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Barrett’s Christmas Movie Guide

You hate Christmas. Stop it, yes you do. Why else would you be here looking for a movie recommendation? You hate it like the Grinches and the Scrooges before you because, like them, you realized that Christmas is an expensive, emotional powder-keg of a time of year. Maybe you got a bad draw from the secret Santa pool, maybe your creepy uncle spiked the egg-nog and found a santa suit, but somewhere in the haze of hideous sweaters, awful gifts, and the cold realization that you still wake up alone you said, “to hell with it.” So go to the movies!!!!

The movies are the one respite for the curmudgeon scrooge because, let’s face it, your family doesn’t want to see you either. So you’ll pay $15 to sit in the dark so the funny pictures can take you away. But what do you see?? That’s where I come in! Let me, Jolly Ole’ St. Barrett give you a helping eye!


Nocturnal Animals

Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal star in this drama/thriller/head-f*** about a divorcee (Adams) reflecting on her life naand facing her regrets. Along the way, she has the bright idea of reading her ex-husband’s (Gyllenhaal) new book and has to deal with the emotional turmoil that conjures when she realizes it’s a dramatization of their marriage. Adams and Gyllenhaal shine as the dual narrative structure of the movie allows them to explore themes of loss, grief, emptiness, revenge, and other Christmas-related feelings. That, and Michael Shannon delivers a show-stealing performance and the movie finds a way to give a giant middle finger to the aristocracy. Good Job Nocturnal Animals.

But the movie’s greatest strength comes from director, Tom Ford. He expertly weaves the two main plots of the movie in a way that allows them to inform and strengthen one another while also creating stunning imagery and visuals that you’ll have a hard time forgetting. Plus, there’s a lot of fancy, schmancy artwork to look at during the movie. I put my pinky out while holding my popcorn.

Verdict – See this movie if you want to break up with someone.

The movie is violent, depressing, and emotionally traumatizing. A lot of people in the theater were gasping and screaming at the plot twists while slowly inching away from their significant other. Trust me, you’ll question any relationship you are, or have been, in after watching the movie. So, if you’re one of those people who go for the slow, “decaying-wound” style of breaking up, this is a good way to infect the relationship.


Rouge One: A Star Wars Story.

rogue-one-japan-poster-header-1200x720A small, little indie flick you probably never heard about. It’s about a rag-tag group of rebels fighting against an evil dictatorship.  It has a limited release so you’ll probably have a hard time finding a theater showing it but I thought it was excellent. Read my full review here Full Review

Verdict – Go read my full review so I can get more hits.



Assassin’s Creed

I haven’t seen this and I’m not going to see this. This is a video-game adaptation about, get this, a guy unlocking his ac“genetic memories” to take him into the mind of one of his great ancestors. And, of course, his great ancestor was an assassin who fights Templars (fancy word for religious-zealot knights). Somehow, they roped Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard into this and not even they could save this bad boy. I mean, the damn thing had a review embargo till about the day before it came out and, unless you’re Star Wars, that’s never, ever a good sign. Granted, I haven’t seen it but all the reviews are essentially with me on this.

My biggest problem with the movie (and the video game)? Why didn’t they just get rid of the “genetic memories” thing? Why? A movie about assassins fighting knights is all you need. I’m sold, just on that. I’d totally pay $15 just to see Michael Fassbender stab some Sir Lancelot looking dudes while spouting old-English jibberish. That movie becomes best movie ever. Instead, we get that rubbish with the memories in a failing effort to make the plot more insightful than it’s meant to be.

Verdict – See it if you liked the video game?

I guess? I don’t know, do what you want. But remember, no one is there when you wake up in the morning.


La La Land

I don’t care how much crap I get, this movie was f***ing enchanting. I never thought I’d get so much joy out Emma lalaStone and Ryan Gosling singing at each other. You’ll smile, you’ll marvel, you’ll laugh, you’ll hurt, and you’ll text ex-girlfriends. Marvelously shot, wonderfully directed, and achingly beautiful. It’s a simple story about two, hopelessly in love, Hollywood wanna-be’s trying to navigate their lives, passions, and careers in a post-snapchat world. Along the way, they are confronted with all the antagonists and plotlines you’d expect but the movie elevates itself by having E-Stone and Gosling sing their way through all these clichés. And holy hell do they sing. The songs range from saccharine sweet to hauntingly poignant as Gosling and Stone go through the up’s and down of Hollywood life.

Verdict – This is the movie you should see on Christmas.

It’ll brush all the jade off your psyche and fill you with hope. You’ll forget why you hate Christmas so much because the movie just out-right reminds of all the magic and wonder your life can have. I’m going to stop talking. I’m much better at being negative and snarky and I love this movie too much to take any sort of jab at it.



singOne of two, CGI, family-friendly money trains that is pulling into the station this holiday season. This one isn’t done by Pixar but it should be enjoyable enough for your kids. I mean, how could it not be? It’s a bunch of animals singing. Kids still like that right? It has just enough of a plot around it to make it watchable, complete with the standard “be yourself”, “reach for the stars”, “sell as much merchandise as we can” story arcs.

Verdict – Depends on the type of parent you are.

Decision time, parents. You’re going to the movies on Christmas because the ruckus in your house is unbearable. It’s an escape from the passive aggressiveness from your relatives and the gift-wraped disappointments that came from under the tree. Now, this movie has singing and dancing that your children can and will emulate. Singing and dancing make noise. Noise is closely associated with ruckus and generating more ruckus defeats the whole purpose of going to the movies. Your kids may enjoy this movie, but is their happiness worth your piece of mind? Is that throbbing in your cranium worth the dancing pig that make your kids smile? Do some soul-searching and buy some Advil.


Doctor Strange

Stop being a smart a**. This is a comic book website, you’ve seen this movie. Is it even still in theaters? You know doctor_strange_2016-hdwhat the story is and Benedict Cumberbatch and Rachel McAdams do the whole super-hero origin story very well. The story won’t break any ground cause you’ve seen it so many times by now but the visuals are stunning.

Verdict – Go see it in IMAX.

Though well-acted and directed, the story is really underwhelming. I’ve seen the whole “cocky guy goes through trauma, gets powers, becomes a hero” set-up far too many times by now. But the visuals and action are certainly note-worthy and worth the price of admission. Plus, it sets up a lot of story opportunities down the line for the MCU. Let’s face it, it’s Marvel. You’re gonna see it.


Manchester by the Sea

Casey Affleck stars in this tragic, family drama about an emotionally battered man trying to work through the mseawreckage of his life. Life stabs Lee Chandler (Affleck) in the gut when his brother (Kyle Chandler) dies of congestive heart failure and Lee is forced to become the legal guardian of his nephew. What’s worse? He must move back to his old home of Manchester by the Sea, MA to comfort his nephew, manage his brother’s estate, deal with his troubled sister-in-law, and confront the unspeakable loss he tried to leave behind. Honestly, that sounds about right for your average Christmas party.

Verdict – You might appreciate your relatives after this.

Affleck’s performance is haunting. There are few better examples of an actor emoting such powerfully, silent pain. With lingering stares, terse responses, and a slow, hobbling gait, Ben Affleck’s baby brother conveys more emotion than any dialogue that could have been written for him. Bolstered by a powerful supporting cast and a scene with Michelle Williams that will make you wanna tear your heart out, you’ll have a hard time ever forgetting this movie. But, the trauma it portrays will make you reach for your loved ones. You’ll appreciate them a little more after this movie. After all, they may be bad gifters but at least… better not spoil it.


Jay Barrett is a Netflix connoisseur. He's spent years curating his queue list and studying how the streaming service has evolved throughout the years. His achievements include: eating 27 chicken tenders in one sitting, bench-pressing over 275 lbs.,…

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