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As a Disney/Pixar fan and overall animated film connoisseur, I will be the first to tell you that animated films are tragically overlooked when it comes to quality and entertainment for adults. People think because these films have a PG or G rating that they can only be “cute” and not genuinely good films. Here is my ultimate list of the top 5 animated Christmas movies that you should be watching this holiday season at any age, whether you’re babysitting younger siblings or cousins, or having a very adult wine night.

5. A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)

Where else could this list start other than a bona fide classic? A Charlie Brown Christmas follows Charlie Brown who’s in the holiday blues- which might sound familiar to anyone trying to celebrate the holidays during a pandemic- trying to sort out what Christmas really means. It is genuinely funny, with a lot of dry wit and a heartwarming story for all. 

Watch on AppleTV or PBS

4. The Polar Express (2004)

I promise this list gets less conventional moving forward, but here we have another classic, even though it may be polarizing (no pun intended.) Kids on a magical train to the North Pole, renewing their belief in magic, and singing some dope songs along the way is enough to get anyone in the spirit. A lot of us have a lot of nostalgia packed into this one, but even if you’ve never seen it, I think it’s tender, entertaining, and full of holiday fun.

Watch on YouTube (paid), or download from Google Play

3. Disney’s Prep and Landing (2009)

I’m including this holiday short on the list because I fell in love with it the first time I watched it. Santa gets a lot of attention on his big day, but this short focuses on the elves who make everything possible, featuring a lot of high-tech tools and a spy-like theme to show how the high stakes operation of present delivery gets done. I also think this film is really funny, always gets me in a Christmas-y mood, and is great if you’re not in the mood to watch a feature-length film but still want to get whisked away in wonder for a little bit.

Watch on Disney+

2. Arthur Christmas (2011)

I saw this film for the first time about a month ago with my younger cousins, and could not believe that it is not a more popular holiday film- for kids or at all. Similar to Prep and Landing, this film focuses on the delivery process on Christmas Eve night when one present goes undelivered. Arthur, the latest in a succession of Santas (I guess it’s like a monarchy?) but not Santa yet, as it will go to his brother, is determined to return the present to its rightful owner and save Christmas for all. Arthur has a lot of spirit where the rest of his family is more jaded from it all, making him (and I could write a whole other article about this) arguably the greatest holiday film protagonist to exist. Just watch this movie, trust me, it’s so good.

Watch on Hulu or Starz

1. Illumination’s The Grinch (2018)

My favorite Christmas movie. This movie shows that just because something isn’t a classic yet or because it’s a modern take on a classic, it doesn’t make it any less magical. We all know the story of the Grinch, but this movie will bring the warm fuzzies unlike any other. The town of Whoville in this rendition is just breathtaking and, again, this movie is laugh-out-loud funny even for the most mature of us. I understand certain criticisms of it, but I could watch this a hundred times over and never fall out of the Christmas mood. If you’re a cynic of this film, just watch it and prepare to be amazed.

Watch on Netflix


And if you do watch any of these movies and just call them “cute”, give me a call and we’ll have a chat.


Brooke Amodei is a senior and writer for HerCampus at Loyola University Maryland. She studies Elementary Education with a minor in Special Education.
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