Editor's Picks: Our Favorite Holiday Movies

Our picks for best festive flicks (some of them will surprise you!).

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It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)

This holiday must-see follows the suicidal George Bailey and his guardian angel, Clarence, as they go back in time to see what life would be like if Bailey never existed. In the end, he decides that his life is worthwhile and wonderful, and Clarence earns his wings (cue the bells.) Buy it here.
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Home Alone (1990)

Everyone knows and loves the plot of this holiday classic- the trouble comes when deciding on the best scene or line. We’re partial to "Merry Christmas ya filthy animal!" And who can’t identify with having a bully sibling like Buzz? Buy it here.
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The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

Christmas meets Halloween in Tim Burton’s classic visual feast. Buy it here.
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Love Actually (2003)

Several stories of love, loss and hope intertwine in this uplifting romantic comedy. Hugh Grant is the prime minister crushing on a female staffer, Emma Thompson plays a busy mother who begins to question her husband’s fidelity and Laura Linney embodies the despair of unrequited love. The film reaffirms, as the ending states, that "Love actually is everywhere." Buy it here.
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Christmas with the Kranks (2004)

The Kranks (Tim Allen and Jamie Lee Curtis) have given up on the holiday spirit. But when their daughter announces she’ll be coming home for Christmas after all, the couple must whip up a memorable festive feast for her and her fiancé.  Buy it here.

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National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)

Who doesn’t love the Griswold family? Chevy Chase commands laughs as he struggles through the holidays-receiving a fruitcake in lieu of a Christmas bonus, combating faulty outside holiday lights and enduring ridiculous relatives overtaking his home. It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve seen this one, you still find yourself laughing at all the same parts. Buy it here.
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Elf (2003)

Buddy is a human raised by elves who travels from The North Pole to New York City to meet his biological father. Will Ferrell is lovable as he utters phrases like, "Smiling’s my favorite!" and tries to bring Christmas cheer to the cynical citizens of NYC. Buy it here.
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March of the Wooden Soldiers (1934)

Originally released as Babes in Toyland, this Laurel and Hardy flick offers a humorous, magical fantasy world with 6-foot wooden soldiers, Mother Goose characters and Santa Clause himself. Buy it here.
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The Family Stone (2005)

Diane Keaton plays the lovable matriarch of the Stone clan in this family-fueled favorite. When her son’s uptight girlfriend, Meredith (Sarah Jessica Parker), wreaks havoc on their holiday, the Stones’ secrets come out and laughter and tears from the audience follow. Buy it here.

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Miracle on 34th St (1947)

Macy’s hires the real Kris Kringle to appease the lines and crowds, much to the dismay and disbelief of department store executive Doris Walker. When poor Kris is committed, Doris and the rest of New York are forced to decide if they believe in Santa Claus-and miracles! Buy it here.
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Christmas in Connecticut (1945)

Barbara Stanwyck stars as journalist Elizabeth Lane, an acclaimed food columnist who writes about her life on the farm…The truth: she’s a single New Yorker who can’t cook. When her publisher boss invites himself and a Navy sailor to her home on the farm for a traditional Christmas, Lane is left to produce the picturesque life-husband and baby included. Buy it here.
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Home for the Holidays (1995)

Holly Hunter is a recently unemployed 40-year-old divorce heading home to her combative family in Baltimore for Thanksgiving. Robert Downey Jr. shines as her gay brother, and an all-star cast including Anne Bancroft, Charles Durning and Dylan McDermott put the fun in a dysfunctional family. Buy it here.
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Bad Santa (2003)

A guilty favorite, Billy Bob Thornton plays Willie, a conman who capitalizes on the holiday season by robbing department stores while dressed as Santa. He and his cohort encounter an eight-year-old who makes them rethink their take on the holidays. Warning: do not watch this one with the kids! Buy it here.
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How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966)

This Dr. Seuss favorite follows everyone’s least favorite character, The Grinch, as he tries to steal Christmas from the Whos of Whoville. We decided to feature the older version, but the 2000 Jim Carrey edition is must for Seuss devotees as well. Buy it here.
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The Holiday (2006)

Two of Hollywood’s favorite leading ladies, Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz, star in this seasonal favorite. Two women with serious man troubles swap houses for the holidays (Los Angeles for London, and vice versa) where they unexpectedly find new love. And the ever-charming Jude Law provides for great eye candy. Buy it here.
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This Christmas (2007)

The Whitfield family brings the drama when they reunite for the first time in several years. Secrets are revealed and skeletons come out of the closet resulting in lots of fights, both verbal and physical. Isn’t fighting synonymous with holiday? We thought so. Buy it here.
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A Christmas Story (1983)

Every year a new group of school children are introduced to this holiday staple. In a sleepy Indiana town, young Ralphie cannot stop thinking about what he wants for Christmas: a Red Ryder Carbine Action 200 Shot Range Model BB gun. Let’s all say it unison: you’ll shoot your eye out! Buy it here.
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A Christmas Carol (1951)

Alastair Sims brings Dickens’ Ebenezer Scrooge to life in this beloved version of the timeless tale. There are many film variations of this story, but this seems to be the cult classic – let us know in the comments which one is your favorite! Buy it here.
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Scrooged (1988)

Bill Murray plays a Christmas-hating TV exec who gets a visit from the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future in this hilarious spin on Dickens’ classic story. Buy it here.
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Serendipity (2001)

Two romantics meet while shopping for gloves in New York City just before Christmas. They hit it off, but decide that if they were meant to be, fate would bring them together. A few years pass, and they decide to test fate around the holidays again. Buy it here.
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A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)

Charlie Brown becomes disappointed with the materialism surrounding Christmas, and tries to understand the true meaning of the holiday. Buy it here.

The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)

All of your favorite puppets appear to retell the Dickens’ classic, including Kermit and Miss Piggy. Michael Caine lends his voice convincingly to Scrooge. This is one you can share with the kiddies! Buy it here.
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Four Christmases (2008)

Reese Witherspoon and Vince Vaughn star as a couple testing their devotion by visiting all four of their divorced parents on Christmas Day. Among the most hilarious bits: Vaughn’s ham-it-up appearance in a church Nativity pageant. Buy it here.

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A Christmas Memory (1997)

One of Truman Capote’s most poignant stories has produced at least two great versions: In 1966, Geraldine Page won an Emmy as Sook, the childlike woman who befriends Buddy, a boy abandoned during the holidays in rural Alabama. Buy it here.


In 1997, Patty Duke gave an equally memorable performance in the same role. Buy it here. Either way, you get fruitcakes galore!

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The Santa Clause (1994)

Who killed Santa? Tim Allen! Not on purpose, of course, but when the jolly guy takes a tumble off his roof, Allen’s character, Scott Calvin, must complete the rounds. Buy it here.
 

Next: Best Gifts for Holiday Hostesses
 
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Updated in December 2012; First published in December 2009

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