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Tis' the Season, The Ultimate Christmas Movies, Musicals, Cartoons, Comedies and Dramas!

Updated on November 16, 2015

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!... Well maybe not yet but I can hear Johnny Mathis singing that song and I fall right into the Christmas spirit. Christmas is a huge season for many, it's a commercial holiday but also a religious one as well. It is the time of year when people feel more generous, friends and families get together, for many it's a joyous time. I love the Christmas season and always have, however where I find joy in the season has evolved over the years. Like many children I was about the surprise and the gifts, it was a countdown to Christmas Morning every year. Now that I am older I focus more on the season then Christmas Day alone. I look forward to the celebrations with friends and family, the great food, the music that lifts my spirits in the darkening days of late fall and early winter, but one of the most enjoyable activities for the season is watching Christmas movies! Below is my list of great Christmas movies, unlike other lists I have categorized these movies into different sub genres to help you find what you are looking for!

Scene from the movie White Christmas
Scene from the movie White Christmas | Source
The most popular Christmas song ever, White Christmas, was written and performed for the first time in the movie Holiday Inn
The most popular Christmas song ever, White Christmas, was written and performed for the first time in the movie Holiday Inn | Source

Best Christmas Musical

What would the Christmas season be without music! Even in the movies, music plays a huge role for any good Christmas film. Below are three great musicals filled with great songs and Christmas. First we have my personal favorite White Christmas, released in 1954 starring Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney and Vera Ellen. Where could you go wrong with this cast and a title based on one of the most popular Christmas songs ever! Not to mention the beautiful ending that all will enjoy! Next on the list is an all time classic, Babes in Toyland, also known as March of the Wooden Soldiers which was released in 1934 starring the infamous Laurel and hardy. This film that takes place in Toyland grabs the imagination of kids and adults and hey it's been around for so long it must be good, I know I enjoyed watching as i grew up! The final musical is Holiday Inn, which has a lot to do with White Christmas. In fact it is in Holiday Inn that the song White Christmas is first introduced. The 1942 film stars greats Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire. All these musicals will have you singing along and in good spirits by the end!

  • White Christmas (1954): "A successful song-and-dance team become romantically involved with a sister act and team up to save the failing Vermont inn of their former commanding general" (IMDB)
  • Babes in Toyland (aka March of the Wodden soldiers):
  • Holiday Inn: "At an inn which is only open on holidays, a crooner and a hoofer vie for the affections of a beautiful up-and-coming performer" (IMDB)

Rudolph The Red Nose Reindeer tv special is still a classic to present day, even though its stop motion!
Rudolph The Red Nose Reindeer tv special is still a classic to present day, even though its stop motion! | Source

Best Christmas Cartoon

Christmas is a season associated with the joys of youth, the innocence, hope and joy that light up a child's eye's on Christmas Morning. So what would a list of great Christmas Movies be without a section on the best Christmas Cartoons! Once again I start with my personal favorite How the Grinch Stole Christmas based off Dr. Seuss's book of the same name. The cartoon came out in 1966 and is narrated by Boris Karloff. The short cartoon, just under 30 minutes, is not only enjoyable but sends a great message. This message coming loud and clear at the end as "Maybe Christmas..doesn't come from a store, Maybe Christmas...perhaps...means a little bit more!" (IMDB). This cartoon really makes you realize the real gift of Christmas is those that you celebrate it with, not all the gifts! Next on the list is the classic Frosty the Snowman from 1969. This cartoon shows us the importance of friendship and the magic of winter! Then what would a Christmas be without Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer! Released in 1964 and is technically claymation not animation but still fits under my definition of cartoon! The movie follows Rudolph who is a little different then most reindeers, yet in the end it is he who can save Christmas for everyone and it's all because he was different. A great entertaining film as well as great message of accepting your differences as something to celebrate not hide! The final cartoon on the list is a more recent film, The Polar Express released in 2004, starring the voice of Tom Hanks. This movie is based off the very popular book of the same title and follows a boy in his discovery of the north pole and ultimately faith!

  • How The Grinch Stole Christmas : "A grumpy hermit hatches a plan to steal Christmas from the Whos of Whoville" (IMDB)
  • Frosty the Snowman (1969): "A living snowman and a little girl struggle to elude a greedy magician who is after the snowman's magic hat" (IMDB)
  • Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964): "A misfit reindeer and his friends look for a place that will accept them" (IMDB)
  • The Polar Express (2004): "On Christmas Eve, a doubting boy boards a magical train that's headed to the North Pole and Santa Claus's home" (IMDB)

Join the tradition! Watch the 24 hour marathon of A Christmas Story that runs from 8pm Christmas Eve till 8pm Christmas Day every year!
Join the tradition! Watch the 24 hour marathon of A Christmas Story that runs from 8pm Christmas Eve till 8pm Christmas Day every year! | Source

Best Christmas Comedies

Now on to some of the best and most recent Christmas Movies out there, the comedy section! My all time favorite Christmas comedy has to be National Lampoons Christmas Vacation (1989). Clark Griswold's obsession with having a perfect Christmas ends up being the most hilarious adventure possible and it includes the whole family! Starring Chevy Chase and Beverly D'Angelo this film will leave you laughing for a long time and appreciating the fact that not every Christmas will be perfect! The next two movies on the list will be very familiar to those that were born in the 80's and 90's, the redefining Christmas Movies Home Alone (1990) and Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992) lived out every child's fantasy of being home alone and the crazy situations they could get in! Kevin McCallister played by Macaulay Culkin gives an awesome performance in both films. Both films are must sees for the holiday season, especially watching them back to back!

Next on the list is another classic, one that plays for 24 hours on TBS from Christmas Eve into Christmas day. Yes, I'm talking about A Christmas Story from 1983. Even though it plays every year for 24 hours I still watch it at least twice before that! Not much to say besides that it's a funny, entertaining movie for the whole family! The next two movies on the list may not be the most popular but definitely deserve a watch once in a while. Scrooged starring Bill Murray, released in 1988 is a 1980s era take on Dicken's Christmas Carol. Bill Murray a great comedian, plays the character that refers to Scrooge and makes this movie hilarious, although a little dark, still a great movie! Christmas with the Kranks (2004) starring Tim Allen and Jamie Lee Curtis is based of the novel Skipping Christmas by John Grisham. In it the middle age couples daughter is away for Christmas so they decide to skip the whole season to have enough money to go on a cruise and to no one's surprise it backfires! Although I never though I would like this movie, once i saw it I found it to be a great comedy and film. I even went out and bough the Grisham novel to read!

The final movie on my Christmas comedy list is Elf (2003) starring Will Farrell. Once again this isn't my favorite movie but it is funny and very popular among many people so I had to put it on the list. The film follow Buddy the elf, played by Farrell, as he travels from the north pole to find his real father.

  • Christmas Vacation (1989) : "The Griswold family's plans for a big family Christmas predictably turn into a big disaster" (IMDB)
  • Home Alone (1990): "An eight year-old, who is accidentally left behind while his family flies to France for Christmas, has to defend his home against idiotic burglars" (IMDB)
  • Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992): "One year after Kevin was left home alone and had to defeat a pair of bumbling burglars, he accidentally finds himself in New York City, and the same criminals are not far behind" (IMDB)
  • A Christmas Story(1983): "Ralphie has to convince his parents, teachers, and Santa that a Red Ryder BB gun really is the perfect gift for the 1940s" (IMDB)
  • Christmas with the Kranks (2004): "With their daughter away, her parents decide to skip Christmas altogether until she decides to come home, causing an uproar when they have to celebrate the holidays at the last minute" (IMDB)
  • Scrooged (1988): "A cynically selfish TV executive gets haunted by three spirits bearing lessons on Christmas Eve" (IMDB)
  • Elf (2003): "After inadvertently wreaking havoc on the elf community due to his ungainly size, a man raised as an elf at the North Pole is sent to the U.S. in search of his true identity" (IMDB)

Trailer to National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation

The beautiful Maureen O'Hara stars in the original "Miracle on 34th Street". She passed away in October 2015.
The beautiful Maureen O'Hara stars in the original "Miracle on 34th Street". She passed away in October 2015. | Source

Best Christmas Drama

My final category of Christmas movies is Drama for what is Christmas without emotions and realization of what's good in your life. I have a mix of classics and newer movies in the list, i will quickly mention the classics since many know they already. The classic Christmas movies I have on the list include It's a Wonderful Life (1946) starring James Stewart, where his character George discovers what life would be like without him. Then we have the family favorite Miracle on 34th Street (1947) starring Maureen O'Hara, which brings Santa Clause to court on Christmas Eve. A great film to watch the day after Thanksgiving but be sure to watch the original, which can be seen in black and white or color! The next classic is Scrooge (aka A Christmas Carol), there has been many versions of this story told but my favorite is the 1951 version starring Alastair Sim. This version is a great telling of Dickens A Christmas Carol.

The next two movies are family dramas that take place around Christmas. This Christmas (2007) is about a family celebrating Christmas together for the first time and years and all the drama that follows. It stars Regina King and Delroy Lindo. The other family drama I have on the List is The Family Stone (2005) which features a star loaded cast including Diane Keaton, Sarah Jessica Parker, Rachel McAdams, Claire Danes, Craig T. Nelson and many more. The movie incorporates every day issues into the Christmas season and shows you the good and bad of family, a great but emotional movie!

The final movie on my list is The Santa Clause (1994) starring Tim Allen. Although it is more of a comedy then a drama it also touches on the family dynamic and the father/son relationship. This is a great movie for the whole family and ends on a happy note so no worries!

  • It's a Wonderful Life (1946): "An angel helps a compassionate but despairingly frustrated businessman by showing what life would have been like if he never existed" (IMDB)
  • Miracle on 34th Street (1947 original): "When a nice old man who claims to be Santa Claus is institutionalized as insane, a young lawyer decides to defend him by arguing in court that he is the real thing" (IMDB)
  • This Christmas (2007): "A Christmastime drama centered around the Whitfield family's first holiday together in four years" (IMDB)
  • A Christmas Carol (1951) aka Scrooge: "An old bitter miser is given a chance for redemption when he is haunted by ghosts on Christmas Eve" (IMDB)
  • The Family Stone (2005): "An uptight, conservative, businesswoman accompanies her boyfriend to his eccentric and outgoing family's annual Christmas celebration and finds that she's a fish out of water in their free-spirited way of life" (IMDB)
  • The Santa Clause(1994): "When a man inadvertantly kills Santa on Christmas Eve, he finds himself magically recruited to take his place" (IMDB)

It's a Wonderful Life Trailer

Which Christmas Movie is your favorite?

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    • BWD316 profile imageAUTHOR

      Brian Dooling 

      7 years ago from Connecticut

      I highly recommend White Christmas Debbie, it's a great classic musical! I also like the original A Miracle on 34th Street, thanks for the comment!

    • debbie roberts profile image

      Debbie Roberts 

      7 years ago from Greece

      We've never watched White Christmas before, will have to watch that. Our family Christmas favorite is A Miracle On 34th Street.

    • BWD316 profile imageAUTHOR

      Brian Dooling 

      8 years ago from Connecticut

      White Christmas is the best it's my whole family's favorite! I think it was AMC last year that did what tbs does with a Christmas story and ran at least 12 hours of white Christmas it was awesome!!!

    • Megan Kathleen profile image

      Megan Kathleen 

      8 years ago from Los Gatos, CA

      White Christmas hands down! I could watch that movie anytime of year. And thank you for mentioning The Family Stone. Great family movie that I think some underrate.

    • BWD316 profile imageAUTHOR

      Brian Dooling 

      8 years ago from Connecticut

      Thanks for the comment Deborah! yeah i was getting into the christmas spirit writing the hub. Christmas season is just around the corner! I think i might write more christmas themed hubs for my 30 day challenge so stick around!

    • DeborahNeyens profile image

      Deborah Neyens 

      8 years ago from Iowa

      You are getting me in the Christmas spirit already with this great hub. It's a Wonderful Life is my favorite, corny as it may be, but A Christmas Carol is right up there. And I've seen the Jim Carrey version of the Grinch, but it doesn't hold a candle to the original cartoon version! And Christmas Vacation is awesome, too!

    • BWD316 profile imageAUTHOR

      Brian Dooling 

      8 years ago from Connecticut

      Thanks for the comment FloraBreenRobison! I was the same way with the Jim Carry How the Grinch Stole Christmas and the original, i didn't want anything to do with it but then i saw it on dvd and its not too bad. Its good if you want something longer than the 26min cartoon. The Alastair sim Christmas Carol is so good!

    • FloraBreenRobison profile image


      8 years ago

      my family watches Alastair Sim every year.A Christmas Carol/Scrooge is one of the few Christmas non-musical films I watch every year. My favourite Movie Musical is the original version of W.C.-Holiday Inn. I do love them both. I've also seen March of the Wooden soldiers. My favourite cartoon is How the Grinch Stole Christmas. I refuse to see the big screen movie. Elf is my favourite Christmas comedy.

      As for what I've seen in the non-musical categories-

      I've seen all but the Polar Express in the animated group.

      I'm not a big fan of comedies in general. I have seen only 3 of these films.

      as for the dramas, I have seen all three of the classic era films.

      As for the poll, I voted for A Christmas Carol.


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