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Where to Stream the Best Christmas Movies of All Time (2020)

Ben Bowman

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)

It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)

It's a Wonderful Life

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.

It’s a Wonderful Life is included with Amazon Prime Video.

A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)

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 Charlie Brown Christmas is available on Apple TV+ or you can digitally rent or buy it.

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?

The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

The Nightmare Before Christmas

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.

The Nightmare Before Christmas is included with Disney+.

Miracle on 34th Street (1947)

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.

Miracle on 34th Street is included with Disney+.

Die Hard (1988)

Die Hard

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.

Die Hard is included with HBO Max.

Love Actually (2003)

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.

Home Alone (1990)

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.

Home Alone and Home Alone 2 are included with Disney+.

Arthur Christmas (2011)

Arthur Christmas

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.

Arthur Christmas is included with STARZ

Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey (2020)

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.

Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey is included with Netflix.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964)

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

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.

Klaus (2019)

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.

Klaus is included with Netflix.

A Christmas Story (1983)

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.

Elf (2003)

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.

Elf is included with STARZ.

The Santa Clause (1994)

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).

The Santa Clause is available to stream on Disney+.

Bad Santa (2003)

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.

The Best Man Holiday (2013)

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.

Frosty the Snowman (1969)

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.

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation

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.

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation is available on AMC+.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (1967)

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).

The Christmas Chronicles (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.

The Christmas Chronicles and its sequel are included with Netflix.

A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas (2011)

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.

A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas is included with HBO Max.

Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas (1977)

Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas

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.

Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas is included with Amazon Prime Video.

Gremlins (1984)

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.

Gremlins is available with AMC+.

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:

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