The best animated Christmas movies you need to watch now

‘Tis the season of animation! Christmas isn’t complete without some of the beloved movies from the genre that fill the weeks leading up to the holiday with festive cheer. The best animated Christmas movies are family-friendly favorites that tell heart-warming stories, often with important lessons and transformative character arcs that emphasize the things worth celebrating.

Ranging from nostalgic classics to contemporary delights, these Christmas movies are perfect for a fun night in with the whole family or even a quiet night near the fireplace with a cup of hot cocoa. With a whimsical world filled with clever reindeer, an extravagant train, creative versions of Santa Claus and much more, there is something for everyone to enjoy during the most wonderful time of the year.

Disney’s A Christmas Carol (2009)

Scrooge and the Ghost of Christmas gives young Scrooge a chance to witness the love of his life.
walt disney pictures

Disney’s A Christmas Carol Brings Charles Dickens’ classic 1843 novel to life, bringing the transformational story of miser Ebenezer Scrooge (Jim Carrey) to the big screen as never before. Directed by Robert Zemeckis, the 2009 film follows Scrooge’s journey with the aid of three spirits who help him transform from a cold-hearted and greedy man into a man capable of embracing the warmth and joy of the holiday season.

a Christmas Carol State-of-the-art motion capture technology was used at the time, instantly making it the largest animated adaptation of the story. Although the visuals are nothing special today, its animated format allows the darker parts of Dickens’s moral tale to be balanced by the Disney film’s family-friendly approach to the story. It remains a staple of the genre and is a great way to introduce young audiences to the timeless story.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966)

The Grinch with a toy mouse in Dr. Seuss's 'How the Grinch Stole Christmas'.

The Grinch (Boris Karloff) whose heart is “two sizes too small”, is a grumpy, villainous character who was portrayed throughout the 1966 film series. How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Based on Dr. Seuss’s 1957 children’s book, director Chuck Jones’ animated adaptation depicts the Grinch’s evil plan to ruin Christmas for the people of Whoville. He dresses up like Santa Claus and steals all their gifts and decorations, but is shocked to see how the village reacts in the morning.

In just 25 minutes, How the Grinch Stole Christmas Manages to tell a touching story about the true meaning of the annual celebration. There have been many versions of the same tale since then, but this short film is still worth a watch. Told in clever rhyming prose and complemented by a distinctly Seussian animation style, it’s easy to see how the 1996 TV movie has cemented its place among the re-watchable classics of the genre.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964)

Rudolph and Hermey in Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.
Videocraft International

An enduring Christmas tradition, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer is a stop-motion animated classic that has been broadcast every year since 1964, making it the longest-running special on TV. Directed by Larry Rohmer, the famous claymation Christmas film tells the story of Rudolph (Billie Mae Richards), whose red nose has made him an outcast in his community. However, his challenging journey away from home quickly takes him back, and this time with Santa Claus himself (Stan Francis) as a hero.

Based on the famous song by Johnny Marks, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer It has not lost any of its charm. The hero’s path to self-discovery and acceptance is just as inspiring and important today, as it reinforces the importance of celebrating the uniqueness and strength of community not just during the holiday season, but all year long.

Arthur Christmas (2011)

Arthur stands among many elves in Arthur Christmas
Sony Pictures

arthur christmas The age-old question of how Santa Claus delivers gifts to thousands of children around the world in a single night has finally been answered. Apparently, at least in the 2011 animated comedy film, he uses a high-tech system operating from beneath the North Pole. However, when it accidentally leaves a baby in it, the youngest member of the Claus family, Arthur (James McAvoy), goes on a quest to personally deliver the gifts before Christmas morning.

Once upon a time a low-rated Christmas movie on Max, arthur christmas It has gained a growing fan following over the years thanks to its witty British humor and completely original story. Directed by Sarah Smith and produced by renowned studio Aardman Animations, the 2011 film is a worthy addition to audiences’ annual traditions. Underneath all its wacky moments is its message about the true spirit of giving, which audiences of all ages can connect with.

The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

Jack Skellington in The Nightmare Before Christmas.
Buena Vista Pictures Distribution

Directed by Henry Selick and produced by Tim Burton, the Nightmare Before Christmas Combines stop-motion animation, fantasy, and music to create a delightfully dark visual experience. It focuses on the Pumpkin King of Halloween Town, Jack Skellington (Chris Sarandon), who is tired of his normal routine and is excited to learn about a place called Christmas Town. He plots to take on the role of Santa Claus, but soon finds himself in trouble when things don’t go according to his plan.

Not only one of the best animated Christmas movies, but one of the greatest animated movies of all time, the Nightmare Before Christmas It distinguished itself from other animated Christmas films by avoiding the traditional festive narrative and adopting a mix of macabre and whimsical elements. For Tim Burton fans, this stunningly animated film is undoubtedly a must-see during the holidays.

Klaus (2019)

klaus characters

A unique film that gives an origin story to Santa Claus, klaus Follows the story of Jesper (Jason Schwartzman), whose poor grades at the academy have led him to be deployed as a postman to a remote frozen town in the Far North. There, Jasper is tasked with setting up a functioning postal service for the grumpy townspeople, one of whom is the titular Klaus (JK Simmons). Klaus is a reclusive toy maker whom Jesper eventually convinces to bring happiness to the children of Smeerensburg, inadvertently creating the myth of Santa Claus.

director sergio pablos klaus Has become a modern animated classic, with the incredible Netflix original film standing out as the choice for gorgeous 2D animation in an era dominated by CGI. The enjoyable film utilizes familiar tropes while adding innovative visual and narrative features that have helped solidify it as a Christmas essential.

A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)

In A Charlie Brown Christmas, Charlie Brown and Snoopy are decorating a tree.
Lee Mendelson Film Productions

The first TV movie based on the hugely popular comic strip Peanuts, A Charlie Brown Christmas This paved the way for more stories featuring the title character to be adapted into shows and films. In the 1965 animated special directed by Bill Melendez, Charlie Brown (Peter Robbins) is feeling depressed and lonely despite the joyous holiday season. Encouraged by a friend, she decided to direct a Christmas play and the process, her friends, and a small tree changed her forever.

A timeless classic, A Charlie Brown Christmas It impressed audiences with its heart-warming story and instantly lovable characters. Its jazz-infused soundtrack was also a smart deviation from the laugh tracks that were commonly used at the time, emphasizing how the 1965 animation was far ahead of its time. Undoubtedly still part of many annual traditions for families around the world, A Charlie Brown Christmas It has endured for decades because it has a lot of heart, humor and holiday spirit.

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