Christmas may be the most wonderful time of the year, but some people need some help with switch into the holiday mood though, and hunkering down to watch some festive flicks is a great way to do it.
With the streaming landscape so abundant with offerings these days, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by choices for your holiday viewing. New rom-coms hit the platforms every single year, but when it comes to the classics, there’s one particular place to find them and that’s on Disney Plus.
So, we’ve selected nice of the best merry movies for you to enjoy. From reimaginings of Charles Dickens favorites, to becoming Santa Claus(e), to holiday twists on iconic franchises, there should be a little something for everyone here. If you’re looking to fill up your tank with yuletide cheer, you’re in the right place. Plus, you can get even more from our best Christmas movies – or our guide to the best Disney movies for non-holiday fare, of course.
Home Alone (1990)
Runtime: 103 mins
Director: John Hughes
Age rating: PG
Director John Hughes dominated the ’80s with a slate of incredible movies including The Breakfast Club and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Most importantly for our list, he’s also the man responsible for one of the ultimate all-time best Christmas movies, Home Alone. Such a simple premise set during the festive season, Kevin (Macaulay Caulkin) is accidentally left, you guessed it, home alone, while his family embark on a Christmas holiday.
Unfortunately, while having the run of the roost is quite exciting for a kid without his siblings bugging him, a pair of burglars have their eyes on his house for a quick robbery. Symbolizing the antithesis of the Christmas spirit, Kevin must use his cunning to booby trap the entire house and protect him and his family home from the criminals. A lot of mayhem and fun ensues, but if you’re thirsty for more, Disney Plus is also the home to the sequel. Merry Christmas, you filthy animal.
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
Runtime: 76 mins
Director: Henry Selick
Age rating: PG
Twas The Nightmare before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a… Oh wait a minute, there’s all kinds of creatures stirring in Tim Burton’s ghoulish animated title. In The Nightmare before Christmas, Jack Skellington (Danny Elfman) is the pumpkin king of Halloween Town, but he’s grown weary of the same old spooky misadventures. He heads further afield and comes across Christmas Town where he quickly discovers his love of festivities and strives to make Christmas his own. Unfortunately, for the world Halloween Town, that means kidnapping Santa Claus and taking over his much-loved role.
While Skellington may not have an entirely cohesive grip on the true festive spirit, this movie achieved holiday classic status for its imaginative storytelling, humor, and catchy songs. There’s even a sing-along version of The Nightmare Before Christmas on Disney Plus, if you fancy going full festive throttle.
The Santa Clause (1994)
Runtime: 97 mins
Director: John Pasquin
Age rating: PG
In the midst of his eight-year run as Tim ‘The Toolman’ Taylor in Home Improvement, Tim Allen took some time out for The Santa Clause. Scott (Tim Allen) and his son Charlie accidentally cause Santa to fall off their roof on Christmas Eve. At such a pinnacle point of the holiday season, Scott dons the Santa outfit and, by harnessing all the magic of Christmas, finds himself transforming into the main man himself.
It’s a truly great holiday movie that works hard to keep the spirit of Christmas alive and well. It also marks the beginning of a successful franchise with two sequels and, 30 years after the first movies, The Santa Clauses TV series. All of which can be found on Disney Plus.
Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
Runtime: 96 mins
Director: George Seaton
Age rating: Not rated
Miracle on 34th Street tells an epic tale of how one little girl’s love of Christmas reignites while fighting to prove that Santa Claus is real. Kris Kringle (Edmund Gwenn) is hired to be the Macy’s Christmas Santa Clause by events director Doris (Maureen O’Hara). Proving to be an excellent Santa, Doris is quickly disturbed when Kris says that he is in fact the real deal.
It comes down to a lawyer and Doris’s daughter Susan (Natalie Wood) to defend his name and keep the world believing in miracles. The 1994 remake can also be found on Disney Plus, starring Richard Attenborough as Santa and Matilda’s Mara Wilson as the little girl.
The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)
Runtime: 85 mins
Director: Brian Henson
Age rating: G
The Muppet Christmas Carol is a wonderful reimaging of a true Christmas classic by Charles Dickens. Michael Caine takes on the role of Scrooge while most of the other characters are, unsurprisingly given its name, Muppets. It's lauded for staying incredibly true to the original tale while still cramming in plenty of magical Muppet twists on it, adding lots of unique humor, warm-hearted moments, and some bone fide musical bangers. What’s not to love? It’s a whimsical twist on a tale that’s been told many-a-time and it’s an excellent one for the whole family to enjoy. Although it's rated G, your littlest family members may be scared by some of the ghost-y scenes.
Die Hard (1988)
Runtime: 132 mins
Director: John McTiernan
Age rating: R
Die Hard has been a mildly controversial entry in the Christmas canon for a long time, but we say it is a Christmas movie, because Christmas is the only reason John McClane (Bruce Willis) is even there. It’s not the warm, fuzzy feeling Christmas tale of days of yore, being centered around a seeming terrorist invasion at a work party.
Luckily for the workers taken hostage, John’s a cop hellbent on taking down the baddies and getting his family back together for the holidays. He wears a Christmas hat at one point, there’s decorations, and there’s some Christmas music in there too to make sure you’re feeling festive within all the intense action-packed moments.
A Christmas Carol (2009)
Runtime: 96 mins
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Age rating: PG
The Charles Dickens Christmas story gets another entry on our list with Disney’s third and final remake with a motion capture animation twist. Starring Jim Carrey as Ebenezer Scrooge, A Christmas Carol sees him haunted by the usual ghostly visitors from past, present, and yet to come. Their task; to show him the error of his ways and how there’s still time to change himself to better his life and those around him.
Director Robert Zemeckis, known famously for Back to the Future and Forrest Gump, takes on this reimagining casting more excellent cast names like Gary Oldman, Bob Hoskins, Robin Wright, and Colin Firth. God bless us everyone.
Runtime: 110 mins
Director: Sharon Maguire
Age rating: PG
A newer entry to the Disney Christmas collective is 2020’s Godmothered starring Jillian Bell and Isla Fisher. Eleanor (Bell) is an overly enthusiastic young Fairy Godmother in training who endeavors to make a little girl’s wish come true. To do this, she embarks on an adventure of her own to unite with a girl whose wish for help wasn’t granted. Unfortunately, when she arrives, Mackenzie (Fisher) isn’t a little girl anymore.
Eager to help still, Eleanor’s skills are a little misdirected and misused as she tries to learn what being in the real world is all about whilst teaching Mackenzie the power of believing in magic. A lighthearted tale with lots of bibbidi bobbidi boo.
The Guardians of the Galaxy: Holiday Special (2022)
Runtime: 42 mins
Director: James Gunn
Age rating: TV-14
The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special came at the most wonderful time of 2022 for fans of the MCU franchise, bringing holiday cheer between the second and third movies of the trilogy. In a 42-minute tale specifically geared for the holiday season, the crew head to Earth to find Quill (Chris Pratt) the perfect Christmas present.
In true Guardians of the Galaxy fun, the best gift for Quill is his childhood hero, Kevin Bacon, played by Kevin Bacon. It brings the humor and Marvel magic of the other movies, but with a wonderful Christmassy twist that will leave you feeling very festive and full of cheer.
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Grace is a freelance writer for TechRadar, with past work at sites like GamesRadar, Metro and The Loadout.