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The Most Popular Christmas Movies and New Year Movies According to the Internet (Which Never Lies)

Get five people together to talk about the top holiday movies, and you’re likely to hear five differing opinions.

After all, taste in movies — just like everything else — is highly subjective. Still, there are a number of ways we tend to gauge a holiday movie’s popularity: box office returns, streaming numbers, lifetime gross, DVD and Blu-Ray sales (back when that was more of a thing), etc.

But there’s another way to judge whether Elf gets more love than Miracle on 34th Street: Internet search volume.

How Search Volume Reveals Movies’ Popularity

While no one likes to think too much about it, most of us realize that every keystroke we log into Google or Bing or YouTube is tracked and recorded, then repackaged as data. One way that data is categorized and utilized is called “search volume” — a metric that shows how many searches are being regularly conducted around a particular topic, word or query. And there’s nothing subjective about it. “Christmas toys for cats,” sees about 40 searches on Google each month this time of year. “Christmas toys for dogs” logs 80. In other words, looking for Christmas toys for dogs is twice as popular as looking for Christmas toys for cats.

When it comes to Christmas movies and New Year movies, then, a dive into search volume metrics provides inarguable evidence about what’s most popular — at least according to what people are searching for online.

One more caveat: Not everyone agrees on what constitutes a proper holiday movie. (See the ongoing debate over Die Hard.) For our purposes, we’ve cast a wide net. If the holiday in question occurs throughout the movie, or, if the holiday is central to a pivotal scene from the movie, we’re crowning it a holiday movie.

Without further ado then, here are the most popular Christmas movies and New Year movies in the U.S. according to Internet search volume.

Most Popular Christmas Movies and New Year Movies in the U.S. According to Search Volume

10. A Christmas Story (1983 - PG)

A classic tale of boyhood, bullies and BB guns at Christmas, A Christmas Story routinely tops many best Christmas movie lists thanks to Ralphie’s antics and fantastic narration. It clocks in at number ten on our list.

9. It’s A Wonderful Life (1946 - PG)

Number nine on our list of the most searched Christmas and New Year movies is the quintessential Christmas movie, It’s A Wonderful Life. The film shows George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart), who’s considering ending it all, just how different, i.e. worse, life in his little town would have been had he never been born.

8. Ocean’s 11 (1960 - NR)

The original star-powered casino heist movie (2001’s Ocean’s Eleven is a remake), Ocean’s 11 follows characters played by Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Angie Dickinson, Sammy Davis, Jr., Peter Lawford and others as they rob five different casinos on New Year’s Eve.

7. Holidate (2020)

The newest holiday movie on our list, 2020’s Holidate tells the tale of two strangers who, fed up with being single at holiday events, decide to act as one another’s plus-ones. Of course, they end up developing feelings — holiday ones and romantic ones.

6. Love Actually (2003 - PG 13)

An enduring romantic comedy, Love Actually follows the stories of nine seemingly unrelated people at Christmastime. Spoiler: their stores actually intertwine and actually involve love.

5. RENT (2005 - PG 13) and Die Hard (1988 - R)

That’s right. RENT, the American rock musical that first found roaring success on Broadway before being made into a film, is veritably tied when it comes to search volume with Bruce Willis’s bloody and thrilling Die Hard. (Yep. We think Die Hard is a Christmas movie.)

4. Forrest Gump (1994 - PG 13)

The decades-spanning Forrest Gump doesn’t immediately jump out as a holiday movie. However, it’s popularity as a New Year film in recent years secures its spot in our list. Why is it a New Year film? Because if you start it at exactly 10:38:57pm on New Year’s Eve, you can ring in the New Year with a depressed Lieutenant Dan (Gary Sinise), who goes on to have a wonderful life.

3. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993 - PG)

The Nightmare Before Christmas is a Christmas movie like no other. Tim Burton’s classic look and macabre feel only elevate the dangerous Christmas spirit in Jack Skellington, the anti-hero who nearly destroys Christmas in this spooky and delightful animated film.

2. Elf (2003 - PG)

Elf, one of Will Ferrell’s first movies after SNL, is a story of a human (Buddy) raised by Santa’s elves who ventures into New York City to find his real father. It’s the second most searched Christmas and New Year movie in the U.S.

1. Home Alone (1990 - PG)

Accidentally left behind by his family during Christmas break and forced to take on a couple of Christmas thieves to protect his home, Kevin McCalister’s (Macaulay Culkin) first Home Alone movie takes first place as the most searched Christmas or New Year movie in the United States.

So there you have it. The next time you get into a fun-loving argument with family and friends around the holiday table about the best Christmas and New Year movies of all time, settle the question with hard data: Internet search volume data.

Whether you’re moving to a new location around the holidays, or you’re just searching for a new Internet or cable TV provider, so you don’t miss out on a single holiday movie, SmartMove can help.

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