Christmas movies on Amazon Prime Video are something of a mixed bag. On the one hand, subscribers have a lot of standard Hallmark-style films to muddle through. On the other hand, they also can stream It’s A Wonderful Life, which may be the best Christmas movie ever made.
So what’s worth watching as you get ready for the big day? Here are our picks for the best Christmas movies on Amazon Prime.
Best Christmas movies on Amazon Prime
1. It’s a Wonderful Life
There’s not much that needs to be said about this movie. Released in 1946 and directed by Frank Capra, it’s hard to believe It’s A Wonderful Life wasn’t a huge box office hit. It only began to become popular once local TV stations began rerunning the film constantly in the 1970s. Beyond the Christmas themes and setting, this movie is also all about how one person can affect the lives of so many other people. Jimmy Stewart’s portrayal of George Bailey is truthful to its core. George is a humble man who always looks out for others in the town of Bedford Falls. However, a fateful Christmas Eve puts George over the edge, and it’s up to a helpful angel named Clarence to show him that his life is truly wonderful.
Oh, and let’s not forget one of the best movie villains of all time. Lionel Barrymore is perfect as George Bailey’s opposite, the super-rich Henry Potter who tries his best to take down George.
You can watch the classic black and white version of this film but Amazon Prime also has a colorized version to stream as well.
2. Holiday Inn
This 1942 musical introduced the world to one of the best Christmas songs ever. Yes, Irving Berlin’s White Christmas made its debut in this movie. He also wrote 11 more original songs for Holiday Inn. The plot features Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire as two entertainers who are going after the same woman. This romantic war takes place at the Holiday Inn, a supper club that’s only open during the Christmas season. However, the plot really doesn’t matter. You watch one of the best Christmas movies on Amazon Prime Video for the songs and for Astaire’s dancing.
The 1989 children’s movie has a perfect premise for kids. An eight-year-old girl encounters a reindeer in the woods near her home. She’s convinced that this is Prancer, one of Santa’s team of flying reindeer that has gotten lost. Sam Elliot plays the girl’s father, who is naturally not convinced that “Prancer” is the real deal. It’s still an enjoyable film for the whole family and one of the best Christmas movies on Amazon Prime.
This is a more serious Chrismas film that was released in 2004 and directed by Chazz Palminteri. Five people with their own stories and troubles, spend Christmas Eve in New York City and encounter each other as the movie goes forward. The film includes Susan Sarandon as a woman trying to take care of her ill mother. Penélope Cruz and the late Paul Walker play a couple with their own issues. Alan Arkin portrays a man seeking his dead wife. The late Robin Williams also shows up in an interesting role.
5. An American Christmas Carol
Back when he was the biggest TV star in the world as The Fonz on Happy Days, Henry Winkler took a chance and played against type in this 1979 TV movie. Based on Charles Dickens’ classic novel, Winkler put on a lot of makeup to play Benedict Slade. This US version of Scrooge is no less mean and spiteful at the beginning of this movie. However, Slade goes back and forward in time as he is visited by three ghosts that show him he doesn’t need to feel this way.
6. The Christmas Switch
Even Santa Claus feels old sometimes. That’s the premise of this 2014 movie where Santa feels he needs someone else to take over. Actually, he just needs a young man’s body to get through the Christmas delivery season. He picks, for some reason, a young card gambler named Eddie for this switch. Eddie agrees, for one million in cash, and the body switch happens. So what happens when Santa is in a young man’s body? What happens to Eddie as he starts to realize there’s more than money to life? You will just have to watch the film to find out.
7. Bad Santa
This is one of the best Christmas movies on Amazon Prime. However, you will need to put the kids to bed before you watch it. Billy Bob Thornton plays a crook who dresses up as Santa so he can infiltrate stores to rob them, However, things get more complicated when Thornton encounters a kid who thinks he the real Santa. This film is not for the faint-hearted by any means. However, if you enjoy more adult humor, you will get a big kick after watching Bad Santa.
8. RiffTrax: Christmas Circus with Whizzo the Clown
For our final Chrismas movies on Amazon Prime selection, we have something that’s really off the beaten path. It’s a strange film called Christmas Circus with Whizzo the Clown. It’s about a clown called Whizzo who takes some kids on his magic carpet to the North Pole to meet Santa Claus. Before you run off, you should be away this is a RiffTrax version of this odd movie. Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy, and Bill Corbett, all formerly of Mystery Science Theater 3000, talk over this movie as well. If you need some funny riffing during Christmas, this is the perfect choice.
That’s our look at the best Christmas movies on Amazon Prime Video. And if you’re looking for more to watch, head here for a list of even more Christmas favorites on all of the streaming platforms. We hope you will have a happy and safe holiday streaming your favorite movies.