Celebrate New Years with family-style movies
Hot chocolate, popcorn, the family gathered round, and a good movie -- what better way to ring in the new decade? Anne Evasick, proprietor of Island Entertainment in Vineyard Haven, offers suggestions of recent and a few not-so-recent movie gems in a variety of categories that make for family viewing fun.
At the top of her list of animation picks is the latest Wallace and Gromit movie, "A Matter of Loaf and Death" (2008). Creator Nick Park has the lovable English gentleman and his dog open a bakery. Laughable adventures in love and murder ensue.
Ms. Evasick's animated recommendations from 2009 also include the heartwarming "Up," which has already been nominated for a 2010 Golden Globe. It is about a 78-year-old who floats his house to South America with balloons and an 8-year-old stowaway.
"Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs" (2009) combines imaginative animation with a fun and funny story about a science nerd and weather girl. In "The Goonies" (1985), discovery of a pirate map triggers the adventures of two brothers and their pals who want to prevent destruction of their neighborhood.
Set to Prokovieff's music, the 2006 animated version of "Peter and the Wolf" modernizes a classic story with imagination. A double 2005 Oscar winner, "The Incredibles," domesticates the notion of animated superheroes. Parents and kids join in to fight the bad guys in Metroville.
Documentaries you may have overlooked that Ms. Evasick suggests include "Food, Inc." (2008). This film takes the viewer inside the food industry to explore its ties to the fast food business and its implications for biodiversity. A music-oriented documentary, "Throw Down Your Heart" (2008), follows banjo player Bela Fleck to Africa, where he learns about the instrument's origins.
A harrowing struggle for survival is the topic of "Stranded: I've Come from a Plane That Crashed on the Mountains" (2007). This documentary tells how the Uruguayan soccer team crashed in the Andes in 1972 and made their way back to civilization.
The sports oriented will enjoy "Harvard Beats Yale 29-29" (2008). This documentary revisits the famous 1968 game where the two undefeated Ivy League football teams vied for dominance with surprising results.
In Ms. Evasick's fiction picks, Switzerland's 2006 Oscar entry, "Vitus," tells the heart-warming story of a six-year-old piano prodigy who wants to find his own way in the world.
A 1994 classic by master director John Sayles is "The Secret of Roan Inish." This fairy tale concerns a 10-year-old Irish girl sent to live with her grandparents who learns about a seal who becomes human. The 2005 mini-series "Into the West" tracks two families, one Anglo and one Native American, as their lives intertwine during colonization of the western U.S.
A parable of the little guy against a powerful corporation drives the narrative in "Flash of Genius" (2008). The inventor of the intermittent windshield wiper, played by Greg Kinnear, fights for and wins recognition.
"Son of Rambow" (2007) describes how two boys with a video camera, inspired by Sylvester Stallone's "Rambo: First Blood," set out to make their own version with comic and educational results. From Norway comes "O'Horten" (2007), the comic tale of a train engineer and all the things that happen to him on the eve of retirement.
Last but not least, Ms. Evasick recommends "The Princess Bride" from 1987, which combines adventure, love, a giant and a kidnapping with charming results. Find plenty more classics when you Google "Top 10 family films" or "Top 10 inspirational movies."
Brooks Robards writes on films, books and art for The Times.