The 50 best Christmas movies

We count down our all-time favorite Christmas films, from silly Santas to shoot-outs in the snow



Add +

It’s the most wonderful time of the year—but is it the most wonderful time at the movies? Christmas films have a shaky reputation, conjuring up images of apple-cheeked brats, poorly animated reindeer and Bing Crosby in a cardigan. But the best Christmas movies have so much more to offer: In our list, you’ll find psychopathic Santas, machine-gun-toting terrorists and home-invading thieves. Traditionalists shouldn't worry, though: We've also included all the cockle-warming sentiment, feel-good frolics and classic Christmas movies for kids we demand for our festive viewing. So roast a chestnut, nog an egg and settle in to Time Out’s top Christmas movies—our cinematic sack is bulging with goodies.

RECOMMENDED: Christmas in New York guide

  1. 50-41
  2. 40-31
  3. 30-21
  4. 20-11
  5. The top ten

The 50 best Christmas movies: 50-41


The Santa Clause (1994)

Tim Allen stars in this festive comedy about an ordinary man who must step into Santa’s shoes after an accident. A trip to the North Pole follows, as he physically morphs into Santa in front of his disbelieving ex-wife.

Read more


Reindeer Games (2000)

Featuring the first instance of criminal misuse of the Santa suit in our list, this snowy thriller was released in some countries under the slightly less festive title of Deception. Ben Affleck stars as a released convict who robs casinos dressed as Father Christmas (we think he'll make the naughty list). Charlize Theron and Gary Sinise also appear.

Read more


The Family Stone (2005)

Sarah Jessica Parker, Claire Danes and Rachel McAdams star in this dramedy about an uptight guest (Parker) in a liberal household, where matriarch Diane Keaton rules supreme. It's watchable Christmas fluff.

Read more


Love Actually (2003)

Either unbearable schmaltz or a heart-warmer, depending on who you ask. Love is certainly all around in this ensemble drama set during the holiday season: Even a school nativity play is an opportunity for romance. Comic standouts include Bill Nighy as an aging rock legend who’s reduced to competing in the race to land Britain's coveted Christmas No. 1.

Read more


Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence (1983)

A Japanese POW camp is the less-than-festive setting for this David Bowie-starrer in which an eventful Christmas Eve has an impact on both prisoners and guards. One to make you feel grateful for your holiday turkey.

Read more


Joyeux Noël (2005)

The WWI Christmas truce of 1914 is the poignant setting for this snowy heart-warmer in which Scottish, French and German soldiers drop their weapons and agree on a ceasefire. Daniel Brühl and Diane Kruger costar.


Christmas in Connecticut (1945)

Beloved for her columns about her wholesome husband and family in Connecticut, Elizabeth (Barbara Stanwyck) is actually a single New Yorker. When asked to host a Christmas dinner by her boss, she must head to Connecticut and keep up appearances. Romantic complications ensue.


The Polar Express (2004)

Robert Zemeckis sprinkled his family-friendly magic on this performance-capture animated movie starring Tom Hanks in multiple roles, including narrator, train conductor and Santa Claus. The film ticks a lot of boxes for Christmas fanatics, including reindeer, elves and a whole heap of snow.

Read more


A Christmas Story (1983)

A holiday staple, this comedy plays especially well to the red-meat crowd, perhaps because it’s all about a little boy who wants a BB gun for Christmas. Additionally, there’s lot to like about its chirpy wit and snowy suburban setting.

Read more


The Holiday(2006)

Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz swap houses for Christmas and conveniently meet Jack Black and Jude Law, respectively. There’s romance, there’s an unfeasibly large country cottage and there are light laughs from an attractive cast. This is the kind of slushy movie you can get away with watching simply because it’s Christmas.

Read more

  1. 50-41
  2. 40-31
  3. 30-21
  4. 20-11
  5. The top ten

Users say


The best action movies

Explore our list of the 100 best action movies of all time, including iconic stars from action’s ’80s heyday—all those classic surnames from Eastwood and McQueen to Stallone and Schwarzenegger—and some of Asia’s most influential martial-arts movies.

See the best action movies

The best films now showing


Mr. Turner

  • Rated as: 5/5
  • Critics choice

Mike Leigh delivers a naturalistic, stunningly shot biopic about the working life of J.M.W. Turner. Timothy Spall plays the legendary painter with brave and captivating restraint.


The Interview

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Critics choice

In the unlikely event that this subversive Seth Rogen comedy proves to be Sony’s downfall, at least they'll go out with a bang—the jokes are wonderfully lowbrow.


Winter Sleep

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Critics choice

This year’s winner of the Palme d’Or is a nearly four-hour drama about a curmudgeon who lives in Turkey's remote mountains. Despite that, it’s pretty great.

See more Time Out film reviews