As we cosy up beside a roaring fire for some quality family time, or opt to just stay home to avoid the crowds and arctic temperatures spreading across the country, we’ve rounded up some of the more classic oldie but goodie Christmas films that can keep you company.
Here are our top 11 classic holiday film picks through the early 2000s that are sure to bring back all the nostalgia.
1. It’s A Wonderful Life (1946)
Everyone should remember little ZuZu’s classic line in It’s A Wonderful Life: “Every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings.”
In this true holiday classic, George Bailey brings the meaning of Christmas right to our living room each year as we follow the revelation of how many people he has impacted throughout his life. As he drowns in crushing debt at his family-owned bank and the town Scrooge, Mr. Potter tries to put him out of business, George Bailey tries to end his life but is saved by the unlikeliest of characters — a novice guardian angel, Clarence.
In an attempt to earn his wings, Clarence is first shown Bailey’s past and those he impacted, and to make Bailey realise his life is worth living, he drags him into his past showing what those people’s lives would have been like if he had ceased to exist.
This movie will make you laugh, it will make you cry, and it is sure to bring the family together year after year.
Where to stream: Amazon Prime Video
2. Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
A wholesome and heartwarming film, Miracle on 34th Street doesn’t disappoint.
As Doris Walker organizes the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, she finds their Santa Clause is drunk and needs a stand-in, which introduces Father Christmas himself. Kris Kringle claims to be the jolly man himself, but Doris, who doesn’t believe in imagination or fairytales, tells her impressionable daughter Susan that Kris is just a “nice man with a beard.”
When their kind neighbour Fred Gailey steps in, he allows Kris to stay with him, and together, they try to introduce some holiday spirit to the mother-daughter duo. It all comes crashing down when Kris is accused of being insane because he believes himself to be the real Santa Clause. Fred Gailey steps up before a courtroom to prove that Kris is the one true Santa Clause in a story about faith, love, and miracles.
Where to stream: Disney+
3. A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)
Charlie Brown brings the ideals of Christmas to your screen in this short classic that explores the story of Jesus and the meaning of the holiday season.
Depressed about the commercialism of Christmas, Charlie Brown brings a tiny fir Christmas tree to his friends for their pageant, but he is ridiculed for not buying a large tree decorated in lights. It is then that Linus steps up to remind them what is the true meaning of Christmas.
Where to stream: Apple TV+
4. Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966)
The original animated film How the Grinch Stole Christmas still finds a place in our hearts, even after Jim Carrey brought the outcast to the big screen in 2000.
The Grinch lived on the top of Mt. Crumpit, isolated from Whoville and the townspeople living far below. His hatred for the Whos runs so deep that he hatches a plan to ruin Christmas by stealing all the presents and decorations from the town. During the course of events, he meets little Cindy Lou Who, who makes him realise that Christmas is about being surrounded by those you love.
Where to stream: Amazon Prime Video, Stan
5. Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town (1970)
Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town explores Santa’s childhood and youth, explaining where the reindeer came from and how Santa started making toys. The Burgermeister Meisterburger, the mayor of Somberville, is too mean to allow the Kringles to deliver toys to the children of the town.
The young Kris Kringle decides to take it upon himself to deliver the toys but encounters an evil wizard named Winter who lives between the Kringles and the town.
Overcoming all obstacles, Kris manages to melt Winter’s heart and alongside the town schoolteacher, bring Christmas back into the hearts of the townspeople.
Where to stream: Tubi
6. A Christmas Story (1983)
This classic comes highly recommended by our editor:
As Christmas approaches, 9-year-old Ralphie Parker asks for just one thing, a Red Ryder Range 200 Shot BB gun. His wish is met with an immediate negative response from the adults in his life.
Throughout the film, Raphie works tirelessly to show his family why he deserves the BB gun and proves that persistence will persevere.
Where to stream: Binge
7. Scrooged (1988)
A modern retelling and parody based on the critically acclaimed story, A Christmas Carol, this film introduces Frank Coss, a mean-spirited television executive who treats those around him with disdain. On Christmas Eve he fires an employee for disagreeing with him and alienates himself from his brother, who, despite Frank’s obvious dislike for the holiday, continues to invite him to Christmas dinner.
That all changes when Frank is forced to confront his past and the events to come when he is visited by three ghosts on Christmas Eve.
Where to stream: Amazon Prime Video, Binge, Stan, Foxtel Now
8. Home Alone (1990)
This iconic movie follows Kevin McAllister, the youngest boy of seven children who is accidentally left behind on Christmas. It has become a beloved film, and is the most-played Christmas movie of all time.
Kevin’s family is jet setting to Paris, France for the holidays but when Kevin and his brother Buzz get into a fight, he is sent to his third-floor bedroom. But in the rush of getting out the door and to the airport the next morning, his family leaves him behind. With the house to himself, it starts off as one of the best holidays of Kevin’s life, but events take an unusual turn when two burglars, Harry and Marv, try to rob the house. They bite off more than they can chew with Kevin, who uses quick thinking and devious traps to bring the burglars to justice.
Where to stream: Disney+, Foxtel Now
9. The Santa Clause (1994)
When Scott Calvin (played by Tim Allen) stepped into the bright red suit on cinema screens in 1994, The Santa Clause became an instant classic. It’s Christmas Eve and Scott Calvin, a disbeliever in magic and Christmas, is fast asleep in his bed when he hears a commotion from outside.
His life takes an unprecedented turn when Santa falls off his roof and he dons the red coat and suspenders to deliver Christmas presents. The rest of the film finds Calvin coping with his newfound identity while his son Charlie encourages him to embrace who he has become.
Where to stream: Disney+
10. Elf (2003)
Buddy the elf travelled across “the seven levels of the candy cane forest, through the sea of swirly-twirly gum drops, and then … through the Lincoln Tunnel” to find his dad after the man who raised him, Papa Elf, tells him he was adopted.
When he finally finds Walter, his birth father and the editor of a highly successful New York City book publisher, chaos ensues. Although Buddy’s interests are considered widely unpopular, such as living off the elves’ four main food groups, candy, candy canes, candy corn, and syrup, he shows his dad how to be a father and brings together an entire city through music.
“The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.”
Where to stream: Binge, Paramount+, Stan, Foxtel Now
11. Love Actually (2003)
Nearly 20 years after Love Actually, featuring an all-star cast, hit the big screen it is still a memorable classic. The film brings together nine love stories that are woven throughout each other’s narratives and leaves everyone rooting for their favourite couples.
Featuring the late Alan Rickman, Emma Thompson, Hugh Grant, Keira Knightley, Liam Neeson, and many others, the stories introduce unrequited love, young love, loss, acceptance, and a humanity that proves “love actually is everywhere.”
Where to stream: Binge, Stan, Foxtel Now