Thanksgiving Movie Recommendations

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — It’s Thanksgiving weekend and that means many people will likely flock to the movies, whether it be a family outing or just an excuse to get away from all the political talk back at the house. With so many options, here are four curated picks to choose from!

With the Kids: ‘Coco’

‘Coco’ is not quite in the pantheon of game changing Pixar movies; however, even “B” level material from the animation studio is well worth a trip to the movies. The latest is set in a small Mexican village and follows a young boy, Miguel, with a dream of becoming a musician. The only problem is his family of shoemakers have banned music from the household after a great, great grandparent abandoned them to become a star of his own. The whole movie is set around the “Day of the Dead” celebration and sees Miguel transported to the afterlife through a magical set of circumstances. It’s there he has to find that particular great, great grandfather in order to get back home.

The whole movie is a feast of colors and immaculate detail. Along with the subconscious world of “Inside Out”, the afterlife in “Coco” is arguably one of the finest visual wonders Pixar ever has put to screen. There are catchy songs, from the same team behind “Frozen” nevertheless, a dopey cute animal for the kids, and a third act that will likely have everyone reaching for the tissues. Even if the movie doesn’t reach the kind of transcendent heights of previous Pixar properties, like “Inside Out”, it’s still probably the best animated movie of the year.

Rating: ★★★

Something a Bit More…Twisted: ‘The Killing of a Sacred Deer’

There are moments in the latest English language film from Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos that will have you laughing because of its utter absurdity, but there are plenty other moments that put a pit in your stomach like only a masterpiece of suspense can do. It’s the story of a brilliant surgeon, played perfectly by Colin Farrell, whose family becomes cursed by an odd-mannered boy who the surgeon has taken under his wing. We learn that the boy’s father was a patient of the surgeon and died under his care. We also learn the curse involves the surgeon being forced to watch his two kids and eventually his wife – played by Nicole Kidman, go paralyzed, starve, and eventually bleed to death. The only way to stop it is to sacrifice one of the three in order to save the other two.

Lanthimos is arguably one of the most unique and fascinating directors working today. His first English language picture was last year’s “The Lobster”, an absurdist comedy about dating culture, and while “Sacred Deer” is indeed humorous in places, it’s also a much darker film. From the first image, there is a feeling of dread and the movie’s style feels not too dissimilar from Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining”. Praise must also be given to Kidman and Farrell, who perfectly nail the kind of staccato, dry line delivery that has become accustomed to Lanthimos’s work. Yet, the most exceptional performance might be Barry Keoghan, seen this summer in “Dunkirk”, as the teenage boy Martin. In anyone else’s hands, this role would be played with much more menace but Keoghan leans more into the character’s awkwardness, which somehow makes him all the more terrifying.

Rating: ★★★★

Don’t Want to Leave the House: “Mudbound”

The first thing that strikes you about this Netflix original movie, is its profound sense of place. The mud, the grime, the southern heat; you feel it all, which only draws you further into the story of two families, one white, one black, trying to get by in rural Mississippi. Of course, there are racial tensions, ones which bubble under the surface until they erupt in a shocking final act, but it’s hard to say one family is really better off than the other. At the center of the story are two young men from both households who bond after returning from WWII. Both are scarred and unsure how to return to normal life. It’s these moments where the movie really comes alive. “Mudbound’s” themes of race and post-war trauma are deep in American soil and the way the movie treats them is surprisingly nuanced. Occasionally, the movie drifts a bit too from what’s central to the story, which is understandable considering the breadth of characters on display, but there’s always something around the corner, just waiting to pull you back in.

Rating: ★ ★★

To Tell Mom Your Thankful: “Lady Bird”

Much of “Lady Bird” follows beats laid out by other coming-of-age movies. It’s about young love, the bonds between friends, growing into maturity, and most of all, the relationship between parents and children. However, what allows the movie to emerge as a cut above is a truthfulness brought forth by actress Gretta Gerwig, who makes her debut as a writer/director. The character of Lady Bird, played with life and humor by Saoirse Ronan, may not directly represent Gerwig but there’s little doubt she has infused this movie with so much of her own experience growing up in Sacramento. The true heart of the movie lies in the relationship between the Lady Bird character and her mother, played by an exceptional Laurie Metcalf. The movie really gets down to complicated relationship many of us have with our parents as angst-filled teens. It’s only as we grow-up that we realize that under all the strict rules and so-called bickering was a compassionate love, fueled by a desire for us to become the best we could be. “Lady Bird” is a movie all about its characters and the moments that bind them together. It’s under two hours long but somehow you wish it would go on forever.

Rating: ★ ★★ ★