Christmas is almost here, which means now’s the perfect time to fill up on some eggnog and binge some classic holiday movies. Because it’s 2019, and we (as a species) have evolved, you can watch pretty much every great Christmas flick on some sort of streaming platform. Amazon Prime, Netflix, Hulu, HBO, Disney+ — they’ve all got plenty of Christmas cheer to add to your viewing queue, but we’ve done the hard work of sifting through the pile of mediocre holiday films to bring you some true gems.
These are the best Christmas movies streaming right now.
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) — Disney+
Run Time: 76 min | IMDb: 8/10
Tim Burton’s stop-motion animated flick is part musical, part dark-fantasy, part Christmas-mixed-with-Halloween. In other words, it’s got something for everyone. The story follows Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King of Halloween Town. Jack’s fed up with constantly celebrating Halloween and decides to take over Santa Claus’ Christmas duties one year instead. He bungles the job and nearly gets Santa killed before setting things right.
How The Grinch Stole Christmas (2000) — Netflix
Run Time: 104 min | IMDb: 6.1/10
The Ron Howard adaptation of the Grinch tale gets a bad rap, but it faced a nearly impossible task: How do you make a movie out of a short Dr. Seuss story? The solution was to pack it with as many Jim Carrey antics as possible. It didn’t jibe with some audiences, but for any fan of Carrey in his heyday, Seuss/Christmas meta humor, and unusually-sized explosions of tiny cars, this movie is a Christmas must. The title of the movie pretty much explains it all, but the movie adds surprisingly emotional depth with Cindy Lou Who’s search for the meaning of Christmas.
Jingle All The Way (1996) — HBO
Run Time: 89 min | IMDb: 5.6/10
Who are we to question a Christmas miracle, and that’s exactly what this holiday film is. In the early ’90s, the film gods bestowed a comedic gift the likes of which this world has never seen. Sinbad. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Two dads each fighting to score the sole remaining Turbo Man action doll for their sons on Christmas Eve. The stakes couldn’t be higher, the comedy more outrageous.
Home Alone 2: Lost In New York (1992) — Disney+
Run Time: 120 min | IMDb: 6.7/10
Rarely does a sequel surpass an original but that’s what happened in the early ’90s when little Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin) took a solo trip to the Big Apple for Christmas. Just one year after his truly neglectful parents left him home by himself for the holidays, Kevin boards the wrong flight in an airport melee and winds up stranded in NYC. He makes the most of it, staying at The Plaza, racking up room service bills on his father’s credit card, and befriending a bird lady in Central Park, but he must also fight off his former foes, who come looking for him once they’re out from behind bars.
The Christmas Chronicles (2018) — Netflix
Run Time: 104 min | IMDb: 7.5/10
Look, we know what you might be thinking. and yes, this does follow the Hallmark holiday template. It’s got corny dialogue, cheesy jokes, and plenty of plot holes. It’s also got Kurt Russell putting in a performance no one saw coming. Russell plays the Big Man himself, Santa Claus, and other than giving us a modernized version of Jolly Old that millennials will thirst over for years to come — finally, a DILF Santa everyone can get behind — the actor sells the sh*t out of this thing, rocking out in jailhouses, giving us manic car chases, and playing a Papa Noel that seems just a bit unhinged, and all the funnier for it.
It’s A Wonderful Life (1946) — Amazon
Run Time: 130 min | IMDb: 8.6/10
James Stewart stars in this holiday flick about a down-on-his-luck businessman who laments his suburban life. George Bailey wishes for a different, more successful life, one unencumbered by a wife and kids, but when his wish is granted and an angel shows him what life would be like without him, Bailey must figure out how to make the most of the present. Stewart is magnetic in the role, and although it’s thought of as a Christmas classic, this film can and should be enjoyed year-round.
The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992) — Disney+
Run Time: 85 min | IMDb: 7.7/10
The Muppets liven up Charles Dickens’ usually dreary tale of grumpiness, regret, and holiday season renewal in an instant holiday classic that casts Michael Caine opposite the likes of Kermit, Gonzo, Miss Piggy, and all the rest. The first Muppet film created after the passing of Jim Henson, son Brian Henson does a more than capable job in the director’s chair, rallying the usual band of behind the scenes talents to inject some familiar heart and soul into this beloved band of characters in a truly memorable effort.
The Man Who Invented Christmas (2017) — Hulu (Requires Showtime)
Run Time: 104 min | IMDb: 7/10
Dan Stevens and Christopher Plummer star in this modern reimagining of A Christmas Carol. Instead of focusing on Scrooge, Tiny Tim, and the rest, this flick recounts how writer Charles Dickens (Stevens) created the story that would come to define Christmas for generations to come. Dickens himself is an interesting character, a man of status still grappling with his poor upbringing who uses his holiday tale to shed light on the working conditions of the poor, and Stevens plays him with the kind of wild, manic air we’ve seen on his FX series Legion, which adds a bit of fun to this whole thing.
White Christmas (1954) — Netflix
Run Time: 120 min | IMDb: 7.6/10
White Christmas is one of those holiday movies that many casual Netflix watchers have probably never gotten around to watching. It was 1954’s most successful film, however, and it’s packed with some of the biggest stars of the era. It’s that one that has Bing Crosby tap-dancing with Danny Kaye you may have heard about. When their army buddy characters join a sister act of performers, they’re forced to sing and dance their way to saving an unsuccessful inn run by their old military general. It’s a lovely, light vehicle for Crosby and Kaye, along with Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen to do what they were known for doing, and the undeniable charisma of each lead carries White Christmas during the brief times between tunes.
The Santa Clause (1994) — Disney+
Run Time: 97 min | IMDb: 6.4/10
Tim Allen stars in this Christmas classic about an ad executive, absentee father who accidentally knocks Kris Kringle off his roof one Christmas Eve and becomes the new Jolly Old in the red suit. Allen plays Scott Calvin, a divorced dad trying his best to co-parent his young son Charlie with his ex and her new husband, a psychologist. When Charlie and Scott have a holiday adventure that brings them to the North Pole where Scott is forced to don the Christmas get-up and deliver toys, he faces down more than just a weight gain and some graying hairs. It’s an original premise and Allen is in his element as the comedic relief of this one.