Top films to catch from over winter break

Gage Skidmore

Guillermo del Toro’s directed the human and monster love story “The Shape of Water”. Photo By Gage Skidmore [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Right around the holidays is also right around the peak of movie theater popularity. During this time, families get nostalgic, students get bored and new movie releases get better. Winter break is the perfect time to get out of the house and out of the cold by spending two hours watching someone else’s story unfold on the big screen.

One story to catch is “Lady Bird.” It’s one of the best-reviewed films of the whole year, but its importance goes far beyond that. This coming-of-age tale manages to be both funny and tragic at the same time. Greta Gerwig, writer and director, used her own history as a quirky, pretentious high school girl with dreams of making it big as material for the film. If watching this film feels a little too much like watching your own life, that’s the point.

“Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri” follows the same dark comedy genre, depicting a mother trying to get back at local police for not properly investigating her daughter’s death. Anyone from a small Southern town is sure to relate, if not to the plot, then to the setting. Although it adds dramatization to drive the plot, the film still encompasses rural life in the American south perfectly.

Less funny, but just as good is “The Florida Project.” The film centers on the families who live in motels outside Orlando. It’s easily the most true-to-life of any films this year. Listening to conversations between characters almost feels like eavesdropping on real people, because the way they speak to each other is too casual to be scripted. The film is more about personal interactions than any overarching plot, but those interactions will keep you interested throughout.

Much less true-to-life, director Guillermo del Toro’s human and monster love story “The Shape of Water” is strange and disarming. At first glance, perhaps even repulsive, but this does not stop it from being beautiful aesthetically and emotionally. Watching this film requires an open mind, so if you want to see it remember that yes, the female protagonist does start a relationship with a fish-man.

Dark humor or heavy angst aside, a truly lighthearted film is “The Greatest Showman,” a musical starring Hugh Jackman as the protagonist P.T. Barnum, founder of Barnum & Bailey Circus in 1919. Though the film strays quite far from the real story of the circus, seeing it play out is touching and fun. Plus, the music will leave you playing the soundtrack on repeat for the rest of the day. The duet between Zac Efron and Zendaya alone is enough to make you swoon.

Of course, not all movies released during this golden period are movies worth watching. To anyone planning on watching “Insidious 4,” save your money or see “Downsizing” instead. It’s not much better, but at least you can laugh at seeing Matt Damon getting shrunk to five inches tall to live in a downsized community.

This is only a sampling of all the films in theaters right now, and it seems like more get released every weekend. “All the Money in the World,” “Wonder” and “I, Tonya” are also safe bets still showing.

It’s true, you can visit theaters to see movies throughout the whole year, but if you want to turn off Netflix for a day and go out to see a flick, there is no better time than now.