More than just a seasonal tradition, the holiday movie has become an entire sub-genre unto itself. However, don’t take that to mean that every film in which Christmas (or New Year’s Eve) plays a part is filled with heartwarming cheer.
To determine the best holiday movies ever made, 24/7 Tempo developed an index using average ratings on IMDb, an online movie database owned by Amazon, and a combination of audience scores and Tomatometer scores on Rotten Tomatoes, an online movie and TV review aggregator, as of December 2022, weighting all ratings equally. Directorial and acting credits are from IMDb.
We found that some favorites – for instance, “Batman Returns” and “Gremlins” – feature the holidays in an ironic fashion, by injecting pure chaos into an otherwise festive framework. Then we have the recent indie classic “Tangerine,” which uses a holiday backdrop as an almost alienating force as it explores various lives on the fringes of society.
Of course, something like “Tangerine” – or the frankly sexual “Eyes Wide Shut” or the recent horror thriller “Better Watch Out” – are really more exceptions to the rule of seasonal fare. By and large, history’s most beloved holiday films tend to pull at the heartstrings or conjure a fun viewing experience for the whole family. (Here’s a look at every major holiday’s highest-grossing movie.)
From “A Christmas Story” to “It’s a Wonderful Life” to “Elf” to countless adaptations of “A Christmas Carol,” these timeless movies come around once a year to drive home the feel-good vibes already wafting in the air like the smell of chestnuts over an open fire. (Our preferences in holiday fare can be regionally diverse; see the top-trending Christmas movie in every state.)
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