Christmas Break 2016 Movie Viewing Guide

Seth Ritchie, Staff Writer

As teachers and students take two weeks off to come together with family and friends to celebrate the religiously motivated holiday of Christmas, they should all be thankful for the break from the non-stop grind of the school year. However, after all the presents are open and all the food has been scarfed down, boredom will inevitably set in, and people will start getting a little stir crazy. There is only so much freedom one can take before boredom and madness set in, so here is a list of the top five (family friendly) movies you should see this Christmas break!

  1. Doctor Strange

Doctor Strange introduces the titular doctor/magician, portrayed by Benedict Cumberbatch, into the ever growing Marvel Cinematic Universe. Doctor Strange is the best MCU hero introduction movie since the original Iron Man. From Benedict Cumberbatch’s smooth yet motivated portrayal of Strange to the awe-inspiring CGI, made even more spectacular in 3-D, the film is packed with as much Marvel brand entertainment as physically possible. This movie came out in early November, so if you do decide to see it, make sure to do so quickly!

  1. Arrival

Arrival is the oddball on this list. While the rest of the movies are more mindlessly fun, Arrival presents a thought-provoking sci-fi narrative that is not afraid to take its time. When multiple alien spacecrafts arrive on Earth, the US Army brings on linguist Louise Banks (Amy Adams) to try and decipher the alien language. As all good science fiction should, the story not only entertains but also provides commentary on the nature of humanity through the lens of the extraterrestrial. Everyone in this movie gives a notable performance, with Amy Adams maybe earning herself an Oscar nod. The cinematography on display is also fantastic, as every single shot progresses the story and pleases the eye. Even though younger viewers may not appreciate the narrative weight, there is enough tension to keep most children interested.

  1. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

At this point, Star Wars does not really need an introduction. Rogue One takes place between the third and fourth Star Wars films and deals with a squad of freedom fighters led by Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) as they attempt to steal the plans for the Death Star’s construction. This movie is a lot more grounded as it focuses on the individual fighters in the Rebel Alliance, pulling off a Saving Private Ryan-esque tone. While that analogy may not make it seem like a kids movie, the Star Wars franchise is a perfectly harmless series that younger viewers will love, if they somehow have not been exposed to it already. Rogue One boasts impressive visual effects, a likeable and interesting set of new characters and a tense story that will grab audience’s attention. Fans of Star Wars, grounded narratives or just good cinema should take a look.

  1. La La Land

La La Land is the next inspired piece of work from acclaimed director Damien Chazelle (Whiplash, Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench) and follows the blooming relationship between actress Mia (Emma Stone) and jazz pianist Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) as they strive to make their dreams come true in modern-day L.A, in a musical fashion. While it may sound corny, Stone and Gosling bring magnetic charisma to their characters, Chazelle’s careful hand behind the camera adds impressive visual flair, and the script is much smarter than one would expect when given the synopsis of the movie. While younger viewers may not be one-hundred percent on board with the more romantic aspects of this flick, the musical numbers should be enough to keep them entertained. This film is a ton of fun, and it would be a tragedy not to see it.  

  1. Moana

Moana is one of the best movies of the year. It perfectly blends charm, humor and music into a surprisingly thoughtful package. It follows the titular character Moana (Auli’i Cravalho) as she travels across the ocean to find the demigod Maui (Dwayne Johnson) and restore the Heart of Te Fiti, the singular source of life in ancient Polynesia. This movie did not have a single misstep. Moana knows what it set out to be, and does it perfectly. The characters are interesting and developed, the music, as done by Lin-Manuel Miranda, is catchy and vibrant, the animation is just stunning and the themes of gender equality and cultural appreciation are presented in a forthright manner without being preachy. If there is one movie worth seeing this break, it is Moana.