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Photograph: Disney

The best Christmas movies on Disney+

From ‘Home Alone’ to ‘Scrooge’, these are the best Christmas movies on Disney+

Written by
Andy Kryza
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Disney+ is loaded with Christmas movies, adorable shorts and specials… and more than a few lumps of coal. The service, with its decades of catalogue spilling forth from Disney’s vault, is full of stone-cold classics, sure, but picking the right ones can be tricky. In an effort to land on your nice list, we’re here to help with this list of the best Christmas movies on Disney+.

We’ve sifted through the sea of Disney Channel originals and big-screen classics to separate the gingerbread from the fruitcake and identify the 13 best Christmas movies the whole family can enjoy, concentrating on full-length features instead of shorts (you’ll find those here and here). They include Disney classics and favourites the service has acquired over the years, including Home Alone, Jingle All the Way and Miracle on 34th Street (though not Die Hard, which you’ll find on Amazon in the US and in the UK on Star, the more R-rated section of Disney+). There are originals and hidden gems, plus a superhero or two. These are the 13 best Christmas movies on Disney+ this year.

Best Christmas movies on Disney+, ranked

  • Film
  • Comedy

Disney recently released its own reboot of the home-invasion series, Home Sweet Home Alone, but the streaming service is also home to the Macaulay Culkin classic (and its less-than-stellar sequels). It’s the holly-jolliest film about child neglect ever made!

  • Film
  • Animation

For all the nightmarish Halloween chaos – Danny Elfman’s opening track is inarguably the best All Hallows song ever written – this macabre stop-motion treat takes its holiday spirit very seriously too (‘What’s This’ deserves a spot on any Christmas playlist). Sure, the amateur elves of Halloween Town botch the big day by delivering heads and snakes to unsuspecting kids, but it’s the thought that counts, right?

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  • Film
  • Family and kids

The Muppets’s holiday classic makes the tremendously wise move to cast Michael Caine in the Scrooge role, then surrounds the legendary actor with nothing but felt creatures. It’s easily the funniest adaptation out there, and one that still respects the timeless message. Follow this one with the short Mickey’s Christmas Carol for a Dickensian hat trick. 

  • Film
  • Comedy

It sounds like a Cronenbergian body-horror film: a mild-mannered grump (Tim Allen) accidentally causes Santa’s death, only to find himself suddenly gaining weight and sprouting hair as he magically becomes the new boss of the North Pole against his will. Yet The Santa Clause is a ‘90s kid classic thanks to its big heart, inherent silliness and overall cheer. Just ignore those lump-of-coal sequels. 

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  • Film
  • Fantasy

Tim Burton’s deeply personal fairytale doesn’t shift into the Christmas spirit until the third act, yet the entire film plays like a fireside Christmas Eve story (it’s even narrated as such). The themes of acceptance are universal, and the image of Winonna Ryder dancing around ice sculptures as Danny Elfman’s career-best score swells and Edward sends snowflakes flying are as stirring as anything else out there this season.

  • Film
  • Family and kids

The ultimate in cuddly Christmas afternoon movies, this original stars Edmund Gwenn as Kris Kringle, who must prove he is in fact Santa Claus – not least to a young girl (Natalie Wood) who has lost the true meaning of Christmas. As a bonus, the better-than-expected 1994 remake with Richard Attenborough in the red suit is also available to stream. 

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  • Film
  • Family and kids

While the film takes a few liberties – we’re pretty sure Dickens never wrote about a shrunken Scrooge surfing on an icicle – technical wizard Robert Zemeckis’s motion-capture animated spectacle manages to keep the spirit of the source material intact, with Jim Carrey capably pulling quadruple duty as the world’s most famous miser and all three ghosts of Christmas. It’s a dazzler that doesn’t pull punches when it’s time for the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come to execute the world’s most effective ‘scared straight’ program. 

  • Film
  • Fantasy

Denzel Washington gets his wings as an Earthbound angel helping a New York preacher save his congregation. The Penny Marshall-directed film is overflowing with gorgeous music delivered by megastar Whitney Houston, who anchors a story about faith and kindness while demonstrating the vocal prowess that made her an all-time great. 

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  • Film
  • Animation

Look, if we’re going to count Die Hard as a Christmas movie, then we’re counting this timeless love story about two dogs learning the value of selflessness and snuggling. Plus, it begins with a lengthy Christmastime sequence and ends with a litter of puppies underneath the tree. Which is to say: Yippie-kay-yay, Bella Notte. 

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  • Film
  • Drama

Sarah Jessica Parker, Claire Danes, Diane Keaton, Luke Wilson and Rachel McAdams star in this American comedy-drama about an uptight guest (Parker) in the liberal Stone household, where matriarch Diane Keaton rules supreme. It’s a solid cousin to the squabbling-family delights of the overlooked Home For the Holidays: Watchable Christmas fluff with a delightful mean streak. 

Jingle All the Way (1996)
Photograph: 20th Century Studios

12. Jingle All the Way (1996)

Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sinbad and Phil Hartman storm local malls in search of an impossible-to-find action figure, and if ever a plot sounded more distinctly 1996 we have yet to find it. Maligned upon release, this has become a holiday classic thanks to millennial nostalgia and the pure joys of watching Arnold perform pratfalls in pursuit of wanton consumerism. 

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  • Film
  • Comedy

Sandra Bullock is at her most loveable in this smart, thoughtful romcom about a lonely Chicago subway worker who rescues the man of her dreams from an oncoming train only to fall in love with his bad-tempered brother. Witty, sweet and festive – if a little stalkery – it’s the kind of movie Hollywood has always excelled at.

  • Film
  • Action and adventure

Lethal Weapon and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang scribe Shane Black is the king of the Christmas-set action movie, and his entry in the MCU is no exception. If you’ve ever wanted to watch Robert Downey Jr spend the holidays with an oversized teddy bear and save the world from certain doom while going full George Bailey during an identity crisis, here’s your dream movie. Throw in a detour to the Miss Chattanooga Christmas Pageant and you’ve got a stealthily cheery superhero Christmas-adjacent extravaganza.

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Noelle (2019)
Photograph: Disney

15. Noelle (2019)

An old-school Disney live-action comedy in the spirit of The Santa Clause, this holiday flick was one of Disney+’s banner offerings upon launch, then quickly forgotten. Shame too: Anna Kendrick is perfectly at place as Santa’s overlooked daughter, while Bill Hader is reliably hilarious as the big man’s unwilling heir. 

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