The 50 Best Christmas Movies of All Time, According to Rotten Tomatoes

Ellen Gutoskey
(Left to right) Karen Gillan, Pom Klementieff, Dave Bautista, and Chris Pratt in 'The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special'.
(Left to right) Karen Gillan, Pom Klementieff, Dave Bautista, and Chris Pratt in 'The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special'. / Jessica Miglio © 2022 Marvel
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Cue the tired arguments about whether Die Hard is a Christmas movie. Not only has Rotten Tomatoes proclaimed that it is, but it’s also deemed it one of the best. The classic action flick came in eighth on the review aggregator’s list of best Christmas movies of all time.

Several other films that cracked the top 50 also fall into the contentious category of Christmas-y movies that not everyone agrees are truly Christmas movies—from 1983’s Trading Places to 1992’s Batman Returns.

All in all, it’s tough to compete with 1940s Christmas classics, which monopolized the top three spots: 1944’s Meet Me in St. Louis, 1940’s The Shop Around the Corner, and 1947’s Miracle on 34th Street, respectively. It’s also tough to compete with Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women—two adaptations made the list, Greta Gerwig’s 2019 version in seventh place and the 1994 Winona Ryder–starring one in 11th.

Your belief that The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992) is a supreme feat of holiday filmmaking has been validated. It came in 34th place, which, considering how many new Christmas movies are churned out each year, is pretty impressive. It wasn’t the only film adaptation of Charles Dickens’s holiday story to make the top 50—Mickey’s Christmas Carol (1983) took the 44th spot. And 2017’s Dan Stevens–starring The Man Who Invented Christmas, a fictionalized version of how the story came to be, surpassed them both to claim 29th place.

Entries 39 through 50—many of which scored 100 percent on the Tomatometer—aren’t ranked higher because they aren’t yet Certified Fresh. The list prioritizes movies that have earned the (not automatically awarded) label.

Holiday staples like Elf (2003), A Christmas Story (1983), and White Christmas (1954) are well represented, but the breakdown is not without some surprises. See the top 50 below, and peruse Rotten Tomatoes’ full list of 100 here.

  1. Meet Me in St. Louis (1944) // 100 percent
  2. The Shop Around the Corner (1940) // 99 percent
  3. Miracle on 34th Street (1947) // 96 percent
  4. Tangerine (2015) // 96 percent
  5. Klaus (2019) // 95 percent
  6. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) // 95 percent
  7. Little Women (2019) // 95 percent
  8. Die Hard (1988) // 94 percent
  9. Carol (2015) // 94 percent
  10. It's a Wonderful Life (1946) // 93 percent
  11. Little Women (1994) // 93 percent
  12. The Apartment (1960) // 93 percent
  13. Arthur Christmas (2011) // 92 percent
  14. Tokyo Godfathers (2003) // 91 percent
  15. A Christmas Story (1983) // 90 percent
  16. Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (2010) // 90 percent
  17. The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special (2022) // 92 percent
  18. Edward Scissorhands (1990) // 89 percent
  19. Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey (2020) // 89 percent
  20. Better Watch Out (2016) // 89 percent
  21. Trading Places (1983) // 88 percent
  22. Gremlins (1984) // 86 percent
  23. A Christmas Tale (2008) // 86 percent
  24. Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang (2005) // 86 percent
  25. Elf (2003) // 85 percent
  26. Happiest Season (2020) // 82 percent
  27. While You Were Sleeping (1995) // 81 percent
  28. Batman Returns (1992) // 81 percent
  29. The Man Who Invented Christmas (2017) // 79 percent
  30. Bad Santa (2003) // 78 percent
  31. A Christmas Story Christmas (2022) // 79 percent
  32. White Christmas (1954) // 77 percent
  33. Anna and the Apocalypse (2017) // 77 percent
  34. The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992) // 76 percent
  35. Happy Christmas (2014) // 75 percent
  36. Merry Christmas (2005) // 74 percent
  37. The Ref (1994) // 73 percent
  38. The Santa Clause (1994) // 73 percent
  39. How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1967) // 100 percent
  40. Holiday Inn (1942) // 100 percent
  41. March of the Wooden Soldiers (1934) // 100 percent
  42. Remember the Night (1940) // 100 percent
  43. Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas (1977) // 100 percent
  44. Mickey's Christmas Carol (1983) // 100 percent
  45. Alien Xmas (2020) // 100 percent
  46. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964) // 95 percent
  47. Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town (1970) // 93 percent
  48. White Reindeer (2013) // 90 percent
  49. The Year Without a Santa Claus (1974) // 90 percent
  50. Christmas in Connecticut (1945) // 89 percent
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