The Christmas season is upon us, giving us time to mellow out with the family. And just like most of the year, that means laying on the couch in your sweatpants and bingeing movies for days on end. We tip our hats to Amazon, which has gathered an impressive collection of holiday classics for your viewing pleasure this year, and some are even free with a subscription to Amazon Prime Video.
Amazon Prime managed to bring many of the biggest holiday movies of all time to their streaming service. Viewers can enjoy the indomitable Macaulay Culkin run circles around dim-witted robbers, catch Chevy Chase as he causes a city blackout with faulty Christmas lights, or follow Jack Skellington’s journey to save Santa Claus.
Whatever your pleasure, Amazon Prime is the place to go this season. There are old-time winter wonderland favorites alongside a few holiday gems you might’ve missed the first time around. Let’s take a stroll through the best holiday movies available to stream on Amazon as we get ready for the most wonderful time of the year.
You can also look at our massive collection of recommendations, or our list of suggestions of what to watch next based on shows you already like.
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Every parent’s worst nightmare is leaving for vacation and forgetting a kid at home. When the McCallisters skip town for a holiday abroad, their son Kevin is left behind and forced to fend off burglars alone. Released in 1990, this movie held the Guinness World Record for highest grossing live-action action comedy for over a decade. If you haven’t seen this one since you were a kid, check it out again. It’s still great fun watching Macaulay Culkin set wacky traps for the bumbling criminals who try to break in. The movie is also streaming on Disney+. (Rent on Amazon Prime)
It isn’t easy for newer flicks to climb into the upper echelons of all-time holiday favorites, but 2003’s Elf has accomplished this feat, in no small part due to Will Ferrell’s jaw-dropping performance as a hapless Christmas elf named Buddy. While Buddy grew up in Santa’s Workshop, it’s soon discovered that he’s a human, and Buddy sets off to find his real parents. Watching a fully grown man/elf stumble his way through NYC is a true joy to behold, and Zooey Deschanel and James Caan are excellent additions to the cast. This movie is great fun for kids of all ages. Though it’s not free for Amazon Prime members, it is free if happen to subscribe to Starz. (Rent on Amazon Prime)
Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas
This one’s for anyone who’s still dreaming of Halloween in December. Tim Burton’s stop-motion musical masterpiece follows a gentleman skeleton named Jack Skellington who lives in Halloween Town, where no one’s ever heard of Christmas. Jack is tired of endless Halloween celebrations, and when he stumbles upon a door to a place called Christmas Town, Jack decides to change things up a bit. Danny Elfman wrote all the songs and performs as Jack in the memorable musical numbers. It is a little creepy at times, but mostly lighthearted and a good watch for older kids. If you happen to have Disney+, it’s included with your subscription. (Rent on Amazon Prime)
Nothing Like the Holidays
This 2008 comedy about a Puerto Rican family in Chicago features all the holiday movie hallmarks, like romantic squabbles and family friction during the days surrounding Christmas. The matriarch informs her grown kids that she plans to leave their father, and the sudden news casts a new light on what could be their final holiday together as a family. Weaving the stories of different characters together, the movie provides a fun look into what it means to be a family. An ensemble cast featuring big names like John Leguizamo, Debra Messing, Luis Guzmán, and Alfred Molina shows viewers that, while family gatherings can be messy, they’re a central part of who we are. (Included with your Amazon Prime Video subscription)
A Christmas Story
If you ever wondered why people joke about getting Red Ryder BB Guns during the holidays, it’s time to sit down and watch A Christmas Story. The movie is a series of vignettes based on Jean Shepherd’s semi-true accounts of his own childhood at nine years old. You’ll get to see the infamous “Battle of the Lamp” and find out if little Ralphie Parker ever gets his BB gun on the big morning. The Christmas classic is a favorite for all ages, as it’s filled with those childhood frustrations we all remember. It’s just as fun as when it was released in 1983. Here’s how to watch it this year. (Rent on Amazon Prime)
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
The holidays are all about family, for better or worse. The third movie in National Lampoon’s Vacation series follows the Griswolds once again as they try to have an “ol’ fashioned family Christmas.” Nothing goes as planned, and everyone is at each other’s throats. But hey, it’s family. And watching the Griswold family muddle through their haphazard holiday events is an absolute joy. John Hughes (who also wrote Home Alone) imprinted this movie with his Midas touch, and Chevy Chase as Clark Griswold is always the perfect comedic leading man. (Rent on Amazon Prime)
Miracle on 34th Street
Released in 1947, the classic dramedy centers around the staff of Macy’s in New York during Christmastime. The Macy’s Day Parade Santa is caught drunk on the job, so a new mysterious figure who just might be the real Santa Claus takes his place. One memorable scene shows Santa in court, forced to defend his own existence before the judge. Miracle on 34th Street strikes a mighty blow against cynical consumerism and gives viewers a glimpse into true holiday magic in this misty-eyed family favorite for the ages. And if you’ve never seen the film’s inventive trailer, you’re in for a treat! It’s also streaming for free for Disney+ subscribers. (Rent on Amazon Prime)
Love Actually’s international ensemble cast delights viewers with the many facets of love and heartbreak during the holidays. The movie follows a whirlwind of 10 interlocking stories that have kept fans coming back time and time again since the film’s release in 2008. Featuring a virtual who’s who of celebrities in the early 2000s, the cast includes Hugh Grant, Emma Thompson, Alan Rickman, Keira Knightley, Colin Firth, Liam Neeson, and many more. Anyone in the mood for a romantic holiday distraction won’t be disappointed. (Rent on Amazon Prime)
Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Jim Carrey stars as the furry green protagonist in the 2000 live-action remake of Dr. Seuss’s timeless tale. Directed by the great Ron Howard, the story follows the people of Whoville, who love the holidays but aren’t very friendly toward the titular outcast living on the outskirts of town. The Grinch decides to take matters into his own hands with disastrous results. There’s some edgy humor here that may not be appropriate for some kids, but it’s a fun family movie overall that expands on the classic Christmas tale. If you have Netflix, you’re in luck: It’s free to stream. (Rent on Amazon Prime)
It’s a Wonderful Life
This bonafide yuletide classic has been wowing audiences since its release in 1946. James Stewart, one of the biggest stars of his time, plays George Bailey, who’s contemplating suicide on Christmas Eve. Although it doesn’t sound like a family movie, It’s a Wonderful Life follows Bailey as a guardian angel takes him through scenes in his life to illustrate the many ways Bailey has helped others through his actions. It’s one of those movies you’re afraid to watch because it seems so old, but you’re glad you did afterwards. (Included with your Amazon Prime Video subscription)
These are just some of the Christmas and holiday movies on Amazon Prime Video you’ll find if you browse around. If you’re looking for even more streaming holiday and Christmas movies, check out our suggestions for Hulu, Disney+, Netflix, and HBO Max.
Stop searching, start watching! TV Guide’s Watch This Now! page has even more TV recommendations.