This holiday season has already been an incredibly difficult one, and the remaining days of 2020 will likely be the same. So many of us are missing loved ones—separated, isolated, disappointed, and even depressed. It’s hard to be alone or to be away from the people we care about most, and while we hope the restrictions on gathering in groups is temporary, some of the losses this year has brought are final. This is hard.
I don’t mean to imply at all that watching a movie will ease your pain. I’m not here to make light of our collective trauma or your specific sadness. But if you’re in the mood for a movie this holiday season while you are missing your family, these films might cheer you up for a bit or at least distract you (or remind you that the holiday family gatherings we’re longing for aren’t actually quite as Normal Rockwell perfect as we might be remembering).
Almost Christmas (2016): A dysfunctional family gathers for their first Christmas since their mom died. Stars Danny Glover, Gabrielle Union, Mo’Nique, Omar Epps, Romany Malco, and more. Rated PG-13. Rent on Amazon Prime.
Four Christmases (2008): A couple attempts to visit all four of their divorced parents for the holidays. Stars Reese Witherspoon, Vince Vaughn, and so many others. Rated PG-13. Watch on Netflix.
Happiest Season (2020): A woman takes her girlfriend home for the holidays, even though her family doesn’t know she’s gay. Stars Mackenzie Davis, Kristen Stewart, Aubrey Plaza, Alison Brie, Dan Levy, and more.
Home for the Holidays (1995): A recently unemployed woman faces her family alone while her daughter spends the holidays with her boyfriend. Dysfunctional hijinks ensue. This is one of my all-time favorites dating back to my college days! Stars Holly Hunter, Dylan McDermott, Robert Downey Jr., and more. Rated PG-13. Watch on Amazon Prime.
Love the Coopers (2015): Four generations of a family gather for a reunion on Christmas Eve. Stars Steve Martin, Diane Keaton, Ed Helms, Marisa Tomei, and more. Rated PG-13. Watch on Amazon Prime.
Nothing Like the Holidays (2008): A Puerto Rican family gathers for what might be their last holiday together. Stars Alfred Molina, Elizabeth Pena, Freddy Rodriguez, Luiz Guzman, Jay Hernandez, Debra Messing, and more. Rated PG-13. Watch on Amazon Prime.
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989): The Griswold’s plans for a big family Christmas go awry, turning into a disaster. The classic! Stars Chevy Chase and more. Rated PG-13. Watch on Amazon Prime.
The Family Stone (2005): An uptight businesswoman visits her boyfriend’s free-spirited family for the holidays. Some call this one a classic too! Stars Sarah Jessica Parker, Dermot Mulroney, Diane Keaton, Rachel McAdams, and more. Rated PG-13. Watch on Amazon Prime or Hulu.
This Christmas (2007): After not gathering for years, all the siblings in a family are coming home for Christmas and bringing all their baggage with them. Stars Loretta Devine, Idris Elba, Mekhi Phifer, Regina King, and more. Rated PG-13. Watch on Netflix.
What’s Cooking (2000): Four families of different ethnicities gather together for Thanksgiving dinner. Stars Mercedes Ruehl, Julianna Marguilies, Joan Chen, Kyra Sedgwick, Alfre Woodard. Rated PG-13. Watch on Amazon Prime.
What’s your favorite holiday movie about families?
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