A Christmas classic is the perfect accompaniment to a cozy gathering in front of a roaring fire or the process of setting up your tree. With the correct visual accompaniment, even the merriest and brightest days may be turned even happier and brighter. The impact of a Disney Christmas film or special is amplified further. Eleven fantastic options for a cozy night in, embroidered and brightened by the charm of Mickey.
These are the best Disney+ Christmas movies available right now.
1. Iron Man 3 (2013)
No, “Iron Man 3” is not a Christmas film. While most Marvel Studios films take place in a generic time period, “Iron Man 3’s” Christmas setting serves as an example of one of the few to be set in a specific time period (or crossover, if need be). Shane Black, the writer and director of “Iron Man 3,” has a history of placing muscular movies at Christmastime (Lethal Weapon, The Long Kiss Goodnight, etc.) and this is why “Iron Man 3” is one of the best Marvel Cinematic Universe films. With Christmas lights, trees, snow, and even some Run-DMC “Christmas in Hollis” (even though Kevin Feige couldn’t land the song), this movie has quite a bit of the holiday spirit. So if you’re looking for a way to get into the holiday spirit and satisfy your Marvel fix, put on “Iron Man 3.”
2. The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)
Only the best Christmas movie on this list (there are two more versions of the Charles Dickens classic “A Christmas Carol” on this list alone)
Even better, “The Muppet Christmas Carol” is the best Muppet movie ever. The Muppet Christmas Carol, adapted by Jerry Juhl and directed by Jim Henson’s son Brian, is a heartbreaking tribute to the late Jim Henson (and the equally tragic death of longtime Muppet performer Richard Hunt in 1992 from problems connected to AIDS). “The Muppet Christmas Carol” faithfully retells the original story, with all sorts of fun Muppet asides (Gonzo and Rizzo as the narrators are a particularly fine flourish) and some nifty, new-for-the-time digital effects that maintained Jim’s commitment to technological innovation. It’s a Christmas classic in every sense of the word.
3. Home Alone (1990)
This year’s “Home Sweet Home Alone” on Disney+ is a lackluster retread that only serves to remind you of how fantastic the original “Home Alone” truly is. There’s a reason that “Home Alone” is a holiday classic: it’s just that amazing. John Hughes’ tight writing, John Williams’ legendary score, and Chris Columbus’ ability to get a genuine, hilarious performance out of Macaulay Culkin and several of the other kids is still mind-boggling after all these years. Even unusual is the fact that the picture is now part of Disney’s extensive library; when it was released in 1990, “The Rescuers Down Under” was famously wiped out on its way to becoming one of the most successful live-action comedies of all time by a Disney animated feature. Finally, “The Hangover, Part II” snatched the crown from “The Hangover.” Go back to the original, “Home Sweet Home Alone” (and again).
4. The Santa Clause(1994)
What’s interesting is that “The Santa Clause” was so close to not being a Disney film. An adult-oriented Hollywood Pictures label was used to create it at a lower cost. Hollywood Pictures’ logo and a sarcastic tone were featured in some of the “Lion King” trailers aired in the summer of 1994). He saw an early cut of the film and (according to Michael Eisner’s autobiography), chopped 15 minutes out of its runtime, added visual effects and toned down the tougher language to convert it into a Disney movie. He was an executive at Disney at that time.” Experiment was a success; the film was a hit, and there were two sequels (both on Disney+) that followed. It’s a shame that Disney+ doesn’t have a legacy sequel to this. When Allen accidently murders Santa and has to assume the mantle of Santa Claus, he does a fantastic job. That said, it’s still a hoot. Of all, Allen’s working-class comedy went a long way before he became a right-wing weapon. We were naive back then, weren’t we?
5. Prep & Landing (2009)
“Prep & Landing,” a half-hour television special produced by Walt Disney Animation Studios at a lean period, included stunning animation from the studio, a clever premise from writers/directors Kevin Deters and Stevie Wermers-Skelton, and a charming holiday score by Michael Giacchino. When Dave Foley’s character is passed over for promotion and assigned to an inexperienced rookie as his co-worker in the film, it’s clear that he’s not happy about it. With the help of “The Big Guy,” of course, he learns some key lessons in a heartwarming and entertaining show. “Operation: Secret Santa” was followed by “Prep & Landing: Naughty vs. Nice” in 2011, a full-length holiday special that featured a standout performance by Rob Riggle. You could spend a full night watching “Prep & Landing” and asking why Disney doesn’t advertise these specials more or incorporate the characters into the company’s yearly celebrations. Everything is available on Disney+.
6. Mickey’s Christmas Carol (1983)
Despite its marginal status as a Christmas featurette (it was shown in theaters with the Christmas 1983 re-release of “The Rescuers”), “Mickey’s Christmas Carol” is an impressive achievement (it was nominated for an Oscar), featuring stunning animation and completed by a murderer’s row of animation talent. It’s worth noting that this was one of the final Disney productions to feature animators from both the founding generation and those who had recently arrived at the studio. After working on “The Black Cauldron,” many of the young Turks working on “Lady and the Tramp” opted to work on the featurette instead of the studio’s troubled fantasy epic “The Black Cauldron,” which was directed by Burny Mattinson. All of your favorite Disney characters are cast as characters in Charles Dickens’ classic novel (something the Muppets would do, with comparable success, a few years later) in the final product, which is frequently moving. Considering it was released the year after “Mickey’s Christmas Carol,” one of the final Disney films to emphasize the importance of animation at the company, it is a stunningly gorgeous oddity.
7. The Nightmare Before Christmas(1993)
A half-hour stop-motion animated special was Tim Burton’s original vision for “The Nightmare Before Christmas.” However, this was during his time as a Disney animator. As Batman and Beetlejuice filmmaker Christopher Nolan approached Disney about reviving the project, the studio wanted a whole stop-motion feature instead of a special. If you’re looking for a movie that’s a must-see for both Christmas and Halloween, you’ll want to check out Henry Selick’s adaptation. (It’s worth watching again even if you only saw it for Halloween.) After falling in love with Christmas and wanting to give Santa Claus a break this year, Halloween king Jack (voiced by Chris Sarandon) is the focus of the plot. Reverse-How the Grinch Stole Christmas, The Nightmare Before Christmas tells the story of a character who is in love with the holiday so much that his love for it ultimately causes him to lose sight of what is truly important. And the expertise of stop-motion animation is still a wonder to be seen. Despite its initial poor reception, the film has become a beloved holiday tradition at both Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea, when the Haunted Mansion is turned into the Haunted Mansion Holiday.
8. A Christmas Carol(2009)
Zemeckis’ final motion capture film, “A Christmas Carol,” was a whimsical rendition of Charles Dickens’ classic tale that showcased his prowess with cutting-edge technologies such as computer animation, 3D, and motion capture. In an effort to provide the definitive version of the story, actors have taken on several parts. Unfortunately, it didn’t go as planned. It was a movie office flop, and Disney doesn’t even mention it in the service’s list of Christmas favorites. The fact that it is so amazing has also been a disappointment. As a result of its presentation (imagine zooming through London in eye-popping 3D), but the animation is strong and Jim Carrey’s portrayals of Scrooge and the three ghosts are enthralling, A Christmas Carol loses some of its impact (Gary Oldman also plays several roles). It’s also heartwarming to see Zemeckis one final time with Bob Hoskins before the actor passed away. If you’re looking for a good time, this one could be a little too intense for you. Hopefully, Alan Silvestri’s sparkling score will follow in the footsteps of John Williams’ “Home Alone” soundtrack as a perennial Christmas favorite.
9. Decorating Disney: Holiday Magic (2017)
Here’s your chance to learn how Disney transforms its theme parks into glistening winter wonderlands. Decorating Disney: Holiday Magic, with Whoopi Goldberg and Sofia Carson and Jordan Fisher on hand to lend their voices, is both a well-executed promotional piece for the company’s parks and resorts, as well as an eye-opening glimpse at how quickly these places can transform. The Haunted Mansion Seasonal overlay and the holiday entertainment offers are also shown off in this behind-the-scenes look (soon you too can boogie like an elf). Not to mention, “wintertime enchantment,” a term coined by Disney for the Christmas season, conveys a magical yet disturbing feeling. Even if you don’t decorate your tree or put up your lights, you can enjoy this special as you do those two chores.
10. The Small One (1978)
“The Small One,” a captivating featurette included with a 1978 Christmas re-release of “Pinocchio,” was (at least according to marketing) “destined to be a Disney holiday classic” at the time of its debut theatrical display. That didn’t exactly happen, but it should have done so. (It debuted on HBO in the same year.) Despite its modest budget (look for recycled animation from “The Jungle Book”), this production manages to be artistically stunning, with a special mention going to Small One, a donkey, whose animation is particularly excellent. For one thing, it served as an early test run of animators who would go on to become some of the most influential figures in the industry, not only at Disney, but throughout western animation. It wouldn’t be long before director/producer Don Bluth was hailed the next Walt Disney by some, and his abrupt departure from Pixar would throw the animation studio into disarray. Gary Goldman, who would become Bluth’s longstanding creative partner, Jerry Rees, and Henry Selick were among the other animators who worked on the film. It’s shocking that this doesn’t include one of those Disney+ cautions, but the story is actually very beautiful, especially near the end. Watch “The Small One” if you haven’t already. At least in your house, it may become a Disney Christmas classic.
11. Babes in Toyland (1961)
Just for the sheer amount of kitsch this movie has to offer, it’s well worth adding to your holiday viewing list. With the help of Ray Bolger, Tommy Sands, and Ed Wynn, Disney Mouseketeer Annette Funicello transforms the 1903 operetta into what can only be described as a “early live-action Disney movie.”. Ward Kimball, a Disney veteran, has been working on the idea for at least five years as an animated film. After a disagreement over casting, Kimball continued to construct the live-action version of the story.) There is a sense in watching the movie, as Walt publicly stated, that he was chasing “The Wizard of Oz,” that it lacks a certain razzle-dazzle, and feels much stiffer than the original with its yellow-brick-road-lined streets. Even so, the show features some fantastic musical pieces, and it appears that everyone is having a good time (it was a particular favorite for Funicello). The “Backstage Party” episode of “The Wonderful World of Color” that was aired at the same time as the movie’s debut is particularly enjoyable to watch. Since the film’s toy soldiers have become an iconic component of the “wintertime enchantment” at Disney theme parks, even if you’ve never watched it, chances are you’ve heard about it.