Christmas is almost here, and now is the perfect time to soak up a bit of eggnog and watch some classic vacation movies. Since it is 2019 and we (as species) have evolved, you can see pretty much any great Christmas movie on a kind of streaming platform. Amazon Prime, Netflix, Hulu, HBO, Disney + – they all have a lot of Christmas joy in the queue, but we've done the hard work of searching the bunch of mediocre vacation movies to bring you some real gems.
These are the best Christmas movies that are being streamed.
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) – Disney +
Running time: 76 min | IMDb: 8/10
Tim Burton's stop-motion animated film is partly musical, partly dark-fanciful, partly Christmassy-mixed-with-Halloween. In other words, there is something for everyone. The story follows Jack Skellington, the pumpkin king of Halloween Town. Jack is tired of celebrating Halloween all the time, and decides instead to take over Santa's Christmas duties for a year. He messes up the job and almost kills Santa Claus before he gets it right.
How Grinch Stole Christmas (2000) – Netflix
Running time: 104 min | IMDb: 6.1 / 10
The Ron Howard adaptation of the Grinch narrative gets a bad rap, but there was an almost impossible task ahead: How to make a movie from a short dr. Seuss story? The solution was to pack them with as many Jim Carrey antics as possible. It did not agree with some viewers, but for every Carrey fan in its heyday, for Seuss / Christmas meta-humor, and for unusually large explosions of tiny cars, this movie is a must-have for Christmas. The title of the film explains pretty much everything, but the film gives Cindy Lou, who is looking for the meaning of Christmas, a surprisingly emotional depth.
Twentieth Century Fox
Jingle All the Way (1996) – HBO
Running time: 89 min | IMDb: 5.6 / 10
Who are we to question a Christmas miracle, and that's exactly what this holiday movie is about. In the early 90s, the movie gods gave a comic gift that this world has never seen before. Sindbad. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Two fathers fight for their sons on Christmas Eve for the only remaining Turbo Man action doll. The stakes could not be higher, the comedy outrageous.
20th Century Fox
Alone at home 2: Lost In New York (1992) – Disney +
Running time: 120 min | IMDb: 6.7 / 10
Rarely does a sequel surpass an original, but that's what happened in the early '90s, when little Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin) made a solo trip to the Big Apple for Christmas. Only a year after his truly neglected parents left him alone at home on vacation, Kevin boarded the wrong flight in close combat and landed stranded in NYC. He makes the most of it, stays at The Plaza, collects bills for room service on his dad's credit card, and makes friends with a bird lady in Central Park, but he also has to fend off his former enemies who are looking for him as soon as they get home ; out behind bars.
The Christmas Chronicles (2018) – Netflix
Running time: 104 min | IMDb: 7.5 / 10
Look, we know what you might think. and yes, this is the Hallmark holiday template. There are kitschy dialogues, cheesy jokes and lots of action holes. It also got Kurt Russell to give a performance that nobody saw coming. Russell plays the big man himself, Santa Claus, and apart from giving us a modernized version of Jolly Old that will last for millennia – after all, he's a DILF Santa who everyone can leave behind – the actor sells the shit of this thing that rocks around in prisons, brings us crazy car chases and plays a dad Noel who just seems a bit awkward and all the funnier.
It's a wonderful life (1946) – Amazon
Running time: 130 min | IMDb: 8.6 / 10
James Stewart plays a starring role in this Christmas movie about a businessman complaining about his life in a suburb. George Bailey wants another, more successful life that is not burdened by either a wife or children. But when his wish is fulfilled and an angel shows him what life would look like without him, Bailey has to figure out how to make the best of the present. Stewart plays a magical role, and though it's a Christmas classic, this movie can and should be seen year-round.
Buena Vista image distribution
The Muppet Christmas Story (1992) – Disney
Running time: 85 min | IMDb: 7.7 / 10
The Muppets revive Charles Dickens' usually sad story of grumpiness, regret and renewal of the holiday season in an instant vacation classic that confronts Michael Caine with Kermit, Gonzo, Miss Piggy and all the others. The first Muppet movie after the death of Jim Henson, son Brian Henson, does more than good work on the director's chair and really brings the usual backstage talents together to truly lend familiar hearts to this beloved group of characters in a movie unforgettable effort.
The man who invented Christmas (2017) – Hulu (needs showtime)
Running time: 104 min | IMDb: 7/10
Dan Stevens and Christopher Plummer play the lead role in this modern reinterpretation of A Christmas Carol. Instead of focusing on Scrooge, Tiny Tim and the rest, this film tells how writer Charles Dickens (Stevens) created the story that would define Christmas for future generations. Dickens himself is an interesting character, a man of status who still grapples with his poor upbringing and uses his holiday history to illuminate the working conditions of the poor, and Stevens plays him with the kind of wild, manic air we've seen his FX series Legion, which makes the whole thing a little bit fun.
20th Century Fox
White Christmas (1954) – Netflix
Running time: 120 min | IMDb: 7.6 / 10
White Christmas is one of those vacation movies that many occasional Netflix viewers have probably never seen. It was, however, the most successful film of 1954 and it is full of the biggest stars of the era. It's the one you may have heard that Bing Crosby dances with Danny Kaye. When their army mates join a sister of performers, they have to sing and dance to rescue an unsuccessful inn run by their old military general. Crosby and Kaye as well as Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen do what they are known for, and the undeniable charisma of each lead carries White Christmas in the short time between the tunes.
Buena Vista pictures
Santa Claus (1994) – Disney
Running time: 97 min | IMDb: 6.4 / 10
Tim Allen plays a starring role in this Christmas classic about an absent ad-executive father who accidentally throws Kris Kringle off the roof on Christmas Eve and becomes the new Jolly Old in a red suit. Allen plays Scott Calvin, a divorced father who tries his best to educate his young son Charlie with his ex and her new husband, a psychologist. When Charlie and Scott experience a vacation adventure that brings them to the North Pole, where Scott is forced to put on the Christmas present and deliver toys, he has to accept more than just a weight gain and a few graying hairs. It is an original premise and Allen is in his element as the comic relief of this.
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