Every year around the holidays, fans sit down with some of their favorite Christmas movie classics. There are so many to choose from going back decades. But there are also a number of great modern holiday movies that are becoming very popular with audiences.

Within the last decade, there have been some very notable releases, with some coming as recently as this year. From family-friendly adventures to silly comedies and even some horror-themed holiday fun, there is something for everyone to enjoy. These recent movies could find their way into the annual Christmas watchlist for many fans.

Updated on December 13th, 2021 by Colin McCormick: It is that time of year again and movie fans are always looking for some great holiday movies to enjoy. While It’s a Wonderful Life and Miracle of 34th Street remain classics, there continue to be great Christmas movies being made in the last decade.

From the animated gems to the family-friendly adventures to the ones that push the holiday genre to interesting new places, there are plenty of modern yuletide movies for everyone to discover and make into their new favorites for the season.

15 Krampus (2015) – 6.2

  • Available to stream on fuboTV, FXNow, DIRECTV, and Spectrum on Demand

It can be difficult to mix horror and Christmas effectively, but it can be really fun when it does end up working. In Krampus, a dysfunctional family attempts to celebrate together despite everyone being preoccupied with their own problems and grievances. Their lack of Christmas spirit soon gets them targeted by the ancient monster, Krampus.

The movie does a nice job bringing the old holiday lore into a modern setting. There is also some fun dark comedy which is handled well by the talented cast that includes Toni Collette and Adam Scott.

14 Noelle (2019) – 6.3

  • Available to stream on Disney+

Disney+ released its own holiday original movie with Noelle. Anna Kendrick stars as Noelle Kringle, the daughter of Santa Claus. When it is time for her brother (Bill Hader) to step into the role of Santa, he has a nervous breakdown forcing Noelle to try and save Christmas herself.

Kendrick is extremely charming and funny in the lead role, bringing a huge spark to the story. It is also an interesting subversion of the classic Santa story with just the right amount of magic and humor thrown in.


13 The Grinch (2018) – 6.4

  • Available to stream on FXNow, DIRECTV, and Spectrum on Demand

Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas is a classic with the old cartoon remaining a must-see for the season and there are also plenty of fans of the live-action Jim Carrey version. The Grinch returns the story to animation with Benedict Cumberbatch voicing the titular character.

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The movie expands on the old story in some interesting and charming ways, once again giving the Grinch a sympathetic backstory. It is a beautifully animated movie with a heartwarming message at its center.

12 The Night Before (2015) – 6.4

  • Available to rent on Apple iTunes

Leave it to Seth Rogen and company to pull off a hilarious R-rated holiday comedy. Rogen stars alongside Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Anthony Mackie as three best friends whose annual Christmas Eve party night takes them on an insane and dangerous adventure through New York City.

The Night Before combines Christmas traditions with drugs and partying in a pretty wild way. The three leads are a lot of fun and there are some great cameos throughout, including Miley Cyrus and Michael Shannon.

11 Last Christmas (2019) – 6.5

  • Available to rent on Apple iTunes

Wham’s “Last Christmas” is a favorite tune for the season and it helped inspire this recent romantic comedy. Emilia Clarke stars as an aimless young Londoner who meets a handsome mystery man (Henry Golding) who helps her find the true meaning of Christmas.

The story takes some interesting twists and turns while remaining enjoyable throughout. Clarke is especially good in a role that allows her to show off her surprising comedic talent while Golding is a great romantic interest.

10 Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey (2020) – 6.5

  • Available to stream on Netflix

Though quite a new Christmas movie, Jingle Jangle has already earned a lot of fans. This musical fantasy adventure follows a former toymaker who tries to regain some of his old magic ways with the help of his adventurous granddaughter.

The Netflix family film is a stylish and vibrant production that should thrill fans of all ages. It is packed with music and magic while also delivering a touching message at the center of its story.

9 Better Watch Out (2016) – 6.5

  • Available to stream on Prime Video, fubo TV, Peacock, Peacock Premium, The Roku Channel, Hoopla, Vudu, Tubi TV, Redbox, Crackle, Pluto TV, Shudder, Spectrum On Demand, and Plex.

Much like Krampus, Better Watch Out attempts the difficult balance of a holiday horror movie with some comedic elements. The movie follows a young babysitter who is forced to defend the young boy she is watching from home invaders.

While it initially feels like an R-rated take on Home Alone, Better Watch Out is much cleverer than it seems with some twists that turn it into a much more twisted and interesting horror story.

8 Happiest Season (2020) – 6.6

  • Available to stream on Hulu

Happiest Season is another newer holiday movie that stars Kristen Stewart as a young woman who accompanies her girlfriend (Mackenzie Davis) home for the holidays only to discover she hasn’t come out to her family.

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This is a fun new take on the typical holiday comedy centered around awkward families. It is a nice mix of comedy and heartfelt moments. But the whole thing is really elevated by the very talented cast, including scene-stealing roles from Dan Levy and Aubrey Plaza.

7 8-Bit Christmas (2021) – 6.7

  • Available to stream on HBO Max

A Christmas Story remains one of the most charming Christmas movies and very relatable as it deals with the nostalgic feeling of wanting that one special gift as a youngster. 8-Bit Christmas is clearly inspired by that movie, telling an 80s-set movie about a young boy hoping to get a Nintendo under the Christmas tree.

The movie is filled with great nostalgic humor that will likely transport some viewers back to their youth while younger viewers will surely have fun with the adventure of it all. While it might be a bit too beholden to A Christmas Story, it is able to stand enough on its own to be fun.

6 The Best Man Holiday (2013) – 6.7

  • Available to stream on Peacock Premium, DIRECTV, Sling, TNT, TBS, Spectrum On Demand, and Tru TV

The Best Man was a 90s rom-com about a group of friends getting together for a wedding and dealing with various personal struggles. The sequel picks up over a decade later and adds a Christmas spin on it in The Best Man Holiday.

The movie may be light on plot but it makes up for it with a fun energy and terrific cast that includes Taye Diggs, Regina Hall, and Terrence Howard. Returning to these characters after so many years does give that sense of reuniting with loved ones for the holidays.

5 A Boy Called Christmas (2021) – 6.8

  • Available to stream on Netflix

Based on the novel of the same name, A Boy Called Christmas imagines the magical origins of the special holiday and the young man at the center of it all. The story follows the titular young boy who ventures into the harsh wilderness to rescue his father and encounters a hidden elf world.

The movie has a grand and wonderous feel that turns it into a grand adventure. It is almost like a Christmas version of Harry Potter which will no doubt please many fans.

4 The Christmas Chronicles (2018) – 7.0

  • Available to stream on Netflix

Kurt Russell is probably not an actor a lot of people would think of for Santa Claus, but he really owns the role in Netflix’s family adventure The Christmas Chronicles. The film follows a pair of siblings who must help Santa save Christmas after accidentally causing his sleigh to crash.

It is a fun and light ride perfect for a cozy winter night when the family is looking for some yuletide fun. But the real treat is Russell’s Santa as the actor really commits with his performance.

3 Shazam! (2019) – 7.0

  • Available to stream on HBO Max, DIRECTV, Sling, TNT, TBS, Spectrum On Demand, and Tru TV
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While Hawkeye is delivering some great Christmas fun in the MCU, another superhero movie got into the festive spirit before that. Shazam! introduced a new hero to the DCEU and one that seemed to actively move away from the darker and brooding heroes the cinematic universe had become known for.

Young Billy Batson is given the powers of ancient gods to become a powerful superhero. The movie has a lot of fun imagining what a kid would do with the powers of Superman and the Christmas setting just adds to the fun of the movie.

2 Arthur Christmas (2011) – 7.1

  • Available to stream on fubo TV, DIRECTV, Sling, Free Form, and Spectrum On Demand

The animated holiday adventure Arthur Christmas is another movie that looks at the family and lineage of Santa Claus. The titular character, Arthur (voiced by James McAvoy) is Santa’s youngest and clumsiest son who sets out on an adventure to deliver a misplaced toy to a young child.

The movie is a family-friendly adventure, but there is plenty of fun sequences and clever humor for an older audience to enjoy as much as the children.

1 Klaus (2019) – 8.2

  • Available to stream on Netflix

The Oscar-nominated Klaus is a beautifully animated holiday story that explores the special origins of Santa in a really interesting way. The story follows a postal worker who is stationed in a remote frozen community engaged in a long and disastrous feud. When he befriends an isolated toymaker named Klaus, they seek to end the feud through kindness and gifts.

The unique and brilliant style of the movie is eye-catching, but that’s only where the magic of Klaus begins. It is a funny, clever, and moving story that creates an interesting and complex new mythology for the beloved figure of Santa Claus.

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