December is here, which means one thing: ‘tis the season for holiday movies.

All month long, GBH’s Morning Edition will have film writer Sarah G. Vincent, who writes for Cambridge Day, share her favorite movies to watch this time of year. We also asked you, our audience, and the GBH News staff to share their own favorites, from cinematic classics to the silly and sentimental.

Here's our roundup, along with the streaming platforms carrying these movies in December 2023.

'A Christmas Carol' (1984)

Streaming on Plex, Roku, Sling, Starz, and Tubi

Sarah G. Vincent on Morning Edition | Dec. 8, 2023

There are many screen adaptations of Charles Dickens' 1843 novella about greed and redemption — live-action, cartoon and Muppet. But Vincent said her favorite is one she grew up watching: The 1984 made-for-TV movie with George C. Scott as Ebenezer Scrooge.

“It was shot in the U.K., and it was shot actually in a village that dates back to 8 A.D.,” Vincent said. “But it is really sumptuous, and it really does feel like you're in Victorian England.”

Scott’s Scrooge is “unfeeling, he's not nice to his employees. He doesn't care for Christmas at all,” she said. His real-life toughness plays well in the iconic role.

“It's about taking the callouses off his heart and reminding him that he does actually care when he sees something wrong and he wants to intervene,” Vincent said. “George Scott really goes through a convincing transformation.”

There’s also something satisfying about the movie, she said.

“It's the idea of: Wouldn't it be great if this person who has power over me could just see that they're wrong? And they could become a better person and then how they would change the community?” she said. “It's a wonderful fantasy of this idea that you can change people and they could do better.” — Sarah G. Vincent, film writer for Cambridge Day

'A Christmas Story' (1983)

Streaming on Max

“I never dreamed about BB guns like Peter Billingsley’s character Ralphie, but even at 65 years of age, I continue to sympathize with Ralphie’s brother, played by Ian Patrella, whose fictional mom put him in a snow suit so tight he couldn’t raise his arms. And the ‘gang’ of middle school kids I played with also had to deal with bullies from time to time.

“The coup de grace for me is the lamp Darrin McGavin’s character receives that the rest of the family hates. It’s shaped like the leg of a beerhall dancer, fishnet stocking and all, and reminds me of the department store mannequin I displayed in my college dorm room. It was a prop in a student movie which my girlfriend — now wife — despised, right up until the time it was infested with termites and had to be dumped in the trash. The moral of this Christmas story is simultaneously personal and universal: We long for the one gift that will give us pleasure and everyone else, extreme agitation.” — David Goodman, engineer and producer at GBH News

‘Anna and the Apocalypse’ (2018)

Streaming on Shudder

Sometimes poignant tales of growth and grief come from unexpected places, Vincent said. In this case, it’s a movie she described as “’High School Musical’ meets ‘Shaun of the Dead’” — a Christmas story disguised as a coming-of-age zombie musical.

Sarah G. Vincent on Morning Edition | Dec. 22, 2023

Anna is in her last year of high school, handling her relationship with her widower father and her dreams of moving to America. Her best friend, who has a proclivity for Christmas sweaters, has a crush on her. And as they prepare for a Christmas play, a zombie apocalypse breaks out.

“It actually ends up being like this really poignant, moving, emotional movie,” Vincent said. “Every time I've seen it, I've cried a little because it's like, all of a sudden you are really invested in all these people's future and you love them. And then they're dying one by one.”

It’s also funny, and the original songs are catchy, she said. And the heart of the movie may come from the death one of the writers, Ryan McHenry, in 2015. Co-writer Alan McDonald finished the movie after his passing.

“It ends up being this poignant movie for people who maybe are approaching the holidays with a little sadness in their heart. They've lost someone. This is kind of the perfect movie to get that out of your system and still appreciate the holidays.” — Sarah G. Vincent, film writer for Cambridge Day

'Batman Returns' (1992)

Streaming on Max and Tubi

“When the Tim Burton-helmed 'Batman Returns' hit theaters in the summer of ‘92, a snow-covered Gotham City offered the perfect setting for one of the strangest holiday movies to ever be made. The 1989 'Batman' asked audiences if they wanna get nuts, and the sequel responded with a more than healthy dose of weird. Michael Keaton does everything but turn his neck on his way to save Gotham from a Christmastime plan by Danny DeVito’s Penguin to kidnap and kill the city’s firstborn sons that, in hindsight, bears a bizarre resemblance to Herod’s plot against Christ. Doesn’t get more Christmas than that.

“While 'Edward Scissorhands' may have been Burton’s first Christmas movie and 'The Nightmare Before Christmas' his most beloved, 'Batman Returns' is his best. Season’s greetings, Crime. Hope you like your present. It’s JUSTICE.” — Esteban Bustillos, reporter at GBH News

‘Daddy’s Home 2’ (2017)

Streaming on Paramount+

The holiday-themed sequel was shot in Massachusetts.

“A bunch of it is filmed around here — Westford and Concord! But the story, while funny, shows the ins and out of a blended family dynamic, father/son relationships and how communication is ok.” —Sarah, a GBH News listener

'Die Hard' (1988)

Available to buy or rent on Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV, Google Play or YouTube

“It's not Christmas until Hans Gruber falls from Nakatomi Plaza.” — Christopher Kelly, broadcast engineer at GBH News

'Elf' (2003)

Streaming on Hulu and Max

“This movie is a classic and makes me think of my cousins every time. Will Farrell, who plays Buddy the Elf, leaves the North Pole for New York City to find his family after learning he's a human, and not in fact, a Christmas elf. I have great memories watching this movie over and over with my family and reciting all of the best lines: ‘Smiling's my favorite!’ Now that we have some little ones in the family, I will force this movie upon them as well.” — Alexi Cohan, digital producer for TV news at GBH

Eloise at Christmastime (2003)

Streaming on Amazon Prime Video

“This movie has all the features of a holiday classic: New York City and Julie Andrews. Six-year-old Eloise runs wild in the Plaza hotel, where she lives with her nanny (Andrews) and makes mischief with her best friend Bill (Gavin Creel), a hotel waiter. When Eloise learns Bill used to be in love with the hotel owner's daughter, she tries her hand at holiday matchmaking. It's fun to join Eloise's unsupervised hotel adventures, and musical scenes with Creel's crooning vocals make it even better.” — Hannah Loss, radio production assistant at GBH News

'Finding Nemo' (2003)

Streaming on Disney+

“It is not a holiday movie at all. But this is the time of year I always watch 'Finding Nemo.' I was raised by a single father – and this is a movie about a single father and his son, and how they lose and find each other again. It always makes me think of my father and how he was my anchor and my best friend. He would battle sharks to find me if he had to. He’s been gone 20 years now and still I would cross a thousand seas just to see him once.” — Paul Singer, investigations and impact editor at GBH News

'The Greatest Story Ever Told' (1965)

Streaming free with ads on YouTube

“I'm going really traditional here: If you're someone who celebrates the Christmas season because you're actually a follower of Jesus, this is maybe the movie for you.” — Sarah G. Vincent, film writer for Cambridge Day

Sarah G. Vincent on why she likes "The Greatest Story Ever Told"

The movie was made in 1965, so Jesus — canonically a Middle Eastern Jewish man — is played by a Swede, actor Max von Sydow. And the cast has some of Hollywood’s biggest names of the era: Charlton Heston, John Wayne and Claude Rains.

It begins with the Nativity, which makes it a Christmas movie, and lays out Jesus’ entire life story. There are some odd scenes that veer from biblical language to modern vernacular — like when James the Younger (Michael Anderson Jr.) asks Jesus for his name, and retorts with “Jesus, that's a good name” — but the music is beautiful, and the scenery striking.

'Happiest Season' (2020)

Streaming on Hulu

“Hulu wrongly branded this queer Christmas flick as a romantic comedy. It's not romantic, it's messy. I don't even think the main couple should be together. Abby (Kristen Stewart) is going to spend the holidays with her closeted girlfriend Harper (Mackenzie Davis) and her family, who all have their own drama they're hiding. But while it's not romantic, it is funny — especially Dan Levy's appearances — and the characters' flaws are part of why this film stands out among the sea of overly joyous holiday movies. I don't need magic or Santa. I need people just trying to keep it together.” — Lisa Wardle, senior editor at GBH News

'It Happened on Fifth Avenue' (1947)

Available to buy or rent on Amazon Prime, Apple TV, Google Play or YouTube

A comedy set on the "richest avenue in the world." Every winter, Aloysius T. McKeever (Victor Moore) takes up residence in a vacant mansion after its owners escape to warmer climes. This year, he invites a recently evicted man to join him at a tycoon's estate, then they welcome in some others ... including the mansion's owners.

“A terrific ending.” — Rita, a GBH News listener from Amherst

A 25-to-45-minute segment of any ‘Harry Potter’ movie on Freeform (2001-2011)

Streaming: Peacock, Max

“The recommended viewing experience is taking a break from gift wrapping or holiday meal preparing to channel-surf; stumbling on the annual ‘Harry Potter’ movie marathon on Freeform (formerly ABC Family); watching until you get bored with the incessant and extremely long commercial breaks; and then turning it off and going about your day.

“The first in the eight-movie series, ‘Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,’ has the most holiday sense to it because of a brief but delightful scene where 11-year-old Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) gets to really, truly celebrate Christmas for the first time. Harry shocks the wizarding world when he’s the sole survivor of an attack on him and his parents, killing the evil wizard Lord Voldemort as a baby — or so it’s believed. In an effort to protect him, Albus Dumbledore (Richard Harris, for the first two movies) places the orphaned boy with his non-magical aunt, uncle and cousin for the first 11 years of his life, until it’s time for him to start at a magical wizarding school. That’s when the real fun begins.

"But any of these films will do! It’s not about the movie, it’s about the experience. It’s a slurp of warm soup for the soul.” —Hannah Reale, associate digital editor at GBH News

'The Lord of the Rings' trilogy (2001-2003)

Streaming on Max

Sarah G. Vincent on Morning Edition | Dec. 15, 2023

In the early 2000s, moviegoers knew Christmas ushered in two things: Yuletide cheer and a new movie from the “Lord of the Rings” franchise.

It’s not strictly a Christmas movie, film critic Sarah G. Vincent said. But it is a story of unlikely community triumph, with the hobbits and their allies coming together to defeat a great evil. And in that way, it does usher in some holiday spirit, she said.

“I think it worked as a Christmas movie because it was about facing this hardship and taking on a task and just constantly moving forward,” Vincent said. “It's about community, and moving forward with community and trying to do the right thing, even if you are completely incapable of doing it.”

“What can a hobbit do? Well, a hobbit can save the world. And also a hobbit can save the world if they have the right people who are their friends. And it's one of those wonderful moments where it has that Christmas spirit feel of like, we can stop the greatest evil if we just band together and we all work hard. And it's not because we have some innate ability, it's because we can work together.” — Sarah G. Vincent, film writer for Cambridge Day

“Our family developed a habit of dragging out the epic DVD collection every holiday season when our kids were home from college, and even now as they visit with their families. Tolkien’s themes of goodness represented by Elven light and his despair over the evil destruction of our land and green space resonated with our emerging family values as we moved away from our own Christian holiday traditions and toward the wonderful, ecumenical celebration of hope and light that we joined while living in New York City among people from around the world.” — Annie Shreffler, audience impact producer at GBH News

'Love, Actually' (2003)

Streaming on Netflix

“It's a heartwarming ensemble film that follows the relationships of eight duos in a hectic scramble to Christmas. From the iconic ensemble cast (I think this film launched some careers), the cozy London setting, Liam Neeson in a plethora of turtlenecks, Hugh Grant dancing around 10 Downing Street, I love it. Love comes in many shapes and forms and this film embraces that.” — Elena Eberwein, digital producer at GBH News

'The Nightmare Before Christmas' (1993)

Streaming on Disney+

“As someone who loves both Halloween and Christmas, this movie is a perfect blend of the magic of the December holidays with the quirkiness of spooky szn. Much like Jack Skellington, I also like to sing randomly while forcing my friends and family to celebrate holidays with me. I love how the songs feel very somber and dissonant at times, and how intricate the stop-motion details are. It's also a sweet reminder that even when someone's interests may be ‘darker’ or seemingly grim, their love and desire for human connection can be just as strong as someone with a more ‘joyful’ aesthetic. All hail the Pumpkin King!” — Rachel Armany, producer at GBH News

'Scrooge' (1951)

Streaming on Plex

It's the classic Dickens' tale. The New York Times reviewer said at the time:"What we have in this rendition of Dickens' sometimes misunderstood 'Carol' is an accurate comprehension of the agony of a shabby soul."

“My all-time favorite Christmas film is the original 'Scrooge' (1951) starring Alistair Sim. Nothing else comes close!” — Paulette, a GBH News listener

Note: This British production was originally titled "Scrooge" but released in the United States as "A Christmas Carol," so you can find it under both names today.

‘Strange Days’ (1995)

Streaming on Hulu and Max

Picture this: It’s New Year’s Eve in 1999, and Ralph Fiennes, a police officer-turned-virtual-reality-drug-dealer, is teaming up with his best friend, limo driver Angela Bassett, to root out corruption in the police department and save the world.

Sarah G. Vincent on Morning Edition | Dec. 29, 2023

That’s the premise of “Strange Days,” film writer Sarah G. Vincent’s pick for a New Year’s Eve movie.

The movie initially flopped at the box office, she said, but has since gained a cult classic status. Part of what made this movie a sleeper hit is the sheer number of stars on the cast and crew: director Kathryn Bigelow, co-writer James Cameron, and Fiennes and Bassett in lead roles.

“I think it helps that everyone connected to this movie is still working today,” Vincent said. “I think it's hilarious that like, they were big names then, too, and no one cared.”

“That cathartic feeling at the end of, it doesn't seem like they're going to make it, but they take on something and are willing to do it and sacrifice themselves for the greater good. And then it's like this happy ending. And I think it's great in the holiday season to always have that sort of hope and to be reminded of these stories where someone is completely outmatched and yet they rise to the occasion.” — Sarah G. Vincent, film writer for Cambridge Day

'Thomas Kinkade's Christmas Cottage' (2008)

Streaming on the Roku Channel

Art student Thomas Kinkade (Jared Padalecki) returns home for Christmas to discover that the bank wants to foreclose on the family home. He secures a job painting a mural in town.

“Based on a true event in the student life of artist Thomas Kinkade. Entire cast, with Peter O’Toole, is excellent.” — Joe, a GBH News listener from Lakeville

'The Town' (2010)

Available to buy or rent on Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV, Google Play or YouTube

“I’m a fan of non-traditional holidays movies and my family always gravitates toward an engrossing crime drama, like 'The Town,' starring our hometown hero Ben Affleck, who has proven that he is also a talented director. It’s a crowd pleaser, and it has everything: Bank robberies, car chases through the North End, Fenway Park, Jon Hamm, Blake Lively attempting a Boston accent. What more could you want as you eat your pie?” — Meghan Smith, senior digital producer at GBH News

'White Christmas' (1954)

Streaming on Netflix and Sling

Two American platoonmates team up to create a musical act after World War II ends, meet a singing sister duo, and end up following them to Vermont — where their old captain is running a struggling inn.

“I like how this is more of a ‘Christmas Spirit’ film without too heavy a dose of the traditional holiday camp. Instead, you get some triumphant moments exhibiting charity and positivity in spite of a cynical world. I like the old Hollywood song and dance numbers and all of the great Irving Berlin songs (‘Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep’ is truly a beautiful sentiment put to music.) Outtakes and improvisations left in the film make this look like a film that was as fun to make as it is to watch.” —Nic, a GBH News listener