The most effective Christmas and Christmas movies on Amazon Prime Video
The holiday season is just around the corner and gives us time to relax with the family. And just like most of the year, it means lying on the couch in your sweatpants and making movies for days on end. We’re giving our hats to Amazon, which this year has put together an impressive collection of holiday classics for your viewing pleasure. Some are even free with a subscription to Amazon Prime Video.
Amazon Prime has managed to include many of the greatest vacation movies of all time on its streaming service. Viewers can enjoy the indomitable Macaulay Culkin spinning circles around grim robbers, catch Chevy Chase with faulty Christmas lights in a city breakdown, or follow Jack Skellington’s journey to the rescue of Santa Claus.
Whatever your pleasure, Amazon Prime is the place for this season. There are old winter wonderland favorites alongside a few vacation gems that you might have missed the first time. Let’s take a stroll through the best vacation movies available to stream on Amazon as we prepare for the best time of the year.
You can also check out our extensive collection of recommendations or our list of suggestions for what to see next based on shows you already like.
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Any parent’s worst nightmare is going on vacation and forgetting a child at home. When the McCallisters skip town for a vacation abroad, their son Kevin is left behind and forced to fend off intruders on his own. This 1990 film held the Guinness World Record for the highest live-action-action comedy in over a decade. If you haven’t seen this since childhood, take another look at it. Still great fun watching Macaulay Culkin set insane traps for the bumblebees trying to break in. The film is also streamed on Disney +. (Rent from Amazon Prime)
It’s not easy for newer films to climb to the top of the top vacation favorites, but the 2003 Elf did the feat, thanks in no small part to Will Ferrell’s dazzling performance as the unfortunate Christmas elf named Buddy. While Buddy grew up in Santa’s workshop, it soon turns out that he is human, and Buddy sets off to find his real parents. Watching a full blown man / elf stumble through NYC is a real pleasure, and Zooey Deschanel and James Caan are excellent additions to the cast. This movie is great fun for kids of all ages. While it’s not free for Amazon Prime members, it’s free when you subscribe to Starz. (Rent from Amazon Prime)
Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas
This is for everyone who is still dreaming of Halloween in December. Tim Burton’s stop-motion musical masterpiece follows a skeleton gentleman named Jack Skellington who lives in Halloween Town, where no one has heard of Christmas. Jack is fed up with endless Halloween celebrations, and when he comes across a door to a place called Christmas Town, Jack decides to change things up a bit. Danny Elfman wrote all of the songs and appears as Jack in the memorable music numbers. It’s a bit scary at times, but mostly light-hearted and a good watch for older kids. If you have Disney +, it’s included with your subscription. (Rent from Amazon Prime)
Nothing like the holidays
This 2008 comedy about a Puerto Rican family in Chicago has all the hallmarks of the vacation movie, such as romantic arguments and family friction around Christmas. The matriarch informs her adult children that she plans to leave their father, and the sudden news sheds new light on their last family vacation together. The film interweaves the stories of different characters and offers a fun glimpse into what it means to be a family. An ensemble cast with big names like John Leguizamo, Debra Messing, Luis Guzmán and Alfred Molina shows the audience that family celebrations can be chaotic, but are a central part of our personality. (Included in your Amazon Prime Video subscription)
a Christmas Story
If you’ve ever wondered why people joke about getting Red Ryder BB Guns over the holidays, it’s time to sit down and watch A Christmas Story. The film is a series of vignettes based on Jean Shepherd’s half-true account of his own childhood at the age of nine. You’ll see the infamous “Battle for 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 is full of childhood frustrations that we all remember. It’s just as fun as it was when it was released in 1983. This is how you see it this year. (Rent from Amazon Prime)
National Lampoon Christmas Holidays
The holidays are all about family, good or bad. The third film in National Lampoon’s Vacation series again follows the Griswolds as they attempt to celebrate an “old-fashioned family Christmas”. Nothing goes as planned and everyone is on each other’s neck. But hey, it’s family. And it is an absolute joy to watch the Griswold family go about their random holiday events. John Hughes (who also wrote Home Alone) shaped this film with his Midas touch, and Chevy Chase as Clark Griswold is always the perfect comedic lead. (Rent from Amazon Prime)
Miracle on 34th Street
The classic dramedy was released in 1947 and revolves around Macy’s employees in New York during the holiday season. The Macy’s Day Parade Santa is caught drunk at work, so a new mysterious figure who may be the real Santa Claus takes his place. One memorable scene shows Santa Claus in court, forced to defend his own existence before the judge. The Miracle on 34th Street strikes a mighty blow against cynical consumerism and gives viewers a glimpse into the true vacation magic in this misty-eyed family favorite for the ages. And if you’ve never seen the movie’s inventive trailer, you’ll be delighted! It is also streamed for free to Disney + subscribers. (Rent from Amazon Prime)
The international ensemble of Love Actually delights the audience with the many facets of love and heartbreak during the holidays. The film follows a whirlwind of 10 interlocking stories that have brought fans back time and again since the film was released in 2008. With a virtual who’s who of celebrities in the early 2000s, they include Hugh Grant, Emma Thompson, Alan Rickman, Keira Knightley, Colin Firth, Liam Neeson, and many more. Anyone looking for a romantic vacation distraction will not be disappointed. (Rent from Amazon Prime)
Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Jim Carrey plays the furry green protagonist in the live-action remake of Dr. Seuss’ timeless story from 2000. Directed by the great Ron Howard, the story follows the people of Whoville who love the holidays but are not very kind to the outcasts living on the outskirts. The Grinch decides to take matters into their own hands, with disastrous consequences. There’s a bit of edgy humor here that might not suit some kids, but overall it’s a fun family movie that extends the classic Christmas story. If you’ve got Netflix, you’re in luck: it’s free to stream. (Rent from Amazon Prime)
It is a wonderful life
This bonafide Christmas classic has been delighting audiences since its release in 1946. James Stewart, one of the biggest stars of his time, plays George Bailey, who ponders suicide on Christmas Eve. While it doesn’t sound like a family movie, It’s a Wonderful Life follows Bailey as a Guardian Angel leads him through scenes in his life to illustrate the ways Bailey has helped others through his actions. It’s one of those films that you’re scared of because they seem so old, but glad you made them later. (Included in your Amazon Prime Video subscription)
These are just a few of the Christmas and Christmas movies on Amazon Prime Video that you can find while browsing. If you’re looking for even more streaming vacation and Christmas movies, check out our suggestions for Hulu, Disney +, Netflix, and HBO Max.
Stop looking, watch! TV Guide’s Watch Now! Page has even more TV recommendations.