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Perfect Family Gathering Movies to Stream this Holiday Season

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Perfect Family Gathering Movies To Stream This Holiday Season

During the winter holidays, families assemble around the table. The best family gathering movies touch on the dysfunction that comes with differing opinions, new relationships, estranged relationships, and all the unachievable expectations in between. Whether it's the ideal family holiday or the blending of two vastly different families, there's a Hollywood depiction. Witnessing a fictional family deal with the drama, emotions, and chaos of getting together no matter the occasion allows audiences to feel seen and heard while understanding what not to do. From comedies to dramas, the best family-gathering movies do more than tell stories about the holiday season.

1. National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (1989)

Image Credit: Warner Bros.

Among other things, this holiday go-to always reminds viewers not to set unachievable standards this upcoming holiday season. In the spirit of having a fun, old-fashioned family Christmas, suburban father Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) quickly realizes that he may be in over his head when his in-laws, parents, and cousins converge under his roof. Featuring that iconic, quotable rant, National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation is a slapstick guidebook to dealing with surviving the family gathering, with bonus pages including how to handle disgruntled neighbors and stingy bosses.

2. Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967)

Image Credit Columbia Pictures

The heart of this Golden Era film tells a story about family, young love, and the struggles arising from clashing familial perspectives. The film stars legendary Sidney Poitier as John and Katharine Houghton as Joey, a young couple traveling home to meet Joey's parents for the first time—her parents, portrayed by Spencer Tracey and Katharine Hepburn.

Earning 10 Oscar nominations and winning two, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner is a divisive film among cinephiles, with some arguing it overlooked and downplayed the social issues and movements of the era in its portrayal of a young Black man meeting his white fiancé's family. However, critics like Roger Ebert argue that the story intends to entertain and certainly fits the theme of preparing anyone for an uncomfortable conversation at the dinner table.

3. This is Where I Leave You (2014)

Image Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures.

Funerals are utterly another beast when it comes to family gatherings (and family gathering movies). Based on the novel of the same name by Jonathan Topper, four estranged siblings (Jason Bateman, Adam Driver, Tina Fey, and Corey Stoll) return to their childhood home to mourn the passing of their father. For the week, the family ruminates over their pasts, presents, and hopes for the future. This is Where I Leave You represents the bumps and bruises that come with distance and loss. The star-studded cast alone should draw movie lovers in, but the tale of mending relationships and family ties will hook them.

4. Knives Out (2019)

Image Credit: Lionsgate.

In this whodunit movie, audiences witness the difficulties of dealing with eccentric and combative family members, much like the holiday dinner table. Following the suspicious death of the Thrombey Family patriarch, Harlan (Christopher Plummer), the various heirs undergo a thorough examination by Detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) to determine the culprit responsible for Harlan's untimely death. Knives Out mirrors what to expect when personalities clash while locked in the same room after the same thing.

5. Death at a Funeral (2007)

Image Credit: Screen Gems.

What family could have a gathering without a hefty dose of chaos and dysfunction? With their own agendas heading into the funeral, members of a British family gather to mourn but instead open a can of worms, revealing a well-kept secret about their father. A dark comedy, Death at a Funeral, makes light of a depressing scenario and, in this case, puts the “fun” in “funeral.” An American remake premiered in 2010, although audiences should first catch the original.

6. Sweet Home Alabama (2002)

Image Credit: Touchstone Pictures.

A defining movie of the 2000s rom-com genre, this Reese Witherspoon classic makes a perfect homecoming feature for the holiday season. After getting engaged to a prominent New York politician, Melanie (Witherspoon), a fashion designer, must return to her rural hometown to take care of one tiny matter before they can get married. That not-so-tiny matter: finalizing her divorce from her childhood sweetheart, Jake (Josh Lucas). As Melanie gets caught up in her hometown roots, she weighs her present and future against the past. While not a holiday feature, Sweet Home Alabama is a quintessential family gathering movie in the hometown genre.

7. The Proposal (2009)

Image Credit: Touchstone Pictures.

In a recipe for a delicious rom-com family gathering disaster, Ryan Reynolds and Sandra Bullock star opposite each other as enemies turned fiancés. As a ploy to avoid deportation to Canada, career woman Margaret (Bullock) strikes a deal with her assistant Andrew (Reynolds) to fake an engagement, advancing Andrew's career and keeping Margaret in the country. Their “romance” comes to a head when the pair visit Alaska to celebrate his grandmother's 90th birthday. The Proposal remains an audience favorite in the genre but also serves as a cinematic reminder that returning home for the holidays won't be as dramatic as faking an engagement.

8. This Christmas (2007)

Image Credit: Screen Gems.

With the joys of holiday movie clichés, This Christmas delivers family dynamics with precision while dipping into the romance, drama, and comedy genres. Gathering for the holiday for the first time in four years, the Whitfield family embarks on a rollercoaster ride as secrets, confessions, and dreams all come to light.

The movie features stars like Regina King, Idris Elba, Columbus Short, Delroy Lindo, Loretta Devine, and Chris Brown among the cast of characters gathering as the Whitfields. Like the best family gathering movies, it packs a lot into the almost two-hour runtime. Still, audiences return to this movie each holiday season for many reasons—one being that their family drama seems so minimal compared to that onscreen.

9. Crazy Rich Asians (2018)

Image Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures.

Meeting the family for the first time and overcoming their high standards should be a film genre all its own. From the best-selling novel by Kevin Kwan, Crazy Rich Asians tells the whirlwind vacation story of Rachel (Constance Wu) and her boyfriend Nick (Henry Golding) as they travel to Singapore for a wedding. What Rachel quickly realizes is the notoriety and wealth of Nick's family that he carefully avoided discussing. Her background and middle-class status become the center of attention, driving a wedge between the pair and leaving Rachel questioning her worth and her place in Nick's world. Crazy Rich Asians is bold, heartful, and a masterful portrayal of family dynamics and their weight with or against new relationships.

10. Meet the Parents (2000)

Image Credit: United International Pictures.

In this iconic 2000s comedy, Ben Stiller stars as Greg Focker as he meets his girlfriend's parents for the first time and continues to make a terrible impression on her ruthless father, Jack (Robert De Niro)—nothing Greg says or does manage to go well, making the visit one disaster after another. Stiller and De Niro mine comedy gold as they play opposite each other, providing audiences with a familiar dynamic they've probably witnessed at least once. The film's success led to a series following these characters with the follow-up films Meet the Fockers (2004) and Little Fockers (2010).

11. The Farewell (2019)

Image Credit: A24.

With this drama, the tears will flow as almost any movie lover can relate to the weight of sticking with a life-altering decision. Producing a Golden Globe-winning performance, Awkwafina stars as Billi, a down-and-out young woman who's learned of her grandmother's terminal diagnosis and weeks to live. As her family gathers in China under the guise of a wedding to say their goodbyes, Billi struggles with her family's decision to keep the diagnosis a secret from Nai Nai (Shuzhen Zhao). A heartfelt and raw family gathering piece, The Farewell gives viewers a front-row seat to this family's processing of unimaginable, impending grief. While not a joyous fairytale of the season, this drama offers families a template for managing challenging situations when perhaps they need it the most.

12. Madea's Family Reunion (2006)

Image Credit: Lions Gate Films.

While 12 movies feature the tell-it-like-it-is matriarch gracing the screen, Madea's Family Reunion delivers a rip-roaring family gathering movie that's sure to lower the tensions in any real-life family reunion. In this feature, Madea (Tyler Perry) attempts to keep the peace while planning the family reunion; all the while, drama strikes as her niece struggles with love, and simultaneously, Madea becomes the court-ordered guardian of a runaway teen. Written, directed, and produced by Perry, Madea's Family Reunion won no praise from critics but continues to attract an audience.

13. August: Osage County (2013)

Image Credit: The Weinstein Company.

Collecting all the necessary pieces for a gripping family reunion movie, August: Osage County delivers excellent performances from its leading forces. Following the death of their father, three sisters (Julia Roberts, Juliette Lewis, and Julianne Nicholson) return to their childhood home where their unfiltered mother, Violet (Meryl Streep), takes no issues sharing her opinions about her family's life choices.

The film earned two Oscar nominations for Streep and Roberts, respectively. August: Osage County is a coming-home tale based on the award-winning play by Tracy Letts that, through all its dysfunction, allows audiences to feel slightly better about their holiday gatherings.

14. Happiest Season (2020)

Image Credit: TriStar Pictures

The ultimate trifecta for a family gathering movie, Happiest Season features secrets, sibling rivalries, and family expectations, all against the backdrop of Christmas. In a holiday movie about recognizing your authentic self, Abby (Kristen Stewart) quickly realizes that Harper (Mackenzie Davis) has yet to come out to her family, the emotional distance growing between them as they hide their relationship during the holiday with Harper's parents. The Hulu original film displays just as much heart and vulnerability as it does comedy, three elements essential for a successful family gathering movie.

15. Yours, Mine and Ours (1968)

Image Credit: United Artists.

The ultimate tale of blending families, this classic will still entertain the modern viewer. Widow Helen (Lucille Ball) and widower Frank (Henry Fonda) fall hard and fast for one another, both harboring a secret: Helen has eight children, and Frank has ten. As their romance blooms, the couple battles how to blend their families while thinking of starting their own. The grocery shopping scene alone is enough to send today's viewers into gut-wrenching laughter.

Hollywood icons Ball and Fonda are a match in cinematic heaven in Yours, Mine and Ours. While there was a 2005 remake starring Dennis Quad and Renee Russo, the original is a better pick for the upcoming holiday season.

16. The Judge (2014)

Image Credit: Claire Folger -Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

A divisive pick among critics and audiences, The Judge features outstanding performances from its leading pair of Roberts. Upon returning home for his mother's funeral, hot-shot lawyer Hank (Robert Downey Jr.) comes to terms with his past when his father (Robert Duvall), a reputable local judge, becomes the suspect in a murder investigation. The resentment and tension between Hank and Joseph are gut-wrenchingly palpable, making this film a dramatic ride that is vastly under-appreciated. The Judge is about overcoming stubbornness and pride for the sake of growth and forgiveness when the stakes are the highest. It's the perfect family gathering film to stream for a not-so-subtle hint to certain family members this season.

17. Love the Coopers (2015)

Image Credit: CBS Films.

This Christmas dramedy may borrow from many movies before it, but Love the Coopers is a down-to-earth display of acceptance during life's most challenging transitions. In the days leading up to Christmas, four generations of the Coopers navigate significant life changes. During their annual holiday dinner, they confess their secrets and rediscover the healing and supportive bonds of family during that special time of year. While cheesy and a borderline Hallmark feature, the star-studded cast deploys just enough power to steer this holiday tale in the right direction.

18. My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002)

Image Credit: IFC Films.

When holidays don't bring out the worst—erm, best—in the family, one can always count on a wedding to do so. In this once-in-a-generation rom-com, a Greek woman named Toula (Nia Vardalos) meets and falls hard for Ian (John Corbett), a non-Greek man. Their romance and engagement become the center of Toula's boisterous family's world, with their upcoming nuptials turning into an entire Greek production. Written by Vardalos, My Big Fat Greek Wedding became a staple in the rom-com genre as one of the greatest of all time, but also one of the greatest movies about family as well.

19. Encanto (2021)

Image Credit: Walt Disney Animation Studios.

Every family has at least one outcasted member somewhere in the family tree that they don't talk about—cue the chart-topping hit.

Encanto tells the story of a magical family in a magic house and the one daughter, Mirabel (voiced by Stephanie Beatriz), who has yet to discover her powers. Finding acceptance in a family of extraordinary accomplishments when feeling ordinary is a constant battle at family gatherings. Encanto features gentle and musical storytelling that reaches family members of all ages. It reminds them that uniqueness remainsin the eye of the beholder and self-acceptance is just as powerful as magic.

20. Cheaper by the Dozen (2003)

Image Credit: Disney+.

While Hollywood has made several versions of this story, the 2000s incarnation provides the right level of chaos and dysfunction to entertain the family gathering. Steve Martin stars as Tom Baker, a college football coach turned temporary single parent, while his wife Kate (Bonnie Hunt) pursues her dream of going on a book tour. Tom must manage their 12 children alone shortly after uprooting their lives and relocating.

Cheaper by the Dozen caters to everyone with something for viewers of any age to identify with. At its heart, the story is about love and sacrifice for the ones who mean the most.

21. The Family Stone (2005)

Image Credit: 20th Century Fox.

Following suit with many 2000s meet-the-parents rom-coms, The Family Stone marks yet another installment with famous faces of the “what could possibly go wrong?” plight. Conservative, career woman Meredith (Sarah Jessica Parker) travels home to meet her boyfriend Everett's (Dermot Mulroney) family for the holidays. However, their free-spirited, casual way of life clashes hard with Meredith's personality, leaving Everett questioning their relationship. It's the perfect holiday feature to promote co-existence among personalities that would rather spend the day on opposite sides of the room.

22. The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)

Image Credit: Buena Vista Pictures Distribution.

In Wes Anderson's Oscar-nominated dramedy, the titular Tenenbaum family reunites unexpectedly one winter, a two-decade-long history unfolding, revealing their eccentric dysfunction at the fault of the family patriarch (Gene Hackman).

Featuring many of the regular cast members appearing in Anderson's films, The Royal Tenenbaums by no means depicts an exemplary family and the appropriate means for a gathering; however, the Tenenbaums display a comedic, controlled chaos that is sure to inspire the right audience members for how to handle their upcoming family dinner parties.

23. Raising Helen (2004)

Image Credit: Buena Vista Pictures Distribution.

Like any formulaic family gathering, Raising Helen follows the standards of the family-oriented rom-com to a fault with critics but to the praise of viewers. Following the death of her sister, Helen (Kate Hudson), a young fashion professional, is granted guardianship of her nieces and nephew. Much to the dismay of her other sister, Jenny (Joan Cusack), Helen takes on the task of raising them but struggles as she hasn't quite figured life out just yet. Raising Helen takes a lighthearted approach to a grim familial circumstance, making it an easy choice to stream this winter.

24. Daddy's Home (2015)

Image Credit: Lions Gate Home Entertainment.

For the blended families this season, Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg deliver another satisfying dose of their comedic chemistry. Ferrell stars as Brad, a stepdad navigating the steep slope to getting his stepchildren to call him Dad. To complicate matters, their biological father, Dusty (Wahlberg), comes back into the picture and gives Brad a run for his money. The entertainment value of Daddy's Home swooned audiences enough to earn a sequel, Daddy's Home 2, which introduces Brad and Dusty's dads into the picture. Watching both comedies makes the perfect holiday back-to-back marathon.

25. RV (2006)

Image Credit: Columbia Pictures.

In this Robin Williams comedy, the only solution to dysfunction is to take it on vacation in an RV. After a series of events forces him to cancel their Hawaii vacation, Bob (Williams) loads his housewife and estranged kids into an RV for a road trip to the Colorado Rockies. Despite his hidden agenda to make a work meeting, Bob's hopeful the miles will reconnect him with his family before it's too late. RV is a family gathering movie on wheels that will entertain and remind viewers that their last family vacation probably wasn't this chaotic.



This post first appeared on The Financial Pupil, please read the originial post: here

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Perfect Family Gathering Movies to Stream this Holiday Season

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