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3 great movies to watch on Christmas Eve and where to watch them

A family looks at a Christ mas tree in A Christmas Story.
Warner Bros.

Christmas Eve is finally here, and more than likely, most of our readers have already set up their plans for Christmas. But the night before Christmas is the perfect time to catch up with friends and family and take in a few Christmas movies.

Now, you could go with unconventional choices like Die Hard or any of the cheesy Christmas movies on Netflix. But Christmas Eve is no time for amateur hour! If you’re fortunate enough to be spending time with the people you love, then you should never settle for anything less than the greatest Christmas movies. That’s why our recommendations for the three great movies to watch on Christmas Eve rank among the absolute best Christmas movies ever made. All three of our choices will be on TV this holiday season, which is good to know if you don’t have access to their respective streaming outlets.

It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)

James Stewart and Donna Reed in It's a Wonderful Life.
RKO Radio Pictures

Frank Capra’s classic, It’s a Wonderful Life, is back at 8 p.m. PT/ET on NBC on Christmas Eve. This is the quintessential Christmas movie for multiple generations and is almost perfect in every way. James Stewart stars as George Bailey, a man who has made countless sacrifices for his friends, family, and his hometown, Bedford Falls. And what did it get him? A lifetime of dashed dreams, and now an almost certain stint in prison when his Building and Loan company is missing critical funds through no fault of his own.

Just as George is ready to take his own life, an angel named Clarence Odbody (Henry Travers) intervenes and shows George a world where he was never born. It’s through this dark timeline that George fully understands his life’s impact on his wife, Mary (Donna Reed), and the entire town. It’s more than enough to move viewers to tears of joy and happiness, and that’s why It’s a Wonderful Life still endures after almost eight decades.

Watch It’s a Wonderful Life on Prime Video.

A Christmas Story (1983)

Peter Billingsley in "A Christmas Story."
MGM / MGM

There’s something ironic about a wildly popular 1983 Christmas movie that takes place in 1940, but A Christmas Story has long since transcended the period in which it was set. That’s because there’s something timeless about Ralphie Parker (Peter Billingsley) and his relentless quest for a “Red Ryder Carbine Action 200-shot Range Model air rifle.” The constant refrain that Ralphie’s desire gets from adults – “You’ll shoot your eye out” – is always hilarious, especially when it comes from a department store Santa.

The bond between Ralphie and his brother, Randy (Ian Petrella), and their parents, Mr. Parker (Darren McGavin) and Mrs. Parker (Melinda Dillon) is also heartwarming and another reason why people keep coming back to this film. TNT and TBS’ annual 24-hour marathon of A Christmas Story will start at 8 p.m. on Christmas Eve.

Watch A Christmas Story on Max.

Miracle on 34th Street (1947)

Natalie Wood and Edmund Gwenn in Miracle on 34th Street.
20th Century Studios

If you prefer the 1994 remake of Miracle on 34th Street, both versions are on Hulu this year. You can’t go wrong with either one because they’re both fantastic Christmas movies. The story of each film is essentially the same, but the original features Edmund Gwenn’s Oscar-winning turn as Kris Kringle, the greatest department store Santa Claus that anyone has ever seen.

At first, Macy’s event director Doris Walker (Maureen O’Hara) is relieved that Kris is such a natural in the role. But she becomes disturbed when Kris tells her daughter, Susan (Natalie Wood), that he’s the real Santa. Kris is so steadfast in his belief that he’s Santa that he gets locked away and threatened with confinement in an asylum. That leaves Doris’ boyfriend, Fred Gailey (John Payne), with the impossible task of proving that Kris is Santa in a court of law.

Miracle on 34th Street will run on Freeform this year at 11:30 a.m. Saturday, December 23.  So, if you want to watch it on Christmas Eve, Hulu is your only option.

Watch Miracle on 34th Street on Hulu.

Editors' Recommendations

Blair Marnell
Blair Marnell has been an entertainment journalist for over 15 years. His bylines have appeared in Wizard Magazine, Geek…
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