Christmas is nearly here, so now it’s perfectly acceptable to binge all of your favourite festive films. We’ve pulled together a selection of the best, from heartwarming romcoms to family-friendly animations.
The majority of these films are available to watch on at least one of the major UK streaming platforms. This includes Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney Plus and Now. Prime Video and Now offer free trials for new users as well, so you can in theory watch the movie you want and cancel your subscription without having to pay anything at all.
You can also rent or buy digital copies of the films via Amazon, or even rent physical DVDs through Cinema Paradiso, which offers a generous 30-day trial. The entries in this list all link out to the options available to watch each film, including ways to watch them for free.
Without further ado, here’s our top picks of the best Christmas films of all time. You can also check out the best Christmas TV this year and the best festive films to stream.
Die Hard is not your typical Christmas film by any means, but regardless its an incredibly good action classic that will have you hooked. John McClane (Bruce Willis) has to save a group of hostages from a group of terrorists, led by mastermind Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman).
Find out how to watch Die Hard here.
How The Grinch Stole Christmas
What better way to celebrate our love of Christmas than with a green and hairy bad guy who hates festive cheer? Based in Whoville, the Grinch plans to ruin Christmas by stealing all the presents and decorations – but watching Jim Carrey’s hilarious representation of him certainly won’t ruin ours.
Find out how to watch The Grinch here.
The Polar Express
The Polar Express is a 2004 film starring Tom Hanks, based on the 1985 children’s book. It sees a young boy embark on an adventure to the North Pole onboard The Polar Express train, which concludes in the restoration of his faith in Santa Claus.
Find out how to watch The Polar Express here.
The 2003 Christmas movie Elf starring Will Ferrell is a great choice for getting into that festive spirit. Raised as an elf but actually human, Buddy leaves the North Pole to go to the US in search of his true identity.
Find out how to watch Elf here.
Christmas isn’t Christmas without The Snowman. This wonderful animation is the perfect way to build the Christmassy feeling in your home – especially if you have kids. But be warned, you’ll probably be left in tears by the end.
Find out how to watch The Snowman, and The Snowman and the Snowdog here.
A Christmas Carol
There have been numerous versions of A Christmas Carol made over the years, all based on Charles Dicken’s novel in which old meany Ebeneezer Scrooge is visited by the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come. Each shows him his the effect of his mean spirit on the people around him and eventually convince him to have a little Christmas cheer.
Find out how to watch A Christmas Carol here.
The ultimate Christmas romcom, 2003 film Love Actually has a star-studded cast that includes Hugh Grant, Keira Knightley, Andrew Lincoln, Alan Rickman, Emma Thompson, Liam Neeson and Rowan Atkinson. It follows the lives of eight loved-up wannabe couples in London in the last few weeks before Christmas, bringing you multiple happy endings.
Find out how to watch Love Actually here.
When Bad Santa came out in 2003 it quickly became something of a cult classic. As an antidote to the feel-good nature of most Christmas movies it is hard to fault. Bad Santa casts Billy Bob Thornton as the world’s department store Santa, being mean to kids in order to rob his employers. It’s scabrous, quotable and funny, and a must-see for many each festive season.
Find out how to watch Bad Santa and Bad Santa 2 here.
Gremlins was released back in 1984 and followed by Gremlins 2 in 1990. A comedy horror, Gremlins sees Randall Peltzer buy his son Billy a mogwai called Gizmo for Christmas, but under the strict instruction that he never get it wet, feed it after midnight or expose it to bright light. One mogwai ends up six when a glass of water is accidentally spilled on Gizmo, and are intent on causing trouble. Or, rather, murder.
Find out how to watch Gremlins here.
Santa Claus: The Movie
Santa Claus: The Movie is more than 30 years old, released back in 1985 and starring Dudley Moore, John Lithgow and David Huddleston. It was a flop at launch, but is now one of our favourite films for the festive season.
Santa Claus: The Movie chronicles the origins of Santa Claus and his wife Anya, and explains the mysteries of Father Christmas – such as how reindeer fly – to curious kids. It also sees Santa Claus take on one of his elves who is scheming to take over the toy-making.
Find out how to watch Santa Claus: The Movie here.
E.T. The Extra Terrestrial
Steven Spielberg’s E.T. The Extra Terrestrial is played every Christmas and has been for as long as we can remember – well, ever since its release in 1982 in any case. It stars a very young Drew Barrymore (Gertie) alongside Henry Thomas (Elliott) and Robert MacNaughton (Michael) who befriend an alien creature who has been left stranded on Earth. Between the three of them they manage to feed it, look after it and mostly keep it hidden as they figure out a way to eventually return it home, which is heartbreaking for all involved.
Find out how to watch E.T. here.
If that list isn’t quite enough for you, then here are a few more festive favourites to check out: