ELF, Will Ferrell, Zooey Deschanel, 2003, (c) New Line/courtesy Everett Collection
Credit: Everett Collection

All week we're rolling out the secret, untold stories behind some of our all-time favorite holiday movies. Over the course of our conversations with their stars and filmmakers, we couldn't help but ask what some of their favorite holiday movies are. So, what does the director of Love Actually think is better than Love Actually? What are the true loves of the stars of Elf, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and more? Check out those answers and more below. —David Canfield

Mary Steenburgen
Credit: Lacey Terrell/Sony

Mary Steenburgen

"I will always love It's a Wonderful Life." —As told to Maureen Lee Lenker

LOVE ACTUALLY, Director Richard Curtis, Emma Thompson on the set, 2003

Richard Curtis

"I don't think [Love Actually] is as good as Elf. Can I just make this very clear? Elf for me, is the masterpiece. That's a film I can't watch too many times." —As told to Marcus Jones

ELF, Zooey Deschanel, 2003, (c) New Line/courtesy Everett Collection
Credit: Everett Collection

Zooey Deschanel

"I like Meet Me in St. Louis. It's not all Christmas, but [it has] the themes of home and family and those are deep, holiday themes to me. And the story culminates on Christmas, so it feels like a Christmas movie." —As told to M.L.

The Family Stone
Credit: ZADE ROSENTHAL/20th Century Pictures

Claire Danes

"I guess it's A Christmas Story, but largely because I watched it when I was 4 with my brother, who's seven years older, in the theater. My mom didn't quite appreciate some of the adult themes in there. They weren't obvious, I guess, but I was pretty traumatized. It was scary, the Peter and the Wolf soundtrack, with the tongue and the BB gun, and the Santa. I guess it was the first time that I saw visions of the holiday as distorted and perverse. It just had a real wallop, because I was too little to really take it in comfortably.

It's a Wonderful Life too, because Ed Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz, Bedford Falls is the name of their production company that made My So-Called Life. They would always reference It's a Wonderful Life — again, when I was quite young, I guess I knew, I had heard that was a good and important movie. And also there's [the] Gumby movies." —As told to Samantha Highfill

The Family Stone
Credit: ZADE ROSENTHAL/20th Century Studios

Dermot Mulroney

"It would've worked anyway but let's be honest, Elf was sort of the high point on the 'infantized American man in un-normal circumstances' genre of comedy that we have hopefully come through. What's on the other side only time will tell. That's not to knock those movies but that was definitely a high point on that graph, so that one is particularly impacting because it was part of a cultural trend swell." —As told to S.H.

Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Credit: Ron Batzdorff/Universal

Christine Baranski

"I love White Christmas. I watch it every year, and now I watch it every year with my grandsons, and they know that there's gonna be a certain point when [I] just start crying. And then, instead of watching the TV they're watching me cry, because they don't often see me cry, and I'm just like [mimics sobbing]. And that movie gets to me every time! And I think that's the power of a Christmas movie, it can have the power to go straight to your heart." —As told to Mary Sollosi

Christmas on the Square
Credit: Netflix

Dolly Parton

"I always loved It's a Wonderful Life. We watch that every year, like everybody does! I love watching that every year. But I love all the Christmas shows on TV, all the Christmas specials — and especially any Christmas musical." —As told to M.S.

To read more on holiday film favorites, order the December issue of Entertainment Weekly or find it on newsstands now. Don't forget to subscribe for more exclusive interviews and photos, only in EW.

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