These Are the 25 Best Holiday Movies (Plus, Where to Stream Them)

'Tis the season.

Updated 10/18/19
@harperandharley

This article is updated monthly with our latest picks.

The holiday season is a time of traditions, whether that means baking the same sugar cookie recipe year after year, spending an entire day hanging colorful lights outside, or volunteering in your free time.

For many, the best part of the holidays is sitting back and pressing play on a classic film. It's the perfect wintertime activity. With cold weather blistering outside, there's no better time to bundle up with a cozy blanket, sip a mug of hot cocoa, and enjoy one of your favorite holiday movies. From children's classics like A Charlie Brown Christmas to romantic comedy favorites like Love Actually, everyone has their go-to holiday features.

If you're looking to expand your usual holiday film roundup, we turned to Rotten Tomatoes to learn which flicks are truly the greatest of all time. Ahead, pick from 25 of the best holiday movies that practically define the season and have the critics' approval to boot. From romance to comedy to drama, there's something for everyone. Here's what to watch and where to stream it.

01 of 25

Home Alone (1990)

home alone

Amazon 

The beloved story of a young boy who is accidentally left home alone over the holidays was an instant classic that still holds up today. There are ill-prepared burglars, brilliant schemes, and (of course) a heart-warming happy ending.

Critics Score: 62 percent liked it (with an average rating of 5.5/10)

Audience Score: 79 percent liked it (with an average rating of 3.3/5)

02 of 25

Love Actually (2003)

love actually

Amazon

A British romantic comedy for the books, Love Actually tends to be a love-it-or-leave-it kind of holiday film. However, for those easily seduced by intertwining stories revolving around the common theme of love, it's a classic worth watching year after year.

Critics Score: 63 percent liked it (with an average rating of 6.3/10)

Audience Score: 72 percent liked it (with an average rating of 3.1/5)

03 of 25

Die Hard (1988)

die hard

 Amazon

While it's up for debate whether or not this '80s classic is actually a holiday movie, the action flick has long been a hit according to critics and viewers alike. It's an action thriller that happens to take place during a corporate office's Christmas party and contains one of Bruce Willis's most legendary lines.

Critics Score: 93 percent liked it (with an average rating of 8.5/10)

Audience Score: 94 percent liked it (with an average rating of 3.0/5)

04 of 25

Arthur Christmas (2011)

arthur christmas

 Amazon

A kid-friendly animated holiday film, Arthur Christmas attempts to answer the questions How does Santa deliver all those presents in one night? What follows is a heartwarming story about an unlikely hero who becomes immersed in Santa's high-tech operation located under the North Pole.

Critics Score: 92 percent liked it (with an average rating of 7.2/10)

Audience Score: 76 percent liked it (with an average rating of 3.9/5)

05 of 25

Black Nativity (2013)

black nativity

 Amazon

Black Nativity is an adaptation of Langston Hughes's popular play. It centers around a Baltimore teen raised by a single mother who travels to New York City to celebrate Christmas with his estranged relatives. All the while, the film focuses on universal themes of family and healing.

Critics Score: 51 percent liked it (with an average rating of 5.6/10)

Audience Score: 51 percent liked it (with an average rating of 3.3/5)

06 of 25

Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

the nightmare before christmas

 Amazon

A Tim Burton classic, this holiday movie is truly original. The animated film follows Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King, as he explores Christmastown after growing tired of his job in Halloweenland.

Critics Score: 95 percent liked it (with an average rating of 8.2/10)

Audience Score: 91 percent liked it (with an average rating of 3.8/5)

07 of 25

A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)

A Charlie Brown Christmas

Amazon 

It doesn't get more classic that A Charlie Brown Christmas. Follow the whole Peanuts gang in all of their cartoon glory as Charlie Brown directs the Christmas play and defends a non-traditional tree that's lacking in size and glittering ornaments.

Critics Score: 92 percent liked it (with an average rating of 8.7/10)

Audience Score: 86 percent liked it (with an average rating of 3.7/5)

Available On: Amazon Prime Video, YouTube

08 of 25

Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987)

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

Amazon

Steve Martin and John Candy star in this '80s comedy that pairs together two unlikely travel companions as they journey to Chicago. Facing many obstacles along the way, as the title suggests, they'll board planes, trains, and automobiles to make it to their final destinations.

Critics Score: 93 percent liked it (with an average rating of 7.8/10)

Audience Score: 87 percent liked it (with an average rating of 3.4/5)

09 of 25

Bad Santa (2003)

bad santa

Amazon

A rather crude holiday movie fit for those who love a dark comedy, Bad Santa is about a con man who sets out to rob stores right before Christmas. After getting a job as a mall Santa, the thief will have to overcome his grouchy nature to pass as a jolly fellow until the end of the season.

Critics Score: 78 percent liked it (with an average rating of 6.7/10)

Audience Score: 75 percent liked it (with an average 3.2/5)

10 of 25

Dr. Seuss' How The Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)

Dr. Seuss' How The Grinch Stole Christmas

 Amazon

He's a mean one, Mr. Grinch. He wants to ruin Christmas for the happy citizens of Whoville in this live-action adaption of your favorite holiday tale starring Jim Carrey and Taylor Momsen. Will sweet Cindy Lou Who soften his heart?

Critics Score: 51 percent liked it (with an average rating of 5.55/10)

Audience Score: 56 percent liked it (with an average 3.4/5)

11 of 25

Miracle On 34th Street (1994)

Miracle On 34th Street

Amazon

A heart-warming tale that taps into the meaning of the Christmas spirit, the remake of Miracle on 34th Street is a holiday movie that you can happily turn on with the whole family every year. It's about an elderly man who believes he really is Kris Kringle and ends up working as the Santa Claus at Macy's. Eventually, he'll have to defend himself in court after a psychologist urges to have him locked up.

Critics Score: 96 percent liked it (with an average rating of 8.3/10)

Audience Score: 86 percent liked it (with an average rating of 3.6/5)

12 of 25

Almost Christmas (2016)

almost christmas

Amazon 

A classic family Christmas story, Almost Christmas is about one family hoping to fulfill their father's only holiday wish. All he asks for is that everyone gets along. It's a simple request that proves difficult to deliver.

Critics Score: 52 percent liked it (with an average rating of 5.4/10)

Audience Score: 65 percent liked it (with an average rating of 3.7/5)

13 of 25

Holiday Inn (1942)

holiday inn

 Amazon

The legendary Bing Crosby, Fredy Astaire, and Irving Berlin all star in this holiday classic. Holiday Inn is a charming musical filled with singing, dancing, and holiday cheer. It's the perfect old movie to put on while you bake cookies in the kitchen.

Critics Score: 100 percent liked it (with an average rating of 7.2/10)

Audience Score: 86 percent liked it with an average rating of 4/5)

Available On: Amazon, Google Play, YouTube

14 of 25

Lethal Weapon (1987)

lethal weapon

 Amazon

If you're looking for a break from traditional holiday movies, tune into Lethal Weapon. Like Die Hard, the film's merit as a Christmas flick is up for debate. The '80s action movie follows two cops on a mission of taking down a drug dealer. The holiday spin? It all takes place around Christmastime.

Critics Score: 83 percent liked it (with an average rating of 7/10)

Audience Score: 85 percent liked it (with an average rating of 3.6/5)

15 of 25

It's A Wonderful Life (1946)

It's A Wonderful Life

Amazon

A consistent favorite, It's a Wonderful Life is about a man named George Bailey (played by James Stewart). When he wishes he was never born, a guardian angel appears to show him what would have happened if he really wasn't, all the while revealing how much good Bailey has done for others in his life.

Critics Score: 93 percent liked it (with an average rating of 8.8/10)

Audience Score: 95 percent liked it (with an average rating of 4/5)

16 of 25

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (1989)

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation

Amazon 

The third installation of the National Lampoon film franchise, this holiday favorite is full of relatable antics. It follows the Griswold family as they take a Christmas vacation to visit their extended family.

Critics Score: 64 percent liked it (with an average rating of 6.2/10)

Audience Score: 86 percent liked it (with an average rating of 3.5/5)

17 of 25

A Christmas Carol (1951)

scrooge

 Amazon

Based on Charles Dickens's classic novel, this film tells the story of Scrooge as he looks back on his life in order to find his own Christmas spirit. The story has been retold time and time again, but the 1951 version (called Scrooge in its U.K. release) is a fan favorite.

Critics Score: 85 percent liked it (with an average rating of 8.38/10)

Audience Score: 89 percent liked it (with an average rating of 4.3/5)

Available On: Amazon Prime Video

18 of 25

Christmas in Connecticut (1945)

Christmas in Connecticut

 Amazon

A zany, holiday comedy, Christmas in Connecticut strings together a hilarious plot involving a war hero, Dennis Morgan, and a less-than-experienced housekeeping expert played by Barbara Stanwyck. The two are thrown together after a magazine announces that the hero has won a Christmas dinner in Connecticut prepared by Stanwyck (who incidentally knows nothing about cooking).

Critics Score: 88 percent liked it (with an average rating of 7.2/10)

Audience Score: 75 percent liked it (with an average rating of 3.7/5)

19 of 25

The Last Holiday (2006)

The Last Holiday

 Amazon

When a shy woman learns she's terminally ill, she takes off on her dream vacation in the height of the holiday season. In a European resort, she'll find a spark for life and positively influence all of those around her. It's a feel-good film that the entire family can enjoy.

Critics Score: 55 percent liked it (with an average rating of 5.8/10)

Audience Score: 67 percent liked it (with an average rating of 3.3/5)

20 of 25

Elf (2003)

elf

Amazon

A modern classic, Elf has been one of the most beloved holiday movies of the season since its release in 2003, and the critics agree. The silly film follows Buddy, a regular human who was raised as an elf by Santa Claus, as he ventures to New York City in search of his biological family.

Critics Score: 83 percent liked it (with an average rating of 7/10)

Audience Score: 78 percent liked it (with an average rating of 3.2/5)

21 of 25

The Santa Clause (1994)

the santa clause

Amazon

The '90s hit The Santa Clause, tells the ridiculous (albeit heartfelt) story of a man who transforms into Santa Claus due to a legal technicality. The man's journey to become Santa incidentally reconnects him with his son, who's recently been told by his mother and stepfather that there isn't a Santa Claus.

Critics Score: 74 percent liked it (with an average rating of 6/10)

Audience Score: 65 percent liked it (with an average rating of 3.1/5)

22 of 25

A Christmas Story (1983)

A Christmas Story

Amazon 

Name a more iconic holiday movie than A Christmas Story. The comedy follows a young boy named Ralphie in the 1940s who wants nothing more than to receive a Red Rider BB gun for Christmas.

Critics Score: 89 percent liked it (with an average rating of 8.5/10)

Audience Score: 88 percent liked it (with an average rating of 3.7/5)

23 of 25

White Christmas (1954)

White Christmas

 Amazon

Made in 1954, White Christmas is brimming with over-the-top musical numbers, stunning fashion looks, and stirring stories of love and loyalty. It's about four musicians who work together to put on a Christmas show that will save a war hero's Vermont inn and lead to a bit of romance.

Critics Score: 76 percent liked it (with an average rating of 6.6/10)

Audience Score: 88 percent liked it (with an average rating of 3.8/5)

24 of 25

Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964)

Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer

Amazon

Tune into the claymation classic Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer this year. It's perfect for kids and just as enjoyable for adults who watched it when they were young. There's nothing better than watching Rudolph's nose lead the way for Santa.

Critics Score: 93 percent liked it (with an average rating of 7.7/10)

Audience Score: 83 percent liked it (with an average rating of 3.6/5)

Available On: Amazon Prime Video, Vudu

25 of 25

The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)

The Muppet Christmas Carol

Amazon

A retelling of the original Charles Dickens novel, this kid-friendly version of a classic story employs a few muppets to tell the tale. Spot Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy in The Muppet Christmas Carol, a movie your family can watch year after year.

Critics Score: 74 percent liked it (with an average rating of 6.5/10)

Audience Score: 85 percent liked it (with an average rating of 3.4/5)

Related Stories