25 Popular Holiday Movies That Will Get You Into The Christmas Spirit

In many countries, watching holiday movies is one of the most popular holiday traditions. They help us laugh, cry, or even relax our way into a more festive disposition, ultimately allowing us to enjoy some parts of the Christmas holiday. So stop worrying about the pre-holiday cleanup or getting presents for your family and start planning a holiday movie night with these 25 popular Holiday movies. Have you seen them all?

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A Christmas Carol

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Directed by Robert Zemeckis, A Christmas Carol is 3D computer animated holiday fantasy movie. Based on a famous Charles Dickens´ story of the same name, the movie stars Jim Carrey in several roles including the main character – Ebenezer Scrooge, a cold-hearted, tightfisted, frugal man, who despises Christmas and all things which bring happiness. The movie is a combination of several genres such as a spirit-filled tale, a ghost story, comedy and drama.


The Grinch

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Officially known as Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, the Grinch is another popular Christmas movie with Jim Carrey in the lead role. Directed by Ron Howard, this 2000 fantasy comedy is the second highest-grossing holiday film of all time with $345,141,403 worldwide, only behind Home Alone. Before Jim Carrey was cast to play the Grinch, the green cynical misanthrope, Jack Nicholson and Eddie Murphy were briefly considered.


Merry Christmas

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This 2005 French movie directed by Christian Carion is about an extraordinary event, the World War I Christmas truce of December 1914. Depicted through the eyes of French, Scottish and German soldiers, the plot of the movie suggests that the magic of Christmas can overpower even the hatred of the war. The unique situations begins after German private Sprink (Benno Fürmann) sings Silent Night and is accompanied by an enemy Scottish bagpipe player from across No Man’s Land.


While You Were Sleeping

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Directed in 1995 by Jon Turteltaub, While You Were Sleeping is a popular romantic comedy starring Sandra Bullock as Lucy, a Chicago Transit Authority token collector, and Bill Pullman as Jack, the brother of a man whose life she saves, along with Peter Gallagher as Peter, the man who is saved. The film was a tremendous success, credited as having launched Sandra Bullock into stardom.


The Shop around the Corner

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The Shop around the Corner is a 1940 American romantic comedy produced and directed by Ernst Lubitsch and starring James Stewart, Margaret Sullavan, and Frank Morgan. The movie is about two employees at a gift shop in Budapest, Hungary who can barely stand each another, but at the same time they’re falling in love as anonymous correspondents through their love letters without knowing it.


Bad Santa

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Directed in 2003 by Terry Zwigoff, Bad Santa is an American Christmas black comedy starring Billy Bob Thornton, Tony Cox, Bernie Mac, and Lauren Graham. The story is about two bad guys – Willie T. Stokes (Billy Bob Thornton ) and Marcus (Tony Cox), professional thieves who disguise themselves as Santa Claus and elf in order to rob shopping malls. However, their plans get crossed by an 8-year-old exceedingly naive overweight boy.


Jingle all the Way

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Arnold Schwarzenegger is more famous for his super hero action roles but he also played the lead role in a 1996 Christmas family comedy Jingle all the Way directed by Brian Levant. The plot focuses on two rival fathers, workaholic Howard Langston (Schwarzenegger) and postal worker Myron Larabee (Sinbad), both desperately trying to retrieve a Turbo-Man action figure for their sons on a last minute shopping spree on Christmas Eve.


Love Actually

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Written and directed by Richard Curtis, Love Actually is a 2003 British Christmas comedy. Set in London, the movie depicts ten separate stories involving a wide variety of individuals, many of whom are shown to be interlinked as their tales progress. The title, Love Actually, was intended by Curtis as an abbreviated version of the statement “Love Actually Is All Around”, a reference to the mega-hit pop song “Love Is All Around”, performed by Wet Wet Wet.



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Elf is another Christmas comedy that many families all over the world cannot imagine spending their Christmas without. Directed by Jon Favreau in 2003 and staring Will Ferrell in the lead role, the story is about one of Santa’s elves who learns of his true identity as a human and goes to New York City to meet his biological father. If you like Will Ferrel and his specific sense of humor, you will love this movie.


Home Alone 2: Lost in New York

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Produced in 1992, just 2 years after the super successful first movie Home Alone, Home Alone 2 didn´t receive as positive review from critics as its predecessor but it still became the second most financially successful film of 1992, earning over $173 million in revenue in the United States and over $359 million worldwide. This time, Kevin faces the burglars in New York where he accidentally appears.


The Nightmare Before Christmas

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Directed by Henry Selick, The Nightmare Before Christmas is a 1993 American stop motion fantasy film produced and co-written by Tim Burton. This original Christmas movie, marked by typical Burton´s creepy, sometimes even chilling atmosphere, received unusually positive reviews from film critics. The American Film Institute even nominated The Nightmare Before Christmas for its Top 10 Animated Films list. If you want your Christmas tale to have a horror tinge, this movie is the right choice.


The Muppet Christmas Carol

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Produced and directed by Brian Henson, The Muppet Christmas Carol is another favorite Christmas comedy inspired by the Charles Dickens´ novella A Christmas Carol. Released in December 1992, the movie was dedicated to the memories of Muppets creator Jim Henson and his fellow puppeteer Richard Hunt. In this version, the role of surly money-lender Ebenezer Scrooge was played by Michael Caine.


Jack Frost

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Directed by Aleksandr Rou in 1964, Jack Frost is a traditional Russian fairy tale that is also popular in many other countries all over the world. The main characters of the story are Ivan (starred Eduard Izotov), a young and handsome but arrogant boy and Nastenka (starred Natalya Sedykh), a beautiful but humble and poor girl bullied by her stepmother.


National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation

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This 1989 Christmas comedy directed by Jeremiah S. Chechik has often been labeled as a modern Christmas classic. The film stars Chevy Chase (as Clark W. “Sparky” Griswold, Jr.), Beverly D’Angelo (as Ellen Smith Griswold), with Juliette Lewis and Johnny Galecki as the Griswold children Audrey and Rusty. Clark wishes to have peaceful and joyful Christmas but his plans are constantly failing due to a series of incredible mishaps.


Home Alone

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Directed by Chris Columbus in 1990, Home Alone is another great example of modern Christmas classic. Popular not only in the U.S. but also in many parts of the world, Home Alone was an enormous success, being listed in the Guinness World Records as the highest-grossing live-action comedy ever made. There is probably no need to introduce the plot – little Kevin is mistakenly left behind when his family flies to Paris for their Christmas vacation. After the initial joy of being alone in the house, Kevin has to defend his home against two burglars.


The Polar Express

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The Polar Express is a 2004 computer-animated musical Christmas fantasy movie based on the children’s book of the same title by Chris Van Allsburg. With a budget of $165 million, The Polar Express is listed in the Guinness World Book of Records as the first all-digital capture film. The main character of the story, a boy, is given a unique opportunity to travel to the North Pole and visit Santa Claus, which has always been his dream.



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Produced and directed by Richard Donner in 1988, Scrooged is another movie based on the famous Dickens´ Christmas Carol. Starring Bill Murray as Frank Cross, a cold-hearted television programming executive, the movie didn’t get as positive reception as some other movies from the list but it still made it among the most popular American Christmas comedies.


Christmas in Connecticut

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Christmas in Connecticut is a 1945 romantic comedy directed by Peter Godfrey, and starring Barbara Stanwyck, Dennis Morgan and Sydney Greenstree. The movie is a romp of criss-crossing relationships, deceit, funny scenes and witty comments. Arnold Schwarzenegger directed a remake of this movie in 1992 but it wasn’t as successful as the 45´original. Watching Christmas in Connecticut is a tradition for many families not only in America.


Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

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Produced and directed in 1998 by William R. Kowalchuk, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is another popular animated Christmas movie. With the first appearance in a 1939 booklet written by Robert L. May, Rudolph, the main character, is the lead reindeer pulling Santa’s sleigh on Christmas Eve. In many countries, Rudolph has even become a figure of Christmas folklore and is especially popular among children.


In Bruges

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This 2008 British-American movie written and directed by Martin McDonagh is not a traditional Christmas movie but since the plot is set in Christmas time, it is often ranked in this category. Combining several different genres such as drama, thriller as well as comedy, the film stars Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson as two Irish hitmen. Filmed in the Belgian city of Bruges, the movie garnered a cult status for its dark humor and dialogues.


Frosty the Snowman

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If you like more peaceful and gentle Christmas movies, you cannot miss Frosty the Snowman, a classical Christmas animated fairy tale based on the popular song of the same title. The program, which first aired in December, 1969 on CBS, was produced for television by Rankin/Bass and featured the voices of comedians Jimmy Durante as narrator and Jackie Vernon as the titular character. The movie is marked by the traditional cel animation that was used back then.


Three Nuts for Cinderella

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Directed by Vaclav Vorlicek in 1973, Three Nuts for Cinderella is a traditional Czech-German Christmas fairy tale. Cinderella, a poor and humble girl has three wishes at her disposal, gained from three magic nuts. With their help, she becomes the longed-for bride of a handsome prince. The film is shown on TV around Christmas time every year in many European countries such as the Czech Republic, Germany, Slovakia, Switzerland and Norway.


A Christmas Story

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A Christmas Story is a 1983 comedy film directed by bob Clark who was awarded two Genie Awards for that. Starring Peter Billingsley as a 9-year-old boy Ralphie Parker, the film has since become a holiday classic and is shown numerous times on television during Christmas time. In 2012, the film was even selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress for being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.


It's a Wonderful Life

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Produced and directed by Frank Capra in 1946, It´s a Wonderful Life is a Christmas fantasy comedy-drama based on a short story “The Greatest Gift” written by Philip Van Doren Stern. The film stars James Stewart as George Bailey, a kind man who has given up his dreams in order to help others and whose imminent suicide on Christmas Eve brings about the intervention of his guardian angel. It is one of the most popular Christmas movies in America and it even has been recognized by the American Film Institute as one of the 100 best American films ever made.


Miracle on 34th Street

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Based on a story by Valentine Davies, the 1947 version of Miracle on 34th Street ranks among the most popular Christmas classic. Directed by George Seaton, the movie won Academy Awards for Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Edmund Gwenn), Best Writing, Original Story (Valentine Davies) and Best Writing, Screenplay.

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