Holiday season boasts an abundance of that valuable resource we all find in short supply during the year—free time. Generally we spend those extra hours participating in family activities and that includes going to the movies. It’s one of the most lucrative moments of the year for the box office—or did you think it coincidence Lucasfilm is releasing a new Star Wars film every December for the discernable future?
But sometimes it’s hard choosing what movie to watch with the family. During Thanksgiving several years back, my family allowed me the honors of rental selection. My pick: Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom, because internet people I liked had boasted its excellence. This was a bad choice. Not only is it Anderson at his most twee, but this side of the family is very casual in their movie-watching. Afterwards, it furthered their assumption that I was the strange sheep of the family. (They aren’t wrong!)
Anyways, we learned that lesson so you don’t have to. If you’re suggesting a movie for the family, you must consider all the variables. That’s why we’re here to help.
The Safe Choices
- Moana: An animated film that’s comfortable and reassuring in its familiarity, but does enough differently to delight you.
- Rogue One: The best war movie this year, and darkest Star Wars entry since The Empire Strikes Back
- Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: You’re straggling if you haven’t seen this yet, but it’s a pleasant return to Rowling’s Wizarding World
The Space Explorers
- Arrival: A film of the year, serious Oscar contender, and a reminder once again how incredible Amy Adams is
- Passengers: While it’s receiving a bashing critically—it isn’t as bad as its Rotten Tomatoes score indicates—but also has old friends Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt doing J Law and Pratt things
The Serious Movie Fans
- Silence: Martin Scorsese’s 3-hour epic based on Shūsaku Endō’s 1966 novel that really goes for it with its epic subject matter and performances
- La La Land: Reviving old-school musicals with endearing performances by Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone. Be prepared for singing and dancing.
- Jackie: The history biopic that should have “Natalie Portman really wants an Oscar” as its tagline. If high-minded actor vehicles are your thing, this is your movie.
- Paterson: Adam Driver stars as bus driver named Paterson living in Paterson, New Jersey. A classic Jim Jarmusch people just hanging out movie. It’s great, according to our wonderful photo editor.
The Denzel Washington Movie
- Fences: Tour-de-force performances by Denzel Washington and Viola Davis, which is exactly what you want.
- Office Christmas Party: Its actors seem tired and not really interested in the movie, but it has enough bits to please.
- Why Him? James Franco and Bryan Cranston battling it out for the love of a daughter. In a bizarro world, this is a Breaking Bad spin-off. Instead it’s a formulaic laughie.