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From Scrooges to Santas: A Selection of 15 Memorable Christmas Movies for Every Mood

Unwrap the Magic of the Season with Heartwarming Classics, Family-Friendly Flicks, and Unconventional Delights!


You better watch out, you better not cry, you better not pout, I'm telling you why: because Santa Claus is coming to town! Although it feels like Halloween and Thanksgiving weren't so long ago, it's time to get into the Christmas spirit by adorning the tree with colorful lights and ornaments, hanging up stockings with care, donning ugly sweaters, baking cookies, wrapping gifts with care, and enjoying the holiday season!


However...I understand that not everyone is as excited about Christmas as I may be. If you're feeling a bit like the Grinch this holiday season, I've compiled a list of 15 great movies available for streaming. These films cover a range of genres and themes, so there is something for everyone to enjoy during your Christmas movie marathon. Whether you prefer traditional nostalgia, updated classics, or a complete departure from the norm, this list is guaranteed to help get you into the holly, jolly mood and stay off Santa's naughty list. I've even included a few curveballs for those who still can't stand the sickeningly sweet cheerfulness of the Whos down in Whoville. So, take a look and start your holiday movie marathon! (P.S. If you're looking for a few more options, I have an older Christmas film listicle you can find here.)


To those who celebrate, I'd like to take a moment to wish you and your loved ones a super safe and happy holiday season! 


 

Theatrical posters (L-R): "Christmas in Connecticut" (1945), "It's a Wonderful Life" (1946), "Miracle on 34th Street" (1947), "White Christmas" (1954), "Scrooge" (1970).

Holiday Classics

The holiday season is the perfect time to indulge in the magic of classic Christmas movies! From comedies to dramas to musicals, these classics have stood the test of time and captured the essence of the holiday spirit, making them the perfect addition to your movie marathon. So, gather your loved ones, grab a mug of hot cocoa, and enjoy the festive season with these unforgettable movies.


Christmas in Connecticut (1945)

Director: Peter Godfrey

Screenwriter: Lionel Houser & Adele Comandini

Starring: Barbara Stanwyck, Dennis Morgan, Sydney Greenstreet, Reginald Gardiner, S.Z. Sakall, Robert Shayne, Una O'Connor, Frank Jenks, Joyce Compton & Dick Elliott

Where to Watch: Amazon Prime Video | HBO Max


While recovering in a hospital, war hero Jefferson Jones (Morgan) grows familiar with the "Diary of a Housewife" column written by Elizabeth Lane (Stanwyck). Jeff's nurse arranges with Elizabeth's publisher, Alexander Yardley (Greenstreet), for Jeff to spend the holiday at Elizabeth's bucolic Connecticut farm with her husband and child. But the column is a sham, so Yardley hastens to arrange a publicity ploy by setting up a single, nondomestic Elizabeth on a country farm.


Did You Know? Christmas in Connecticut was one of the first films to benefit from the post-war euphoria that gripped America in 1945. Despite being released in August (rather than a more logical holiday-time release), this grossed an impressive $3 million, making it one of the year's most successful movies.




It's a Wonderful Life (1946)

Director: Frank Capra

Screenwriter: Frances Goodrich & Albert Hackett

Starring: James Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore, Thomas Mitchell, Henry Travers, Beulah Bondi, Ward Bond, Frank Faylen & Gloria Grahame

Where to Watch: Amazon Prime Video 


After George Bailey (Stewart) wishes he had never been born, an angel is sent to earth to make George's wish come true. George starts to realize how many lives he has changed and impacted and how they would be different if he were never there.


Did You Know? Before the movie It's a Wonderful Life, cornflakes painted white were used to create the effect of falling snow in movies. However, the sound was so loud that the dialogue had to be recorded separately. Director Frank Capra wanted to capture the sound live, so a new snow effect was developed using a mixture of "foamite," soap, and water. About 6,000 gallons of this mixture was pumped at high pressure through a wind machine to create the silent falling snow throughout the movie. This technique was so successful that the RKO Effects Department received a Class III Scientific or Technical Award from the Motion Picture Academy for developing the new film-standard snow. 



 

Miracle on 34th Street (1947)

Director & Screenwriter: George Seaton

Starring: Edmund Gwenn, Maureen O'Hara, John Payne & Natalie Wood

Where to Watch: Amazon Prime Video | Disney + | Hulu 


In this classic Christmas movie, an elderly man named Kris Kringle (Gwenn) steps in for a drunken Santa during Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade. Kringle becomes so popular that he starts appearing regularly at the chain's main store in midtown Manhattan. However, when Kringle surprises everyone by claiming that he is the real Santa Claus, it leads to a court case to determine his mental health and, more importantly, his authenticity.


Did You Know? Unbeknownst to most parade watchers, Edmund Gwenn played Santa Claus in the actual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade held November 28, 1946. He fulfilled the duties of most parade Santas, including addressing the crowd from the Macy's marquee after the parade. Philip Tonge (who played Mr. Shellhammer in the movie) introduced him to the public, and he later unveiled the mechanical Christmas display windows to the accompaniment of Tchaikovsky's "Nutcracker Suite." This gesture symbolized the opening of the Christmas shopping season at the department store.




White Christmas (1954)

Director: Michael Curtiz

Screenwriter: Norman Krasna

Starring: Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, Vera-Ellen & Dean Jagger

Where to Watch: Amazon Prime Video | Netflix


Singers Bob Wallace (Crosby) and Phil Davis (Kaye) join sister act Betty (Clooney) and Judy Haynes (Vera-Ellen) to perform a Christmas show in rural Vermont. There, they run into Gen. Waverly (Jagger), the boys' commander in World War II, who they learn is having financial difficulties; his quaint country inn is failing. So what's the foursome to do but plan a yuletide miracle: a fun-filled musical extravaganza that's sure to put Waverly and his business in the black!


Did You Know? Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye's "Sisters" performance in the movie was improvised on set. Director Michael Curtiz found their impromptu dance routine so funny that he included it in the film. Crosby's laughter was genuine and unscripted. According to Rosemary Clooney, the filmmakers had a better take, but audiences preferred the version where Crosby laughed.




Scrooge (1970)

Director: Ronald Neame

Screenwriter: Leslie Bricusse

Starring: Albert Finney, Alec Guinness, Edith Evans, Kenneth More, Laurence Naismith, Michael Medwin, David Collings, Anton Rodgers & Suzanne Neve

Where to Watch: Amazon Prime Video | Paramount +


Ebenezer Scrooge (Finney) is the definition of a miser. He is rich but utterly stingy with his money and exploits the good nature of his employee, Bob Cratchit (Collings). On Christmas Eve, however, Scrooge is in store for a rude awakening when he is visited by the ghost of his old business partner, Jacob Marley (Guinness), who informs him that he is going to be visited by three ghosts, including the Ghosts of Christmas Past (Evans) and Present (More).


Did You Know? It took more than three hours each day to apply the old-age Scrooge make-up to Albert Finney, who was only thirty-three years old.





Theatrical Posters (L-R): "A Charlie Brown Christmas" (1956), "Home Alone" (1990), "Elf" (2003), "The Polar Express" (2004), and "The Grinch" (2018).,

Family-Friendly Films

Get ready to snuggle up with your loved ones this holiday season with Christmas movies that are sure to delight viewers of all ages and tastes. From heartwarming modern classics to comedic favorites, these films are perfect for creating lasting memories with your family and friends.


A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)

Director: Bill Melendez

Screenwriter: Charles M. Schulz

Starring: Peter Robbins, Christopher Shea, Kathy Steinberg, Tracy Stratford, Bill Melendez, Ann Altieri, Chris Doran, Sally Dryer, Karen Mendelson & Geoffrey Ornstein

Where to Watch: Apple TV + 


When Charlie Brown (Robbins) complains about the overwhelming materialism he sees amongst everyone during the Christmas season, Lucy (Stratford) suggests he become director of the school Christmas pageant. Charlie Brown accepts, but it is a frustrating struggle. When an attempt to restore the proper spirit with a forlorn little fir Christmas tree fails, he needs Linus' (Shea) help to learn the meaning of Christmas.


Did You Know? When viewing the rough cut of the show, both director Bill Melendez and producer Lee Mendelson were convinced that they had a flop on their hands. After A Charlie Brown Christmas premiered, they were happily surprised at the high ratings and excellent reviews the show received. A Charlie Brown Christmas is the second longest-running Christmas special on U.S. network television, ending its 57-year run on broadcast television in 2022 when PBS did not acquire the rights for the Peanuts specials from Apple TV. The longest-running Christmas special is the 1964 Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, which premiered one year earlier and is still broadcast annually on U.S. network television.




Home Alone (1990)

Director: Chris Columbus

Screenwriter: John Hughes

Starring: Macaulay Culkin, Joe Pesci, Daniel Stern, Catherine O'Hara, John Heard & Roberts Blossom

Where to Watch: Amazon Prime Video | Disney + | Hulu 


When bratty 8-year-old Kevin McCallister (Culkin) acts out the night before a family trip to Paris, his mother (O'Hara) makes him sleep in the attic. After the McCallisters mistakenly leave for the airport without Kevin, he awakens to an empty house and assumes his wish to have no family has come true. But his excitement sours when he realizes that two con men (Pesci and Stern) plan to rob the McCallister residence and that he alone must protect the family home.


Did You Know? The picture Kevin finds of Buzz's girlfriend is of a boy made up to look like a girl because director Chris Columbus thought it would be too cruel to make fun of a girl like that. The boy used in the photo was the art director's son.




Elf (2003)

Director: Jon Favreau

Screenwriter: David Berenbaum

Starring: Will Ferrell, James Caan, Zooey Deschanel, Mary Steenburgen, Ed Asner & Bob Newhart

Where to Watch: Amazon Prime Video | HBO Max | Hulu 


Buddy (Ferrell) was accidentally transported to the North Pole as a toddler and raised to adulthood among Santa's elves. Unable to shake the feeling that he doesn't fit in, the adult Buddy travels to New York in full elf uniform, searching for his biological father. As it happens, this is Walter Hobbs (Caan), a cynical businessman. After a DNA test proves this, Walter reluctantly attempts to start a relationship with the childlike Buddy with increasingly chaotic results.


Did You Know? Director Jon Favreau spent the final day of shooting in New York City with Will Ferrell and a cameraman driving around the city looking for shooting locations. They would stop and ask random pedestrians if they would be willing to be extras for some quick cash while Ferrell was in character, or they would let Ferrell surprise people and ask for their permission afterward, like with the man Buddy mistakes for Santa. Most of the montage when Buddy first arrives in New York City, including jumping between traffic, was filmed that day.




The Polar Express (2004)

Director: Robert Zemeckis

Screenwriters: Robert Zemeckis & William Broyles Jr.

Starring: Tom Hanks, Daryl Sabara, Nona Gaye, Jimmy Bennett & Eddie Deezen

Where to Watch: Amazon Prime Video HBO Max | Hulu 


An inspiring adventure based on the beloved children's book by Chris Van Allsburg, a doubting young boy takes an extraordinary train ride to the North Pole, embarking on a journey of self-discovery that shows him that the wonder of life never fades for those who believe.


Did You Know? The 2006 Guinness Book of World Records lists The Polar Express as the "first all-digital capture" film where all acted parts were done in digital capture.




The Grinch (2018)

Directors: Scott Mosier & Yarrow Cheney 

Screenwriters: Michael LeSieur & Tommy Swerdlow

Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Cameron Seely, Rashida Jones, Kenan Thompson, Angela Lansbury, Pharrell Williams, Tristan O'Hare, Sam Lavagnino, Ramone Hamilton, Scarlett Estevez, Michael Beattie & Bill Farmer

Where to Watch: Amazon Prime Video | Hulu | Peacock 


The Grinch (Cumberbatch) and his loyal dog, Max, live a solitary existence inside a cave on Mount Crumpet. His main source of aggravation comes during Christmastime when his neighbors in Whoville celebrate the holidays with a bang. When the Whos decide to make Christmas bigger and brighter, the disgruntled Grinch realizes there is one way to gain peace and quiet. With help from Max, the green grump hatches a scheme to pose as Santa Claus, steal Christmas, and silence the Whos' holiday cheer once and for all.


Did You Know? The studio initially wanted Benedict Cumberbatch to voice the Grinch using his natural voice, but Benedict felt that, since the rest of the cast is American, the Grinch should have an American accent.





Theatrical Posters (L-R): "Gremlins" (1984), "Die Hard" (1988), "The Nightmare Before Christmas" (1993), "Bad Santa" (2003), and "Krampus" (2015).

A Non-Traditional Christmas

If you're feeling like you're missing out on the holiday spirit this season and want to switch things up a bit, why not consider adding some non-traditional films to your movie marathon? Rather than sticking to the usual seasonal classics, you could go for a quirky indie flick, a horror movie with a twist of holiday cheer, or an offbeat comedy that will have you laughing out loud.


Gremlins (1984)

Director: Joe Dante

Screenwriter: Chris Columbus

Starring: Zach Galligan, Phoebe Cates, Hoyt Axton, Polly Holliday, Frances Lee McCain & Howie Mandel 

Where to Watch: Amazon Prime | HBO Max


A gadget salesman is looking for a unique gift for his son and finds one at a store in Chinatown. The shopkeeper is reluctant to sell him the "mogwai" but sells it to him with the warning to never expose him to bright light or water or to feed him after midnight. All of this happens, resulting in a gang of gremlins that decide to tear up the town on Christmas Eve.


Did You Know? During an interview, Zach Galligan shared that CGI wasn't available when the movie Gremlins was made. As a result, all of the Gremlins were created using animatronics technology, each costing between $30,000-$40,000. The production team took extra security measures to ensure that the animatronics were not stolen, including checking the trunks of everyone's cars at the end of the day.




Die Hard (1988)

Director: John McTiernan

Screenwriter: Jeb Stuart & Steven E. de Souza

Starring: Bruce Willis, Alan Rickman, Alexander Godunov, Bonnie Bedelia, Reginald VelJohnson, William Atherton, Paul Gleason & Hart Bochner

Where to Watch: Amazon Prime Hulu


New York City policeman John McClane (Willis) is visiting his estranged wife (Bedelia) and two daughters on Christmas Eve. He joins her at a holiday party in the headquarters of the Japanese-owned business she works for. But the festivities are interrupted by a group of terrorists who take over the exclusive high-rise and everyone in it. Very soon, McClane realizes that there's no one to save the hostages—but him.


Did You Know? The line "Yippee-ki-yay, motherf*cker!" is used in the other four Die Hard movies: Die Hard 2 (1990); Die Hard with a Vengeance (1995); Live Free or Die Hard (2007); and A Good Day to Die Hard (2013). In 2007, the line was voted 96th of "The 100 Greatest Movie Lines" by Premiere magazine.




Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

Director: Henry Selick

Screenwriter: Caroline Thompson

Starring: Danny Elfman, Chris Sarandon, Catherine O'Hara, William Hickey, Ken Page, Paul Reubens, Glenn Shadix, Ed Ivory & Joe Ranft 

Where to Watch: Amazon Prime | Disney+


Jack Skellington (Sarandon), Halloweentown's beloved pumpkin king, has become bored with the same annual routine of frightening people in the "real world." When Jack accidentally stumbles on Christmastown, all bright colors and warm spirits, he gets a new lease on life—he plots to bring Christmas under his control by kidnapping Santa Claus (Ivory) and taking over the role. But Jack soon discovers even the best-laid plans of mice and skeleton men can go seriously awry.


Did You Know? Tim Burton has said the original poem was inspired after seeing a Halloween merchandise display in a store being taken down and replaced by a Christmas display. The juxtaposition of ghouls and goblins with Santa and his reindeer sparked his imagination.




Bad Santa (2003)

Director: Terry Zwigoff

Screenwriters: Glenn Ficarra & John Requa

Starring: Billy Bob Thornton, Tony Cox, Lauren Graham, Brett Kelly, Lauren Tom, John Ritter & Bernie Mac

Where to Watch: Amazon Prime | Paramount +


In this dark comedy, the crotchety Willie T. Stokes (Thornton) and his partner (Cox) reunite once a year for a holiday con. Posing as a mall Santa and his elf, they rip off shopping outlets on Christmas Eve. This year, however, Willie is falling apart. He's depressed and alcoholic, and his erratic behavior draws the suspicion of mall security (Mac). But when befriending a small boy brings out his kinder side, Willie wonders if there is still some hope for him.


Did You Know? John Ritter's final movie appearance was in Bad Santa, which is dedicated to his memory.




Krampus (2015)

Director: Michael Dougherty

Screenwriter: Todd Casey, Michael Dougherty & Zach Shields

Starring: Adam Scott, Toni Collette, David Koechner, Allison Tolman, Conchata Ferrell, Emjay Anthony, Stefania LaVie Owen & Krista Stadler

Where to Watch: Amazon Prime | Hulu | Peacock


While the holiday season represents the most magical time of year, ancient European folklore warns of Krampus, a horned beast who punishes naughty children at Christmastime. When dysfunctional family squabbling causes young Max (Anthony) to lose his festive spirit, it unleashes the wrath of the fearsome demon. As Krampus lays siege to the Engel home, mom (Collette), pop (Scott), sister (Owen), and brother must band together to save one another from a monstrous fate.


Did You Know? The film was initially set to release on November 25, 2015, but was pushed back to December 4 to coincide with the Krampusnacht, a traditional Austrian festival held on December 5 that celebrates the Krampus coming to punish naughty children.



 

Whether you're snuggling up with your loved ones to enjoy a heartwarming classic like It's a Wonderful Life, singing along to the musical White Christmas, laughing at the mischievous Kevin McCallister's antics in Home Alone, or cheering on John McClane in Die Hard, there's a movie option for everyone to enjoy this holiday season.


May your days be merry, your nights be bright, and your heart be filled with the warmth that only these holiday-friendly films can provide—wishing you a happy holiday season and happy watching!



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