8 Christmas movies you have to watch

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When it comes to Christmas movies, there’s no shortage of choices. There are, however, some that stand the test of time and become traditional favorites of the holiday movie lover in all of us.

Here’s my list of the Christmas movies you have to see during the holidays. Want to add something to list? Drop your recommendations in the comments.

"A Christmas Story" (1983)

Let’s start with the obvious choice – “A Christmas Story.” This movie billed itself as a salute to an “All-American Christmas,” and it certainly lives up to that promise. From an eager dad to an anxious mom to kids who can’t wait for Santa to arrive, the film has everything that most households go through during the holidays. It’s got some great laughs, too. (Rated PG)

"It’s a Wonderful Life" (1946)

This one is a favorite among most holiday movie lovers. It spins the tale of George Bailey, who learns what Christmas is really about thanks to the help of a lovable angel named Clarence. Have your tissues handy. (Rated PG)

"Home Alone" (1990)

Kevin McCallister is fed up with his family, and his dream of them disappearing becomes a reality when they accidentally leave him behind during their Christmas vacation. He embarks on a whirlwind holiday until two burglars decide to wreck it. Shenanigans ensue. There were some sequels, too, but the original is by far the best. (Rated PG)

"White Christmas" (1954)

If musicals are more your style, I’ve got you covered. Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas” is the story of two World War II buddies who find themselves working to save the inn run by their beloved commanding officer. Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen star in this heartwarming classic. (Not Rated)

"Elf" (2003)

It might be a more modern entry on my list, but "Elf" has quickly become a holiday favorite. Starring Will Ferrell as Buddy the elf, this movie reminds us of the childlike wonder of Christmas before we became cynical grown-ups. Of course, with any Ferrell film, you’re guaranteed laughs. (Rated PG)

"How the Grinch Stole Christmas" (2000)

There have been many iterations of Dr. Seuss’ classic story, but I just love the more modern, live-action version, starring Jim Carrey as the Grinch. This is also a story that reminds you of what the Christmas spirit is all about. The music is pretty great, too. (Rated PG)

"National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation" (1989)

As with any National Lampoon’s movie, prepare to laugh. The Griswolds want to have the perfect family Christmas. Naturally, it all falls apart. It plays up the holiday frenzy that happens in most households, with hilarious results. (Rated PG-13)

"Scrooged" (1988)

This one doesn’t usually come to mind when you think about great holiday movies, but don’t let the modern, comedic façade of this classic Charles Dickens tale fool you. Bill Murray does a great job portraying Frank Cross – a cynically successful television executive (this version’s Ebenezer Scrooge) who is visited by three spirits on Christmas Eve. The film does a great job of sticking to the original message of Dickens’ story. (Rated PG-13)

Bonus picks

There are some movies that aren’t really at the top of most people’s lists, but I think these two Tim Allen flicks are worth a look.

"The Santa Clause" (1994)

What happens when you scare Santa? He falls off your roof and dies. When Tim Allen’s character puts on the jolly old elf’s suit, he undergoes strange transformations. This one will make you laugh and maybe even cry a little. (Rated PG)

"Christmas with the Kranks" (2004)

Based on the John Grisham book “Skipping Christmas,” the Kranks, played by Tim Allen and Jamie Lee Curtis, decide to take a Caribbean cruise when their daughter decides she won’t be home for the holidays. The neighbors are none too pleased, especially the block boss, played by Dan Aykroyd. (Rated PG)


About the Author:

Aaron Barker has been a senior digital editor at KPRC 2 since 2016. As a meteorologist, he specializes in stories about the weather. He has covered Hurricane Harvey, the Astros first World Series win, the Santa Fe High School shooting, the ITC fire and Tropical Storm Imelda.