Whether it is school holidays, Friday night or the weekend, a family movie night is heaps of fun, and offers some time out, together. Make some popcorn, lower the lights, snuggle up on the sofa and settle in together for some quality viewing time. If you are working at home, it's also a great way to wind down at the end of the week or to draw a line between work and family time.
Our Education team has put together a mix of films from free and subscription-based providers that will keep the whole family entertained. Revisit some beloved favourites or choose something new and unexpected.
If your children are quite young, you will know there is a wealth of great TV shows on ABC iView, but not much to fuel a movie night. Why not make it s double bill by choosing a couple of gorgeous animations from iView's Special Treats for children. You could even program an interval for a bit of a stretch, chat and toilet break. These short films are generally suitable for 4 years and older but all children are different, so check the descriptions on Common Sense Media.
Paddington 2 (2017, G)
Hailed by some as their favourite movie of the year 😀 and by most as Hugh Grant's best-ever performance, this is a funny, inventive and sweet movie. (We like the first Paddington movie as well but are not sure that humour around alcohol and drunkenness is quite the thing for family viewing.) You might like to read the original books by Michael Bond as well.
And if you are looking for another beautiful book-to-screen adaptation, young people 8 years and older will love Charlotte's Web (2006, PG). Filmed in Victoria, the animal-related visual effects are outstanding.
Oddball (2015, G)
One of our favourite films for young viewers (mid-primary and beyond), Oddball is full of slapstick humour and features an adorable dog. But be aware the narrative is premised on the devastation wrought by foxes on a penguin colony in Warrnambool so sensitive children may need reassurance.
Ernest & Celestine (2012, PG)
If you head over to SBS on Demand, you will find the charming Ernest & Celestine (rated PG but perfect for mid-primary and older). It is a French production but screened in English. Based on a classic series of French picture books, the animation style remains true to the free-flowing watercolour and ink artwork of the books.
The Nightingale (2013, G)
If the young viewers in your house are able to read subtitles, we cannot recommend this film highly enough. It tells the story of a 10-year-old girl who learns there is more to life than an iPad, when she travels through the countryside with her elderly grandfather. This film is funny, heartwarming, and exquisitely beautiful.
For the family
Discover the magic of Studio Ghibli
Netflix has hit the jackpot with their expansive program of superb animations from the celebrated Studio Ghibli in Japan. Very little folk (and everyone else) will adore My Neighbour Totoro (1988, G) and Ponyo (2008, G), while Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989, G) and Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984, PG) are perfect for primary age and beyond. If the children in your house are upper primary age, they will find Spirited Away (2001, PG) and Howl’s Moving Castle (2004, PG) original and intriguing. In our experience, young people adore Spirited Away but you might like to reassure nervous viewers that it ends happily.
Hugo (2011, PG)
Because we are fascinated by the history of film, Hugo holds a special place in our hearts. It is adapted from a brilliant novel (by Brian Selznick) about the magic of cinema. We love the way the narrative combines the fictional story about Hugo, an orphan living secretly in a Paris station, and the real-life history of the great filmmaker, Georges Méliès.
Asterix at the Olympic Games (2008, PG)
This one also requires viewers to read subtitles, but if your kids can, then they will adore meeting the hilariously silly and always upbeat Asterix and Obelix. When we've screened this film at ACMI, we have heard from teachers that many students have gone on to become fans of the Asterix books, which are also lots of fun.
Wonder (2017, PG)
This is a recommendation for young people and families who like films that engage with the diversity of human experience. Wonder is a heartfelt live-action adaptation of a bestselling children’s novel and is suitable for 10 years and older. Get ready for some thought-provoking discussion.
You don’t need us to remind you that everyone (of all ages) has different viewing tastes and susceptibilities, so take this into account when choosing a film. You can visit the Common Sense Media website for down-to-earth descriptions and age recommendations for films (and TV shows, games, apps and books) so that you know what to expect.