If you’re a fan of owning critically-acclaimed movies in the best format possible, then you know Christmas comes twice a year with the biannual Criterion Collection sale at Barnes & Noble, going on now through November 30. With every film 50% off, there’s a huge selection of quality choices, but Criterion isn’t all Kurosawa samurai movies and Bergman French New Wave films.
There’s a handful of flicks available to buy for the whole family. Here are some recommendations, along with links to the Barnes & Noble Criterion sale listings.
Fantastic Mr. Fox and Moonrise Kingdom – Director Wes Anderson is known for creating intricate, storybook worlds, and two of his best are on Criterion. For younger children, 2009’s Fantastic Mr. Fox is adapted from the Roald Dahl book and features Anderson’s first attempt at stop-motion animation that keeps his standard, whimsical touch. For teenagers, 2012’s Moonrise Kingdom is about two teens running away from their homes in the name of love, while a terrible storm is about to fall on their island resort community.
Time Bandits – Before Disney adapted several fairy tales and left everybody happily ever after, those stories were known for their dark endings. Director Terry Gilliam remembered, and he dreamed up his own folk tales in his 1982 adventure film, Time Bandits. A young boy follows a group of little people into the time stream, as they travel through history and plunder gold, riches, and treasure. The film features a ton of cameos (including Ian Holm, Sean Connery, and John Cleese) and its episodic nature keeps the story moving for the little ones.
The Red Balloon – What child doesn’t like balloons, especially one with a mind of its own? The 1956 fantasy movie The Red Balloon by Albert Lamorisse features a boy who befriends the balloon, which follows him around Paris as he goes to school, plays with friends, and sleeps at home. Though only 34 minutes, the film captured the imagination of many, picking up several awards including the Academy Award for Original Screenplay, and was shown in classrooms around the world.
A Hard Day’s Night – What could be more fun than hanging around four lads from Liverpool as they mischievously deal with the crazy world they live in, all set to dance and song? The 1964 debut film of the Beatles, A Hard Day’s Night, remains their best and is truly an all-ages movie sure to charm almost anybody, except perhaps Paul McCartney’s grandfather. The Criterion edition also includes several behind-the-scenes features, retrospectives, and interviews with the Beatles.
Watership Down – Based on Richard Adams’ young adventure novel, director Martin Rosen’s animated Watership Down features a group of rabbits struggling to survive in a world that hunts them. The Criterion edition features interviews with the creators and acclaimed director Guillermo del Toro, who speaks about the importance of the film in animation history.