Since well before Thanksgiving, streaming and cable networks have featured Christmas movies in anticipation of the season. Some are wholesome classics, like “Miracle on 34th Street” or “It's a Wonderful Life,” that have stood as holiday standards for generations. Others are forging new traditions, with prolific holiday production house Hallmark premiering new offerings every year and streamers like Netflix and Amazon working on their own Christmas films in an attempt to capture the market hungry for cheerful movies.
To help people sort through the many holiday movies out there, Stacker compiled Metacritic data on all Christmas movies and ranked them according to their Metascore (out of 100). Any ties are broken by IMDb user scores (out of 10). To qualify, each film had to be identified as a Christmas movie by critics at significant publications, with at least four reviews from those publications.
Christmas films like “Elf” are fun family comedies, while some films like the horror movie “Black Christmas” take a completely different approach and use Christmas imagery in a very different context. Some films are less sentimental and family-centric, focusing instead on authenticity in depicting the conflicts between family members. Other films are about an entirely different subject matter while taking advantage of Christmas as a backdrop for their distinct imagery and broad themes of family and unity.
Genre is meant to help describe and communicate the tone and style of a film, not to serve as a limiting factor on what films can and cannot be. There are no hard and fast lines that define Christmas movies, and we think leaning into more open interpretations of what fits into certain genres is best practice for getting a pool of films that represent all possible expressions of a particular genre.
Every film on the following list has been considered according to the cinematic history and development of Christmas movies. Keep reading to learn about the very best in the genre.
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