If you’re anything like me, you have a playlist of movies set up for every time of the year. I watch Sleepless in Seattle on Valentine’s and The Rocky Horror Picture Show on Halloween, with many others in between. Christmas might be the most popular season for movies, yet we often seem stuck on the same ones. How about giving It’s A Wonderful Life a break and going for some modern Christmas movies?
A lot of all-time holiday favorites seem to be black and white movies from the ‘40s and ‘50s. While those are amazing and complete classics, sometimes you need something a little more recent. Here are some of my favorite modern Christmas movies, from the past 30 years or so!
8 Modern Christmas Movies for Your Holiday
1. The Nightmare Before Christmas
This stop-motion musical is well established as a modern classic. It also serves the double purpose of being one of the great modern Christmas movies and an amazing Halloween flick. As you probably know at this point, this fantasy follows the king of Halloween as he attempts to recreate Christmas. It’s fun and it’s sweet without being corny. Plus, try not to dance along to “Oogie Boogie’s Song”!
A modern retelling of the classic Charles Dickens novella A Christmas Carol, it features some of Bill Murray’s finest moments. He plays a mean TV executive who treats everyone badly. Of course, four ghosts visit him and show him his past, present, and future, and his attitude changes. This journey of horrid characters who turn into thoughtful people always offers great Murray moments.
For some more modern Bill Murray love, his 2015 special A Very Murray Christmas is quite joyful. Plus, it’s directed by Sofia Coppola, and the amount of cameos in it is astounding!
3. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
Could it be that original SNL cast members make the best Christmas movies? This Chevy Chase classic features everyone’s worst nightmare: a messy, impossible Christmas. From a tree that’s too big to carry home to power outage over Christmas lights, it’s everything that can go wrong. And Chase is magnificent as the growingly annoyed family man who eventually has it with everything.
The rest of the cast is pretty stellar, including a young Juliette Lewis and Johnny Galecki.
4. A Bad Moms Christmas
A sequel to Bad Moms, this silly and fairly dirty girl comedy is an endearing mess. There are better modern Christmas movies out there, but its brand of raw comedy is uncommon during the holidays. Plus, it stars a cast of incredible women, including Susan Sarandon and Christine Baranski.
5. Love Actually
Perhaps the most hearted of all modern Christmas movies on this list. Over the past 15 years, this British ensemble comedy has turned into a classic. With an all-star cast including Oscar and Emmy winners, it’ll give you a warm and fuzzy feeling inside. The cue cards scene is the most iconic, but I personally prefer the awkward naked flirting between Martin Freeman and Joanna Page.
6. The Grinch
The newest film on this list of modern Christmas movies, this is another retelling of the Dr. Seuss classic book. Starring the commanding voice of Benedict Cumberbatch, it’s the newest “it movie” for the season. Even if it doesn’t live up to the ‘60s TV movie, How the Grinch Stole Christmas is a timeless story. Plus, the cast includes legends like Angela Lansbury and Pharrell Williams!
7. The Holiday
A sweet romantic comedy about two ladies who switch apartment, this is perfect for a lazy December Sunday. It’s so rare to see Kate Winslet on something as light as this, and she’s really fun and fresh in it. The fact that she’s accompanied by legendary actor Eli Wallach and comedy master Jack Black certainly helps! Cameron Diaz’s story is also quite lovely, and she has great chemistry with Jude Law.
8. Die Hard
There’s a lot of discussion on whether Die Hard is a Christmas movie or just a movie that occurs during Christmas. I’m here to tell you that doesn’t matter and you should watch it again anyway. This ‘80s classic has Bruce Willis facing off Alan Rickman during a Christmas party. For hours, Willis hides from the terrorists taking over Nakatomi Plaza, while getting hurt a lot and getting a phone buddy. It has everything from family reunions to explosions. What’s not to love about it?