Spoiler Alert Takes You Home For the Holidays

Four other films that find comfort and joy in family stories

Michael Showalter’s Spoiler Alert is this year’s unexpected holiday treat. In addition to the yearly holiday cards that Michael Ausiello (Jim Parsons) and Kit Cowan (Ben Aldridge) send out each year, the film delivers a seasonal story about the power of love and family. For The Daily Beast, “it’s a true-to-life celebration of the subtleties that make the holiday season, and life in its entirety, so incredibly difficult and beautiful at the same time.” Based on Ausiello’s memoir, it chronicles the over 13-year relationship between Michael and Kit, from giddy romance to the sturdy work of living together. The two grow, as The Globe and Mail point out, “together as men and as a couple, finding family and comfort in one another unlike anything they had known before.” When Kit becomes ill, Michael, along with Kit’s parents (Sally Field and Bill Irwin), discover an even more enduring love by providing him the care and comfort he needs and deserves.

For theholiday season, we are remembering other films that capture the way family andhome can be the finest gifts we receive each year.

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The official trailer for Spoiler Alert

The family of Downton Abbey: A New Era

Downton Abbey: A New Era

While Simon CurtisDownton Abbey: A New Era takes its family and estate into brand new territory, the film’s love for its characters and its fans shines through. As Entertainment Weekly points out, “From its God's-eye opening over spire-tipped turrets and green-velvet lawns to its soft-focus finish, it still feels like home.” While part of the family dashes off to Italy to explore a villa mysteriously bequeathed to Violet Crawley (Maggie Smith), Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery) holds down the fort as a movie is shot at the Abbey. As the family moves through the 20th century with certain characters moving away, new ones being introduced, and one even passing on, the Abbey remains. For fans, the film provides, as Variety affirms, “an affectionate group hug.”

Watch Downton Abbey: A New Era now!

The official trailer for Downton Abbey: A New Era

Judi Dench, Jude Hill, and Ciarán Hinds in Belfast


In Belfast, writer/director Kenneth Branagh revisits his own childhood to remind us of the power of family to overcome adversity. Growing up in Belfast during the start of the Troubles, Buddy (Jude Hill), a happy-go-lucky nine-year-old boy, has his world turned upside down. With violence brewing on the streets, his parents (Caitríona Balfe and Jamie Dornan) must decide if they will leave Ireland and Buddy’s beloved grandparents (Judi Dench and Ciarán Hinds) behind. “The Belfast of Belfast is a place of childhood enchantment and horror, a city to love and a city that must be escaped,” explains the San Francisco Chronicle. But the people who love Buddy, and not the city itself, that is Buddy’s home. “For all the violence, it’s the bond between Buddy [and his family], “ says ABC News, “that holds you in thrall.”

Watch Belfast now!

The official trailer for Belfast

Alicia Vikander, Sydney Kowalske, and Justin Chon on the set of Blue Bayou

Blue Bayou

In Blue Bayou, writer/director Justin Chon tells a moving tale about the strength and instability of family ties. Antonio (Chon), a Korean-American adoptee, can just about see the fulfillment of his dreams. His happy home with his wife, Kathy (Alicia Vikander) and Jessie (Sydney Kowalske), her daughter from a previous marriage, is about to expand with a new child on the way. But when a scuffle with the police puts Antonio in legal trouble, he discovers that a clerical immigration mix-up may get him deported from everything that spells home to him. Based on real-life cases, the story is both heartbreaking and inspiring. As the Willamette Week notes, “Nothing in Blue Bayou—not family, not friendship, not work—lasts forever, but the film reminds you that the things that are finite are the things most worth fighting for.”

Watch Blue Bayou on iTunes or Amazon now!

Blue Bayou "Story" Featurette 

Camille Cottin, Matt Damon, and Lilou Siauvaud in Stillwater


In Academy Award®-winning writer/director Tom McCarthy’s suspenseful drama, Stillwater, a father (Matt Damon) redefines the meaning of family when he is stuck in Marseille trying to exonerate his daughter, Alison (Abigail Breslin), who is in prison for a murder she says she didn’t commit. An American in a strange world with no connection to the culture, Damon’s character struggles to understand his role as a father. Only when he rediscovers the bond of family with a local woman, Virginie (Camille Cottin), and her daughter, Maya (Lilou Siauvaud), can he move on. As The Film Stage highlights, “It’s an unlikely dynamic that strikes the movie’s most sentimental cords, offering Bill a second chance at fatherhood, and at supporting a new family as he reclaims his own.”

Watch Stillwater on iTunes or Amazon now!

Stillwater "Story" Featurette