13 Actually Good Holiday Movies (I Swear)

No, I’m not including Love Actually.

It’s December. The gloves are officially off and all those Christmas lunatics have come raging into town. Thanksgiving could only hold them off so long. This year, I have a bit more patience for the month of mandatory cheer. It just seems like we could all use a break. A bit of merriness could go a long way. If you’re also feeling the pull of the holiday spirit, here are 13 actually good movies to watch this season. Some are straightforward Christmas bashes, others are simply holiday-adjacent. Take your pick.

The Nightmare Before Christmas

Starting off with a classic, where would we be without Tim Burton’s wildly disturbing catalogue. It terrified us in our youth, and delights us in adulthood. There’s no better time than the holidays to put some old favorites in the rotation. In this flick, Jack Skellington, Halloween expert, decides to try and take over for Santa. Chaos ensues.

Little Women (2019)

God I love this movie. It really gets me through the tough times. There’s something really comforting about the simple lives of the March sisters. In fact, I just watched it the other day with my roommate (my fifth time seeing it and her second) and we both cried. Those were healing tears.


I would classify this as one of those holiday-adjacent films. Technically, it’s takes place on Christmas Eve, but it’s missing a certain, simplistic cheeriness. Two trans sex workers set out on a mission to get revenge on a cheating ex. In the process, they give viewers an insider look at a community not often featured on the big screen.

Die Hard

Yeah, I’m putting it, if only for icon Alan Rickman.

A Christmas Story

Another classic. I mean, we all watched this at our grandma’s house right? I’m Jewish and I still watched this at my Jewish grandmother’s house. If, for some reason, you haven’t seen it, the film follows little Ralphie Parker through his many childhood woes, but in the end there’s still some Christmas spirit.


Will Ferrell is an elf. He tried to live in the human world. He is moderately successful.

Happiest Season

This one if for the lesbians. Kristen Stewart (amazing) is dating a great girl with homophobic parents. We’ve all been there, am I right? Also, Aubrey Plaza is there, for the gays. The thing about this one is that it’s a good, well made movie, but it’s also kind of sad for most of the run time. I mean, one would hope, homophobia doesn’t mix so well with the holidays. Watch at your own risk.

While You Were Sleeping

This is a straight up romcom, which is usually straightforward fun. Like a lot of romcoms, there’s an element of like “Oh my god, this could never/should never happen in real life,” but if you can get past that it’s pretty great. Bullock pretends to be the fiancé of her comatose crush, and ends up falling for his brother. Wacky!

Home Alone

I sometimes still get horrible flashbacks to that iron hitting the burglars face, but worth it? Home Alone is good American entertainment.

Eyes Wide Shut

This is like a Christmas movie, but sexy and directed by Stanley Kubrick. He also died right after finishing it, so there’s some pretty crazy conspiracy theories surrounding the film. If you want to do the holidays, but in your own weird way, this might be the movie for you.


Again with the lesbians. In this one, Rooney Mara and Cate Blanchett fall in deep, complicated love, all on the backdrop of the most elegant 1950s Manhattan. There is scandal, there is drama, most importantly, there is hope. If you want the thrill of a holiday flick, but are still a cinema nut at heart, this well-crafted drama should suit your needs.

The Night Before

You should know what you’re in for when you decide to sit down and watch a Seth Rogan movie: weed, chaos, dick jokes. This Christmas flick is no different. Three bros go out for one last bash. All three leads, Rogan, Anthony Mackie, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, are hilarious and one of them is even (dear God finally) a Jew. Watch this one if you’re planning to knock back a few beers first.

Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey

This is Netlix’s holiday offering of the year, a Christmas musical. A toymaker’s granddaughter sets off to reclaim her grandfather’s most prize possession: a stunning little robot. To be fair, it looks delightful. If you have a child in your life, they would probably find it magical, but even if you don’t, there’s no shame in watching this as a fully grown adult. Sometimes we all need a little holiday booster.

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