Christmas movies: The definitive ranking of the best festive films of all time 5 months ago

Christmas movies: The definitive ranking of the best festive films of all time

Well, according to JOE that is

Shut up with your opinions - we've cracked it. Someone go tell IMDB it has no idea what it's on about.


We asked the JOE hive mind to share their thoughts on the best Christmas movies ever made - and they delivered.

After compiling the votes and sticking them through our magical JOE Christmas calculator (read: a regular calculator), we've whipped up the only list you'll need this December when it comes to deciding what to watch.

Be careful though: if viewed in order, the following list may produce dangerous levels of festive cheer. Seriously - we can't be held accountable for how buoyant your baubles might get - but if you feel brave enough, let's jump in...


10 - The Polar Express

Rounding out our definitive list of the best Christmas movies ever is The Polar Express, a film that marked one of Hollywood's first major forays into the world of motion capture filmmaking and an unexpected detour into the uncanny valley. As Tom Hanks' glassy (or should we say dead?) eyed train conductor ushers a coach-load of chirpy, Christmas-loving kids on a trip to the North Pole to see Santa, director Robert Zemeckis manages to avoid the perils of using a technology that's not quite reached its full potential long enough to create a Christmas movie that's still held in relatively high regard among the generation that grew up with it. Bonus points for making it onto the list despite featuring elves that look like people you'd avoid down the pub.

9 - The Holiday


Christmas movies love a good swap. Whether it's Netflix fare like The Christmas Switch or the seemingly never-ending throng of royalty-based Christmas films like The Princess Switch, A Christmas Prince, or A Very Princessy Switchmas. Okay, we might have made that last one up - but the fact that you almost bought it surely proves our point. There's lots of festive switcharoo movies and one of the most popular is The Holiday, a film that sees Londoner Kate Winslet switch homes with LA local Cameron Diaz in an adventure that helps both find love with Jack Black and Jude Law respectively. It's a premise that may seem a little trite - but none of that matters at Christmas, which is why Nancy Meyers' much-loved rom-com has cracked our festive top 10.

8 - Die Hard

"Now I have a Machine Gun. Ho Ho Ho." This one line - written in red lipstick on a sweater and strapped to the body of a dead terrorist - manages to perfectly encapsulate the beauty of John McTiernan's 1988 action classic. Like two flavours that just shouldn't work together but end up becoming irresistible, mixing the music, colour, and charm of the holidays with a deadly hostage situation just kind of... works. For years, audiences have debated whether Bruce Willis's first stint as the cop who shouldn't even be here today, John McClane, is in fact a Christmas movie. Well, its presence on this list must mean that it is. Welcome to the party, pal!


7 - Nativity

It turns out this list of stand-out Christmas movies is predominately American-based - so it's refreshing to see a British title appear within our ranking. Directed by Debbie Isitt, Nativity! taps into that cringey, crepe-paper-crown filled formative time in all of our lives where we desperately try not to get cast as 'Christmas palm tree #3' and then inevitably shit our pants when we discover we've actually got to deliver lines in front of a crowd of snap-happy parents. Tim from The Office - aka Martin Freeman - started this franchise off and it's gone on to spawn three sequels - so we can't be the only ones out there who like this familiar festive fodder.

6 - The Muppet Christmas Carol


Maybe it's the Muppets, maybe it's music, maybe it's because it's played pretty much on-repeat every flippin' December - but The Muppet Christmas Carol manages to pack more festive cheer in one minute of film than most fit into their entire run-times. Nowadays it's considered a classic but back in 1992, its future was far from clear. The first feature film of Brian Henson - who inherited the Muppets from his father Jim who died suddenly just two years earlier - The Muppet Christmas Carol was a make-or-break-moment to prove Kermit and co could exist without their visionary founder. Thankfully, Henson Jr not only succeeded but created a Christmas classic that's become mandatory festive viewing for many.

5 - It's A Wonderful Life

You can't beat a classic - and it doesn't get more classic than It's A Wonderful Life. Released in 1946, director Frank Capra's misty-eyed tale of one man's redemption has been used to inspire stories by a wealth of imitators - from the Muppets to Shrek. It takes Jimmy Stewart's down-on-his-lucky bank manager George Bailey catching a glimpse of what life would be like had he never been born for him to truly appreciate his worth and impact on society. At its core, it's a story about appreciating what you have and the people around you - so remember that when you start getting all stroppy when you don't find a PS5 under the tree this year.

4 - Love Actually

It may be sickly sweet and more syrupy than Buddy The Elf's breakfast spaghetti but you can't deny the lasting power of Richard Curtis' seasonal tale of Londoners looking for love. Odds are, most people's lasting memory of this star-studded drama is a pre-Walking Dead Andrew Lincoln confessing his undying love for his best mate's girlfriend via hastily written placards, like Bob Dylan with an Oyster Card. Not weird at all. Meanwhile, there's the genuinely heart-wrenching sequence of Emma Thompson discovering her husband of countless years is sleeping with his secretary and proving in three minutes, a thousand silent emotions and zero dialogue, just why she's one of the best actors we've ever produced. JOE must be a stickler for the bittersweet though, as even these troubling lovey-dovey moments haven't stopped this saccharine love story from breaking our top five.

3 - The Grinch

If the internet is to be believed, playing the Grinch was so physically uncomfortable that star Jim Carrey needed a CIA expert to train him on how to endure torture just to stomach wearing its fuzzy, green make-up during production. With that in mind, he'll no doubt be glad he came third in our top 10. Still, you can't deny that Carrey is an actor that's willing to suffer for his art - and the end result was one of the most successful and enduring adaptations of American Roald Dahl Dr Seuss's classic story of a hairy, green grump determined to steal Christmas from the perennially happy Whos. While make-up maestro Rick Baker's claustrophobic get-up may have been enough to drive its star to the brink of crazy, it's undoubtedly withstood the test of time, helping The Grinch age like a fine Who-wine.

2 - Elf

With Elf, Will Ferrell cemented himself as not only a bonafide comedy king but also a fully-fledged Christmas icon - so it's no wonder this much-loved 2003 adventure made its way so high up on our list. It could be thanks to those cosy shots of Manhattan in December or the wholesome story of a son trying to connect with his estranged father - or maybe it's watching Ferrell's grinning, green chaos-whirlwind downing an entire bottle of coke before doing the longest burp ever committed to celluloid. Either way, there's just something about Elf that never fails to pack our empty, cynical souls full of fuzzy, festive joy.

1 - Home Alone

Nothing says 'Merry Christmas' quite like a paint pan to the face - which is why 1990's Home Alone has emerged victorious as JOE's ultimate Christmas movie. This festive favourite about a boy left to protect his home from a pair of bumbling burglars is a stone-cold classic that screams Christmas - and not just in front of the mirror. Almost every single one of its scenes is filled with cosy reds, seasonal greens, or a combination of both. While the powers-that-be have tried many times to replicate this winning formula (Take a bow, 1992's Home Alone 2 : Lost in New York. Get your coat, 2021's Home Sweet Home Alone), there's just no beating the original and best. Merry Christmas, ya' filthy animal.

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