Catty relatives, judgmental parents, childhood bedrooms, and a whole lotta booze: No matter what your specific situation entails, the holidays can be all kinds of stressful. Luckily, Netflix has you covered.
Somehow, whenever you are home (yours) or home (your parents), there's always some drama to be had. But you've made it through the 25th and now you deserve some serious decompression time, no matter what the holiday hath wrought. Hey, Christmas may often be merry, but it’s never easy.
Thankfully, we Netflix fiends have painstakingly curated a catalog that’s perfect for some serious holiday escapism because, well, we all need it. We've rounded up the absolute best things on the delivery service and have given you every reason to binge. Here are 18 things to watch on Netflix for every excruciating holiday scenario. Thank us after the Christmas tree has come down.
Note: We tried to pick movies that are on Instant, but Instant watching is varied by region and country. (Canada has The Social Network, USA does not.) We made sure there are Instant — and not Instant — options for everyone
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If you didn’t get the gifts you wanted, watch Winter’s Bone, because Jennifer Lawrence’s unflinching portrayal of Ree, a resilient Ozarks teen who must track down her father, will make you understand the meaning of true poverty. Also, take this time to be glad that your family doesn't welcome you each season by beating you to a pulp.
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If you’re thinking about making your visit home more than just an, erm, visit, watch Tiny Furniture, Lena Dunham’s first foray into filmmaking. She plays Aura, a just-graduated college student who moves back in with her sister and artist mom. We cringe along with her as she tries to navigate that strange space in between school and career. It will make returning to the nest look like the best — and worst — decision you’ll ever make. (Available on Instant Watch)
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If you want to convince your parents that money doesn’t equal happiness, watch The Social Network, David Fincher’s gripping real-life saga about the friendships Mark Zuckerberg destroyed en route to creating Facebook. At once a sobering look on the meaning of success and a damning indictment against it, this film is a must-see for anyone living in the digital age. So sorry we didn't get rich and famous before 25, Mom and Dad, but we may be better off for it. (Available on Instant Watch)
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If someone needs to be reminded not to take anything for granted, watch The Messenger, the powerhouse military drama featuring Woody Harrelson and Ben Foster as Casualty Notification Officers. This means they’re the ones who go door-to-door telling families that they've lost their loved ones in the call of duty. Not only will everyone be humbled by Harrelson and Foster's incredible performances, but your bratty cousin might actually hush up about her boyfriend for once. (Available on Instant Watch)
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When it’s your little sibling’s turn to pick the movie, gently encourage them towards Spring Breakers, because you get to watch a scathing indictment of youth culture in the guise of a sexy neo-noir, and they get to watch Vanessa Hudgens and Selena Gomez break bad. See? Fun for all generations. (Available on Instant Watch)
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If you’re in Alaska (or, heck, the Midwest), but wish you were in Hawaii, watch The Descendants, Alexander Payne’s warmhearted story about a father and husband (George Clooney) who embarks on a journey that forces him to re-examine his path and reconnect with the lush greenery of the island he calls home. Filmed entirely in the tropical paradise of Hawaii, it'll make that blizzard outside your window just melt away. Think a family drama with a pleasant dose of ocean scenery.
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If your parents think you drink way too much wine, watch Smashed, the Sundance darling about a young couple who depend on booze just about as much as they depend on each other. Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s performance as a frightened but courageous woman going head-to-head with addiction is a straight-up revelation, and the message is powerful but never heavy-handed. Oh, and Aaron Paul still makes us laugh. Never too much Aaron Paul. (Available on Instant Watch)
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If you want to show your family the true meaning of being fabulous, watch Paris Is Burning. Now is the perfect time to finally cross this incredible documentary of the late '80s ball scene in New York off your to-watch list. Not only is it a crucial cultural moment, but it'll get you planning some serious dance moves for New Year's Eve. (Available on Instant Watch)
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If you want to make everyone in the room feel totally uncomfortable, watch Requiem For a Dream, Darren Aronofsky’s gritty, gut-punching drama about a group of lost souls who descend into the deep dark pit of addiction. When Sara Goldfarb (Ellen Burstyn) walks out of that hospital room, a shell of her former self, your parents’ face will have the same expression as when they caught you doing the waltz with the neighbors’ Great Dane to imaginary music. (Available on Instant Watch)
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If you obviously must watch a Christmas movie because nothing else feels quite as good, watch Hugo. The Oscar-nominated Scorsese flick is a story of wonder and love — more specifically, the tale of a boy living in a train station on a desperate search for family. Nieces and nephews will be enthralled, and Dad won't fall asleep because, hey, it is Scorsese. (Available on Instant Watch)
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If you didn't get the white Christmas you were hoping for (but can't do Miracle On 34th Street for the 40th time), watch Fargo, the Coen brothers’ darkly funny satire about a botched kidnapping that turns deadly in a desolate, snow-covered Minnesota town. Trust us, you’ll never want to build another snowman again. It's a clever, witty crime movie that will please everyone. (Available on Instant Watch)
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If you want to believe in love post-30, watch Crazy Stupid Love, the charming romantic comedy starring Steve Carell and Julianne Moore as an at-odds married couple, and Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone as the loved ones caught in the middle. We don’t want to spoil anything, but if this one can’t make you believe in the power of marriage, nothing can.
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If you are looking for a subversive laugh that the whole family can enjoy, try The Emperor's New Groove, the unsung Disney classic that has gotten pushed aside for other, more successful films. Eartha Kitt, John Goodman, and David Spade, plus the phrase, "Llama faaaace!" (Available on Instant Watch)
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If you are wanting to show your elderly family member how much you care about them, but don't know the words, watch Robot & Frank, the adorable indie gem about an elderly man who finds an unlikely partner-in-crime in a robot. Touching, lovely, and a bit naughty, the story will leave you looking listlessly at those of us who aren't synthetic. (Available on Instant Watch)