The 10 Best Animated Christmas Movies to Get Your Binge On

Curl up on your couch and indulge in festive spirit this season

We’ve had a trying year but we’ve rallied. From re-discovering the joy of the natural world to embracing dating like a Regency couple, 2020 has also had its fair share of pleasant surprises. Christmas this time around promises to be all that and more-especially considering that lockdown mode gives us all the perfect excuse to hunker down with some gingerbread and cookies to watch all the beloved holiday films we can think of. (I’ve heard there’s a whopping 82 new original productions to stream -if so, that’s a truly epic movie marathon in the making.)

This list narrows it down by focusing exclusively on animated classics, the majority of which were released quite recently. Dedicated to the inner child within all of us, consider this your homework assignment upon clocking out from work or studying.

Let the fun begin!

1.Klaus (2019)

Credit to Netflix Animation

Netflix truly outdid itself with its very first animated Christmas themed movie. The outstanding visuals (see for yourself!)and the heart-warming nugget of a tale about a spoiled postal worker banished to a little village on the outskirts of nowhere and a gruff toy-maker named Klaus makes for a treat that’s heart to beat. A centuries old feud, a new spin on classic Christmas traditions and a hearty dose of love and mystery makes for a treat that’s hard to beat. Viewers are already calling it the next Christmas classic, one well on its way to becoming standard fare for the season.

2. Frozen (2013)

Credit to Walt Disney Animation

No list is complete without Disney’s stand out fairytale musical. Literally charming the cockles of our hearts (oh, Olaf!), with musical numbers that have entered the realm of the legendary (‘Let it Snow’, ‘Do You Want to Build a Snowman?’ and ‘Show Yourself’), it’s also been touted a feminist must-watch for giving us strong heroines in Elsa and her sister Anna who manage to save the day quite on their own. The sequel, though promising, hasn’t quite delivered on the original magic of the story but for people hankering for more from Arundel, the short Olaf’s Frozen Adventure might just help scratch that itch as everyone’s favourite sidekick gives us all some hilarious moments as he sets out to find new Christmas traditions for Anna and Elsa.

3. The Grinch (2018)

Credit to Universal Animation Studios and Illumination Entertainment

From the stills, you can probably tell that this newest offering featuring our favourite green furred Christmas hater is a tad different. Instead of the slightly menacing character who treats his dog Max as a slave, we get a misunderstood loner with abandonment issues who seems a lot more interesting than all the bland characters of Whoville. From the smarts that come up with all the new fangled toys and gizmo’s to make Christmas obsolete to the very relatable stress-eating, we’ve got a Grinch that reflects many of us in daily life-one that strums All By Myself as well as Bridget Jones dances to it, in my humble opinion.

4. The Star (2017)

Credit to Sony Pictures Animation, Affirm Films, Walden Media, The Jim Henson Company, Franklin Entertainment and Columbia Pictures

A refreshingly new take on the Nativity, this is the story of Bo the Donkey who escapes from boredom and drudgery at his mill in search of a more exciting life. Meeting up with several animal friends on the way, they all follow the Star leading them to the birth of baby Jesus. Both funny and charming, this works even for those iffy about putting religion in the mix as we get a story that sheds a new life on Mary and Jesus, all through the eyes of an animal that manages to save the Christmas story whilst escaping the pitfalls of his old master.

5. Arthur Christmas (2011)

Credit to Sony Pictures Animation and Aardman Animations

What if Santa had forgotten to deliver one present and it was up to his son, Grand-Santa and the descendants of the original eight reindeer to deliver it in time? Some detractors say that the drinking and a Santa who doesn’t care about one child spoil it all but that just makes Arthur shine even more as a enthusiastic and warmhearted hero who wants to save Christmas for all-the embodiment of true seasonal spirit. Plus, the technical aspect of gift-giving is rendered incredible-a shout out to all the tech aficionados amongst us.

6.Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas (1997)

Credit to Walt Disney Animation

We’ve all had something to say about Disney’s propensity to spin a tale out to the max with any number of prequels, sequels and shorts but, occasionally, they do get it right. Set in the time when the Beast was still a beast, it’s all about how Belle tries to bring Christmas back to the castle and struggles to thaw the heart of one of our favourite Grumps, thwarted by a truly great villain in whose chilling solos we can delight. I guarantee you will be humming ‘As Long as there’s Christmas’ without noticing for quite a bit after! (I know that this is a list dedicated to some of the newest films in the mix, but once in a while, nostalgia hits.)

7. Tokyo Godfathers (2003)

Credit to Studio Madhouse and Sony Pictures Entertainment Japan

Chances are you haven’t even heard of this one. The Japanese anime film features a cast of dead-beats and vagrants living on the streets who chance upon a baby in a waste bag and set out to find its parents on Christmas Eve, a quest that also leads us back into their individual pasts. Blue Christmas is a given for many people in this time who find the season both depressing as well as stressful-Tokyo Godfathers is a perfect homage to that sentiment.As we watch an alcoholic, an ex-Drag Queen and a runaway come to terms with their own past, it’s the perfect invitation to exorcise our own demons, even when we are ‘supposed to be happy’.

8. A Christmas Carol (2009)

Credit to Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

I know, it’s getting to be a bit much with all the re-runs and new renditions of Dicken’s classic Christmas tale but bear with me. With so much choice, I’ve gone for the Jim Carey one because it harks back to the dark roots of the tradition-Mickey’s version may be the one we grew up with and the Muppet one the one we love most but the true chill of Marley with his chains and padlocks as well as that of the Ghost of Christmas Future is embodied in this version. Next to stunning visuals of a nighttime London, we are treated to some Christmas horror at its best.

9.The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

Credit to Touchstone Pictures and Skellington Productions

Keeping with the theme of horror but without the chilling sentiment we have Tim Burton’s eclectic story, one that also makes for an endearing picture book. This is Halloween crossed with Christmas, just as the celebration used to be when young men would mask themselves, get drunk and terrorize the local neighbourhood. Jack Skellington, the King of Halloween, one day gets bored with ‘his celebrations’ and becomes enchanted with the idea of Christmas. For everyone who can’t decide between merry and spooky, this is a good choice unlike Krampus which manages to muddle it all up (sue me, but as an Austrian I really can’t salvage that one).

10.Angela’s Christmas (2017)

Credit to Netflix Animation

This is the Christmas spinoff of Angela’s Ashes you didn’t know you needed. Based on the only children’s story Pulitzer winning Frank McCourt wrote , this is a story about the under-privileged in want of Christmas cheer. Set in Limerick, Ireland in 1917, it recounts an event that occurred in McCourt’s mother’s life when she was 6. A tale centered around family spirit as well as one little girl’s resourcefulness in a time of need tells us why everyone deserves a wonderful Christmas. This year, we’ve got a sequel at our hands as well with Angela’s Christmas Wish for everyone wanting the magic to go on again.

Photojournalist and narrative non-fiction writer

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