12 Movies Like The Christmas Chronicles That Are Definitely Worth Your Time

Released in 2018, "The Christmas Chronicles" — while a fresh and new Christmas movie — had all the makings of a future festive classic and staple of the season going forward. With a scene-stealing performance from the legendary Kurt Russell as Santa, "The Christmas Chronicles" features many familiar tropes from the holiday films we know and love, including an against-the-clock race to save Christmas, a cynical older sibling who just needs to believe, and a heart-warming message on the importance of family at Christmas.

With the star-power of Kurt Russell ensuring that this iteration of Saint Nick will be one that endures, "The Christmas Chronicles" also delivers its own spin on the Santa character and lore — something that we have seen many versions of over the years. Film critic Dan Jolin for Empire went as far as to say that the film "gives us one of the movies' best Santas yet."

The sheer number of festive films can sometimes be a little overwhelming, but if you loved Kurt Russell's swaggering Santa in "The Christmas Chronicles," here are some other movies that are definitely worth your time.

Home Alone

"Home Alone" is a Christmas film that has been delighting audiences for more than 30 years, but there is much more to this seasonal classic than the slapstick and silliness. Macaulay Culkin stars as Kevin, the youngest member of the McCallister family who is accidentally left at home by himself when his family heads to Paris for their Christmas vacation. After the initial joy of being away from his annoying siblings, Kevin finds that he misses his family and wishes for them back. And of course, there's the small matter of the bumbling home invaders Marv and Harry (Daniel Stern and Joe Pesci, respectively) to contend with.

For a very different reason, "The Christmas Chronicles" also explores the idea of an absent parent and how that sense of loneliness is felt even more keenly at Christmas — a season with a strong emphasis on togetherness. This idea is at the heart of "Home Alone" and is particularly evident when Kevin talks to Old Man Marley about missing his family in one of the more emotional scenes in the movie.

"Home Alone" kicked off a whole franchise, and while the sequels are of variable quality, there is nothing that can quite beat the magic of the first film (although "Lost In New York" comes very close). It might be hard to believe that "Home Alone" wasn't unanimously praised by critics upon its release, but over time, it has become a Christmas classic that audiences gravitate toward year after year.

The Muppet Christmas Carol

There may be countless versions of the Charles Dickens Christmas classic, but "The Muppet Christmas Carol" is the one that shines above them all. It keeps the sentiment and morality of the original story and throws in all of our favorite Muppets characters for good measure. The film stars Michael Caine as the perpetually miserable Ebenezer Scrooge, a cantankerous old man who only cares about money and certainly doesn't care about Christmas, dismissing it with his famous "bah humbug!" On Christmas Eve, however, he is given the opportunity to change his ways for good when he is visited by three ghosts.

One of the many things that is so wonderful about this film is how seriously Michael Caine plays it as Scrooge, almost as if he isn't acting with puppets. For many, the reference points for Caine prior to this may have been his iconic roles in "The Italian Job" and "Alfie," so seeing him in this very different role is instantly hilarious.

"The Muppet Christmas Carol" is the festive gift that keeps on giving, with tons of gags and references that you wouldn't spot as a child. It also provides an accessible entry point to Dickens' dark tale, capturing the essence of the book in a way that is funny and engaging for audiences of any age. By the time the gang is gathered around the table singing "When Love Is Found," it takes the hardest of hearts not to sing along with them.

The Santa Clause

Released in 1994, "The Santa Clause" is a nostalgic Christmas classic with a premise that is admittedly a little dark on paper, but is actually thoroughly heart-warming. Scott Calvin (Tim Allen) inadvertently kills Santa Claus on Christmas Eve and discovers that he is subject to a legal technicality that stipulates he must become the new Santa, taking on the duties, responsibilities, and weight gain that come with it.

As well as being incredibly funny, the magic of this film is the way it takes the core idea of believing in Santa and gives it a distinctive twist. Throughout the film, Scott struggles to convince his ex-wife Laura (Wendy Crewson) and her new husband Neal (Judge Reinhold) that he is Santa, which ultimately leads to him being restricted from seeing his son Charlie (Eric Lloyd). Usually, it is the skeptical child that needs convincing, like Teddy in "The Christmas Chronicles." But "The Santa Clause" is different, and the moment Scott presents Laura and Neal with the gifts they didn't get when they were younger — which caused them to stop believing  — is so heartfelt.

"The Santa Clause" was so successful that it spawned two sequels. Still, it is the first one that has had the most longevity and was most well-received. The film has a 72% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and critic Leonard Klady for Variety said it has a "hip, likable spin on the seasonal icon told with a deft mixture of comedy and sentimentality."

Jingle All the Way

There's no denying that "Jingle All the Way" is a guilty pleasure holiday movie, and it is hard to defend the film's quality. However, it stars a big action movie star — much like Kurt Russell in "The Christmas Chronicles" — and there's a certain amount of fun to be had seeing an actor play a role so different to what we're used to.

Arnold Schwarzenegger stars as Howard Langston, a father who promises to get his son (Jake Lloyd) the latest action figure for Christmas. When this proves to be difficult, Howard finds himself locked in a bitter battle with a host of other competitive parents, all trying to buy their children's affections. If you can overlook the rampant consumerism of it all, there is a lot of silliness that is guaranteed to appeal to kids in particular, while the adults can enjoy Arnie delivering iconic lines such as "Put that cookie down. NOW!" in the way that only Arnie can.

"Jingle All the Way" didn't exactly receive favorable reviews from critics, and with a score of just 17% on Rotten Tomatoes, it is often regarded as one of the worst Christmas movies. To defend the film slightly and prove it's still worth your time, it is definitely one of those so-bad-it's-good films. Critic Mike Drucker for IGN agrees, saying it falls into the "so-corny-it's-good genre" and is one of the "few holiday movies to directly deal with the commercialization of Christmas."

How The Grinch Stole Christmas

Based on the book by legendary author Dr. Seuss, "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" brought audiences a wonderfully madcap performance from Jim Carrey, who somehow manages to steal the show even underneath all the make-up and prosthetics. Carrey plays the titular green grump who lives on the outskirts of Whoville, plotting his revenge with an outlandish plan to ruin the big day.

"How the Grinch Stole Christmas" is a fun, festive film that seems to only get better over time. For kids, the Grinch's grouchy antics and over-the-top behavior are hilarious, and for adults, there is actually something quite relatable about his aversion to anything even slightly jolly in the lead-up to Christmas. The production design of the film is also incredible, with the unique illustrations of Dr. Seuss brought to life through the amazing sets and costumes.

In addition to the silly humor and wild performance from Carrey, there's a surprising amount of heart to "How the Grinch Stole Christmas," with a powerful message of acceptance and tolerance that speaks to all seasons, not just Christmas. While many critics didn't think it was as good as the 1966 animated version — something that translates into its surprisingly low Rotten Tomatoes score — Carrey's performance received high praise with Paul Clinton for CNN, saying, "He was born to play this role."


Endlessly quotable and widely regarded as one of the best Christmas films of all time, "Elf" is a festive favorite that has been delighting audiences for more than 18 years with its story of Buddy (Will Ferrell), a human raised as an elf who sets out to find his real father, Walter (James Caan).

The impact of "Elf" on pop culture is not to be underestimated, with quotes such as the cry of "SANTA! I know him!" becoming part of American vernacular. The casting of Will Ferrell is a stroke of genius, and he brings a wonderful sense of childlike naivety to the character — something that plays so well against James Caan's initial skepticism and unease about his son.

Like Santa's memorable musical number in "The Christmas Chronicles," "Elf" knows the benefit of a well-placed song interlude, including the charming bathroom duet between Buddy and Jovie (Zooey Deschanel) and the uplifting finale that proves that "singing loud for all to hear" is indeed the best way to spread Christmas cheer, softening even the cynical heart of Walter.

At the time of making "Elf," director Jon Favreau was not the huge name that he is now, but despite this, his goal was always to try and make a film that could stand alongside festive classics such as "Miracle on 34th Street," and he succeeded. In an interview with Rolling Stone, he remarked, "The fact that it's in rotation is the highest honor that movie can have."

The Polar Express

At the time, the live-action motion capture animation of "The Polar Express" was groundbreaking from a technical standpoint, and while the effects have aged terribly, there is still fun to be had with this film.

"The Polar Express" is probably a lot stranger than you remember it being as a child, with Tom Hanks playing multiple roles — including a somewhat terrifying homeless man — and a nightmarish puppet sequence that is straight out of a horror film. The hyper-realism of the animation gives the film a slightly surreal quality, but at the core of it is a sense of magic and wonder as it explores the age-old theme of Christmas movies: belief in Santa.

This idea is something we see in "The Christmas Chronicles" as well, and in fact, the hero boy in "The Polar Express" and Teddy in "The Christmas Chronicles" are given similar gifts from their respective Santas as a way of him proving his existence to them. But "The Polar Express" has a bit of an edge to it, allowing the children to be curious and question the existence of Santa in a way not many films do.

"The Polar Express" was very well received upon release, with critic Roger Ebert comparing the creepiness of the film with classics such as "The Wizard of Oz" or "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory." According to Ebert, the movie has a "haunting, magical quality because it has imagined its world freshly and played true to it."

Arthur Christmas

This co-production between Aardman Animations and Sony Pictures Animation combines the eccentric British humor of the claymation pioneers with the slick animation studio responsible for films such as "Hotel Transylvania" and "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs" in a charming Christmas package. The titular Arthur (James McAvoy) is the youngest son of Santa, well-meaning but clumsy, and at his happiest when he is responding to the letters children have sent to his father, Malcolm Claus (Jim Broadbent). In this world, "Santa" is a hereditary title, and while Malcolm oversees things, it is his eldest son Steve (Hugh Laurie) who runs the operation with military precision.

"Arthur Christmas" is packed with sight gags and quirky humor, and there's a tremendous amount of fun to be had with the hi-tech gadgets and highly trained gift-wrapping elves that have replaced the traditional aspects of Santa we might be used to. In a similar way to "The Christmas Chronicles," "Arthur Christmas" also centers on the race against time to save the big day. However, it is on a much smaller scale, with Arthur's mission focused on the delivery of one little girl's present after it was left behind.

Highly imaginative and filled with heart and festive cheer, "Arthur Christmas" was nominated for a BAFTA award and highly praised by critics. Notably, Michael Rechtshaffen for The Hollywood Reporter said the film brought a "delightful blast of fresh air to the conventional Christmas genre."

Rise of the Guardians

Released in 2012, this Dreamworks animated film isn't exclusively a Christmas film, but it includes its own unique take on the lore of mythical figures such as Santa, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy. With a starry cast that includes Chris Pine, Hugh Jackman, Alec Baldwin, Isla Fisher, and Jude Law, the film tells the story of the Guardians — the protectors of children across the world — who must unite against the threat of the boogeyman who wants to fill the world with nightmares.

Based on "The Guardians of Childhood" book series by William Joyce, the film seeks to unpack the stories behind these beloved figures in a thrilling adventure story. As is the case with Kurt Russell's version of Santa in "The Christmas Chronicles," the one that we meet in "Rise of the Guardians" is larger than life and very different from many traditional depictions. Voiced by Alec Baldwin, this Santa is large in stature, with tattoos and a brusque Russian accent — far away from the gentle older man we're used to.

"Rise of the Guardians" is a hugely underrated film, perhaps as it covers many holidays and seasons and doesn't neatly slot in with the rest of the festive films. Nevertheless, it has so much to offer and an appeal that stretches beyond Christmas, making it a great alternative to your usual holiday staples.


At this point, you might think it's impossible for a film to reinvent the wheel with a new take on the Santa story, but "Klaus" proves there are still novel ways of telling the tale. This gorgeous animated film arrived on Netflix in 2019 and focuses on postman Jesper (Jason Schwartzman) as he tries to bring kindness to a troubled town with the help of a toymaker called Klaus (J.K. Simmons).

Jesper's motivations in helping the town of Smeerensburg are initially selfish. However, the more he gets to know Klaus, the more he realizes the importance of putting others first — a potent message for any time of the year. The beauty of "Klaus" is in the way it slowly introduces various Christmas traditions — such as kids writing letters to Santa and the origins of the naughty or nice lists — in a way that feels very considered and different from what we have seen previously.

"Klaus" charmed critics and audiences alike and even achieved awards recognition, receiving a nomination for an Oscar for Best Animated Feature Film and winning the BAFTA in the same category. With a 94% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, "Klaus" is widely considered as one of the best modern Christmas films, with critic Alonso Duralde for The Wrap saying that it has the potential to become a "cherished annual tradition."


"Noelle" arrived on Disney+ in November 2019 with Anna Kendrick starring in the title role as the daughter of Santa who — after her father's passing — is tasked with maintaining Christmas spirit and preparing her brother Nick (Bill Hader) to take on the Santa mantle. All does not go according to plan, however, as Nick decides to take a weekend off in the run-up to Christmas and then doesn't return, leaving it up to Noelle to find her brother and save the season.

The threat of Christmas being canceled and our hero stepping in to save the day is a frequently used trope in festive films — something we see in both "Noelle" and "The Christmas Chronicles." "Noelle" may be as predictable as you might imagine, but Anna Kendrick is very charming, particularly when she finds herself as a fish out of the water and a long way from the North Pole.

While it has many traditional elements and an occasionally annoying propensity for Christmas puns, there is a modernness to "Noelle" that makes it worth a watch. It acknowledges that for some, Christmas isn't all candy canes and sparkly lights. This truth is particularly evident when Noelle meets a young deaf girl and her mother at a shelter, where she learns the little girl's Christmas wish is for her mother to find a job. Sometimes a dash of sentimental fluff is all you need, and "Noelle" has that in abundance.

Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey

Two years after "The Christmas Chronicles," Netflix brought us another Christmas movie with the toe-tapping "Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey." There's a lot packed into this steampunk musical movie, including a starry cast featuring Forest Whitaker, Madalen Mills, Ricky Martin, Keegan-Michael Key, and Anika Noni Rose.

The story centers around eccentric toymaker and inventor Jeronicus Jangle (Whitaker). With the help of his granddaughter Journey (Mills), Jangle must take down Gustafson (Key), a former apprentice who stole his inventions. While there is an element of the familiar (Jangle has until Christmas to save his shop), "Jingle Jangle" is also a film that feels fresh and new, offering a unique take on the sometimes over-saturated market of Christmas movies. The film is a visual treat as well, with bright colors and eye-popping choreographed musical numbers. Just as the film's plot revolves around inventions, there is a real inventiveness to this film that makes it easily one of the best Christmas films in recent memory.

This is certainly something critics agreed with, as the film boasts an impressive rating of 89% on Rotten Tomatoes. Writing for Mashable, Angie Han said the film "captures a certain essence of the Christmas spirit. It's equal parts joyful and sentimental, steeped in tradition but made new again with sweet surprises that can be treasured for years to come."