10 of the Best Holiday Movies: EPL Staff Favourites

Sam Hamilton is the former Web Content Administrator at the Edmonton Public Library.

What do Tim Allen, the Grinch and Die Hard have in common? They all show up in our staff’s list of favourite holiday movies.

Whether you’re in the mood for animated family films, traditional Christmas flicks or something unconventional, there’s a movie for everyone to see this winter. Check one (or all) of them out!

All movies are free to borrow with your library card. Don’t have one? Sign up for free online!


1. Arthur Christmas

“An adorable animated film for the whole family that's perfect to put on while decorating the tree, wrapping gifts or doing all of the baking. Arthur is Santa's younger son and his enthusiasm for Christmas doesn't really fit in with the almost military precision that Santa, the elves and Arthur's older brother have made the delivery of gifts on Christmas Eve. However, Arthur must come to the rescue when the gift for one child is missed. The excellent voice cast includes many big-name British actors including James McAvoy, Bill Nighy, Imelda Staunton and Hugh Laurie.” — Beth Kilfoy, Collections Librarian in the Collection Management & Access Division

Arthur Christmas is available as a DVD.

2. The Nightmare Before Christmas

“I cannot abide any holiday season without The Nightmare before Christmas—to me, it speaks to the special kind of anxiety that can only come from preparing for the grandiose expectations of holiday traditions that we constantly reinterpret (and occasionally reinvent) in our own idiosyncratic ways.” — Benjamin Ehlers, Community Librarian at the Riverbend Branch

Tim Burton's the Nightmare Before Christmas is available as a DVD and Blu-ray disc.

3. Olive, the Other Reindeer

“Santa's Christmas Eve ride is threatened when Blitzen is injured. But little Olive hears the call for ‘Olive’ the other reindeer and is determined to help Santa pull the sleigh and deliver gifts. This movie is so cute, and I've watched it with my family on Christmas Eve for the last 10+ years. It's a short watch, perfect for watching with little ones before the big day. There's some good original songs and jokes for the whole family.” — Jade Stalenhoef, Page at the Heritage Valley Branch

Olive, the Other Reindeer is available as a DVD.


4. How the Grinch Stole Christmas

“I know there are strong feelings on the original cartoon, and it is a classic to be sure, but I have a soft spot for the live-action one. The costumes, the scenery, the gravity defying hairdos . . . everything about it is whimsical. And Jim Carrey does an amazing job as a grouchy but lovable Grinch!” — Tangraya Coupland, Library Assistant at the Heritage Valley Branch

Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas is available as a DVD and Blu-ray disc.

5. Love Actually

“I love the interconnected stories and the ensemble cast has so many of my favourite actors: Alan Rickman, Emma Thompson, Liam Neeson, Colin Firth, Bill Nighy, Laura Linney, Hugh Grant and even Martin Freeman. And the soundtrack is excellent too—"All I want for Christmas is You" sung by Olivia Olsen stays in my head all season. It's a bit hokey/sentimental but I love it!” — Michelle Shimenosky, Interlibrary Loans Assistant in the Collections Management & Access Division

Love Actually is available as a DVD and the soundtrack is available as a music CD.

6. National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation

“We watch it every year as a family and quote it year-round! So much so that I had to make sure my (now) husband watched it so he would know what we were talking about!” — Lauren Bell, Library Services Coordinator at the Meadows Branch

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation is available as a DVD and Blu-ray disc.

7. The Santa Clause

“You're never too old for some Christmas magic! This was a childhood favorite and the tradition of curling up with this movie has carried into adulthood! I probably quote this movie too much, but it really applies to most situations . . . ‘seeing isn't believing, believing is seeing!’” — Tara Wright, Safety Consultant in the Facilities & Operations Division

Disney's the Santa Clause is available as a DVD.


8. Die Hard

Die Hard is my favourite Christmas movie! Before my best friend introduced me to it a decade ago, I would never have thought of it as such, but not only does it take place during a Christmas party, it includes themes around family, and Hans Gruber, the main villain, is a not-so-thinly veiled Grinch stealing Christmas.” — Ashley Dotto, Library Services Coordinator at the Strathcona Branch

Die Hard is available as a DVD.

9. Rare Exports

“A Finnish horror movie about children who begin disappearing after an excavation unearths the evil Santa Claus of local lore (think Krampus). I first saw this on the big screen at Garneau with the local genre film festival, DEDfest. It's fantastically done and reminds me of dark cold snowy nights.” — Jade Stalenhoef, Page at the Heritage Valley Branch

Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale is available as a DVD and streaming video.

10. The Ref

“While it’s great to watch films where it's all magical, The Ref is all about family dysfunction. Dennis Leary is a thief who was foiled in his latest robbery. He takes hostage a couple while he waits for his partner to escape town; only the couple bickers constantly. The icing on the cake is that more family members are expected for dinner. More bickering ensues but everyone finally gets out their suppressed resentments.” — Irina Demko, Library Assistant at the Whitemud Crossing Branch

The Ref is available as a DVD.

Looking for more movies to watch this holiday season? Curl up on the couch with these Hallmark Channel classics, free to borrow with your library card!

Hallmark Collection