Festive movies start playing in rotation once the holiday season comes around, but who’s complaining? Heartwarming and full of life lessons, these movies tug at our heartstrings in all the right ways. Seven in particular help bring a little more warmth and cheer into the holiday season every single year.
A Charlie Brown Christmas
Christmastime is here. Happiness and cheer. Charlie Brown fans know the rest of the words to that holiday tune. Released in 1965, A Charlie Brown Christmas is an animated special that begins with Charlie Brown experiencing some holiday blues. He decides to direct a Christmas play—Lucy’s suggestion—to get him out of his funk. Soon Charlie Brown realizes the true meaning of Christmas.
A Christmas Story
The holidays would be a little empty without some Ralphie Parker (Peter Billingsley). This classic holiday comedy, released in 1983, follows the 9-year-old as he hopes to receive a Red Rider BB gun for Christmas. He tries to convince those around him why it makes for the perfect gift.
The Nightmare Before Christmas
Ah, the adventures of Jack Skellington. The Pumpkin King, who lives in Halloween Town, accidentally stumbles into Christmas Town in this masterful animated film. He’s taken aback by the colorful differences and quickly devises a plan to take over Christmas. Tim Burton’s 1993 flick isn’t mean-spirited; it somehow makes us love the holiday even more despite its ghoulish elements.
It’s A Wonderful Life
Decades since its release in 1946, A Wonderful Life still continues to touch viewers. The film follows George Bailey (James Stewart), a distressed and unhappy businessman who contemplates suicide. A guardian angel named Clarence (Henry Travers) is sent to help him realize just how meaningful his existence really is.
The Preacher’s Wife
Denzel Washington stars in this comedy as Dudley, an angel sent to aid a pastor of a struggling Baptist church in New York City. In the midst of trying to help, Dudley spends a lot of time with the pastor’s neglected wife, Julia, played by Whitney Houston. (Of course, we also get to hear her stellar vocals in the film!) The Preacher’s Wife emphasizes the importance of being there for others and having faith that all things will work out.
Miracle on 34th Street
What’s Christmas without Kris Kringle? This classic 1947 film centers on a department store Santa Claus who claims to be the real deal. Eventually, he lands in court with lawyer Fred Gailey (John Payne) who tries to prove that he really is Santa Claus. Edmund Gwenn, who played Kris Kringle, won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for the role.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Nobody wants to be a Grinch during the holidays, but the season isn’t complete without watching him. This Dr. Seuss classic was made into a television special in 1966 bringing to the screen the story of the grumpy Grinch who, well, tries to steal the holiday.