Best Christmas Movies Ever

The results are in! The Post staff picks the best Christmas movies and TV specials of all time.

Bill Murray in Scrooged (1988)

Weekly Newsletter

The best of The Saturday Evening Post in your inbox!


The results are in! The Post staff picks the best Christmas movies and TV specials of all time.

10.) A Christmas Carol

Charles Dickens’ 1843 novella is possibly the most enduring and familiar Christmas story of all time. It has been adapted for TV and film hundreds of times, including the latest 3D animated version released by Disney this year. Collectively, they are all our number-ten pick. Some of our favorites include Scrooge (1951), Scrooged (1988), starring Bill Murray, and Mickey’s Christmas Carol (1983) (TV), starring Scrooge McDuck as Ebeneezer, of course. Two we could do without, both from the late 1990s, are Patrick Stewart’s A Christmas Carol (1999) (TV) and Ms. Scrooge (1997) (TV), starring Cicely Tyson as “Ms. Ebenita” Scrooge.

9.) Love, Actually (2003)

photo_20091212_love_actually_posterThe most modern movie to make our list, Love, Actually, was an unexpected surprise. The British romantic comedy weaves together a number of love affairs into one well-wrapped holiday package. Sure to spark a dialogue among its viewers, as it did with our staff, this hip Christmas movie is actually loved.

8.) Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964) (TV)

Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964) screenshotDeveloped in 1939 by Robert May for the department store Montgomery Ward, Rudolph remains one of the most recognizable Christmas characters. It’s hard to not feel sympathetic toward the lovable, red-nosed quadruped, and it’s nice to know that even he has a place at Christmas.

7.) How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (1966) (TV)

The Grinch is the most famous holiday villain, and Chuck Jones’ 1966 cartoon is Seussean to a degree the big-budget, live-action Christmas movie just couldn’t achieve. Christmas isn’t Christmas without Cindy Lou, roast beast, and this TV classic, and we’d all do well to see our own hearts grow three sizes in a day.

6.) White Christmas (1954)

photo_20091212_white_christmas_coverIrving Berlin’s White Christmas, starring Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye, is the lone musical to make our list. The popular song by the same title actually first arrived on the American scene in 1941 when Crosby performed the song on his popular NBC radio show, The Kraft Music Hall. The rest, as they say, is history. In 1942, the song was released as part of an album from the film Holiday Inn. In 1954, White Christmas, the film, was released, building on the song’s popularity, which subsequently became the top selling record of all time, selling more than 50 million copies.

5.) National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)

photo_20091212_christmas_vacation_coverNo holiday family function is complete without the dysfunction of Clark W. Griswold Jr. and clan. Unequivocally quaint and quotable, our number-five pick is already a classic in its own right. It’s hard to not feel right at home at the Griswold’s table, and the disaster that is the Griswold family makes us all feel a little better about our own.

4.) A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965) (TV)

photo_20091212_charlie_brown_coverThe first animated TV special based on the popular Peanuts comic strip by Charles Shultz is also arguable the best. It is easy to see a little of all of us in the downtrodden Charlie Brown as he attempts to see past the secularism of Christmas to find true meaning.

3.) It’s A Wonderful Life (1946)

photo_20091212_its_a_wonderful_life_screenshotThe bells still ring for this 1946 black-and-white classic starring Jimmy Stewart. As one of Stewart’s most memorable achievements as an actor, the flick delves into darker and more dramatic themes than most Christmas movies, including financial woes, troubled family life, and suicide. Still poignant today, especially in the midst of the current economic climate, this tale of retribution, family, and community captures the true spirit of the holidays.

2.) A Christmas Story (1983)

photo_20091212_christmas_story_screenshotIt’s Americana, nostalgic, and an almost perfect Christmas classic. In many minds, A Christmas Story is the quintessential Holiday tale. What is more American than spending the holidays with one’s family under the warm glow of a gleaming, Italian, sex-exuding “major award”—complete with fishnet stockings?

1.) Miracle on 34th Street (1947)

Miracle on 34th Street ScreenshotMacy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, New York City, and Santa—it’s Christmas in America, and our number one Christmas movie of all time is sure to make almost any Christmas curmudgeon believe.

Become a Saturday Evening Post member and enjoy unlimited access. Subscribe now


  1. How about the TV movie musical ‘The Littlest Angel’ aired in the late 1960’s or early 1970’s? It starred Johnny Whitaker as the angel, Fred Gwynne, E.G.Marshall as God, Cab Calloway, Connie Stevens, and Tony Randall. The music was gorgeous and the story was delightful.

  2. I would put “Christmas in Conneticut” near the top of the list and add “It Happened on Fifth Avenue” a lesser known movie to the list.

  3. Robin ……”How about the episode of Seinfeld? “Festivus for the rest of us!” Classic…”

    You are my new idol, that episode was hilarious, good call on the Seinfeld reference!!

  4. What?!? “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians” didn’t make the cut? I realize this is a “Best” list, but still, SCCtM is so bad it’s good. Especially after half a bowl of spiked eggnog…

  5. I agree with Robert above – Holiday Inn and Christmas in Connecticut should have made the list. Holiday Inn wasn’t exclusively Christmassy – it was about all holidays, but it was the introduction of Bing Crosby singing White Christmas. For that alone, it stands alone. Plus, it’s a fun movie.

    I also agree with John about “A Christmas Story”. It’s cheesy, tacky and not that darned amusing, so I don’t get the affection for it.

    But the fact that Miracle on 34th Street topped the list gives me hope!

  6. My family and I watch both A Christmas Story and Christmas Vacation almost every holiday. It is some sort of family tradition, I guess, so I support them making the cut.

    I’m sure many will disagree, but I also liked the Will Farrell comedy Elf.

  7. And what about the “Nightmare before Christmas?” That was also I movie I treasured during my childhood.

  8. “The Lion in Winter” is a holiday tradition in my family. Henry II, his scheming queen and ambitious sons give the Griswolds a run for their money in family dysfunction.

    Eleanor: “How dear of you to let me out of prison.”
    Henry II: “It’s only for the holidays.”

  9. My favorite is the Muppet Christmas Carol, with consideration being given to Bad Santa.

  10. Several films have been made about the birth of Jesus but they aren’t included in Christmas movie lists because they really aren’t intended to be “entertainment.” By itself, the nativity might make a good movie, but it only takes on meaning when it involves the rest of Jesus’ life. Now, if the Post ever makes a list of Best Easter Movies, we might get different results.

  11. After I saw Scrooged with Bill Murray, I knew that it was the best Christmas movie of all time.

  12. I’d say Scrooge is a more famous villain that the Grinch and agree that Jim Carey’s version is worth a mention. Seams pretty Suesian to me!

  13. I’m always disappointed to see Christmas Vacation middle of the pack in these ‘Best Christmas Movies’ lists.

  14. I second the motions for A Christmas Story & Christmas Vacation, but what happened to The Grinch with Jim Carey?

  15. I really do not understand the love for A Christmas Story. That movie is so tonally and visually offensive that it seriously makes me want to vomit every time I see more than about 3 minutes of it. There’s just so many disgusting parts in that movie.

    I am glad to see Love, Actually make the list, though. I think that’s probably one of the best Christmas movies that people probably don’t think of as a Christmas movie because it’s good outside of being about Christmas. It’s also refreshing that it’s a movie that feels like it’s made for adults instead of being something more toned down and less honest.

    Gremlins should also get a special mention somewhere for all its quirkiness. It should be noted that it has one of the most out-of-place scenes in all of movie history, a serious scene where Phoebe Cates’ character describes her father’s gruesome Christmas-related death in a horror/Christmas/comedy movie. It’s just all-around weird. Here’s the YouTube link to jog your memory:

  16. Actually, A Charlie Brown Christmas deals with secularism and the commercialism of Christmas and ends with the story of Jesus’ birth. But, the fact remains that Christmas is no longer JUST a Christian holiday. It is a U.S. Government holiday. It is a secular, pagan holiday. It is as secular and commercial as Halloween, even more so!

    Christians have the right to celebrate however they wish, as do the rest of us. Ironically, Scrooge said it best, “You keep Christmas in your own way and let me keep it in mine.”

  17. Best Christmas movies ever list:
    Miracle on 34th Street,
    A Christmas Story. Who have missed?
    It’s a Wonderful Life – so sweet.
    A Charlie Brown Christmas – of course.
    And then the National Lampoon’s
    Christmas Vacation – no remorse.
    White Christmas – oh Der Bingle’s tunes.
    How the Grinch Stole Christmas – T.V.
    Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer – too.
    The Brits did Love Actually.
    A Christmas Carol – list of ten through.

    The Birth of Jesus is no where
    Listed in the Christmas film fare.

  18. Decent choices, but, some of the older one’s should have made the list… there’s Christmas in Connecticut and Holiday Inn… both classics.

    Love, Actually is a little too new to be considered one of the best of all time, don’t you think? Plus, it is pretty much just a romantic comedy, not a Christmas classic…


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *