The Best Christmas Movie of All Time, According to Critics

Richard Evans
·4 min read

We might have our own favorite holiday traditions, but most of us can at least agree on one—gathering together to watch a beloved Christmas film. Trying to pick the right one to watch is somewhat more contentious, even within families, so we decided to consult the critics for this ranking of the best Christmas movies ever made. Some of these films are mainstream classics, while others are slightly newer or more obscure, but all earned overwhelmingly good reviews.

To make the list, we used Rotten Tomatoes' guide to the best Christmas movies. The Rotten Tomatoes algorithm ranks movies by a wide variety of factors, including number of reviews, release date, genre, and weight given to certain critics. So the movies aren't just ranked by overall percentage.

Read on for the top 50, which range from wholesome family films to quirky indie comedies to holiday horror. See if your personal pick made the cut, and maybe find a new favorite to watch this year. And for more Christmas classics, These Are the Most Popular Holiday Movies of All Time.

50

Home Alone (1990)

still from home alone
still from home alone

Rotten Tomatoes score: 65 percent

And for a walk down memory lane, revisit more Beloved Movies You Won't Believe Are 30 Years Old.

49

Frosty the Snowman (1969)

frosty the snowman movie
frosty the snowman movie

Rotten Tomatoes score: 73 percent

48

The Best Man Holiday (2013)

the best man holiday
the best man holiday

Rotten Tomatoes score: 71 percent

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47

Scrooged (1988)

still from scrooged
still from scrooged

Rotten Tomatoes score: 71 percent

46

The Santa Clause (1994)

the santa clause
the santa clause

Rotten Tomatoes score: 71 percent

45

Black Christmas (1974)

black christmas
black christmas

Rotten Tomatoes score: 71 percent

And for more horror films to check out, discover The Scariest Movie That Came Out the Year You Graduated.

44

The Ref (1994)

still from the ref
still from the ref

Rotten Tomatoes score: 72 percent

43

Joyeux Noël (2006)

joyeux noel
joyeux noel

Rotten Tomatoes score: 74 percent

42

Happy Christmas (2014)

happy christmas
happy christmas

Rotten Tomatoes score: 76 percent

41

The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)

the muppet christmas carol
the muppet christmas carol

Rotten Tomatoes score: 76 percent

40

A Christmas Horror Story (2015)

a christmas horror story
a christmas horror story

Rotten Tomatoes score: 83 percent

39

Let It Snow (2019)

let it snow
let it snow

Rotten Tomatoes score: 81 percent

38

White Christmas (1954)

still from white christmas
still from white christmas

Rotten Tomatoes score: 77 percent

37

Anna and the Apocalypse (2018)

anna and the apocalypse
anna and the apocalypse

Rotten Tomatoes score: 77 percent

36

While You Were Sleeping (1995)

while you were sleeping
while you were sleeping

Rotten Tomatoes score: 80 percent

35

Bad Santa (2003)

bad santa
bad santa

Rotten Tomatoes score: 79 percent

34

The Man Who Invented Christmas (2017)

the man who invented christmas
the man who invented christmas

Rotten Tomatoes score: 79 percent

33

Batman Returns (1992)

batman returns
batman returns

Rotten Tomatoes score: 80 percent

32

The Bishop's Wife (1948)

the bishop's wife
the bishop's wife

Rotten Tomatoes score: 84 percent

31

Elf (2003)

still from elf
still from elf

Rotten Tomatoes score: 84 percent

30

Christmas in Connecticut (1945)

still from christmas in connecticut
still from christmas in connecticut

Rotten Tomatoes score: 88 percent

29

A Christmas Carol (1951)

a christmas carol
a christmas carol

Rotten Tomatoes score: 85 percent

28

Un Conte de Noël (2008)

un conte de noel
un conte de noel

Rotten Tomatoes score: 86 percent

27

Gremlins (1984)

still from gremlins
still from gremlins

Rotten Tomatoes score: 85 percent

26

Trading Places (1983)

trading places
trading places

Rotten Tomatoes score: 87 percent

25

Better Watch Out (2017)

better watch out
better watch out

Rotten Tomatoes score: 89 percent

24

Tokyo Godfathers (2003)

tokyo godfathers
tokyo godfathers

Rotten Tomatoes score: 90 percent

23

Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang (2005)

kiss kiss bang bang
kiss kiss bang bang

Rotten Tomatoes score: 86 percent

22

Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (2010)

rare exports a christmas tale
rare exports a christmas tale

Rotten Tomatoes score: 90 percent

21

A Christmas Story (1983)

a christmas story
a christmas story

Rotten Tomatoes score: 89 percent

20

Little Women (1994)

little women
little women

Rotten Tomatoes score: 92 percent

19

Edward Scissorhands (1990)

edward scissorhands
edward scissorhands

Rotten Tomatoes score: 90 percent

18

Klaus (2019)

still from klaus
still from klaus

Rotten Tomatoes score: 94 percent

17

Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey (2020)

jingle jangle a christmas journey
jingle jangle a christmas journey

Rotten Tomatoes score: 93 percent

16

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964)

rudolph the red nosed reindeer
rudolph the red nosed reindeer

Rotten Tomatoes score: 95 percent

15

Arthur Christmas (2011)

arthur christmas
arthur christmas

Rotten Tomatoes score: 92 percent

14

Die Hard (1988)

still from die hard
still from die hard

Rotten Tomatoes score: 94 percent

13

Remember the Night (1940)

remember the night
remember the night

Rotten Tomatoes score: 100 percent

12

Babes in Toyland (1934)

babes in toyland
babes in toyland

Rotten Tomatoes score: 100 percent

11

Tangerine (2015)

still from tangerine
still from tangerine

Rotten Tomatoes score: 96 percent

10

Carol (2015)

still from carol
still from carol

Rotten Tomatoes score: 94 percent

9

Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)

meet me in st. louis
meet me in st. louis

Rotten Tomatoes score: 100 percent

8

Little Women (2019)

still from little women
still from little women

Rotten Tomatoes score: 95 percent

7

The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

the nightmare before christmas
the nightmare before christmas

Rotten Tomatoes score: 95 percent

6

How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966)

how the grinch stole christmas
how the grinch stole christmas

Rotten Tomatoes score: 100 percent

5

The Shop Around the Corner (1940)

The Shop Around the Corner
The Shop Around the Corner

Rotten Tomatoes score: 100 percent

And for more recent movies the critics loved, check out The Best Movies of the 21st Century, According to Critics.

4

Holiday Inn (1942)

still from holiday inn
still from holiday inn

Rotten Tomatoes score: 100 percent

3

Miracle on 34th Street (1947)

miracle on 34th street
miracle on 34th street

Rotten Tomatoes score: 96 percent

And for holiday movies you can skip, These Are the Worst Christmas Movies of All Time, According to Critics.

2

A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)

a charlie brown christmas
a charlie brown christmas

Rotten Tomatoes score: 94 percent

1

It's a Wonderful Life (1946)

it's a wonderful life
it's a wonderful life

Rotten Tomatoes score: 94 percent

And for more all-time greats, find out The Best Movie That Came Out the Year You Graduated, According to Critics.