finds a crazed killer stalking a sorority house. Some say it walked so that 1978s "Halloween" could run.

David Bowie, in a military uniform, ready to fight a man with a sword.
19 / 50
National Film Trustee Company

Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence (1983)

- Director: Nagisa Ôshima
- IMDb user rating: 7.2
- Metascore: 53
- Runtime: 123 minutes

This World War II drama takes place in a Japanese prisoner of war camp and examines the divide between two different cultures. Christmas isn't a backdrop as much as it is a signifier of the aforementioned divide. Music icons David Bowie and Ryuichi Sakamoto both star. The latter also scored the film.

Dan Aykroyd in a santa suit pointing a gun.
20 / 50
Cinema Group Ventures

Trading Places (1983)

- Director: John Landis
- IMDb user rating: 7.5
- Metascore: 69
- Runtime: 116 minutes

Eddie Murphy cemented his status as a comedy icon with his performance in this box office blockbuster. He plays a down-on-his-luck con artist who's swapped out with a spoiled investor (Dan Aykroyd) as part of a twisted plan. A key sequence takes place during a Christmas party.

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Peter Billingsley as a child smiling and wearing glasses in front of Christmas lights.
21 / 50
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)

A Christmas Story (1983)

- Director: Bob Clark
- IMDb user rating: 7.9
- Metascore: 77
- Runtime: 93 minutes

It's the one, the only: "A Christmas Story." If you haven't already seen it, turn on the TV on Christmas day and you soon will. Directed by Bob Clark and based on the anecdotes of Jean Shepherd as published in the 1968 book "In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash." The movie details the exploits of young Ralphie Parker and his perpetual quest for a Red Ryder BB gun. The film is an all-you-eat buffet of iconic scenes, which helps explain its repeat "watchability."

A small creature in a santa hat playing a keyboard.
22 / 50
Warner Bros.

Gremlins (1984)

- Director: Joe Dante
- IMDb user rating: 7.3
- Metascore: 70
- Runtime: 106 minutes

Director Joe Dante's seminal creature feature sends nasty gremlins on a deadly Christmas Eve rampage. With help from his girlfriend (Phoebe Cates) and a cuddly pet mogwai, a young man (Zach Galligan) sets out to save his small town. It was later followed by an outright bonkers sequel.

Bruce Willis crawling through a tiny space with a lighter.
23 / 50
Twentieth Century Fox

Die Hard (1988)

- Director: John McTiernan
- IMDb user rating: 8.2
- Metascore: 72
- Runtime: 132 minutes

Fans are still hashing out whether this violent classic is actually a Christmas movie, but there's no disputing its holiday setting. What begins as an office party in Nakatomi Plaza becomes a bloody showdown between Officer John McClane (Bruce Willis) and international terrorists. Along with films like "Lethal Weapon," it helped usher in a new era for the action genre.

Chevy Chase and Beverly D'Angelo smiling in front of a house of lights.
24 / 50
Warner Bros.

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (1989)

- Director: Jeremiah S. Chechik
- IMDb user rating: 7.5
- Metascore: 49
- Runtime: 97 minutes

Written by John Hughes and starring Chevy Chase, "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation" continues the story of the crazy Griswold family, who celebrate the holidays by turning every possible scenario into a full-blown disaster. The movie is based on a short story called "Christmas '59", which John Hughes wrote while working for National Lampoon magazine.

Macaulay Culkin decorating a Christmas tree while Joe Pesci peers into the window from outside.
25 / 50
Hughes Entertainment

Home Alone (1990)

- Director: Chris Columbus
- IMDb user rating: 7.7
- Metascore: 63
- Runtime: 103 minutes

Nowadays, the wild success of "Home Alone" seems practically self-explanatory, but most of the people behind the film were not expecting it to be such a huge hit. It was to their surprise that the movie ended up earning the highest box office gross domestically for a comedy. It held the record for 27 years. Needless to say, the antics of a young boy named Kevin McAllister—who gets abandoned by his family during Christmas and squares off against burglars—remains the holiday gift that keeps on giving.

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Johnny Depp standing in front of a house with Christmas lights.
26 / 50
20th Century Fo

Edward Scissorhands (1990)

- Director: Tim Burton
- IMDb user rating: 7.9
- Metascore: 74
- Runtime: 105 minutes

Tim Burton was in fine form when he helmed this fantasy drama about a young man with scissors for hands (Johnny Depp). It doubles as an allegory about an artist's life and draws inspiration from the director's own experiences. The story comes to life with vivid music and color as it builds to a climactic Christmas night.

A group of dressed up people sitting on a couch together.
27 / 50
Westerly Films

Metropolitan (1990)

- Director: Whit Stillman
- IMDb user rating: 7.3
- Metascore: 77
- Runtime: 98 minutes

A sly study on Manhattan's young upper crust, "Metropolitan" mostly features a bunch of trust fund babies talking about things they don't understand while falling in love with one another. Suffice to say, it doesn't exactly make for quality family viewing during the holidays. However, if you enjoy terrific dialogue, sharp acting, and dry satire, the film serves up a classic slice of independent cinema in its own right. Maybe check this one out after the in-laws leave.

28 / 50
Walt Disney Pictures

The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)

- Director: Brian Henson
- IMDb user rating: 7.7
- Metascore: 64
- Runtime: 85 minutes

The Dickens estate must get some serious royalties over the holidays. This time around, the Muppets and actor Michael Caine tackle the timeless tale. While Jim Henson's presence looms large, this was the first Muppets movie made after his death.

Batman and Penguin standing in front of an icy cave labeled Arctic World.
29 / 50
Warner Bros.

Batman Returns (1992)

- Director: Tim Burton
- IMDb user rating: 7.1
- Metascore: 68
- Runtime: 126 minutes

Tim Burton's sequel to 1989s "Batman" darkens the tone and introduces a number of new characters. Set during the holiday season, it puts Gotham in the crosshairs of the supervillain Penguin (Danny DeVito). Initially greeted with confusion, the film has been reappraised as something of an experimental classic.

An animation of a little boy and a skeleton in a santa suit by a Christmas tree.
30 / 50
Touchstone Pictures

The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

- Director: Henry Selick
- IMDb user rating: 7.9
- Metascore: 82
- Runtime: 76 minutes

Stop-motion animation may very well have peaked in 1993 with "The Nightmare Before Christmas." Put simply, the film is a visual masterpiece. Straight from Tim Burton's head comes the story of Jack Skellington, a king in Halloween Town whose life gets turned upside down after visiting Christmas Town. Disney originally wanted to make a sequel using computer-generated imaging, but Burton convinced them otherwise. Now, the studio has announced a follow-up to the movie in the form of a young adult novel.

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Claire Danes, Winona Ryder, Susan Sarandon, Kirsten Dunst, and Trini Alvarado crowded with arms around one another reading from a piece of paper in front of the Christmas tree.
31 / 50
Columbia Pictures

Little Women (1994)

- Director: Gillian Armstrong
- IMDb user rating: 7.3
- Metascore: 87
- Runtime: 115 minutes

One in a long line of "Little Women" adaptations, this historical drama sets key scenes during Christmas and endures as a holiday movie. Set after the Civil War, it chronicles the professional and personal exploits of the lovable March sisters. It originally went to the wide screen in the United States on Christmas Day in 1994.

Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman dressed up and dancing in a ballroom full of lights.
32 / 50
Warner Bros.

Eyes Wide Shut (1999)

- Director: Stanley Kubrick
- IMDb user rating: 7.5
- Metascore: 68
- Runtime: 159 minutes

Stanley Kubrick's erotic fever dream takes place during the holidays and uses seasonal decorations as a visual motif. It tells the story of William Harford (Tom Cruise), whose cozy lifestyle is upended by a series of sexual revelations. Come for the lavish Christmas party, stay for the infamous orgy.

Four women standing together looking skeptical.
33 / 50
BIM Distribuzione

8 Women (2002)

- Director: François Ozon
- IMDb user rating: 7
- Metascore: 64
- Runtime: 111 minutes

Based on a play, this genre-mashing musical stars an ensemble cast of famous French actresses. When the master of an estate is found stabbed to death, eight unique women are suspected of the crime. It takes place in a snowbound mansion over Christmas and draws influence from iconic screwball comedies.

Hugh Grant reading on a couch in front of a Christmas tree.
34 / 50
Universal Pictures

Love Actually (2003)

- Director: Richard Curtis
- IMDb user rating: 7.6
- Metascore: 55
- Runtime: 135 minutes

Parallel holiday stories combine to a heartwarming effect in "Love Actually." The Christmas classic is a treasure trove of unforgettable moments, lines, and characters. Apparently, things were just as fun behind the scenes. For instance, Hugh Grant had himself a merry old time exploiting Billy Bob Thornton's bizarre fear of antique furniture by constantly pointing out a few throughout filming.

Will Ferrell, in an elf suit, eating spaghetti with candy.
35 / 50
New Line Cinema

Elf (2003)

- Director: Jon Favreau
- IMDb user rating: 7
- Metascore: 64
- Runtime: 97 minutes

Perhaps the most ubiquitous holiday movie this side of "A Christmas Story," "Elf" is the quintessence of a modern-day seasonal classic. Directed by Jon Favreau, the movie stars Will Ferrell as an oversized elf who mistakenly ends up in Santa's workshop as a baby, accidentally learns about his human origins as an adult, and then leaves for New York in search of his birth father. There's no shortage of memorable bits, including the snowball fight to end all snowball fights and a showdown with a famous author who happens to resemble an elf. Of course, you already knew that because you've seen this film 100 times.

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Billy Bob Thornton in a Santa suit, Bernie Mac in a cowboy outfit, and Tony Cox dressed as an elf on a Christmas platform.
36 / 50
Columbia Pictures Corporation

Bad Santa (2003)

- Director: Terry Zwigoff
- IMDb user rating: 7.1
- Metascore: 70
- Runtime: 92 minutes

Movies like "Scrooged" might playfully break from the norm, but "Bad Santa" downright decimates any semblance of holiday movie tradition. The film—about an alcoholic con man who poses as Santa Claus before ripping off malls—is a non-stop barrage of foul language and explicit content. But darned if it isn't one of the greatest comedies of all time. Watch it this Christmas, but make sure grandma and grandpa are out of earshot.

Three homeless people with a newborn baby.
37 / 50
Dentsu

Tokyo Godfathers (2003)

- Director: Satoshi Kon
- IMDb user rating: 7.8
- Metascore: 73
- Runtime: 92 minutes

From the Japanese director of "Perfect Blue" and "Paprika" comes this animated tragicomedy. It draws loose inspiration from the Hollywood Western "3 Godfathers" while conjuring a Dickensian tonality. On Christmas Eve, three colorful vagabonds attempt to return an abandoned newborn to its parents.

A woman holds a bottle of liquid on a tray with circular lights on the ceiling in the background.
38 / 50
Jet Tone Production

2046 (2004)

- Director: Wong Kar-wai
- IMDb user rating: 7.4
- Metascore: 78
- Runtime: 129 minutes

This sci-fi romantic drama makes up the final part of director Wong Kar-wai's informal love trilogy. It tells stories within a story as an author recounts personal relationships while working on his latest novel. Musical themes, thrilling visuals, and a recurring Christmas motif help bring the narratives to life.

Two men in military uniforms and coats stand in the snow.
39 / 50
Nord-Ouest Productions

Joyeux Noel (2005)

- Director: Christian Carion
- IMDb user rating: 7.7
- Metascore: 70
- Runtime: 116 minutes

Most Christmas movies keep it light in spirit, but "Joyeux Noel" goes straight for the jugular. Based on a true story, the acclaimed French film is about a temporary Christmas truce between enemy soldiers during World War I. The movie was initially supposed to be rated "R," but that was bumped down to "PG-13" after Roger Ebert openly critiqued the Motion Picture Association of America's original rating.

Val Kilmer and Robert Downey Jr. hiding behind a wood pile with a deer jumping in the background.
40 / 50
Warner Bros.

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)

- Director: Shane Black
- IMDb user rating: 7.5
- Metascore: 72
- Runtime: 103 minutes

Hollywood scribe Shane Black made his directorial feature debut with this noirish crime comedy. Robert Downey Jr. plays a petty crook turned aspiring actor, who gets thrust into the heart of a murder mystery. A warm weather Los Angeles Christmas makes for a perennial backdrop.

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Naomi Watts stands in a restaurant holding a motorcycle helmet while an older man plays a violin for two little girls.
41 / 50
Kudos Film and Television

Eastern Promises (2007)

- Director: David Cronenberg
- IMDb user rating: 7.6
- Metascore: 82
- Runtime: 100 minutes

Director David Cronenberg's brutal crime drama doesn't exactly scream "Christmas movie" but nevertheless takes place during the holiday season. With the discovery of a prostitute's diary comes a dangerous revelation involving the Russian mob. Its scenes of graphic violence are not for the faint of heart and definitely not for the whole family.

Colin Farrell sitting at a restaurant table with a woman smoking a cigarette.
42 / 50
Focus Features

In Bruges (2008)

- Director: Martin McDonagh
- IMDb user rating: 7.9
- Metascore: 67
- Runtime: 107 minutes

This beloved crime comedy sends two hitmen (Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson) into hiding after a job gone wrong. They lie low in Bruges, Belgium, during the holiday season, but don't exactly cultivate a festive spirit. Farrell and Gleeson recently reunited with director Martin McDonagh for the 2022 dramedy "The Banshees of Inisherin."

A man standing in an auditorium with a little boy and a woman seated next to him.
43 / 50
Why Not Productions

A Christmas Tale (2008)

- Director: Arnaud Desplechin
- IMDb user rating: 7
- Metascore: 84
- Runtime: 150 minutes

A dysfunctional family gathers for Christmas in this award-winning French dramedy. When it's revealed that their matriarch (Catherine Deneuve) requires a bone marrow transplant, past traumas bubble to the surface. Writing for the Independent, critic Nicholas Barber called it "a bracingly eccentric, waspishly intelligent blast of flashbacks, freeze frames, split screens, and bizarre music choices."

An animation of a boy in a Christmas sweater holding mail and standing in a control room.
44 / 50
Aardman Animations

Arthur Christmas (2011)

- Directors: Sarah Smith, Barry Cook
- IMDb user rating: 7.1
- Metascore: 69
- Runtime: 97 minutes

Have you ever wondered how Santa is able to deliver all those presents on Christmas Eve? To find out, watch the animated flick "Arthur Christmas," which takes viewers behind the scenes of Santa's operation. The movie also deals with Santa's goofy son, Arthur, who makes it his mission to get a misplaced gift back to where it belongs.

A man with a long beard in a sleigh full of presents led by a team of reindeer.
45 / 50
The SPA Studios

Klaus (2019)

- Directors: Sergio Pablos, Carlos Martínez López
- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- Metascore: 65
- Runtime: 96 minutes

This animated Christmas movie has all the trappings of a modern holiday favorite. Exiled to the Arctic, a desperate postman (voiced by Jason Schwartzman) forges a friendship with a local toymaker named Klaus (voiced by J. K. Simmons). Its hand-drawn animation style gives rise to the warm fuzzies of early Disney movies, and the constant snow scenes are sure to inspire a hunt for snow afterward.

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Anna Kendrick and Lena Dunham sitting on the floor in front of a Christmas tree playing with a little boy.
46 / 50
Lucky Coffee Productions

Happy Christmas (2014)

- Director: Joe Swanberg
- IMDb user rating: 5.4
- Metascore: 70
- Runtime: 82 minutes

Mumblecore director Joe Swanberg puts a minimalist spin on the holidays in this largely improvised dramedy. It stars Anna Kendrick as an immature 20-something who moves in with her brother's family and uproots their livelihoods. The film's development style creates an easygoing story that rambles in the right ways with a run time of just 82 minutes.

Two women crossing the street together talking.
47 / 50
Freestyle Picture Company

Tangerine (2015)

- Director: Sean Baker
- IMDb user rating: 7.1
- Metascore: 86
- Runtime: 88 minutes

Indie filmmaker Sean Baker shot this gripping dramedy using an $8 camera app on his iPhone 5S. It takes place on Christmas Eve and follows a transgender sex worker (Kitana Kiki Rodriguez) as she tracks down her cheating boyfriend. Co-star Mya Taylor won an Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Female.

Cate Blanchett walking across the street in a fur coat and scarf.
48 / 50
The Weinstein Company

Carol (2015)

- Director: Todd Haynes
- IMDb user rating: 7.2
- Metascore: 94
- Runtime: 118 minutes

This Oscar-nominated drama explores the forbidden love between two women (Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara) against the backdrop of 1950s America. The story unfolds during the holiday season and touches on Christmas and New Year's Eve. It's based on a 1952 novel by author Patricia Highsmith.

Emma Watson, Saoirse Ronan, Florence Pugh, and Eliza Scanlen looking out a window together.
49 / 50
Columbia Pictures

Little Women (2019)

- Director: Greta Gerwig
- IMDb user rating: 7.8
- Metascore: 91
- Runtime: 135 minutes

Director Greta Gerwig culled from Louisa May Alcott's beloved novel, but also from the author's other writings when crafting this blockbuster adaptation. It jumps back and forth in time and anchors most of the story around writer Jo March (Saoirse Ronan). As with previous versions, it sets key scenes during Christmas.

An actor playing Elvis in the backseat of a car with neon signs in the reflection of the car window.
50 / 50
Warner Bros.

Elvis (2022)

- Director: Baz Luhrmann
- IMDb user rating: 7.4
- Metascore: 64
- Runtime: 159 minutes

Baz Luhrmann's dizzying biopic traces the rise and fall of rock icon Elvis Presley (Austin Butler), primarily through the eyes of his unscrupulous manager (Tom Hanks), aka The Snowman. While not holiday themed throughout, it plays regularly into the theme and aesthetic of The Snowman narrator and features a semi-controversial Christmas TV special. The real-life Elvis also released one of the best-selling Christmas albums of all time.

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