Ranking The Best Christmas Films of All-Time

Last updated: February 7th, 2024 Published on: November 18, 2020

When we think of Christmas, we instantly think of cosiness, Christmas treats and watching films.

Timeless classics such as Carry On Christmas and holiday shorts like The Snowman continue to be staple festive watches. Even though we often return to the same favourites, almost a third of Brits say “buying a TV guide to see what’s coming on over the festive period” is how we start getting ready for Christmas. And as streaming services keep growing, so does the number of Christmas films we have access to. With so much on, it can be difficult to decide what to watch! So, we’re here to help.

The Ultimate Christmas Films (Of All Time!)

Christmas is all about coming together, and, to help avoid arguments, we asked Brits across the whole of the UK to pick the best Christmas film of all time. These are the results:

  1. Home Alone (1990)
  2. Elf (2003)
  3. Love Actually (2003)
  4. Miracle on 34th Street (1994)
  5. The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)
  6. Die Hard (1988)
  7. The Polar Express (2004)
  8. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
  9. Gremlins (1984)
  10. Arthur Christmas (2011)

Voted the ultimate Christmas film by both men and women aged 18-45-years old, and on TV every year without fail, Home Alone 1 is the best Christmas film of all time. With Elf following in close 2nd place – loved more by women – and Love Actually in 3rd. Die Hard, a keen favourite for men of all ages, places 6th as one of two films in the top 10 to not be exactly “Christmassy”.

How Do The Regions Stack Up?

Across all regions of the UK, Home Alone – the 1990 classic about a child accidentally left on his own at Christmas – is ranked as the all-time favourite. However, when we look more closely, each region of the UK has a clear second favourite.

UK Region 2nd favourite 3rd favourite
East Anglia Love Actually (2003) Elf (2003)
East Midlands Miracle on 34th Street (1994) The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)
London Love Actually (2003) The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)
North East Elf (2003) Die Hard (1988)
North West Elf (2003) Miracle on 34th Street (1994)
Northern Ireland Miracle on 34th Street (1994) Die Hard (1988)
Scotland Love Actually (2003) Elf (2003)
South East Love Actually (2003) Elf (2003)
South West Elf (2003) The Polar Express (2004)
Wales Miracle on 34th Street (1994) Elf (2003)
West Midlands Love Actually (2003) Elf (2003)
Yorkshire and the Humber Elf (2003) Love Actually (2003)


Fancy Something More Adult but Still Christmas-Related?

Christmas isn’t just about gifts for the kids or festive touches that come with decorating. Sometimes you want something a little more ‘adult’ to wind down to in the evening.

Die Hard or The Nightmare Before Christmas (which also doubles up as one for Halloween) are usually the go-tos for non-Christmassy films to watch in the festive season, but there are actually a lot more than you think! We scanned the past four decades and looked at multiple data points, rankings and metrics to compile the “Top 10 (+1) Non-Christmassy Christmas Films to Watch” this holiday season:

  1. Die Hard (1988)
  2. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
  3. Edward Scissorhands (1990)
  4. Iron Man 3 (2013)
  5. Trading Places (1983)
  6. Lethal Weapon (1987)
  7. Gremlins (1984)
  8. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)
  9. Eyes Wide Shut (1999)
  10. Batman Returns (1992)
  11. Jumanji (1995)

You’d be forgiven if you thought “how does Jumaji make this list?”, but with a short scene at the end where there is a gift exchange at Christmas, it manages to squeeze in as a little bonus.

Christmas Films for The Whole Family

With Christmas fast approaching, the list of films you could watch is endless, but if we only think about the best Christmas ones, we have narrowed the list down to 15 – thank us later!

Once again, we have been really granular about looking at box office figures, critic reviews and of course viewer age rating (U or PG) to make sure every film is suitable for adults and children of all ages. Put on one of these in the background while everyone opens their Christmas presents to be extra festive:

  1. It’s A Wonderful Life (1946)
  2. Home Alone (1990)
  3. A Christmas Story (1983)
  4. Arthur Christmas (2011)
  5. Elf (2003)
  6. The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)
  7. The Polar Express (2004)
  8. The Santa Clause (1994)
  9. Dr Seuess’ The Grinch (2018)
  10. A Christmas Carol (2009)
  11. How The Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)
  12. White Christmas (1954)
  13. Home alone 2: Lost in New York (1992)
  14. Miracle on 34th Street (1994)
  15. Jingle All The Way (1996)

Best Christmas Animations

Oddly enough, the top film in this category is one that you might not necessarily agree with: Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas. Nevertheless, it’s rated higher with the critics and, with its cult following, is spoken about more on social media in December than the other four movies in the category.

  1. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
  2. Arthur Christmas (2011)
  3. The Polar Express (2004)
  4. Dr Seuess’ The Grinch (2018)
  5. A Christmas Carol (2009)

Whether you want to settle an argument, watch something suitable for the whole family or relax with an easy animation, our Christmas movie rankings should be just what you need this December.