Fun movies to occupy a Covid holiday season

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In these past months of social isolation, I’ve revisited dozens of movies I haven’t seen in years, and many of them were just as good the second time around. Here are some of my favorites that you might want to put on your watch list in the coming weeks to break up the monotony of our virus-related isolation.

First up, “Legally Blond.” Skip the sequels, but this comedy with Reese Witherspoon never tires. Definitely a family comedy worth viewing again.

I have to admit it. I absolutely love “The Notebook.” No doubt a chick-flick, but it is a moving story from its opening lines to closing scene. Grab some popcorn and a box of tissues, and you won’t be disappointed with this film adaptation of a Nicholas Sparks novel.

Next up, Tom Hanks was never better in a comedy than he was in “Big.” The first outing my wife, daughter and I had after the birth of our first child in 1988 was to see this movie. If this movie doesn’t make you laugh, I don’t know what will.

OK — maybe I do. Try “Bridesmaids.” Another chick-flick for sure, but this movie disarmed me the first time I saw it. I laughed until I cried.

Alfred Hitchcock’s best known movie “Psycho” doesn’t hold a candle to “Rear Window.” Grace Kelly and Jimmy Stewart team up in this classic suspense film. A shadowy Raymond Burr co-stars. In typical Hitchcock style, he creates intensity and suspense without a drop of blood.

“Beauty and the Beast” is, in my opinion, the best animated movie Disney ever released. While there are many animated movies that are incredibly well done — “Toy Story,” “Monster’s Inc.,” and “Shrek” come to mind — the music, scenery, and craft of this movie combine to make it one of the best children’s movies I’ve ever seen.

“Hugo” was a sleeper that was panned when it was released. I never understood why. Set in Paris in 1931, Ben Kingsley and Chloe Grace Moretz star in this fabulous story the whole family can enjoy.

You can skip the rest of the Indiana Jones franchise movies, but “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” — the original and the third installment — are among the best movies ever made. Spielberg is at his best, and there isn’t a weak actor or actress in either movie. Sean Connery absolutely steals the show in the “Last Crusade.”

The “Lord of the Rings” trilogy and “The Hobbit” are a must-watch for any fantasy lover. Offering fantastic film work and the amazing storytelling of J.R.R. Tolkien, these epic movies will occupy a week of your family’s social isolation.

For you action fans, “American Sniper” is one of the best films of this genre. I could watch this movie a hundred times. Not for the faint-hearted, this real-life story of Chris Kyle is filled with action from start to finish.

I must give Spielberg a second spot on my list for “Jaws.” Learning from Hitchcock that what you don’t show can be scary, you don’t see the shark for almost an hour and a half. Spielberg made his name with this movie and, in spite of being almost 40 years old, “Jaws,” other than bad fashion of the 70s, this movie is not bound by its era.

Don’t overlook “Arthur.” But watch the original with Dudley Moore. Aside from a poorly cast Liza Minelli, this comedy is a delight. I watched it recently and it was just as funny and endearing as it was when I saw it in the theater in 1981.

Every Christmas season, we watch the Christmas trinity — “Home Alone,” “Polar Express,” and “A Christmas Story.” These three timeless family movies will keep the Christmas spirit alive several nights in a row.

For foreign films, you can’t do better than “Amelie,” “Ponette,” and “Life is Beautiful.” All three are award winners.

And number one on my list of best movies ever — without a doubt — is “The Princess Bride.” This fairytale romance mixes fabulous dialog, humor, and a heart-warming love story that will never be topped.

I could name many more, but the movies I’ve mentioned will certainly give you something to do. Even better, you can use my list to create your own with your family, and you can watch those instead.

Between Redbox, Amazon Prime, Netflix, Hulu and other streaming services (not to mention buying DVDs almost as cheaply as you can rent these movies), you should have plenty of happy, scary, action, loving, and entertaining hours ahead of you as we welcome in 2021.

[Gregory K. Moffatt, Ph.D., is a college professor, published author, licensed counselor, certified professional counselor supervisor, newspaper columnist and public speaker. His website is gregmoffatt.com.]