13 Movies to Go See This Holiday Break -- Both With the Kids & Without 'Em

Caroline Olney | Dec 21, 2016 Movies
13 Movies to Go See This Holiday Break -- Both With the Kids & Without 'Em
Image: Lolostock/Shutterstock


As much as we love the idea of sitting in a dark, undisturbed theater for several hours at a time, the reality is that it doesn't happen that often. But. But! Towards the end of December when the holidays are over and the fam is getting sick of chilling at home without scheduled activities, we generally find ourselves desperate to get out of the house. And to us, that translates into movie time.

There's more good news: Movie theaters are cooperating this year, and the options at the ticket booth are truly superb. Whether you're escaping with kids or with a date or with a friend (or with all three, if that's your thing), there's something for you to see. And the odds are that it'll be gooood.

  • Moana


    Obviously. If you haven't seen Disney's latest masterpiece, Moana, yet, you gotta. And a holiday break is the perfect excuse. It's everything you want and need in a Disney movie: Fun, kid-friendly adventure with a capital-M Message. And Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson.

  • Arrival


    This one's for the adults (ish -- it's only rated PG-13), but it's worth the babysitter, if that's what it takes. Arrival is a beautiful, contemplative story about language and humanity, and it'll hit you right in the emotions. It's sci-fi, yes, but created in an incredibly realistic way. It's the kind of sci-fi you could imagine happening tomorrow, and that makes it approachable enough for even the most skeptical audiences.

  • Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them


    Fantastic Beast and Where to Find Them lets us escape into the Harry Potter universe one more time, and that in itself is a kind of gift. It might not be as magical as the original films, but it's still a fun journey (and one veiled in the expected amount of commentary about tolerance, we might add) and a good one to watch with the 13-plus crowd.

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  • Moonlight


    If Moonlight is still in theaters near you, you must go. Must, must, must. We could tell you it's the story of young man growing up black and gay in the "War on Drugs"-era Miami, but that hardly does it justice. We could tell you it's a beautiful tale told in three parts about falling in love and falling into an identity, but that doesn't really do it justice, either. Just watch it. You'll see what we mean.

  • Loving


    Loving could have been a really boring movie about a really exciting and dramatic time in history. But it's not. It's an exciting and dramatic and beautiful movie about a time in history that was also all those things -- a time when interracial marriage was finally becoming legal in the United States and brought about unexpected heroes standing up for social change.

  • Jackie


    Biopics often have a certain association attached to them, and it's not necessarily a good one. But Jackie isn't a stuffy movie that only history buffs will enjoy -- it's an exploration of life and loss (and motherhood in the middle of all that) told in a deeply personal, deeply emotional way. 

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  • Sing


    Does 2016 feel like the year of animated movies about animals? Welp, it's not over yet. Sing is a movie about animals who enter an American Idol-like singing competition, and it's definitely a good one for kids. It might not have the same charm that some other animated animal movies had this year, but it's a good one to go to with a slew of holiday-high kids in tow.

  • 20th Century Women


    Motherhood is a strange and complex thing, and 20th Century Women looks like it will do a really beautiful job of exploring that, plus a million other things. It's supposed to be fun and charming and filled with a truly wonderful cast, and it'll be a must-see as soon as it opens on December 25.

  • La La Land


    It takes, like, 0.2 seconds to be absorbed into the magicalness of La La Land, and as soon as we were in it, we wanted to stay there forever. You will, too. Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone still have unbelievable chemistry, and a couple musical numbers and the shimmering romance of Los Angeles sure isn't making that worse. This one's PG-13, so teenagers are definitely allowed.

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  • Rogue One


    We have a feeling we'll be seeing one Star Wars movie over our holiday break from now until pretty much forever, and this year it's Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Critics didn't resoundingly love it, but for the most part it's called "acceptable" and "convincing" and "fine," so we're sold. It may not be a great, but it's a fun action movie about a world we care for, so it'll do.

  • Fences


    We have so much collective love for Viola Davis and Denzel Washington that Fences is almost definitely going to be a hit with us. It's based on the acclaimed play by August Wilson and it tells the moving story about the family one man built, how it evolved and grew around him, and the lessons that taught them all. It opens Christmas day.

  • A Monster Calls


    A Monster Calls is, at its core, about a boy's imagination and how that plays with real life. It's PG-13 and has its scary moments, but it can be a good one for older kids -- who doesn't like a movie about monsters and friendship and how that makes everything better sometimes?

  • Hidden Figures


    Today, it's not easy for black women to get ahead in STEM fields. In 1960, it was even harder. But even though Hidden Figures tells that story, it's not bleak. It's about the successes three black women -- played by our eternal faves Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, and Janelle Monae -- found in NASA in 1962, and how they got there. It opens on December 25, and you better bet we'll be lining up outside the theater doors.

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