It’s the most wonderful time of the year… And for most, nothing says “Christmas” quite like their favorite movie.
But which Christmas movie is providing the most festive cheer in your state?
We’ve put together a list of the top holiday movies by state (based on what’s been the hottest topic on Google Trends over the past year) with some surprising (and rather unchristmassy!) results.
According to our findings, the most popular Christmas movie from the past year was A Snow Capped Christmas (also known as Falling for Christmas). Released in 2016, this cheery must-see follows the story of an injured figure skater who heads into the mountains to recover. There, she meets an ice fisherman who has her reevaluating her life and her focus on competing. It was the top pick in California, Florida, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Ohio, and Texas.
In stark contrast, some states appeared to be in search of something very different when it came to their Christmas movies. For example, Google Trends data suggested residents in Georgia were opting for the 1979 version of Elvis when searching for Christmas movies. But Ohioans, South Carolinians, and Tennesseans fancied something darker, favoring Halloween (2018), Better Watch Out, and Gremlins (1984), respectively. However, as this study is Christmas-based, we’ve selected the top festive movie for each state, meaning the results for each of these states are as follows: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Movie (GA), A Snow Capped Christmas (OH), Office Christmas Party (SC), and Christmas with the Kranks (TN).
Which states favor the old classics and which prefer a modern rom-com?
As you can see from the above table, there’s a huge variation in the age of the movies chosen with the oldest being from 1946 and the most recent being from 2021. In fact, the average year for the top movies was 1998, showing that we tend to prefer to delve into the archives when we’re trying to find our festive spirit.
Some of the oldest movies featured were:
- It’s a Wonderful Life (1946): Is it even Christmas if you haven’t watched this movie? Starring James Stewart and Donna Reed, It’s a Wonderful Life tells the story of depressed businessman, George (Stewart), and his visit from an angel who shows him how different life would have been if he hadn’t existed. This was the film of choice for New Hampshire.
- White Christmas (1954): This musical with Bing Crosby sees two singers teaming up with the Haynes sisters to put on a Christmas show in a bid to save their former commanding general’s failing Vermont inn. Most popular in Delaware, Mississippi, and West Virginia.
- How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966): There may be a few versions of this movie, but residents of Michigan prefer the classic cartoon from 1966. Can the grumpy green hermit (the grinch) steal the Whos of Whoville’s Christmas?
Other pre-1990 movies included A Christmas Story (1983), Santa Claus: The Movie (1985), Scrooged (1988), and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989).
The more recent favorites were:
- A Boy Called Christmas (2021): This story sees a young boy setting out on an adventure (with his trustee pet mouse and a reindeer, of course) to find his father in the magical land of Elfhelm. Most popular in Oregon.
- The Christmas Chronicles 2 (2020): After they run away from home, Kate and Jack are transported to the North Pole by mischievous elf, Belsnickel. But can they help save Christmas before Belsnickel cancels it–forever? Nebraska’s favorite.
- Merry Liddle Christmas (2019): When Jacqui (Kelly Rowland), a successful entrepreneur, tries to achieve a picture-perfect Christmas with her messy and dysfunctional family, she gets more than she bargained for when she falls in love with her neighbor. Popular in Virginia.
Other post-2010 movies were Last Christmas (2019), A Bad Moms Christmas (2017), A Snow Capped Christmas (2016), Office Christmas Party (2016), and Krampus (2015).
Which states have the best and worst taste in Christmas movies?
The average IMDb rating of all the top movies featured in our Christmas list is 6.8. But there are some states that appear to have a more discerning taste.
Two of the oldest movies listed above–It’s a Wonderful Life and How the Grinch Stole Christmas–carry the highest IMDb ratings of our list with scores of 8.6 and 8.3 respectively. As we’ve seen, these were the top picks in New Hampshire and Michigan.
Other high-rated choices include The Nightmare Before Christmas and A Christmas Story. Both have IMDb ratings of 7.9 with the former being a must-watch for residents of Alaska and Rhode Island and the latter for those in Arkansas, the District of Columbia, Kansas, North Dakota, and South Dakota.
At the other end of the scale with IMDb ratings of below 6 was Christmas with the Kranks (IMDb rating of 5.4 and popular in Tennessee), A Bad Moms Christmas (IMDb rating of 5.6 and popular in Indiana and Minnesota), Jingle All the Way (IMDb rating of 5.7 and popular in New York), Merry Liddle Christmas (IMDb rating of 5.8 and popular in Virginia), Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Movie (IMDb rating of 5.8 and popular in Connecticut and Georgia), and Office Christmas Party (IMDb rating of 5.9 and popular in Oklahoma and South Carolina).
Using Google Trends to search for the term “Christmas movie” in each state, we looked to see which movie was a rising topic in the related topics section. Rising topics are the top related search terms users looking at Christmas movies also searched for over the past year and saw the biggest influx in searches during that period. The top result for each state was the designated movie for that state. In some cases, a movie franchise may have appeared on top, e.g. “Christmas Chronicles series” but we only noted the title when it was a specific film. And, as mentioned previously, some non-Christmas films also appeared but were not included.