Whether you’re wrapping presents, baking Christmas cookies, or trimming the tree, the holiday is always more merry when you have a great Christmas movie on the TV. From heartfelt black-and-white morality tales to stop-motion animated classics to irreverent comedies, the Christmas movie genre has something for everyone. And nearly every streaming service has a strong roster of holiday movies to keep you entertained. While you will have to digitally buy or rent some of these titles, most are available for streaming. It’s the perfect time of year to try a new service for a month!
Christmas Movie Online Streaming Guide (2020)
If you haven’t seen it yet, you’re missing out on one of the most life-affirming, joyful movie experiences in history. George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart) has spent his entire life giving to the people of Bedford Falls. All that prevents the villainous Mr. Potter (Lionel Barrymore) from taking over the entire town is George’s modest building and loan company. But when $8,000 goes missing, it seems Mr. Potter will swoop in and destroy everything George has fought to preserve. That’s when an angel named Clarence swoops in to show George the true value of his life. If the ending of this one doesn’t make you choke up, you might be a robot. Originally a box office flop, this movie found its greatness in the years to come. This Frank Capra holiday classic is funny, sweet, romantic, and magical.
In this animated classic, Charlie Brown gets depressed about the overwhelming materialism that he sees during the Christmas season. From Charlie’s pathetic Christmas tree to Linus’ retelling of the Biblical Christmas story to Vince Guaraldi’s amazing soundtrack, no Christmas is complete without Charlie Brown.
A Christmas Carol (and its Scrooge variations)
There are many, many versions of Charles Dickens’ classic story. A mean old miser named Ebenezer Scrooge is the greediest man in town. Confronted by the ghost of his old partner Marley, he’s warned that he’ll be visited by three more ghosts who will show Scrooge the Christmases of the past, the present, and those yet to come. It’s hard to go wrong with this story of redemption. Are you ready to choose your Scrooge?
- Alastair Sim is often thought to be the best Scrooge. You’ll find him in the 1951 version of the story, which you can digitally rent or buy.
- George C. Scott’s beloved 1984 version of A Christmas Carol can be streamed on Starz.
- One of the classic animated Scrooges is Mr. Magoo. You can watch his 1962 cartoon on Peacock.
- Michael Caine makes a fearsome Scrooge, but he’s surrounded by Muppets in the wonderful 1992 musical version. The Muppet Christmas Carol is included with Disney+.
- Many children get their first exposure to the character with the infamous animated Scrooge McDuck. You’ll find him in 1983’s Mickey’s Christmas Carol on Disney+
- Patrick Stewart brings his Shakespearean training to the mean old miser role. You can digitally rent or buy his 1999 version of A Christmas Carol.
- Reginald Owen is beloved for becoming one of the first Scrooges on film. The 1938 version of A Christmas Carol is included with HBO Max.
- Bill Murray is hysterical as Frank Cross, a modern-day TV executive who faces those three familiar ghosts. Scrooged (1988) is definitely the funniest version of this story, and the movie benefits from some great supporting actors like Karen Allen, Bobcat Goldthwait, Carol Kane, and Alfre Woodard. You can buy or rent Scrooged digitally.
- Albert Finney has a lot of fun playing Ebenezer in the 1970 musical version of the story. You can digitally rent or buy Scrooge if you want to see these classic songs.
- If you’re looking for something more modern, check out the computer-animated version starring Jim Carrey. In this 2009 version of A Christmas Carol, Carrey plays Scrooge and the three ghosts who haunt him. The animated A Christmas Carol is included with Disney+.
- Kelsey Grammer took a musical stab at Scrooge in the 2004 version of the story. If you’d like to hear the songs that once played on Broadway, you can see it with a Hallmark Movies Now subscription on Amazon Prime Video.
It’s a Christmas movie! It’s a Halloween movie! It’s two holidays in one! This Tim Burton story combines the DNA of classic Christmas movies of the past: stop-motion animation and incredible songs. The Nightmare Before Christmas tells the spooky tale of Jack Skellington, king of HalloweenTown. Tired of scaring humans with the same old bag of tricks, Jack kidnaps Santa Claus and plans to deliver ghoulish gifts to children on Christmas morning. If you’ve ever felt out of place on Christmas morning, this is the movie for you.
Kris Kringle, seemingly the embodiment of Santa Claus, is asked to portray the jolly old fellow at Macy’s following his performance in the Thanksgiving Day parade. His portrayal is so complete that many begin to question if he truly is Santa Claus, while others question his sanity. This beloved story has been remade many times, but this is the original.
The debate is settled. Die Hard is a Christmas movie. NYPD cop John McClane (Bruce Willis) flies to Los Angeles to reconcile with his estranged wife at her office Christmas party. Surprise! The entire building is overtaken by a group of terrorists led by the devious Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman). It’s up to McClane to save his wife, rescue the hostages, and bring the bad guys down. This action classic is the perfect way to add some “Yippee-ki-yay” to your Christmas.
It’s the romantic comedy that sparked a thousand imitations - several seemingly disconnected love stories intertwine at the holidays. It’s sappy and sweet and beloved by audiences around the world. The cast alone is reason to indulge: Colin Firth, Emma Thompson, Martin Freeman, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Andrew Lincoln, Keira Knightley, Liam Neeson, Hugh Grant, Laura Linney, Alan Rickman, Billy Bob Thornton, Rowan Atkinson, and a scene-stealing Bill Nighy. Virtually everyone who starred in this movie skyrocketed to bigger things afterward.
► Love Actually is not available with a streaming service, but it is available to digitally rent or buy.
Oh, how the stars aligned for this Christmas classic! When a family leaves for their Christmas vacation, it turns out they left something behind: 8-year-old Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin)! Being left home alone would be scary enough, but a pair of bungling burglars make things worse by plotting to ransack Kevin’s house. The slapstick booby trap finale is what we all remember, but there’s a lot of heart surrounding the silliness. Director Christopher Columbus gets the most out of a supremely talented cast, including Joe Pesci, Daniel Stern, Catherine O’Hara, and an effortlessly funny John Candy.
It’s not easy to deliver 600 million gifts in one night. Sometimes, one might get misplaced. In this animated adventure, Santa’s clumsy son Arthur must deliver a present that Santa forgot. But can he make the delivery in less than two hours? Arthur Christmas may have flown under the radar when it hit theaters, but it’s a truly funny movie powered by the excellent work of Aardman Animations (the team behind Wallace & Gromit).
This Christmas treat features the voices of James McAvoy, Hugh Laurie, Bill Nighy, Jim Broadbent, Imelda Staunton, Laura Linney, Eva Longoria, Michael Palin, Robbie Coltrane, Joan Cusack, Andy Serkis, and Dominic West.
Yes, this one is brand new, but it has a 95% “Fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Jeronicus Jangle (Forest Whitaker) is the world’s most legendary toymaker. When his apprentice (Keegan-Michael Key) steals his most prized creation, it’s up to his equally bright and inventive granddaughter (Madalen Mills) to save the day. It’s a wonderful combination of singing, dancing, colorful costumes, and even some impressive animation. Add this to your queue for Mills’ gorgeous singing voice alone.
Some of the best Christmas stories highlight the value of misfits. When Rudolph the reindeer is born with a red, glowing nose, that makes him an outcast among the other reindeer. That sets him on a journey with Hermey, an elf who wants to be a dentist, and ace prospector Yukon Cornelius, the prospector. As they run from the Abominable Snowman, they find a whole island of misfit toys. In a beautiful twist, Rudolph manages to save Christmas when his unique nose helps Santa in a moment of desperation. It’s another classic pairing of memorable songs and delightful stop-motion animation.
► Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is not available with a streaming service, but you can digitally rent or buy it.
When Jesper becomes the Postal Academy’s worst student, he’s sent to an icy island above the Arctic Circle, where the Christmas spirit is in short supply. Jesper is about to give up and abandon his duty as a postman when he meets local teacher, Alva, and Klaus - a mysterious carpenter who lives alone in a cabin full of handmade toys.
This new classic was nominated for an Oscar as Best Animated Feature Film. The voice actors are great, including Jason Schwartzman, J.K. Simmons, Rashida Jones, Will Sasso, Norm MacDonald, and Joan Cusack.
If this isn’t the most quotable Christmas movie, it’s close. A young boy named Ralph tries to convince his parents, teachers, and Santa that a Red Ryder B.B. gun really is the perfect Christmas gift. It’s funny, it’s weird, it’s sentimental, and it’s unlike any other Christmas movie.
► A Christmas Story is not available with a streaming service, but you can digitally rent or buy it.
When young Buddy (Will Ferrell) falls into Santa’s gift sack on Christmas Eve, he’s transported back to the North Pole and raised as a toy-making elf by Santa’s helpers. But as he grows into adulthood, he can’t shake the nagging feeling that he doesn’t belong. Buddy vows to visit Manhattan and find his real dad, a workaholic publisher (James Caan).
Without this Christmas comedy, we might not have had the Marvel Cinematic Universe! Director Jon Favreau proved he could bring audiences to theaters with Elf, and that led to his chance to direct Iron Man - the movie that set the stage for the MCU to come.
Scott Calvin (Tim Allen) causes Santa Claus to fall off his roof on Christmas Eve. Is Christmas ruined? Not yet! It’s up to Scott and his young son to finish Santa’s deliveries. They travel to the North Pole where Scott learns he must become the new Santa and convince those he loves of his newly inherited responsibilities. Incredibly, when this movie hit theaters, Tim Allen simultaneously starred in America’s #1 movie, #1 TV show (Home Improvement), and #1 book (Don’t Stand Too Close to a Naked Man).
It’s one of the funniest movies on this list, but not at all child-friendly. A miserable conman (Billy Bob Thornton) and his partner (Tony Cox) pose as Santa and his Little Helper to rob department stores on Christmas Eve. But they run into problems when the conman befriends a troubled kid, and the security boss (Bernie Mac) discovers the plot.
► Bad Santa is not available with a streaming service, but it is available to digitally rent or buy.
When college friends reunite after 15 years over the Christmas holidays, they discover just how easy it is for long-forgotten rivalries and romances to be reignited. This sequel to the 1999 classic The Best Man features a great cast: Morris Chestnut, Taye Diggs, Regina Hall, Terrence Howard, Sanaa Lathan, Nia Long, and Harold Perrineau.
► The Best Man Holiday is not available with a streaming service, but it is available to digitally rent or buy.
A washed-up stage magician fights a group of schoolchildren for an old top hat after it magically brings a snowman to life. When Frosty realizes he will melt in the spring, he and his friend Karen stow away on a freight train headed for the north pole. Little do they know that the magician is following them, and he wants his hat back!
► Frosty the Snowman is not available with a streaming service, but it is available to digitally rent or buy.
It’s another contender for the funniest Christmas movie ever. The Griswolds are preparing for a family seasonal celebration, but things never run smoothly for Clark, his wife Ellen and their two kids. Clark’s continual bad luck is worsened by his obnoxious family guests, but he manages to keep going because his sweet Christmas bonus is due any day now. A fantastic cast makes this a hilarious holiday treat: Chevy Chase, Beverly D’Angelo, Juliette Lewis, Johnny Galecki, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and an unforgettable Randy Quaid.
The 60s were a golden era for Christmas specials, and this Dr. Seuss adaptation is no exception. The bitter old Grinch hates the Christmas-loving Whos who live at the base of his mountain. So he makes a plan to pose as Santa Claus to steal all the trees, toys, and tinsel in the village. How will the Whos react when their stuff is stolen? Will the Grinch succeed in wrecking the holiday?
► The original How the Grinch Stole Christmas is not available with a streaming service, but you can digitally rent or buy it. Other versions of the story are available to stream, however. The Jim Carrey version (2000) is available on Netflix. You’ll have to buy or rent the computer-animated version (2018).
Siblings Kate and Teddy try to prove Santa Claus is real, but when they accidentally cause his sleigh to crash, they have to save Christmas. You can’t go wrong with Kurt Russell as Kris Kringle! If you like this new Christmas classic, you can also stream the brand new Christmas Chronicles 2.
Estranged friends Harold (John Cho) and Kumar (Kal Penn) now have very different families, friends, and lives. But when Kumar arrives on Harold’s doorstep during the holiday season with a mysterious package in hand, he inadvertently burns down Harold’s father-in-law’s beloved Christmas tree. To fix the problem, Harold and Kumar embark on a mission through New York City to find the perfect Christmas tree, once again stumbling into trouble at every single turn.
When a Christmas Eve talent contest is announced, Emmet Otter and his mother both enter, determined to give each other the perfect holiday gift. Jim Henson directed this Muppet Christmas classic. Singer/composer Paul Williams says Jim Henson told him that Emmet Otter was a “trial run” for a proposed Muppet movie. Emmet was a success, and The Muppet Movie followed two years later.
Is Gremlins really a holiday film? Yes! When Billy Peltzer receives an adorable Mogwai named Gizmo for Christmas, he inadvertently breaks the three important rules of caring his new pet, and unleashes a horde of mischievous gremlins on a small town. Keep your eyes peeled for some familiar landscape - Gremlins was shot on the same Universal Studios backlot where they shot Back to the Future.
If you don’t see your favorite in this list, simply search for your movie in the search box above. And if you’re looking for a list of the best Christmas movies available by streaming service, take a look at our picks: