Christmas films are as much of an integral part of the festive season as turkey and mince pies, but if there’s one thing guaranteed to cause a family row, it’s deciding which one of them is the best.
We’ve decided to settle the argument once and for all by counting down the top 20 best festive favourites ever...
20. Arthur Christmas
Despite receiving critical acclaim upon its release in 2011, Arthur Claus has been a bit of a sleeper hit, growing in popularity over the ensuing years thanks to its early appearance on Netflix.
As you might have guessed, this charming animation tells the story of Arthur – the son of Father Christmas, who embarks on a mission to save a little girl’s Christmas when Santa’s high-tech ship fails to deliver her present on Christmas Eve.
19. Last Christmas
One of the newest additions to the library of Christmas films came in 2019 in the form of Last Christmas – a movie based on the Wham! festive classic of the same name, and featuring the music of George Michael.
Now while the critics were not exactly enamoured with it, we were very invested in the love story of Kate and Tom, and we’ll confess to still not being quite over that moment.
18. Christmas With The Kranks
Proving he’s the King Of Christmas films, The Santa Clause’s Tim Allen also stars in this cute festive caper about a couple who decide to stage a festive boycott and head off on a cruise after their daughter leaves home.
But these empty nesters soon learn about the true value of Christmas and their community when their plans are sent into disarray.
17. Happiest Season
As big Schitt’s Creek fans, Happiest Season initially caught our attention because Dan Levy – aka David Rose – is in the cast.
But this film is so much more than that, telling a queer love story that is rarely – if ever – featured in mainstream Christmas movies.
Sure, it might not be as big on the laughs as we first expected, but anyone who has ever struggled to be their true, authentic self around a Christmas dinner table with conservative family members will see themselves reflected here, which is a huge step forward for the festive film genre.
16. Bad Santa
Despite feeling like one of the more modern Christmas film offerings, Bad Santa was released 17 years ago now, and it’s still as darkly hilarious as it was back then.
It tells the story of Willie and his partner in crime, Marcus, who reunite once a year for a Christmas con. They usually raid the shopping mall on Christmas Eve will posing as Santa and his elf, but when Willie’s life begins to fall apart, their operation is at risk of being scuppered.
15. Miracle On 34th Street
Make no mistakes, Miracle On 34th Street is an absolute classic. Mara Wilson is adorable in it, and the late Richard Attenborough is exactly how you imagine Santa to be as a kid.
However, we’re willing to admit our interest always starts to wane when it jumps to the courtroom scenes, which – let’s be honest – drag on for way too long.
14. White Christmas
Every festive film countdown has to feature one Christmas film from back in the day, and for us, it’s always the Bing Crosby classic that has stood the test of time.
The 1954 movie is a true Hollywood great, and one that produced one of the most beloved and enduring festive songs ever.
Honestly, we challenge you to watch it without getting at least a little bit misty-eyed.
13. Jingle Jangle
You might be surprised to see something released in 2020 is so high up this list but it’s a testament to just how good it is, as unlike many other of Netflix’s festive offerings, it feels like a proper cinematic release rather than a made-for-TV movie.
After feeling the genre of Christmas films often felt non-inclusive, director David E. Talbert dreamt up the heart-warming story of toy maker Jeronicus Jangle, who enlists the help of his granddaughter when his most prized toy goes missing.
It also has some big-scale song and dance numbers, with the soundtrack featuring original numbers from John Legend.
12. Four Christmases
Listen, every time we watch Four Christmases, we always wonder if the filmmakers stole the idea from that Vicar Of Dibley episode. And while we’ll always love watching Geraldine Grangiers’ multiple festivities more, this Reese Witherspoon and Vince Vaughn offering still produces the laughs.
Much like The Muppet Christmas Carol (which is still to come on this last, don’t worry), Scrooged offers a much different take on the Dickens novel, following Bill Murray as cynical and selfish television exec Frank Cross, who is visited by a succession of ghosts on Christmas Eve.
Scrooged marked Bill’s return to acting after a four-year hiatus, following the release of Ghostbusters, and what a film to come back with.
10. The Nightmare Before Christmas
The beauty about this 1993 Tim Burton classic is that you can legitimately enjoy it a whole two months before Christmas, under the guise of watching it for Halloween.
The films tells the story of Jack Skellington, who grows tired of having to be scary on Halloween, and decides to try his hand at being a Christmas mascot instead. Spoiler alert: it does not go well.
9. Jingle All The Way
Rushing to the shop to secure the most sought-after toy of the year might seem a strange concept in 2020, but before the internet and, indeed, Covid, that’s what people actually resorted to.
And that whole saga was brought to life brilliantly in Arnold Schwarzenegger’s 1996 family comedy.
We’re still devastated we never got our hands on a Turbo Man, though.
8. Die Hard
Over 30 years on from its release, debate still rages on as to whether Die Hard constitutes a Christmas film or is simply an action film that’s set at Christmas time.
Given it was originally released in July, we’re inclined to believe it’s the latter, but it’s ranking so highly here as it’s a damn great movie, and also provides a welcome break if you get sick of all the schmaltzy Christmas rom-coms and animations.
7. The Grinch
Dr Seuss’ story of The Grinch earned a whole new army of fans when a new animated version was released in 2018, and while it’s a film we enjoyed very much, it was missing one vital ingredients – Jim Carrey.
The comic actor was what made the original 2000 film so campy and surreal (along with the heavy prosthesis, of course).
Plus any film with Christine Baranski gets an immediate yes from us.
6. The Santa Clause
Much like Home Alone, childhood nostalgia always draws us back to Tim Allen’s 1994 classic, which sees his character Scott Calvin forced to become the new Santa after he causes the old one to fall from his roof.
Actually, it’s kind of a bit dark when you look at it through an adult lens, isn’t it?
But Scott’s first trip to the North Pole with his son Charlie and his physical transformation into Santa feel just as magical over 25 years on.
5. The Holiday
Yes, it’s cheesy. Yes, it’s the epitome of what Americans think a British Christmas is probably like, and no, we’ve never met a man that’s whisked us off our feet over Christmas like Jude Law’s Graham.
But we’re always willing to park those feelings, as The Holiday is just so damn watchable.
If you’re in a relationship, it’s perfect for cosying up with the other half on the sofa, and if you’re single, it’s perfect for watching with a bucket of ice cream and copious amounts of wine. Either way, it’s a win-win.
4. Love Actually
While it seems like Love Actually is never not being repeated on ITV2 – even in the height of summer – its popularity never seems to wane, even despite some of the film’s more problematic elements, which have been the topic of much discussion in more recent years.
Our hearts still break when Mia discover’s Harry’s affair, and we never not laugh at Hugh Grant as the prime minister busting a groove to The Pointer Sisters’ Jump.
3. Home Alone
Want to feel old? Home Alone turns thirty – yes, THIRTY – this year. But three decades on, and it’s still one of the most popular Christmas movies ever made.
And if you’re one of those people who has only just discovered Schitt’s Creek this year, the film might just take on a new element when you realise that Kevin’s mum is played by Catherine O’Hara, aka Moira Rose herself.
We still can’t believe she left her bébé at home, though.
Elf is always one of the first Christmas films to be shown on TV each year, and has become synonymous with getting into the festive spirit for millions of people.
Will Ferrell’s brand of comedy might not usually be everyone’s cup of mulled wine, but this film helped him earn an army of new fans, and saw him create a new unlikely Christmas hero in Buddy The Elf.
1. The Muppet Christmas Carol
There’ve been many, many retellings and reimaginings of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol over the years, but none as inspired and entertaining as The Muppets’ take on the classic tale.
The combination of Kermit The Frog and Michael Cain as Bob Cratchit and Scrooge is genius, Rizzo and Gonzo’s narration is hilarious, and the soundtrack is unquestionably 10 out of 10.
But if you need even more reasons as to why we’ve crowned it the best Christmas film ever, here are 18 of them.