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The 15 best Christmas films and where to stream them

‘Tis the season… to binge all those classics you just can’t get enough of

Hugh Grant and Martine McCutcheon in 'Love Actually'. (Credit: Universal)
Nothing says Christmas quite like a festival film. (Universal)

The tree’s up, and the Quality Street box is already half empty - all you need now is a good few Christmas movies to binge-watch while you cosy up and wait for the big day to arrive.

With streamers serving up a mixture of shiny new releases and well-loved seasonal classics, viewers certainly don’t have to look far to find a film that’s guaranteed to warm the heart of even the Scroogiest of Scrooges.

However, if you find yourself struggling to decide what to watch, we’re here to help. Read on to discover 15 of the best Christmas films and where you can stream them this year.


The Christmas Chronicles 1 & 2 - Netflix

Kurt Russell plays a rock n roll Santa trying to save Christmas, with a couple of unruly kids in tow. Netflix's first foray into the festive is worth watching for the Elvis-inspired musical number alone. (Credit: Netflix)
Kurt Russell plays a rock n roll Santa trying to save Christmas, with a couple of unruly kids in tow. Netflix's first foray into the festive is worth watching for the Elvis-inspired musical number alone. (Credit: Netflix)

Want to see Santa don shades and blast out a sax solo? If the answer’s yes (and why wouldn’t it be?) then The Christmas Chronicles may be the film for you. Here, Hollywood icon Kurt Russell wears Santa’s iconic red suit and must join forces with some kids to help locate missing presents and deliver them before Christmas morning. After a successful first outing, Mrs Doubtfire director (and part one’s writer/producer), Chris Columbus helmed part two which saw Russell’s real-life wife Goldie Hawn join in the fun as Mrs Claus when Santa is required to stop a folklore figure from ruining Christmas forever. Intrigued? You’ll find both films on Netflix.


Home Alone 1 & 2 - Disney+

Macaulay Culkin in festive classic 'Home Alone'. (Credit: Fox)
Macaulay Culkin in festive classic 'Home Alone'. (Credit: Fox)

Is it really Christmas if you haven’t given Home Alone and Home Alone 2 at least a couple of airings? We don’t think so. Macaulay Culkin has become so synonymous with his role as witty, boobie-trap-setting kid Kevin McCallister that he even ended his recent Hollywood Walk of Fame speech with the character’s signature line “Merry Christmas, 'ya filthy animals.” The red and green-covered first film sees Kevin protect his house against local thieves Harry (Joe Pesci) and Marv (Daniel Stern) when he’s left home alone. Part two tells a familiar story, this time writ-large against the big city backdrop of Manhattan. At this point, both are as necessary to a perfect Christmas as turkey and stuffing - and both can be found on Disney+.


Miracle on 34th Street - Disney+

Richard Attenborough and Mara Wilson in 1994's Miracle on 34th Street. (Alamy)
Richard Attenborough and Mara Wilson in 1994's Miracle on 34th Street. (Alamy)

A remake of George Seaton’s 1947 movie of the same name, Miracle on 34th Street made great use of Richard Attenborough as a man who claimed to be Kris Kringle and a young Mara Wilson whose faith in Christmas depends on him being proven to be telling the truth. To get to the bottom of things, the film heads to court to find out whether or not Kringle is who he says he is - and while the words ‘legal drama’ and ‘warm cosy festive favourite’ aren’t usually used in the same sentence, this description of 1994’s Miracle on 34th Street proves to be the exception to the rule. Find it on Disney+.


The Muppet Christmas Carol - Disney+

The Muppet Christmas Carol (Disney/Park Circus)
The Muppet Christmas Carol (Disney/Park Circus)

It isn’t Christmas until you’ve seen a small felt frog bring Sir Michael Caine to tears. Yep - The Muppet Christmas Carol may be more than 30 years old but it still knows how to hit you right in the feels whenever it shows up on telly. Despite being brought to life by a bunch of pigs, rats and whatever the heck Gonzo is, The Muppet Christmas Carol is one of the few Scrooge adaptations that contains a relatively large amount of verbatim lines from Charles Dickens’ Christmas-themed cautionary tale. As if that wasn’t enough, it also features a bunch of catchy numbers plus one deemed too sad for the theatrical release that’s since been made available to stream online. Find both the regular cut and the one with the tear-jerker ‘The Love is Gone’ on Disney+.


Die Hard - Disney+

Die Hard (Credit: 20th Century Fox)
Die Hard (Credit: 20th Century Fox)

It’s spawned a debate that’s lasted decades - but if Die Hard wasn’t a Christmas movie, nobody would talk about it at Christmas time, would they? Watching John McClane (Bruce Willis) go up against a bunch of German terrorists barefoot may sound about as far away from It’s A Wonderful Life as you can get - and yet there’s something undeniably festive about director John McTiernan’s action masterpiece. Maybe it’s the music, maybe it’s the Christmas lights, maybe it’s McClane’s hand-made Christmas jumper that reads ‘Ho Ho Ho! Now I have a machine gun’... Either way, Christmas just wouldn’t be the same without it and you can find it on Disney+.


Klaus - Netflix

Klaus
Klaus was nominated for Best Animated Feature at the Oscars. (Netflix)

Beautifully animated and with a great voice cast to boot, Klaus may have slipped under the radar when it first landed on Netflix back in late 2019 but it has since become a must-watch during the lead up to 25 December. Set in 19th-century Norway, it follows a postal worker who is suddenly relocated to Iceland where he becomes friends with a reclusive toymaker. As the movie progresses, the pair start to become unlikely pals whilst inadvertently creating many of the familiar traits associated with Santa Claus. If you’re after something gentle and unexpectedly festive, head to Netflix and hit play.


How The Grinch Stole Christmas - Netflix

Jim Carrey gurns his way through furry prosthetics in this largely well-loved take on the Dr Seuss classic, directed by Ron Howard. (Credit: Universal)
Jim Carrey gurns his way through furry prosthetics in this largely well-loved take on the Dr Seuss classic, directed by Ron Howard. (Credit: Universal)

Before Benedict Cumberbatch brought him to life in animated form, Jim Carrey was suffering for his art to do Dr. Seuss’s most infamous green grump justice in 2001’s How The Grinch Stole Christmas. Directed by Ron Howard, this live-action retelling of a literary favourite saw Carrey caked in so much itchy and uncomfortable prosthetic make-up that he had to rely on torture survival techniques to help him get through the shoot. Thankfully, the pain was worth it - as Carrey’s elastic-faced rendition of Whoville’s most miserable Who-hater has become as charming as it is funny. Looking to schedule a visit with The Grinch this Christmas? You’ll find him lurking on Netflix.


Genie - Now TV/Sky Cinema

Genie (Sky)
Genie (Sky)

Released in December 2023, Genie is a new seasonal story by Richard Curtis, the writer behind 2003’s Brit Christmas classic Love Actually. With filmmaker Sam Boyd at the helm, Curtis swaps London for the bright lights of Manhattan to tell the story of Paapa Essiedu’s Bernard - a down-on-his-luck family man whose fortunes change when he stumbles upon a magical genie named Flora, played by Melissa McCarthy. Suddenly finding himself with unlimited wishes, Bernard and Flora have fun trying to fix Bernard’s many problems in a quaint and touching new Christmas story that’s perfect for a lazy afternoon. Find it on Sky Cinema or Now TV.


Love Actually - Now TV/Sky Cinema

Andrew Lincoln in the most notorious scene from 'Love Actually'. (Credit: Universal)
Andrew Lincoln in the most notorious scene from 'Love Actually'. (Credit: Universal)

Can you believe it’s been 20 years since Hugh Grant’s Prime Minster danced all over Downing Street or Andrew Lincoln used giant pieces of card to declare his love for Kiera Knightly? We can’t - although what better reason to give director Richard Curtis’ saccharine sweet rom-com another revisit? Telling a variety of grounded tales that each interlink to remind us of the true meaning of the festive season (spoilers: it’s love), Love Actually, still manages to make us laugh, cry and feel all warm and fuzzy inside - surely, the three traits that no Christmas classic should be without. Celebrate its birthday moment by heading to Now TV or Sky Cinema.


Gremlins - Now TV/Sky Cinema

The Gremlins enjoy a bucket of popcorn. (Warner Bros.)
The Gremlins enjoy a bucket of popcorn. (Warner Bros.)

After something a little darker? Director Joe Dante’s Gremlins offers up a Christmas movie with teeth - literally. Released back in 1984, this festive frightener follows a young man who is gifted a mysterious creature from his inventor father. He’s not sure what it is - but it comes with three rules: Don’t get it wet, keep it out of sunlight and never, ever feed it after midnight. Naturally, each of these provisos is swiftly broken, leading a gaggle of little green monsters to cause chaos across a small middle-America town. Perfectly striking the balance between humour, horror and heart, Gremlins emerges as a film that’s filled with tension yet still largely suitable for the whole family. Head to Now TV or Sky Cinema to watch it for yourself.


Bad Santa - Now TV/Sky Cinema

Billy Bob Thornton plays a boozy, sweary shopping mall Santa in this Christmas crime tale. It's crass, politically incorrect and consistently funny. (Credit: Columbia Pictures)
Billy Bob Thornton plays a boozy, sweary shopping mall Santa in this Christmas crime tale. It's crass, politically incorrect and consistently funny. (Credit: Columbia Pictures)

One for the adults and older viewers, Bad Santa also celebrates its 20th birthday this year and we’re sure it’ll celebrate with more than a few alcoholic beverages. Directed by Terry Zwigoff, Bad Santa follows a con man Santa who uses the festive season to dress up like old Saint Nic and rinse shopping malls for all they’re worth. However, when bad Santa Willie (Billy Bob Thornton) befriends a young boy during his darkest hour, he starts to think that all might not be lost after all. Sweary, crass and still funny despite being two decades old, find Bad Santa on Now TV and Sky Cinema this Christmas.


Elf - Now TV/Sky Cinema

Will Ferrell in Elf (Credit: New Line)
Will Ferrell in Elf (Credit: New Line)

Turning 20 this year, Elf might be one of the few Christmas movies of recent years that has successfully made the transition into becoming a proper modern classic. In it, a fresh from Saturday Night Live Will Ferrell delivers a career-defining role as Buddy - a human who is accidentally raised by elves at the North Pole. When he discovers that he’s not quite like his colleagues (it was probably the six-foot height that gave it away), Buddy travels through the Candy Cane Forest, a sea of swirly, whirly gumdrops and through the Lincoln Tunnel to New York City, where he meets his real father Walter, played by a grumpy James Caan. New classic talk aside, Elf has become a film that’s hard to avoid during December but if you want to seek it out, head to Now TV or Sky Cinema.


The Holiday - Now TV/Sky Cinema

<p>Festive sweetness is in ample supply in this starry film from romcom maestro Nancy Meyers, which features Kate Winslet, Cameron Diaz, Jude Law and Jack Black. (Universal)</p>
Festive sweetness is in ample supply in this starry film from romcom maestro Nancy Meyers, which features Kate Winslet, Cameron Diaz, Jude Law and Jack Black. (Universal

Directed by Nancy Meyers and featuring an all-star cast that spans Cameron Diaz, Jude Law, Jack Black and Kate Blanchett, The Holiday is another fairly recent release that has quickly become a much-loved feature of modern Christmas viewing. At its core, it's a love story that follows four unlucky-in-love individuals who find romance after they swap their typical stomping grounds for something new during a seasonal getaway. Looking back, its plot may be a tad predictable - but isn’t that the case with every Christmas movie? Escape with The Holiday on Now TV and Sky Cinema.


The Snowman - Channel 4

The Snowman (TVC London Productions)
The Snowman (TVC London Productions)

Amid all the presents, food and family gatherings, there’s something oddly melancholic about the festive season - and this feeling is showcased beautifully in The Snowman. Released in 1982 and introduced by David Bowie, author Raymond Briggs's story of a young boy who builds a snowman only to have it come to life overnight and whisk him away on a magical adventure to the North Pole is as touching as it is bittersweet. Just like Christmas inevitably coming to an end, we all know that the snowman’s adventures are doomed to be short-lived - but that doesn’t stop us from having fun. Relive the magic on Channel 4, with its sequel The Snowman and the Snow Dog also available to stream there too.


Stick Man - BBC iPlayer

Stick Man features an all-star voice cast. (BBC)
Stick Man features an all-star voice cast. (BBC)

While not strictly Christmas-related, Magic Light Pictures' animated adaptations of author Julia Donaldson’s much-loved kids’ books have since become staples of the festive TV schedule. Having adapted The Gruffalo, The Gruffalo’s Child and Room on the Broom, their take on Stick Man is perhaps the most Christmas-themed of the lot thanks to its frosty, snow-covered scenes and regular Christmas Day repeats. Each of these delightful adaptations is available to watch for free on BBC iPlayer, with Magic Light’s new one, Tabby McTatt, arriving this festive season.