3 Best Movies to Watch by Charlie Shotwell

Staff & contributors

Former activists Ben Cash (Viggo Mortensen) and his wife Leslie drop out from modern consumerist society to raise their six children in the wilderness of the Pacific Northwest. They teach them how to raise and kill their own food, to survive in nature through boot-camp-like workouts, and homeschool them in literature, music, and left-wing philosophy. Instead of Christmas, they celebrate Noam Chomsky's birthday. Then, one day, this unusual family life is shaken by a phone call and they are forced to leave their life of adventure to reintegrate into American life.

Directed by Matt Ross, who also brought you Good Night, and Good Luck, the film offers a poignant look at alternative living, the effects of modern technology, and the nature of good parenting. Viggo Mortensen is indeed fantastic as the grizzled father and was rightly nominated for a Golden Globe and the Academy Award for Best Actor. George MacKay and the entire cast of “children” also deliver terrific performances. As emotionally raw and thought-provoking as it is funny, Captain Fantastic will have the viewer decide if Ben Cash is the best father in the world or the worst.

Genre: Adventure, Comedy, Drama

Actor: Alan Humphrey, Ann Dowd, Annalise Basso, Charlie Shotwell, Elena Stecca, Elijah Stevenson, Erin Moriarty, Frank Langella, George MacKay, Greg Crooks, Hannah Horton, Kathryn Hahn, Matt Ross, Mike Miller, Missi Pyle, Nicholas Hamilton, Rex Young, Richard Beal, Samantha Isler, Shree Crooks, Steve Zahn, Teddy Van Ee, Trin Miller, Viggo Mortensen

Director: Matt Ross

Rating: R

From The Babadook director Jennifer Kent comes another horror, although this one is more about the horrors of humanity. Set in 1825 Tasmania, The Nightingale follows Irish settler Clare as she seeks bloody revenge on the monsters who wronged her and her family. She teams up with an Aboriginal guide named Billy to accomplish her goal.

Because of its often violent and disturbing tone (the film is rated R for its potentially triggering scenes), The Nightingale understandably polarized audiences upon its release. But it's also an excellent conversation piece, best watched with friends or anyone up for a discussion-filled movie night.

Genre: Adventure, Drama, History, Thriller

Actor: Aisling Franciosi, Alan Faulkner, Anthony Phelan, Baykali Ganambarr, Ben McIvor, Charlie Jampijinpa Brown, Charlie Shotwell, Christopher Stollery, Damon Herriman, Eloise Winestock, Ewen Leslie, Harry Greenwood, Huw Higginson, James O'Connell, Luke Carroll, Maggie Blinco, Magnolia Maymuru, Matthew Sunderland, Michael Sheasby, Nathaniel Dean, Sam Claflin, Sam Smith

Director: Jennifer Kent

Rating: R

It’s not easy to talk about dysfunctional families, especially when that family is your own. Talking about the reprehensible parenting, but also the love, the understanding behind their neglect, and the few moments when they actually had your back, can be a hard balancing act, which makes Jeannette Walls’ memoir The Glass Castle a challenging one to adapt in film. Because of this, its Hollywood adaptation does have a disjointed tone to it. Woody Harrelson’s Rex initially charms us and his children with his dreams and stories, and time proves his other side, though Jeannette and the audience are asked to forgive him too. It’s not an easy thing, and the ending they reached doesn’t feel totally earned. But it’s still a touching adaptation that captures Walls’ family, warts and all, one that's buoyed up by the strength of its cast.

Genre: Drama

Actor: Alanna Bale, Andrew Shaver, Brenda Kamino, Brie Larson, Brigette Lundy-Paine, Chandler Head, Charlie Shotwell, Chris Gillett, Darrin Baker, Dominic Bogart, Eden Grace Redfield, Ella Anderson, Hamza Haq, Iain Armitage, Joe Pingue, Josh Caras, Kenny Wong, Kyra Harper, Max Greenfield, Naomi Watts, Nathaly Thibault, Olivia Kate Rice, Philippe Hartmann, Robin Bartlett, Sabrina Campilii, Sadie Sink, Samantha Hodhod, Sarah Camacho, Sarah Snook, Shree Crooks, Tessa Mossey, Tyrone Benskin, Vlasta Vrana, Woody Harrelson

Director: Destin Daniel Cretton

Rating: PG-13