Watching a favorite holiday movie is an annual tradition for many families. To help trim down the countless options, Parents magazine teamed up with Rotten Tomatoes, the movie-review aggregator, to select the best holiday movies of all time.
First, Rotten Tomatoes chose movies that critics gave positive reviews to on its site. Then, Parents magazine whittled down the list and chose family-friendly themes with a reasonable running time (for younger kids).
“Many families snuggle up to watch a holiday movie together at this time of year,” said Dana Points, editor-in-chief of Parents. “Our list guarantees a movie the whole family – including the adults – will enjoy.”From beloved classics to modern favorites, here are the 10 picks listed in alphabetical order.
'A Christmas Story' (1983)
Set in the 1940s, a 9-year-old named Ralphie only wants a Red Ryder B.B. gun for Christmas. Follow along as he tries to convince his parents, teachers and friends in this holiday classic, starring Peter Billingsley (pictured), Melinda Dillion and Darren McGavin.
'Arthur Christmas' (2011)
After delivering billions of presents around the world, Santa ended up missing one child. To save the magic of Christmas, Santa's clumsy son Arthur, along with his father, Grandsanta, a young elf and some untrained reindeer, head on a journey to give out the misplaced present to the young girl in less than two hours. Featuring the voices of James McAvoy, Hugh Laurie, Bill Nighy, Ashley Jensen and more.
As a toddler, Buddy (Will Ferrell) was accidentally sent to the North Pole and was raised by Santa's elves. To learn his true identity, Buddy travels to New York City in search of his real father. The movie also stars James Caan, Bob Newhart, Mary Steenburgen and Zooey Deschanel.
'It's A Wonderful Life' (1946)
George Bailey (James Stewart, center), a businessman in debt, contemplates his life on Christmas Eve. After wishing he had never been born, an angel appears and shows George what life would be like without him and how many lives would be changed and impacted. The movie also starts Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore and Thomas Mitchell.
'Miracle on 34th Street' (1947)
When Santa can't participate in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade, Kris Kringle (Edmund Gwenn, left) steps in and proves to be a hit. He begins to appear regularly at Macy's in Manhattan. He continuously claims that he is the real Santa Claus, which leads to a court case to determine his mental health -- and authenticity. Along the way, he tries to win over the heart of a young girl (Natalie Wood, right), who lost her Christmas spirit.
A young girl finds a hurt reindeer and believes it is Prancer, one of Santa's reindeer. Not wanting to give up her belief in Old St. Nick, she hopes to bring it back to health with the help of a local veterinarian. The movie stars Rebecca Harrell (pictured), Cloris Leachman, Abe Vigoda, Sam Elliott and Michael Constantine.
'The Muppet Christmas Carol' (1992)
The Muppets perform a retelling of the classic Charles Dickens holiday tale. The story follows Ebenezer Scrooge (Michael Caine) as he is visited by the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future. Kermit the Frog plays Bob Cratchit. Miss Piggy, Gonzo, Fozzie Bear and Sam the Eagle also star in the movie.
'The Nightmare Before Christmas' (1993)
Jack Skellington, the pumpkin king of the dark and gloomy Halloween Town, is tired of scaring people. He accidentally ends up in Christmas Town, which is filled with vibrant colors and joyous occasions. He decides he wants to control the new town, so he kidnaps Santa Claus to take over that role, but finds himself a bit confused when things don't go according to his plan. This is a Tim Burton film, which stars Danny Elfman, Chris Sarandon, Catherine O'Hara, Paul Reubens and more.
'The Santa Clause' (1994)
Scott (Tim Allen, right) and his son (Eric Lloyd, left) are transported to the North Pole on Christmas Eve. They meet an elf who explains Scott must take Santa's place before the next Christmas arrives. He doesn't believe this is real, but throughout the next several months, he gains weight, grows a white beard and more. The movie also stars Judge Reinhold, Wendy Crewson and David Krumholtz.
'White Christmas' (1954)
Sister act Betty (Rosemary Clooney, second from right) and Judy Haynes (Vera-Ellen, second from left) team up with singers Bob Wallace (Bing Crosby, left) and Phil Davis (Danny Kaye, right) on a musical adventure to help the owner of a failing Vermont country inn.