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19 best Christmas films of all time and how to watch

From Will Ferrell's Elf to Love Actually…

Split image - Will Ferrel in Elf, Hugh Grant in Love Actually, The Grinch and Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone
Emmy Griffiths
TV & Film Editor
November 1, 2023
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Whether your whole house is decked in lights and decorations on 1 November or you are planning on putting up a single bauble around Christmas Eve time, there is one thing that brings festive cheer to even the most Scrooge-like revellers – Christmas films!

Since most of us have been watching the same films for years (if not decades), we all have a personal preference, so in no particular order, here are the top 19 Christmas films to watch over the season to be jolly…

Love Actually

A classic, a love story, a masterpiece! An all-star British cast (with one American, hey Laura Linney!) join together to tell many, many stories of love over Christmas, from unrequited longing that has long been considered creepy (we're looking at you Andrew Lincoln), to love of family and friendship.

From has-been rock stars to the Prime Minister of Great Britain, the stories are woven together brilliantly as is one to watch again and again!

MORE: You won't believe how different the child stars of Love Actually look now

WATCH: Thomas Brodie-Sangster steals the limelight in iconic Love Actually singing scene


Will Ferrell proves once again that he's the Christmas movie king in this festive cracker. Spirited is a musical adaptation of Charles Dickens' classic novel with a twist – it's told from the perspective of the ghosts. Will plays the ghost of Christmas present who visits Ryan Reynolds' character in the hopes that he will change his tight-fisted ways.

A Boy Called Christmas

Based on the best-selling book from Matt Haig, A Boy Called Christmas tells the origin story of Father Christmas.

When an ordinary young boy called Nikolas sets out on an adventure in search of his father, he soon discovers his magical destiny. The cast is impressive, too. Dame Maggie Smith, Kristen Wiig and Stephen Merchant are just some of the movie's big names.

boy called christmas© Photo: Sky
Have you watched A Boy Called Christmas yet?

Miracle on 34th Street

A classic! We still watch this classic like it's the first time. Mara Wilson and Richard Attenborough star in this movie all about the power of believing. When a temporary Santa Clause, Kris Kringle, is brought in for New York City department store's parade, he spends his time trying to convince those around him he is the real deal. 

miracle on 34 street© Photo: Rex
Miracle On 34th Street never gets old

Last Christmas

This Christmas classic hit our screens in 2020 and we couldn't love it more. Last Christmas follows Emilia Clarke as Kate, a young woman who spends her time working in the Christmas shop, drinking and eating junk food, and doing very little else. After a chance encounter with handsome stranger Tom, Kate begins to learn how to appreciate life more... all to the tune of George Michael songs, of course. 

last christmas© Photo: Rex
Emilia Clarke and Henry Golding in Last Christmas

Jingle Jangle 

This Netflix flick is certain to bring you some joy. Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey tells the story of Jeronicus Jangle, played by Forest Whitaker, a legendary toymaker who finds himself needing the help of his young granddaughter, Journey, to save his magical shop after a former apprentice betrays him. With fantastic songs and a gorgeous backdrop, this needs to be added to your watch list pronto.

Madalen Mills as Journey Jangle in Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey © Cr. Gareth Gatrell/NETFLIX
Madalen Mills as Journey Jangle in Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey

Available to watch on Netflix 

MORE: We're TV experts and these are the 13 best Apple TV+ shows to watch

READ: We’re TV experts - and these are the best Amazon Prime TV shows to watch

The Princess Switch

After visiting Belgravia for a baking competition, Stacy is shocked to discover her doppelganger, Lady Margaret Delacourt. The pair swap places so that Margaret can spend some time out of the spotlight, and offers to sponsor her best friend's daughter to go to an expensive ballet school in exchange. Of course, drama ensues. 

Vanessa Hudgens stars in The Princess Switch© Netflix
Vanessa Hudgens stars in The Princess Switch

Available to watch on Netflix

Bridget Jones's Diary

I know what you're thinking: Is Bridget Jones really a Christmas film? And the answer is yes, yes it is. Not only does the film start and end with the Christmas holidays, but we're also treated to Colin Firth in a polo-neck Rudolph jumper… I'll say no more.

The story follows hopeless singleton Bridget Jones, who is trying to make sense of love, relationships and life in London. 

bridget jones blanket© Photo: Rex
Renée Zellweger stars in the film

Available to watch on Netflix

Muppets Christmas Carol

The most classic of all of Charles Dicken's adaptations sees Michael Caine in the role of his lifetime as Ebenezer Scrooge, a miserable human among Muppets who is visited by ghosts on Christmas Eve in order to change his ways in time for Christmas. This adaptation isn't just hilarious, it is also one of the many adaptations of the novel that remains closest to the books. What makes it even better is how seriously Sir Michael takes the role.

Speaking to The Guardian, the film's director, Brian Henson, said: "When I met Michael Caine to talk about playing Scrooge, one of the first things he said was, I'm going to play this movie like I'm working with the Royal Shakespeare Company. I will never wink, I will never do anything Muppety. I am going to play Scrooge as if it is an utterly dramatic role and there are no puppets around me.'"

christmas carol 1
The Muppets Christmas Carol is a classic


This 1984 comedy horror has become something of a cult classic, probably because of how weird a concept it is. An inventor picks up a gift for his teenage son Billy – a little Mogwai by the name of Gizmo. While Gizmo is very cute and sings wearing a Santa hat and is simply a precious cinnamon roll who must be protected, Billy is something of an irresponsible owner and breaks one of the main rules of Mogwai ownership; never, NEVER feed them after midnight.

Cue the hundreds of devilish gremlins wreaking havoc in the little town of Kingston Falls. This film has everything – Christmas cheer, cute critters and a bunch of Gremlins singing along to Snow White. Wait, what?!

Are you a fan of Gremlins?

Home Alone

KEVIN! The film that launched a thousand quotable moments sees Kevin McCallister accidentally left at home by his family as they head on vacation for the holidays. While Kevin's mum desperately tries to make her way make to him after realising their colossal mistake, the youngster has to deal with two dim burglars trying their best to break into his home by setting up some ingenious booby-traps.

Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone © Sky
Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone

The Polar Express

Tom Hanks and Josh Hutcherson star in this Christmas classic about a young boy who embarks on an adventure to the North Pole on the Polar Express. This heartwarming movie is a festive staple, and for good reason!

The Polar Express© Warner Brothers International Television
The Polar Express is a festive classic


Will Ferrell stars in (probably) his most wholesome role as Buddy the Elf in Elf, who was raised in the North Pole with elves before discovering that he is actually human, and sent to meet his father (who is on the naughty list, not good).

It is a classic tale of winning over a grumpy old man who hates Christmas with a little bit of singing Christmas cheer out loud for all to hear, and is the perfect family film to enjoy during a cosy night in.

Will Ferrell and Zooey Deschanel in Elf 
© Warner Brothers
Will Ferrell and Zooey Deschanel in Elf

How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Jim Carrey absolutely OWNS the Grinch in this film. While the folks of Whoville get ready for Christmas, the Grinch resides along in the mountains (with his dog, of course) and decides to ruin everyone's fun by stealing all of the Christmas presents. The film is hilarious and the Grinch is basically the voice of the Millennial generation, just ask Twitter.

Jim Carrey in Dr Seuss' How The Grinch Stole Christmas© © 2000 Universal Studios
Jim Carrey in Dr Seuss' How The Grinch Stole Christmas

Available to watch on Netflix 

The Holiday

How could we not? We never fail to watch this classic every year and are always pleased when it lands on the streaming platform. Jude Law, Cameron Diaz, Kate Winslet and festive fun, what more could you want?

Cameron Diaz and Jude Law in The Holiday © Photo Credit: Simon Mein
Cameron Diaz and Jude Law star in The Holiday

Available to watch on Netflix

The Nightmare Before Christmas

Perfect for Christmas and Halloween alike, this creepy cult animation follows Jack Skellington, from Halloween Town, who discovers Christmas Town and determines to bring the festivities home with him. Unfortunately, his peers don't quite seem to 'get it'. Cue tiny monster children planning on kidnap 'Mr Sandy Claws' and everything going disastrously wrong.

nightmare before christmas
The Nightmare Before Christmas was first released in 1994

The Christmas Prince

Everyone watched The Christmas Prince on Netflix in 2018 and had the same opinion – it's so bad that it's good. As such, this rom-com set at Christmas has become something of a smash hit and has even landed itself two (even worse) sequels.

The story follows Amber, a journalist who goes to the charming European country of Aldovia in the hopes of getting a scoop on the handsome prince, Richard, and accidentally cons the royal family into believing that she is Richard's younger sister's new tutor. Unsurprisingly, chaos ensures!

christmas prince© Photo: Netflix

Available to watch on Netflix

The Christmas Chronicles

An instant classic that has also just released a sequel. This Santa film stars Kurt Russell as a sarcastic Santa Claus who gets into trouble on Christmas Eve after a brother and sister pair accidentally make him crash his sleigh. Cue singing in prison, adorable elves with chainsaws and a lot of confused police officers. Oh, and has tissues at the ready, because the sweet story will definitely bring a tear or two! 

christmas chronicles© Photo: Netflix
Kurt Russell stars in the film

Available to watch on Netflix

The Santa Clause

After a single dad, Scott, accidentally causes Santa to fall off the roof, he puts on the red suit and accidentally signs himself up to becoming the new Father Christmas, and will have 11 months to sort out his life before he becomes Santa for good.

santa clause© Photo: Rex
Tim Allen fronts this Christmas classic

During that time, Scott begins to gain white, grow a white beard and gain a craving for milk and cookies. This is a sweet family film made hilarious by Tim Allen, and is definitely worth dusting off that old DVD every year!

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