Gifts, check. Lights and decorations, check. Festive music, check. All that's left to find is a good holiday movie. The problem? New films come out every holiday season, and channel surfing at this time of year can feel like an endless parade of never-will-be-classics. Put down the remote and pick up one of these eight flicks instead for an instant holiday mood injection.
A Christmas Carol
Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" is, rightfully, a holiday classic, and has been adapted for the screen time and time again. Of all the adaptations, this 1984 made-for-TV version easily remains one of the best. Oscar winner George C. Scott gives a stand-out performance as Ebenezer Scrooge, the infamous, bitter miser who cares only about money, overworks and underpays his one employee and hates Christmas—at least, until three ghosts show up to teach him the error of his ways. Bah, humbug indeed. Watch now on VUDU
If you love Dickens' tale but feel it could use a little modernization, "Scrooged" will be right up your alley. TV exec Frank Cross, played by Bill Murray, is rich, powerful and successful, but got where he is by trampling everyone in his path. A veritable modern-day Scrooge, he thinks nothing of overworking his assistant or firing an employee on Christmas Eve; he doesn't even take a hint from his own network's program, a live Christmas broadcast of "A Christmas Carol." And then, of course, the first ghost shows up. Watch now on VUDU
Starring Will Ferrell, Edward Asner, Bob Newhart, James Caan and Zooey Deschanel, "Elf" tells the story of Buddy, one of Santa's elves. Think all elves are short and irrepressibly cheerful? Think again. Well, Buddy is cheerful alright, but he's decidedly not short, clocking in at six foot three, and he's not quite an elf, although he was raised by one. Rather, he's a human, and he just doesn't fit in. Upon discovering he was adopted, he decides to leave the North Pole and head to New York to find his real father who initially wants nothing to do with him. In the meantime, he gets a job, tangles with mall Santas, saves Christmas—and even falls in love. Watch now on VUDU
Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas
He's green, grumpy, misanthropic and mean, and has a heart two sizes too small—it's the Grinch! Despised by the inhabitants of Whoville for his cruel pranks, the Grinch, played by Jim Carrey in this unforgettable adaptation of Dr. Seuss' classic story, lives alone in a cave on Mount Crumpit and really, really hates Christmas. A young girl, Cindy Lou Who, befriends him and then invites him to the town's Christmas party—but that only takes things from bad to worse and makes the Grinch even more determined to ruin Christmas for everybody. After that... well, you may already know how the story ends, but the movie remains great fun even so. Watch now on VUDU
Romantic without being sappy and funny but not crass, "Love Actually" gently tugs on your heartstrings instead of clumsily yanking as other movies might. The movie's many intertwined love stories—not all of which are about romantic love—are easily carried by the star-studded cast, which includes Hugh Grant, Keira Knightley, Bill Nighy, Colin Firth, Liam Neeson, Emma Thompson, Martin Freeman, Alan Rickman and Laura Linney. You'll laugh, you'll go "awww," you might even—if you're particularly soft-hearted—cry a bit. But a word of warning: you will probably get a certain song stuck in your head. (All together now—"I feel it in my fingers, I feel it in my toes...") Watch now on VUDU
The Nightmare Before Christmas
Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King of Halloween Town, just wants a change of pace. Well, we've all been there. When that change of pace involves kidnapping Santa and taking over Christmas, though, you might start to think it's not such a great idea. This is especially true considering his helpers are ghosts, vampires, ghouls and other monsters—not exactly happy Christmas material. To his credit, Jack does have perfectly good intentions; it's just unfortunate that not everybody in Halloween Town shares them. All's well that ends well, of course, but it does take Jack some work—and some serious reconsidering—to get his happy ending. Watch now on VUDU
National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation
Holiday season not going perfectly? Console yourself with "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation," a flick that exemplifies those sayings about the best laid plans and the best intentions. Chevy Chase reprises his role as Clark Griswold, head of the Griswold family, who just wants to help his family enjoy a good, old-fashioned Christmas. Of course, as per Murphy's law, if anything can go wrong, it will—and so it does for Clark, with even simple things such as picking out a tree or putting up Christmas lights creating no end of trouble. Perfectly paced, this movie will smoothly take you from one laugh to the next as it follows Clark's misadventures... and his eventual success. Watch now on VUDU
You've heard the song, now watch the movie. Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye star in this 1954 musical flick as Bob Wallace and Phil Davis, army buddies turned successful entertainers. The two become smitten with Betty and Judy Haynes, sisters who have formed a nightclub act, and follow them to their next engagement, an inn in Vermont. This inn turns out to be owned by the pair's former commanding officer and, unfortunately, it's in danger of failing because of the unseasonably warm weather, so they decide to stay and help out. There's fun, there's romance, there's a whole lot of holiday spirit, and of course there are the unforgettable songs of Irving Berlin—it doesn't get any more classic than this. Watch now on VUDU
Photo Credits: Chloe Millar/Demand Media
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