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40 best movies to stream on Netflix, Amazon, and more this holiday

Chances are, if you’re home for the holidays, you’ll hit a little downtime where the family just wants to sit around and watch a movie. Picking one can be downright impossible — every family has different requirements.

To help solve the problem, we’ve put together a list of films available to stream on Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu for every kind of family, whether you’re the kind of family that’s already sick of Christmas colors or the kind of family that’s all obsessed with space, or even if you’re hosting Friendsgiving this year.


Pacino as Jimmy Hoffa and De Niro as Frank Sheeran across from each other at a bar in The Irishman

Niko Tavernise/Netflix

For families who want to talk to each other as little as possible

Martin Scorsese’s latest movie is a whopping three hours and 30 minutes long. That’s three hours and a half hours of blessed silence (or at least of having comments directed at the screen and not at you). Luckily, the film, about the real-life hitman who claimed to have killed Jimmy Hoffa, is also one of the best of the year. Legends Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci all turn in incredible performances, anchoring a work that is not just about recent history but about the bittersweetness of time passing by.

Streaming on Netflix


Nicolas Cage and Sean Bean on the hunt

Touchstone Pictures

For families who have to compromise between watching a Ken Burns documentary and the latest Fast & Furious movie

National Treasure (2004)

Does your uncle claim that your great-great-great-grandfather died before revealing the location of a bunch of gold he buried somewhere? Is there a painting in the house that you grew up in that looks like a map with a big X on it? Does your family routinely get into arguments about how much money is reasonable to spend on 23andMe? Are you all just American history nuts? Then I have a movie to pitch you about Nicolas Cage as a historian whose entire family is obsessed with the possibility that American Freemasons hid a whole bunch of treasure during the Revolutionary War.

Streaming on Netflix


a room is thrown into chaos in Psychokinesis

Next Entertainment World

For families who have exhausted the Marvel cinematic universe

Psychokinesis (2018)

If your family has watched every comic book movie to the point of exhaustion, it’s time to think a little outside the Disney box when it comes to superheroes. Look no further than Psychokinesis, directed by Yeon Sang-ho (Train to Busan), which stars Ryu Seung-ryong as a deadbeat dad who suddenly gains telekinetic powers and must use them to help save his daughter’s fried chicken restaurant from a mob-run construction company.

Streaming on Netflix


the boss at work

Netflix

For families who always go to concerts together

Springsteen on Broadway (2018)

Just hours after Springsteen on Broadway closed on Broadway, a Netflix version of the show became available to stream. If your family are fans of the Boss and missed his residency, or even if you just love soulful jams, Springsteen on Broadway is a joy, and doesn’t exclude anything that theatergoers got except for the physical presence of Bruce Springsteen himself. Over the course of two and a half hours, Springsteen talks about his life and work, and, naturally, does a little singing.

Streaming on Netflix


miles morales in spider-man into the spider-verse

Sony Pictures Animation

For families who can’t decide whether Tobey Maguire, Andrew Garfield, or Tom Holland is the best Spider-Man

There are many reasons Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is a perfect movie, but among them are the facts that it’s dazzlingly animated, that it aces an ambitious, multiuniverse storyline, and that it’s a heartwarming watch for all ages. When high school student Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) witnesses Spider-Man’s (Chris Pine) death and then, after being bitten by a colorful spider, finds himself developing Spider-Man’s powers the very next day, he’s thrust into a conflict that involves not only one of Spider-Man’s biggest nemeses, Kingpin (Liev Schreiber), but multiple other Spider-People.

Streaming on Netflix


Brennan (Ferrell) and Dale (Reilly) perform for a crowd.

Sony Pictures Releasing

For families with rowdy siblings

Step Brothers (2008)

With some distance, Adam McKay’s Step Brothers has come to be considered one of the best comedies of the past 20 years. Moments like Adam Scott forcing his family to perform a cappella, or Richard Jenkins’ “don’t lose your dinosaur” monologue, or Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly performing “Por Ti Volaré” at the Catalina Wine Mixer have all entered indelibly into pop culture. The tale of two stepbrothers (Ferrell and Reilly) whose instinctive antagonism turns into unbreakable friendship is an absurd one, but a hell of a funny one, too.

Streaming on Netflix


Deng Chao in Shadow.

Well Go USA Entertainment

For families already tired of all of that Christmas red and green

Shadow (2018)

Zhang Yimou’s action drama Shadow offers a reprieve from holiday colors by taking place almost entirely in shades of gray. The costumes and sets are mostly black and gray, with the occasional flash of skin and nature scenery acting as the rare exception to the rule. A tale of court intrigue involving doppelgängers, love, and wuxia action, it’s got a little something for everyone.

Streaming on Netflix


Daisy Ridley as Rey in Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Walt Disney Studios

For families who already have their Rise of Skywalker tickets and are hype

Brush up on what happened in a galaxy far, far away by watching Star Wars: The Last Jedi before December’s The Rise of Skywalker. The SparkNotes version: Rey (Daisy Ridley) receives Jedi training from the legendary Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), while Finn (John Boyega) and Poe (Oscar Isaac) attempt to save the Resistance from the First Order’s relentless pursuit.

Streaming on Netflix


four figures inside a spaceship in Spaceballs

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

For families who already have their Rise of Skywalker tickets but are chill

Spaceballs (1987)

A parody of the original Star Wars trilogy as well as almost every other science fiction property of the time, Mel Brooks’ Spaceballs is still impeccably funny. With “Yogurt” standing in for Yoda, “Dark Helmet” in place of Darth Vader, and “Princess Vespa” instead of Princess Leia, it’s a note-for-note riff on Lucas’ original work, and a perfect aperitif for The Rise of Skywalker.

Streaming on Amazon


Jupiter Ascending romance

Warner Bros. Pictures

For families working on their next D&D campaign

Jupiter Ascending (2015)

Jupiter Ascending may not actually have dungeons or dragons, but it packs in enough fantastical ideas to drive one, two, three, maybe a thousand campaigns. Written and directed by the Wachowski sisters, Jupiter Ascending stars Mila Kunis and Channing Tatum as the everyday Earth woman who discovers an entire world exists beyond Earth and the half-human, half-dog warrior who’s been sent to bring her into space. Interplanetary politics ensue. Sean Bean turns into a bunch of bees.

Streaming on Netflix


incredibles 2 - holly hunter as elastigirl

Pixar

For families managing children of varying ages

Incredibles 2 has something for both children and adults as it mixes superhero hijinks, a surprisingly heavy message about their place in popular culture and our dependence upon heroes in general, and the difficulties of parenting. Director Brad Bird’s talent for action wraps the whole package up in a thrilling bow, making the family of superheroes that the film (and its predecessor, The Incredibles) centers on tremendously relatable despite the fact that they all possess supernatural powers.

Streaming on Netflix


The party begins going south in The Invitation.

Drafthouse Films

For friends who don’t want to host Friendsgiving next year

The Invitation (2015)

Tired of hosting Friendsgiving every year? Make your friends wonder if this year might be the final straw by showing them The Invitation, the best movie in recent years about a dinner party gone horribly, horribly wrong. We won’t spoil the twists, but this will go better if you have a red porch light, and if you make subtle hints about having joined a cult or really getting into spiritual philosophy before everyone watches the movie.

Streaming on Netflix


mission: impossible - fallout - tom cruise on helicopter

Paramount Pictures

For families who love to holler

Sometimes you just want to yell and whoop, and one of the most reliable places to look for yells and whoops is in the Mission: Impossible franchise. In Fallout, Tom Cruise once again stars as super spy Ethan Hunt, and executes increasingly death-defying stunts for our entertainment. This one also features Henry Cavill, Cruise actually breaking his ankle during a roof jump, and the most anxiety-inducing helicopter chase / cliffside fight of all time.

Streaming on Amazon, Hulu


mattie ross and rooster cogburn, both on horseback

Paramount Pictures

For families whose grandpa only watches old Westerns

True Grit (2010)

Watch a new-old movie by streaming the Coen brothers’ version of True Grit, which stars Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, and Hailee Steinfeld as a trio in pursuit of a murderer. Charles Portis’ original novel was published in 1968, and the movie starring John Wayne came out in 1969; the Coen brothers work with the same essential material, but they focus on the strength of young Mattie Ross (Steinfeld) and pack the screen full of colorful characters in support of her story. It’s an emotional sucker punch of a movie and, with a sprinkling of snow, a perfect one for the holidays.

Streaming on Amazon


hereditary - toni collette screaming

A24

For families who need a moment of reflection to say, “Well, at least we’re not them”

The holidays can be a stressful time, especially if you’re the type of person who wonders how you’re possibly related to the ones you love and counts down the minutes until you don’t have to be around them. If this is the case, try putting on Hereditary, which follows the Graham family as grief and inherited trauma send them into a nightmarish, supernatural downward spiral. At least things aren’t that bad!

Streaming on Amazon


an argument over food ensues

The Samuel Goldwyn Company

For families who love to cook

Big Night (1996)

What’s better than Thanksgiving dinner? Stanley Tucci and Tony Shalhoub making pasta! Big Night, co-directed by Campbell Scott and Tucci himself, stars Tucci and Shalhoub as brothers running an Italian restaurant in the 1950s. The restaurant is failing, but they’re seemingly handed a last chance when they’re told that famous singer Louis Prima will be coming to dine there. They pull out all the stops for the big night, inviting everyone to share in the feast in preparation for Prima’s visit.

Streaming on Amazon


Lady Bird (Saoirse Ronan) and her mother (Laurie Metcalf) in Lady Bird

A24

For families savoring the moments with college-bound children

Lady Bird (2017)

Growing up can be rough in little and big ways, as perfectly encapsulated in Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird. Saoirse Ronan stars as Christine, who calls herself “Lady Bird,” and whose desires to attend college in a big city and fly the coop clash with her family’s financial struggles and her parents’ seeming inability to understand her. The film is especially poignant as a portrait of the push and pull between a mother and daughter, as Lady Bird and her mother (Laurie Metcalf) can’t seem to find common ground, or properly express their love for each other as the days count down until Lady Bird leaves home.

Streaming on Amazon


Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway

Graham Bartholomew/Aviron Pictures

For families obsessed with twist endings

OK, if your family members are obsessed with twist endings, they probably already know what’s up with Serenity. But if they don’t, this is the perfect movie for the whole family to watch after dinner, with a reveal that will have you talking through the new year. Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway star in this fantasy thriller as a fishing boat captain and his ex-wife, who has come to ask him to murder her abusive new husband for the sake of their son. Is that all, though? You’ll have to watch to find out.

Streaming on Amazon


andy samberg leads a pack of kids riding bicycles in Hot Rod

James Dittiger/Paramount Pictures

For families that just saw Ford v Ferrari and want to keep the engine running

Hot Rod (2007)

If Ford v Ferrari left you with a hankering for vehicular cinema, the Lonely Island has you covered. Hot Rod, directed by Akiva Schaffer, stars Andy Samberg as Rod, a would-be stuntman. His failed attempts at doing sick tricks on his moped gain new urgency when his stepfather (Ian McShane), who constantly belittles him, comes to need a heart transplant that will cost $50,000. Determined not to let his stepfather die before he can earn his respect, Rod plans an epic stunt to raise the money for the surgery.

Streaming on Amazon


Daniel Craig, with bleached hair and a bathrobe, crouches in the yard.

Bleecker Street

For families that just saw Knives Out and want to keep the Southern James Bond accent going

Logan Lucky (2017)

If Knives Out left you with a hankering for more Southern Daniel Craig (but with a little more heist action), Ocean’s 11 director Steven Soderbergh has you covered with a spiritual heist sequel. The Logan family — Jimmy (Channing Tatum), Clyde (Adam Driver), and Mellie (Riley Keough) — are hatching a plan to rob the Charlotte Motor Speedway. Career criminal Joe Bang (Craig) comes along for the ride for his safe-cracking expertise, sporting a bleached-blond head of hair and a distinctly non-Bond accent.

Streaming on Amazon


everyone on the boat dances in Pirate Radio

Focus Features

For families just looking for a singalong

Pirate Radio (2009)

Though cursed with too many titles (The Boat That Rocked in its native Britain, Good Morning England in France, Radio Rock Revolution in Germany, and I Love Radio Rock in Italy), Pirate Radio shamelessly checks every big musical act from the 1960s, featuring music from the Kinks, the Beach Boys, the Who, the Turtles, David Bowie, and so on. The hits keep coming as the film, which centers on a fictional pirate radio station, unfolds, working in romances and various other coming-of-age tropes as Carl (Tom Sturridge) comes into his own among the colorful DJs.

Streaming on Amazon


charlie hunnam and robert pattinson at a table in The Lost City of Z

Aidan Monaghan/Amazon Studios

For families who get the most out of their New Yorker subscriptions

The Lost City of Z (2016)

In 2005, David Grann published an article in The New Yorker entitled “The Lost City of Z,” recounting what may have become of British explorer Percy Fawcett, who disappeared in search of an ancient lost city in 1925. The article became a full-length book, fleshing out the story as well as Grann’s own travels in Fawcett’s footsteps. The book then became an artful adventure movie under the direction of James Gray (Ad Astra), focusing on Fawcett’s journey and the consuming nature of obsession and exploration.

Streaming on Amazon


Liam Neeson hanging out of a train car in The Commuter

Jay Maidment/Lionsgate

For families stuck in the city

The Commuter (2018)

If you’re feeling grouchy that your holiday surroundings are not as much of a winter wonderland as they could be, really lean into that feeling by watching The Commuter, a thriller that takes place almost entirely on a train. Michael (Liam Neeson) commutes on the Hudson Line every day. His humdrum routine is interrupted when a woman tells him he has to find a hidden passenger on the train, or face the deaths of his friends and loved ones.

Streaming on Amazon, Hulu


the lizard rango

Paramount Pictures

For families with exotic pets

Rango (2011)

The most stressful part of any Toy Story movie is when a toy becomes separated from the rest of the gang, usually by falling out of a car. They’re so small! How are they going to make it back to safety? Rango addresses a similar question, sending a pet chameleon out into the Mojave Desert after his terrarium accidentally falls from his owners’ car. The ensuing adventure, which sees him elected sheriff of a town of creatures, pits him against adversaries like the Gila monster Bad Bill and gunslinger Rattlesnake Jake, and is filled with the strangest and most wonderful character design and genre subversions you’ve ever seen.

Streaming on Amazon


Aquaman - Aquaman standing in front of a waterfall holding his trident

Warner Bros. Pictures

For families who wish they were at the beach

Let the cool, refreshing waves of the seven underwater kingdoms wash over you in Aquaman. Patrick Wilson as Orm. Willem Dafoe with a little man bun. Jason Momoa as a half-Atlantean, half-human superhero reluctant to accept his Atlantean responsibility. Giant crab monsters. Dinosaurs in the center of the Earth. Nicole Kidman with a battle trident. Julie Andrews as a deep sea monster. Aquaman has it all.

Streaming on HBO Now or Hulu’s HBO add-on


a day at the mall in Mean Girls

Paramount Pictures

For families with kids just entering high school

Mean Girls (2004)

Though it’s been 15 years since Mean Girls came out, it’s a classic for a reason. Lindsay Lohan plays Cady Heron, who is thrown into the world of public school after being homeschooled her entire life. Though she initially befriends Janis Ian (Lizzy Caplan) and Damian Leigh (Daniel Franzese), she’s soon drawn into the orbit of the petty and superficial Plastics, led by Regina George (Rachel McAdams). As she’s pulled further into the Plastics’ world, she’s forced to choose between true friendship and high school popularity.

Streaming on Cinemax or Hulu’s Cinemax add-on


Crazy Rich Asians - Eleanor, Nick and Rachel

Sanja Bucko/Warner Bros. Pictures

For two families celebrating the holidays together for the first time

Crazy Rich Asians (2018)

Dealing with icy in-laws is a tale as old as time, but it’s given a fresh spin in Crazy Rich Asians, which piles rom-com trope after rom-com trope on top of the conflict. Rachel Chu (Constance Wu) accompanies her boyfriend Nick (Henry Golding) to his best friend’s wedding in Singapore. It’s only once there that Rachel discovers that Nick’s family — and everyone he knows — is astronomically rich and are all members of high society. As such, it becomes a struggle to win the approval of Nick’s mother (Michelle Yeoh), who looks down on Rachel for too many reasons to count.

Streaming on HBO Now or Hulu’s HBO add-on


Buzz Aldrin, suited up.

Neon

For families who bond over how sad it is that the Curiosity rover sings “Happy Birthday” to itself every year

Apollo 11 (2019)

Everyone can agree on the fact that space is overwhelming; we just may not agree on whether that’s an awe-inspiring thing or a terrifying one. (Then again, why not both?) The documentary Apollo 11 is more on the awe-inspiring side, using archival footage never before seen by the public to tell the story of the first spaceflight from which men set foot upon the moon. Director Todd Douglas Miller doesn’t use any talking heads, letting the footage of one of history’s most incredible moments speak for itself.

Streaming on Hulu


Sorry to Bother You - Detroit and Cash

Annapurna Pictures

For families who aren’t doing presents this year

Shuck the shackles of capitalism with Boots Riley’s dark comedy, which stars Lakeith Stanfield as a young telemarketer who finds success at his job after learning to adopt a “white voice.” As he climbs up the ranks of the company, he finds himself at a crossroads between profit and ethical labor, as his friends seek to unionize. The more he learns about the company, the harder it becomes to reconcile with the amount of money he makes — especially as the company’s exploitative practices veer into science fiction territory.

Streaming on Hulu


a statue of Satan in Hail Satan?

Naiti Gmez/Magnolia Pictures

For families thinking about converting

If you’re looking to switch things up this holiday season, consider Satanism. As captured in the documentary by Penny Lane, the Satanic Temple may actually be one of the best religious groups out there, as its sole goal is to advocate for religious freedom and to fight against discrimination of all kinds. Its followers may look silly at times — their original spokesperson, a hired actor, sported horns and a cape — but they’re pure of heart.

Streaming on Hulu


mortal engines - london on wheels

Universal Pictures

For families looking for a new YA series after one too many Harry Potter marathons

So, OK, we’re not getting Mortal Engines 2, but at the very least, Mortal Engines is one of the most inventive movies to hit screens in a while. And if you like it enough, it will lead you to the book series, which will sustain your dreams of moving cities just a little while longer. The film is set in a post-apocalyptic future in which cities have become giant, roving machines, pursuing and consuming each other in a bid for supremacy. There’s also a sad cyborg dad. It’s great.

Streaming on Hulu


a dark-haired woman standing in a suit with a gray overcoat on a street in Anna and the Apocalypse

Gerardo Jaconelli/Orion Pictures

For families who can’t decide between a Christmas movie, a high school movie, a zombie movie, or a musical

If you really can’t settle on one thing to watch, why not watch a movie that covers as many bases as possible? Anna and the Apocalypse is a high school movie that’s set at Christmas, involves the zombie apocalypse, and has its cast burst into song at every opportune moment. It’s a mishmash of the most unlikely genres, and a lot of fun as such, with characters singing through zombie slaughter and mortal danger while wielding giant candy canes as weapons.

Streaming on Hulu


Aretha Franklin performing in Amazing Grace.

Neon

For families arguing over whether to attend church over the holidays

Watching Aretha Franklin perform is enough to make anyone believe in God, and Amazing Grace, which features Franklin recording her live album of the same name, is a religious experience. Though recorded in 1972, the film remained unseen until 2018 due to issues syncing the audio as well as Franklin’s own intervention. It’s available now thanks to Franklin’s family, who arranged for the film’s release after her death, and it’s an utterly sublime experience watching (and hearing) Franklin sing.

Streaming on Hulu


Halla (Halldóra Geirharðsdóttir) evading notice from a helicopter in Woman at War

Magnolia Pictures

For families trying to be more environmentally conscious

Anyone can be a hero when it comes to trying to be more conscious of the environment, as seen (albeit to a more drastic degree) in the Icelandic-Ukrainian film Woman at War. A mild-mannered choir teacher takes it upon herself to disrupt the operations of an aluminium plant in the Icelandic highlands, using a bow and arrow and general know-how to shut down the plant’s power. Her activism, however, is interrupted when her years-old application to adopt a child is finally approved.

Streaming on Hulu


shoplifters movie hirokazu kore-eda

Magnolia Pictures

For found families

Shoplifters (2018)

Shoplifters is a home run pick for any family. Directed by the master Hirokazu Kore-eda, it’s one of the most affecting movies ever made (I’ve never cried more), questioning just what “family” is and how much love is capable of. The shoplifters of the film’s title are a found family who sometimes turn to stealing in order to get by. The de facto parents of the group take in another child when they repeatedly see her abandoned outside, and though they mean it for the best, the new addition to the family upsets the established dynamic and threatens to tear them apart.

Streaming on Hulu


six men underwater in Swimming With Men

IFC Films

For families starting to get into exercise class passes

Swimming With Men (2018)

Eric (Rob Brydon), an accountant, finds himself spiraling into a midlife crisis — i.e., in the perfect state for the local men’s synchronized swim team to pressure him into joining them, as they need one more person to even out their routines. As it happens, every member of the team is undergoing his own crisis, but they find a renewed sense of purpose together while training for the world championships in Milan.

Streaming on Hulu


chicken run

Aardman Animations

For families with new vegetarians

Chicken Run (2000)

Aardman Animations is best known for Wallace & Gromit and Shaun the Sheep, but Chicken Run might be its crowning achievement. The film takes place in a chicken coop. The chickens inside produce eggs, but soon may be turned into pies as the farm’s owners decide to pivot to chicken pies to generate more profit. When a rooster arrives in their midst who claims to be able to fly, they ask him to help teach them to do the same, so they can fly out of the farm and escape. It’s The Great Escape, but with chickens.

Streaming on Hulu


kelly macdonald completing a jigsaw puzzle in Puzzle

Sony Pictures Classics

For families working on a new giant jigsaw puzzle

Puzzle (2018)

Is it possible to make a compelling movie about doing jigsaw puzzles? Yes, it is. Marc Turtletaub’s Puzzle, based on the Argentine film of the same name, is surprisingly great, starring Kelly Macdonald as a housewife who discovers a talent for putting together puzzles and Irrfan Khan as the puzzle master she encounters while pursuing her passion. It’s a quiet film — as is likely not surprising, given its focus on competitive jigsaw puzzling — but a warm one, excelling as Agnes (Macdonald) breaks out of her shell.

Streaming on Hulu


a family posing on the slopes in Force Majeure

TriArt Film

For families where everyone is currently mad at Dad

Force Majeure (2014)

Having your own family crisis? Looking to put a certain someone on the spot? Ruben Östlund’s film follows a family discovering things they’d rather not after a brief moment of alarm. When an avalanche occurs at a ski resort, a blubbering patriarch flees rather than making any attempt to save his family. Way to go, Dad.

Streaming on Hulu


Booksmart - Molly and Amy confer by the lockers

Francois Duhamel/Annapurna Pictures

For families with precocious tween daughters who can handle a little blue humor

Burgeoning female sexuality gets its day in the sun with Booksmart, Olivia Wilde’s feature directorial debut. Best friends Molly (Beanie Feldstein) and Amy (Kaitlyn Dever) have spent almost all of high school hitting the books, and, with graduation on the horizon, decide to spend their very last day partying with the other kids. The film excels in that it doesn’t make booksmart Molly and Amy heroes at the expense of the other students — in fact, everyone gets a fair shake, in a rare but refreshing change of pace.

Streaming on Hulu


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