20 Essential Christmas Movies

Happy Christmas everyone! That’s what we say, right? It’s Merry Thanksgiving and Happy Christmas right? Well, however you say it, ’tis the season, am I right? “The season for what?“ you ask. Well it’s the season to spend time with your family, show each other how much you love each other, and (most importantly) watch all the best Christmas movies! So, without further ado, here is The Holy Goof’s 20 Essential Christmas movies!


First, our Honorable Mention:



Silent Night 2


I couldn’t make this list without at least mentioning this insane film. It’s basically a rehash of the first Silent Night film, but with the addition of this absolutely bonkers opening scene. And this moment alone is worthy of an honorable mention. Thank you for this.


20. Krampus


A more recent film, but none-the-less, this is quickly becoming a holiday favorite. Director Michael Dougherty (Trick ‘R Treat, Godzilla: King of the Monsters) creates the perfect tone of horrifying and hilarious in this modern Christmas classic. And the cast is stacked: featuring Adam Scott, Toni Collete, Allison Tolman and David Koechner alongside evil elves, teddy bears and gingerbread men. If you haven’t seen this, find it IMMEDIATELY!

19. The Nightmare Before Christmas



As a child of the 90s, I can tell you that an entire generation of kids grew up influenced by this film. The visual style, the songs, the characters, the themes, etc. This was how so many people my age were introduced to the wonderful world of Tim Burton. And we were changed forever.

18. A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas


A stoner’s Christmas is still Christmas! I hope you brought your bong because this party is about to get started! Harold and Kumar bring their trademark raunchy, smoke-fueled comedy to the holiday season, and with rave results! This movie makes me laugh so hard it hurts. And it has just enough heart to make sure you care. Throw in Danny Trejo, Patton Oswalt, and Neil Patrick Harris for good measure, and you’re certainly in for a dope time! Bring some whiskey and northern lights, it’s about to got down!


17.Gremlins


Mogwai’s are wonderful and adorable creatures. As long as you remember these simple rules: 1) Don’t feed it after midnight. 2) It hates sunlight. And 3) NEVER GET IT WET! Low and behold, young Billy Peltzer neglects these rules, and a chaos (and classic holiday comedy) ensures!


16. Miracle On 34th Street (1947 or 1994)



Now, I grew up on the 1994 remake, so that version is special to me. But I know that for many out there, the original 1947 version is the one to watch. But either way, you’re in for a very heartwarming and charming film. This film is as sweet as the cookies you leave Santa.


15. The Santa Clause


You knew it would be on the list. Can’t have Christmas without Tim Allen murdering Santa and then taking his place. The jokes are fast and furious, the acting is wonderful and charming, and the story has just the right amount of cheekiness. This is a wonderful holiday film with all the warmth and belly laughs you could ask for.


14. The Night Before


Another recent film, this has become a classic within my friend group. Seth Rogan, Anthony Mackie, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt bring so much heart and humor to this tale of three friends trying to have one last Christmas bash before life spreads them apart. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll have a very lovely holiday.


13. Elf


Another modern Christmas classic! Will Ferrell may have hated the tights, but we all loved them. Buddy the Elf has becomes synonymous with Christmas ever since this film came out. And for good reason. It’s charm knows no bounds, and Will still makes me bust out laughing with every joke. So lock yourself in a bathroom, and sing “Baby it’s Cold Outside” with me as we enjoy this holiday classic!


12. A Christmas Carol (Any version, even Scrooged)



Another classic Christmas tale that has been told over and over again. The story of Scrooge’s heart softening was been repeated through the generations, and regardless of which version you watch (yes, even Scrooged) you’re guaranteed to have a change of heart. As Tiny Tim says “God bless us, every one!”



11. White Christmas


Nobody knows how to bring in the holidays like Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye. The songs from this film have become even more famous than the film from which they originated. White Christmas is a sweet and charming film. A film that asks that you take a moment during this holiday, and be thankful for all you have, and the people around you. Now go, and “dream of a white Christmas.”



10. Die Hard


YES! This IS a Christmas movie! Take your shoes off, crawl in a vent, and bring in the holiday season right with John McClane. Throw Hans out the window then kiss your girl this Christmas Eve. “And now I have a machine gun. Ho, ho, ho.”



9. A Charlie Brown Christmas


What can be said about A Charlie Brown Christmas that hasn’t already been said? This film is wonderful and charming, and still holds up after all these years. There is a reason this is shown annually on nearly every tv station.



8. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer & Frosty the Snowman


Stop motion animation has such a wonderful charm to it, and this classic makes sure that generation after generation will enjoy this old-school animation form. The story of Rudolph is another classic tale that will never die off. I have this film paired with another animated classic, though this one in 2D: Frosty the Snowman. I only did this because both films are quite short, and are usually shown together. Frosty’s charm and Rudolph’s courage always have place at my table around the holidays.


7. Jingle All the Way


Arnold Schwarzenegger is MY MAN! The muscles, the accent, the attitude, EVERYTHING! I have been a massive Arnie fan ever since I saw the original Predator back when I was a child. And the man is also a very funny comedic actor. Jingle All the Way is a personal favorite of mine. It’s got a great heart, hilarious actors, is insanely quotable, and perfectly captures a desperate father’s hilarious attempts to get his son the perfect gift. Whether Arnold is fighting Sinbad for a rubber balls, knocking the lights out of a reindeer, or yelling at Tom Arnold to “put the cookie down,” you’re going to be laughing till you burst!




6. Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966, 2000 or 2018)


Regardless of which version of this timeless tale you watch, you’re guaranteed a good time. What makes this story so special is that it has reached generation after generation. And while some may argue that one version is better than the other, the Grinch has nonetheless touched millions. Enjoy the sultry tones of Boris Karloff, the hysterical antics of Jim Carrey, or Benedict Cumberbatch’s charming voice in the role. Either way, you’re having “a mean one, Mr. Grinch.”



5. It’s a Wonderful Life


Here is a bonafide classic. A film that has influenced so much, we can hardly even recognize everything it’s affected. Clarence, the bell, the wings, it all remains so classic and pure. A modern (for the time) retelling of A Christmas Carol, this film remains a classic in its own right and the holiday season would not be the same without it.




4. A Christmas Story

Another classic! Though, a different kind of classic. This film perfectly captured what it was like during the holiday season of the 1940s. Ralph is a Christmas hero! The tongue stuck to the pole, the fragile lamp (“It must be Italian”), the pink bunny pjs, and Santa booting Ralph down the slide remain classic scenes. And the Red Rider BB gun was always on my Christmas list! But be careful. “You’ll shoot your eye out!"


3. A Muppet Christmas Carol


Michael Caine AND The Muppets? SIGN ME UP! But seriously, this film is so good it hurts my heart. The Muppets have always been charming and heartfelt, but here they turn it up to eleven. The song “When Love is Gone” brings me to tears every time. It’s a real shame that song was cut from many of the versions released. Don’t go through your holiday season without enjoying this beautiful film.



2. Home Alone 1 & 2


Written by the late, great, John Hughes, these films warm my heart like no other. And yes, I am including the second film here. While it may be slightly weaker than the first, nothing can beat Kevin McCallister rocking Marv with a brick. But besides the side-splitting traps and gags, both of these films have such heart and warmth to them. And John Williams’ music will be stuck in your head all season long!


1. Christmas Vacation


This is tradition in my house. Every year on Christmas Eve, we open one present each and watch Clark Griswold try desperately to put up his lights and survive the holidays with his cousin Eddie. This is a classic, through-and-through. Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo are wonderful every time. The jokes always bust a gut, regardless of how many times I’ve seen it. And if you’re looking for heart, it’s got just the right amount of that too. It wouldn’t be the holidays without a little “Merry Christmas. Merry Christmas. Merry Christmas. Kiss my ass. Kiss his ass. Kiss your ass. Happy Hanukkah.” Thank you Mr. John Hughes.





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