The Best Christmas Movies on Amazon Prime Deliver Concentrated Nostalgia
With Amazon monopolizing nearly every facet of our lives, some days it can feel like we’re living in the dystopian Pottersville of It’s a Wonderful Life. Unfortunately, this also means that Bezosville offers many of the best titles of the Christmas movie canon… including It’s a Wonderful Life and many other yearly must-watches. Sigh. (Wait ’til we break it to you that they’ve also got an excellent batch of comedies and classics on tap as well.)
Scrolling the app, it’s obvious that there are plenty festive titles to last you all fall long, from much-loved classics to modern comedies (yes, Elf is on the list folks). We’ve sorted out the fluff and narrowed the list to the 18 best. Just try to keep the love-thy-neighbor spirit of George Bailey alive this Christmas by saving your gift-buying for small and local businesses.
We don’t know if you know that there is a movie out there in this grand world of streaming called Scrooged, where Bill Murray goes on A Christmas Carol-esque adventure. We do know that, either way, you need some Bill Murray antics for your holiday celebrations, stat.
If you’re feeling a little Scrooge-y and getting sick of all the mistletoes and holiday cheer—why don’t you try a holiday horror movie? Krampus might give you Christmas Eve nightmares, but at least you’ll be able to say you switched it up this year.
Illumination Presents: Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch
Hush, hush—Jim Carrey’s live-action How the Grinch Stole Christmas is next on this list. We’re just asking you to stop sleeping on Benedict Cumberbatch’s take on the infamous meanie, where Illumination’s animation is worth the cost of admission on its own.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Creating a live-action adaptation of a beloved animated Dr. Seuss Christmas tale requires a lot of guts. (Also, a huge prosthetics budget.) Nonetheless, Ron Howard’s 2000 How the Grinch Stole Christmas nearly stole the thunder of the 1977 original. Featuring a transformative performance by Jim Carrey as the Grinch, this comedy is sure to gift the whole family with laughs.
The Night Before
Here’s the perfect movie to watch while wrapping presents after the kids have gone to bed. Seth Rogen, Anthony Mackie, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt star as Isaac, Chris, and Ethan—three longtime best friends who celebrate each Christmas Eve together. However, after realizing that the nearing arrival of Isaac’s first child will mean this year is their last go-around with the tradition, the trio becomes determined to make it count. As you might guess from the lineup, plenty of R-rated holiday hilarity ensures.
Office Christmas Party
Starring current comedy heavyweights like Kate McKinnon, T.J. Miller, Jennifer Anniston, and Jason Bateman, the workplace comedy follows a down-and-out regional manager who, upon hearing that his branch is set for closure, makes a Hail Mary pass to impress a wealthy client with a killer Christmas party.
The Family Stone
If your family is a bit less cookie-cutter than the typical Hallmark bunch, then The Family Stone is the perfect yearly reminder that you’re not alone. This star-studded family dramedy follows the Stone family as they host their children for a turbulent Christmas vacation. With high-maintenance significant others in town, hidden cancer diagnoses circulating, and plenty more drama, the Stones are reminded that there’s no place like home for the holidays.
The Best Man Holiday
With a cast including the likes of Morris Chestnut, Taye Diggs, Regina Hall, and Sanaa Lathan, The Best Man Holiday is a festive sequel to the hit dramedy The Best Man. Following a group of old college friends as they come together for the holidays, the film explores how easily reuniting and reminiscing can turn into rehashing best-forgotten personal histories.
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The Polar Express
If you’re skeptical of Santa or motion capture animation, The Polar Express’s hyper-realistic visuals will make you a believer. Whether you’ll become a fan of either is, of course, up to you. (See: Unsettling animated Tom Hanks.) This retelling of the iconic children’s storybook tells of one boy’s Christmas Eve trip on a train to the North Pole.
The Nightmare Before Christmas
What was once an off-beat Tim Burton stop-motion film has since become a Christmas classic. Not only is the story of Jack Skellington, crossing over from Halloween Town to Christmas Town, a gorgeous and heartwarming one; it’s the perfect watch as you cross over from spooky season.
As Jim Carrey so perfectly demonstrated in How the Grinch Stole Christmas, comedy heavyweights and Christmas movies go together like Santa’s milk and cookies. Somehow, Will Ferrell’s antics as Buddy the Elf never seem to lose their naive charm, even as we find ourselves mouthing along to, “Santa! I know him!” A perfect common ground to make little ones and grown-ups giggle, no one’s above the hilarity of watching a grown man in an elf costume do a split on an escalator.
Nothing guarantees heartwarming hijinx quite like the work of the iconic John Hughes. Macaulay Culkin stars as Kevin McCallister, a young boy who thinks that his wish for his family to disappear has come true and finds himself home alone on Christmas. Accidentally left behind from his family’s holiday vacation, Kevin also becomes the accidental sole defender of his family’s estate against two burglars.
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
Another John Hughes Christmas comedy, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation stars Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo as Clark and Ellen Griswold of the Griswold family. And if you’ve forgotten, they seem cursed to have the most mishap-ridden Christmas in history.
A Christmas on Miracle Lake
Some Christmas movies start off devastatingly sad, but this one takes it to a new level. A boy returns to the pond where he used to play hockey with his now-deceased friend (!!), but when he comes back to visit at night, the pond magically becomes a hockey rink. How morbidly sweet.
It’s a Wonderful Life
It’s a Wonderful Life is THE holiday classic. Following George Bailey and his tough run of financial luck, the sometimes-dark classic is all about finding good, even in the most difficult of times. Also, you learn what happens every time a bell rings.
The Man Who Invented Christmas
Dan Stevens, Christopher Plummer, and Jonathan Pryce star in a new kind of story about Charles Dickens (Stevens). Dickens has had a dip in success in the two years following the success of Oliver Twist. He works to write A Christmas Carol, and in doing so, he fantasizes and “meets” the characters he creates. Trippy? Sure. Magically heartwarming? Absolutely.
The Miracle on 34th Street
This 1947 classic stars Maureen O’Hara and a young Natalie Wood as mother and daughter Doris and Susan Walker. The two find themselves hosting a man, Kris, who claims to be Santa Claus. Susan has been raised to be a skeptic about Santa Claus, but her house guest wins her over. The rest of the adults might not believe, but Kris has Susan on his side.
Jack Frost (1979)
Decades can pass and trends may change, but stop-motion holiday movies are forever. A groundhog named Pardon-Me Pete narrates the story about a winter sprite Jack Frost, who falls in love with a human named Elisa. He gets permission from Father Winter to become a human, but when Elisa is in trouble, he gives up his human condition to save her life. A take: There’s more romance in stop-motion than in live action romances.
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