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What Holiday Movies to Watch

Each year, we make a checklist of our favorite Christmas movies to watch. There are seemingly infinite winter holiday movies out there, and we want to make sure we're able to cross all the best ones off our to-watch list. Here is our list of must-watch Christmas movies streaming this year.

christmas movie watch list

1) The Classics: For a bit of Nostalgia

One of our favorite things about the holiday is feeling like a kid again, like you're returning to a different time. Watching Christmas movies is the perfect way to get in the nostalgic spirit of the season. These movies are on our list because they take us right back to a cup of cocoa by the fire with loved ones:

It's a Wonderful Life - Watch for free on Roku Channel or rent on Amazon

After sacrificing his personal dreams to help his community, George Bailey finds himself suicidal on Christmas Eve. A guardian angel comes to George's rescue, showing him what things would be like if he did not exist,

A Charlie Brown Christmas - Watch for free on AppleTV

Another absolute classic. Lamenting the commercial nature of the holiday, Charlie Brown finds himself longing for the true meaning of Christmas. Each year, this movie seems to become more and more relevant. This touching story from 1965 was waaaay ahead of its time.

The Shop Around the Corner - Watch for free on Max or rent on Amazon

This story follows a couple as they fall in love simply via writing letters to each other. Completely unbeknownst to the pair, they already know each other in person. On Christmas Eve, their feelings become known. This is the original movie that inspired the Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks Rom Com "You've Got Mail."

2) The Fantastical: For a bit of Whimsy

Another thing we love about the holiday season is, for lack of a better term, the magic of it all. Something about Christmas just unlocks so many possibilities no other time of year can. We added these fantastical films to our list because they can get just about anyone into the holiday spirit:

The Muppet's Christmas Carol - Watch for free on Disney+ or rent on Amazon

We cannot go a holiday season without watching this one. Out of all the film adaptations of Charles Dickens's iconic story A Christmas Carol, this one is by far the most wacky and wondrous. Maybe the most magical part of the whole movie is that, despite being surrounded almost entirely by Muppets, Michael Caine played the entire film as serious as a heart attack.

The Nightmare Before Christmas - Watch for free on Disney+ or rent on Amazon

Based on a story by Tim Burton, this is another film that explores the meaning of Christmas. Each holiday has its own discrete universe filled with unique magic. The king of Halloweentown discovers Christmas and believes he's found a new meaning to his life. The stop-motion medium of this movie really ups the "fantastical" factor and is worth the watch in its own right

Elf - Watch for free on Max or rent on Amazon

Buddy the elf has always been a bit different from the other elves at the North Pole. Turns out, he's actually human. Buddy, totally unaccustomed to human society, sets out on a wacky adventure to find his true family.

3) The Unconventional: For a bit of Spice

Each year, we make sure to include some films on our list that you won't find in most Christmas movie marathons. We added these films to our list because they each use that iconic holiday magic to turn the season on its head:

Anna and the Apocalypse - Watch for free on AMC or rent on Amazon

We love this movie because it's got everything you'd expect from a Christmas musical... plus a zombie apocalypse (and who doesn't like one of those!?). Anna and her friends are typical high schoolers just trying to make it through their final year. It's Christmastime when a zombie outbreak takes place, and the group of friends quickly need to straighten out their priorities.

Eyes Wide Shut - Watch for free on Showtime or rent on AppleTV

We need to start off by saying this film will not put you in the holiday spirit (well... depends on how you celebrate, we suppose) and is not for the faint of heart. We absolutely had to include it on our list, however, because 1. We LOVE Stanley Kubrick, and he considered this film to be his "greatest contribution to the art of cinema" and 2. It takes place right before Christmas. After an argument with his wife following a Christmas party, Bill falls down a deep, dark rabbit hole of perversion, sex cults, and murder (and what's more Christmas-y than all of that?).

Die Hard - Watch for free on Hulu or rent on Amazon

This is another pick that's really only a Christmas movie due to the timing, but we're firm believers that it qualifies. It's Christmas Eve, and NYPD detective John McClane is looking to reconnect with his estranged wife at her business's holiday party. When the entire building is taken hostage, it's up to McClane to be a hero.


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