Entertainment

All the Movies to See While You're Avoiding Your Family This Christmas

Lee Zachariah says holiday films don't need to suck.
Screenshot via YouTube

Christmas is a time for spending with family, to catch up with loved ones, and take collective stock of how your lives have gone this year. And the best way to get out of it is to go to the movies. Forget your home theatre systems, your streaming services, your smartphone apps showing you the same damn holiday photos over and over again.

None of that compares to the thrill of leaving the house, sitting in some premium air conditioning, and watching a film in the dark without distraction. Oh, the beach is pretty good. I forgot about the beach. But some days it’ll be too hot for the beach, so you should just go to the movies. But how do you sift through the overwhelming options and choose the film that’s right for you? No stress. We’ve got you sorted.

Advertisement

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Out Now

Look, there’s no scenario in which you don’t watch this film. Pop culture juggernauts have a way of being absorbed by osmosis. They’re unavoidable. You can lock yourself in a basement and chain yourself to the wall, and a week from now you’ll realise that, without realising it, you somehow escaped and went out and watched the new Star Wars. Don’t fight it. Give yourself to it. It’s the only way you can relate to your friends.

The Florida Project

Out December 21

Let’s be honest: you’re not going to race out and celebrate your holiday good-times with a film about poverty in Florida. But maybe you should. Because The Florida Project is a surprisingly good time. It’s damn funny, with some of the most naturalistic child performances ever caught on digital. But it’s Willem Dafoe’s tough-on-the-outside-but-gooey-centre motel manager that will stand out. Look, none of us wants to end up destitute and living in a Floridian motel, but if Willem Dafoe is my gruff but loveable landlord protector, I could see an upside.

Paddington 2

Our December 21

By all rights, 2014’s modern-day CGI adaptation of Paddington, with its trailer promising lots of broad wacky slapstick, should have been a disaster. But the twist was that the film actually understood why the character and original books worked, pulling the rug out from all us sceptics by surprising us with the film we actually hoped for all along. The sequel promises to continue the adventures of the Peruvian bear with a serious marmalade habit, this time finding himself framed for a crime he didn’t commit. Paddington has always been an immigrant song, so let’s hope there’s a strong Brexit subtext, followed by the line “Brexit, pursued by bear”. If that line doesn’t appear, ask for your money back.

Advertisement

Downsizing

Out Boxing Day

Matt Damon finally makes good on his promise to take on smaller roles, playing an everyman who decides to shrink himself down to 5 inches so he can finally afford his dream house. Directed by Alexander Payne ( Election, Sideways), there’s a lot of slick social commentary, lots of clumsy social commentary, and, most importantly of all, perennial cinematic weirdos Christoph Waltz and Udo Kier playing a sleazy double act. The film takes a wild turn about halfway through, one that we won’t spoil here, but know that the trailers have only let you in on half the film. Love or hate it, this is one worth seeing in order to argue about it a bunch afterwards. Also, it’s come to our attention that Damon has never said he’d take on smaller roles, but how good would that joke have been if he had?

Coco

Out Boxing Day

Feeling nostalgic for the days when Pixar Was Great? Breath easy: Coco is legit brilliant. Set during the Mexican Day of the Dead, a young music-obsessed boy named Miguel finds himself accidentally transported to the land of the dead, where he must enlist the help of his great-great-grandfather to get back home. It’s already the highest-grossing film of all time in Mexico, and it’s not hard to see why: it’s funny, it’s visually stunning, and it’s emotional as all get-out. Make sure you stay until the end credits. There’s nothing there, but sitting quietly in the dark will help you compose yourself after all the ugly crying you’ll be doing after its joyous and uplifting ending. Don’t pretend you’re above that.

Advertisement

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle

Out Boxing Day

When Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson appeared in Welcome to the Jungle back in 2003, it was supposed to mark the return of the 1980s-style action hero. A 21 st century reboot of the classic Arnie-Sly muscle-bound archetype. But the film didn’t take, forcing The Rock to become an internationally-renowned icon through other means. But thanks to the deal he made with a mysterious genie that time, he must return every 14 years to make a nostalgia-steeped movie named Welcome to the Jungle. Will the 2017 version contain satisfying callbacks to the original Robin Williams classic? Will it maintain continuity with the 2005 sequel Zathura, a film you forgot existed until two seconds ago? On Boxing Day, you can find out. And I can’t wait for 2031’s Space Jam: Welcome to the Jungle.

The Greatest Showman

Out Boxing Day

Forget everything you know about PT Barnum, unless you know nothing, in which case, do some fucking research. Barnum is considered the greatest salesman of all time, a man who was able to sell anything to anyone. But the good news is he now looks like Hugh Jackman, and instead of selling hoaxes to suckers, he now sings in autotune about believing in yourself. Also stars Michelle Williams, Zac Efron, Rebecca Ferguson, Jumanji sequel Zendaya, and lots of stuffy old men in monocles who say “Well, I never!” a lot.

Breathe

If you’re not up for a circus, perhaps you’ll be up for a Serkis? That will make sense in a few sentences, so keep reading. The film your mother will be watching on Boxing Day is called Breathe. It’s a true story starring temp Spider-man Andrew Garfield as Robin Cavendish, a man who is given three months to live following a polio diagnosis and uses his remaining time to become a disability activist. His wife is played by The Crown’s Claire Foy, and the film is directed by Gollum/Ape/Snoke/Other Ape performance capture artist Andy Serkis. This is apparently a legit tear-jerker, so bring some tissues as Serkis mo-caps his way into your heart.

Call Me By Your Name

Out Boxing Day

Only planning to see one more film before the year is out? Then make it this one. The most beautiful, life-affirming, unsentimental, cool, funny, and engaging film of the year is an Italian love story featuring Armie Hammer and Timothée Chalamet. Set in 1983, a 17-year-old becomes enamoured with his father’s assistant, and the two spend time together in the Italian countryside, the exact countryside that propels you into a passionate love affair. Everything about this film is wonderful, including the fact that it made Hollywood sleaze James Wood Mad Online. It’s also got a scene that makes American Pie’s pie-fucking scene look profoundly tame and almost quaint, so get ready for that.

Follow Lee on Twitter