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50 Absolutely Amazing Christmas Movies That Will Make You Smile

It’s that time of year: Christmas trees, Santa Claus, your local church Nativity scene, festive lights, and hot apple cider, the scent of pine in the air, and of course all those addicting Christmas Hallmark movies.  There’s just something about the spirit of Christmas, that good old-fashioned feeling of giving, love and family (and even a little romance) that makes me look forward to this special holiday with eager anticipation. And those are just the kinds of Christmas movies I love to watch every year.

RELATED: Check out my Top 50 Classic Romances in Film that Will Make You Swoon

So, when it came to selecting my top 50 Christmas movies, I decided to choose movies that are uplifting, romantic, nostalgic or even heartfelt (which at times can be sad), whether sentimental or not, whether a theatrical release or made for television (including some specials), or even about the birth of Christ. In other words, this isn’t going to be your typical list of critically acclaimed films (though I have many of those too) because sometimes it’s good to either have a good laugh or cry as well. But mostly, the movies on this list invite the Christmas Spirit (with maybe one or two Tim Burton exceptions) and will leave you with a smile.

While I may miss a few favorites (sorry Elf and Die Hard fans), I hope this list from the obscure to the popular reminds you of some of the great Christmas films (including shorts) we’ve had over the years.

#50: Jack Frost

50 Absolutely Amazing Christmas Movies That Will Make You Smile
A fun family film. Photo: Warner Brothers

#49: The Christmas Box

Worth it just for Maureen O’Hara. Photo: Hallmark

#48: Snow

Photo: ABC Family

#47: Jingle All the Way 

Ridiculous but still funny somehow. Photo: 20th Century Fox

#46: Last Holiday

Adorable. Photo: Paramount

#45: The Family Man

Photo: Universal

#44: National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

Photo: Warner Brothers

#43: How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Photo: Dreamworks

#42: A Season for Miracles

A Season for Miracles (uplifting and romantic): Photo: Hallmark

#41: Stepmom:

Photo by Moviestore Collection / Rex Features

#40: The Family Stone 

Great cast and I love Luke Wilson in this. Photo: 20th Century Fox

#39: White Christmas:

Photo: Paramount

#38: The Christmas Candle 

A wonderful choice for Period Drama lovers; it stars Samantha Banks and Hans Matheson. Photo: Echolight Studios

#37: Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

Photo: Disney

#36: Silent Night  

An inspirational film starring Linda Hamilton. :Photo: Hallmark

#35: A Charlie Brown Christmas

Photo: CBS

#34: Arthur Christmas

Photo: Sony Pictures

#33: Batman Returns

This one is ALL about the mistletoe. Photo: Warner Brothers

#32: Noel 

Noel (with a FABULOUS ensemble cast from Susan Sarandon, Robin Williams, Paul Walker, to Penelope Cruz, this is also a Christmas film with great 3-dimensional characters). Photo: Neverland Films

#31: The Nightmare Before Christmas 

The Nightmare Before Christmas (because what is Christmas without a little Tim Burton?) Photo: Disney Enterprises

#30: We’re No Angels 

We’re No Angels (a light-hearted comedy from the director of Casablanca). Photo: Paramount

#29: Scrooged 

Photo: Paramount

#28: Santa Claus The Movie 

Santa Claus The Movie (I loved this one growing up). Photo: Calash Corporation

#27: How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

Photo: MGM Television

#26: Meet John Doe

Meet John Doe (another Frank Capra classic). Photo: Warner Brothers

#25: The Polar Express 

The Polar Express (this has always been one of my favorite Christmas stories). Photo: Warner Brothers

#24: A Christmas Story 

A Christmas Story (the best part is the leg lamp!) Photo: MGM

#23: The Shop Around the Corner 

The Shop Around the Corner (wonderfully romantic). Photo: MGM

#22: The Dead 

The Dead (a period drama masterpiece from one of the best filmmakers of all time John Huston). Photo: Lionsgate

#21: The Bishop’s Wife 

The Bishop’s Wife (a great choice if you love Cary Grant; the remake called The Preacher’s Wife starring Denzel Washington is fun too!) Photo: Samuel Goldwyn Company

#20: Holiday Inn 

Holiday Inn (Crosby sang “White Christmas” in this film first). Photo: Paramount

#19: Frosty the Snowman

Photo: Liberty Films

#18: The Santa Clause

Photo: Disney

#17: Prancer

Prancer (underrated I think). Photo by Cineplex-Odeon Films

#16: A Christmas Carol 

A Christmas Carol (1999 version but there are SEVERAL others also worth checking out, especially the 1951 adaptation). Photo: TNT

#15: Love Actually 

Love Actually (writer/director Richard Curtis never disappoints). Photo: Universal

#14: Joyeux Noel

Joyeux Noel (this WWI story should not be missed). Photo: Sony Pictures

#13: The Holiday

The Holiday (a fantastic example of a good romantic comedy). Photo: Columbia

#12: Meet Me in St. Louis 

Meet Me in St. Louis (while not entirely a Christmas film this is where Judy Garland sings “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”). Photo: MGM

#11: While You Were Sleeping 

While You Were Sleeping (Sandra Bullock is awesome in this memorable Christmas movie AND romantic comedy). Photo: Hollywood Pictures

#10: Little Women

Photo: Columbia

#9: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

Photo: Classic Media

#8: Edward Scissorhands 

Edward Scissorhands (the perfect Tim Burton ‘fairy tale’). Photo: 20th Century Fox

#7: Miracle on 34th Street 

Miracle on 34th Street (the 1947 version but I also love the 1994 remake). Photo: 20th Century Fox

#6: Home Alone

Photo: 20th Century Fox

#5: The Nativity Story 

The Nativity Story (a great one about Christ’s birth). Photo by Jamie Trublood/ New Line Cinema

#4: Mr. Krueger’s Christmas 

Mr. Krueger’s Christmas (Starring Jimmy Stewart as the lonely, imaginative widower alongside the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, this is one Christmas short that will lift the spirits). Photo: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints

#3: One Magic Christmas 

One Magic Christmas (a heartwarming film that truly reminds us of the true meaning of Christmas; a family favorite for sure). Photo: Disney

#2: An Avonlea Christmas “aka” Happy Christmas, Miss King”

An Avonlea Christmas “aka” Happy Christmas, Miss King” (this wonderful Christmas movie aired after the show’s end, proving the magic still wasn’t gone as it highlighted one of the best female characters to ever be written for the small screen: Hetty King). Photo: Sullivan Entertainment

#1: It’s A Wonderful Life 

It’s A Wonderful Life (because what Christmas movie will ever be better?) Photo: Liberty Films


While I was researching Christmas movies (to make sure I remembered my favorites), I came across an intriguing looking Norwegian film ( that is unfortunately only dubbed in English for the US) that I just have to share the trailer for. It’s a fantasy film called Journey to the Christmas Star. The second trailer is for one of the films that made the cut (The Christmas Candle) but is also still available in limited release at several theaters (so check your listings).


What are your favorite Christmas movies? Sound off below…

Featured image at top: Little Women/Photo: Columbia

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By on December 18th, 2013

About Autumn Topping

In second grade, Autumn wrote her first story, “The Spinach Monster,” and hasn't stopped writing since. Intrigued by the tales her grandmother told of vampires, witches, and ghosts as a girl, she's always been drawn to the fantastic. Later, Autumn studied English and Creative Writing (continuing her love for classic literature and everything old-fashioned) and graduated with an MA in Children’s Literature and an MS in Library & Information Science from Simmons College. Currently, she co-runs this lovely site and works as a YA Librarian.

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