The days of ABC Family’s 25 Days of Christmas are gone. Maybe they still exist on Freeform in some form, wherever that is. But in reality, that moment has passed. The new holiday binge watch routine is scrolling through countless streaming services just trying to figure out which one has Elf. Well, scroll no more—we’ve got the answers. Max (formerly HBO Max) doesn’t have every Christmas movie on your list, but it has the highest number of modern classics, without the cheesy Hallmark-esque holiday films that have come to populate Netflix in recent years. For every holiday movie you’ll want to watch this season, turn to Max. Here are some of the most festive films on the streaming service.
National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation
The favorite holiday film of every generation, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation cannot be beat. Starring Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo, the film was written by John Hughes, the pen behind Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink, and more. The holiday flick fits into the National Lampoon’s Vacation series, which follows the Griswold family through various vacations through Europe, Vegas, and the holiday season. In Christmas Vacation, Griswold patriarch Clark is dead-set on having a “Fun, Old-Fashioned Griswold Family Christmas,” a plan which is quickly foiled by visiting family members, pretentious neighbors, and shitty bosses.
This one never gets old. Elf is a 2003 comedy starring Will Ferrell as a human who, after being raised by elves in the North Pole, ventures to New York City to meet his real dad, a publishing executive and world class grump.
A Christmas Story
The source material for, “you’ll shoot your eye out!,” A Christmas Story is a 1983 classic which follows an American family through the holiday season, led by 9-year old Ralphie Parker who is desperate for a BB gun from Santa. We’re not playing favorites, but network television sure will. The film has been played and replayed marathon style across major networks for decades, and in 2004 TBS began special programming titled “24 Hours of A Christmas Story,” during which they play the film on a 24-hour loop beginning every Christmas Eve. Of course, on Max, that viewing comes sans commercial breaks.
The Polar Express
This animated adventure classic features the voice of Tom Hanks in various forms, telling the story of a boy who climbs aboard a magical train to the North Pole on Christmas Eve to discover the true meaning of the holiday.
Christmas in Connecticut
A Christmas movie for the girls, Christmas in Connecticut is a 1945 rom-com which follows a single, city-living, magazine writer who builds her readership among housewives by writing about her fictional farm house in Connecticut, which she shares with her equally fictional husband and children. All is well, our girl is a genius and a girl boss. That is, until her publisher insists on visiting her farm house for Christmas, urging her to host a dinner for a returning war hero who loves her writing.
Among the world’s children of divorce, Four Christmases is the best Christmas movie ever made. Starring Reese Witherspoon and Vince Vaughn, the movie follows an unmarried couple whose plans to spend the holiday in Fiji are ruined by canceled flights, forcing them to show face at all four of their parents’ homes for Christmas.
If you have to throw in another animated feature for the kiddos on Christmas Day, look no further than Arthur Christmas – this movie is genuinely good. The movie begins on Christmas Eve, following the bumbling son of Santa, Arthur Claus, on his mission to deliver one forgotten gift to a young girl before Christmas morning.
People with less developed taste may call this movie bad. It’s not bad, it’s very good. Jack Frost stars Michael Keaton as a young dad who is killed suddenly in a car accident, but brought back to life as a magical snowman ahead of Christmas.
Another “family member of Santa” type flick, Fred Claus stars Paul Giamatti and Vince Vaughn as Santa Claus and his brother Fred. While Nick Claus fulfills his holiday duties, Fred works as a repo agent in Chicago—that is, until he is fired and arrested for pretending to be a Salvation Army donation collector to raise money for a casino scheme. To make bail, Fred’s Clausian brother agrees to loan him the money, if he comes to the North Pole to work for it.
This rom-com stars John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale, whose meet-cute occurs on the floor of Bloomingdales in New York during the holiday shopping season. They are both in relationships when they meet, but ultimately see their connection as a fateful one, leading them to the restaurant Serendipity 3, which is now and forever a famous film and hot cocoa destination.
Not a Christmas movie, but a movie that takes place at Christmastime, Metropolitan follows a group of young Manhattan socialites who gather in the Upper East Side to discuss all the things people in their late twenties know about—life, philosophy, fate, etc.
A Christmas Carol
Max is home to the first and the oldest version of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol from 1938, adapted from the 1843 novella. The story, which inspired the countless Christmas Carol remakes that would come, follows an old grump named Ebenezer Scrooge who learns the meaning of Christmas and the value of kindness when he’s visited by three festive ghosts.
My Gift: A Christmas Special from Carrie Underwood
If you’re movie-d out, try a musical special instead! Max is home to Carrie Underwood’s holiday special, in which she performs her stellar holiday album, My Gift. Highlights from the album include “Mary, Did You Know?” and “O Holy Night” (Carrie’s Version).
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