This month marks the beginning of the holiday season, a great time to get together with family—regardless of how you interpret that word—and a great season for new films. To celebrate this time of togetherness, here are our 20 favorite cinematic families.
20. The Berkmans – The Squid and the Whale
The Squid and the Whale shows the destruction of a family and the toll that divorce can have on the children involved. Writer-director Noah Baumbach tells this semi-autobiographic tale with unflinching honesty, filled with painful moments and a great performance from a young Jesse Eisenberg.
19. The Marches – Little Women (1949)
Louisa May Alcott’s classic tale’s most famous cinematic iteration made it to the big screen with Elizabeth Taylor, June Allyson, Margaret O’Brien and Janet Leigh—four sisters navigating womanhood, love and family in 1860s New England.
18. Kym’s family – Rachel Getting Married
The family at the center of Rachel Getting Married is as diverse as they come, always open to new experiences and new faces. When Kym, played by Anne Hathaway in one of her best roles, attends her sister’s wedding, she shows her family’s unfortunate past. But even through the heartache that has happened, the family still unites to celebrate their family’s newest addition, portrayed by Tunde Adebimpe from TV on the Radio.
17. The Byrneses and the Fockers – Meet the Parents
In-laws can be tough, but for Gaylord Focker, his new father-in-law brings out the very worst in him. In the series that began with Meet the Parents, two wildly different families continuously put a marriage to the test.
16. The McCallisters – Home Alone
Like most kids, Kevin McCallister has moments where he wishes his family would just leave him alone. Frankly with a family as big as his, who can blame him? When his family leaves for vacation and leaves him behind, at first it’s all fun and games, but when two criminals try to rob his home, he misses the family that was always there for him and on Christmas morning receives the present he didn’t know he wanted: his family back.
15. The Partridges and the Gators – Magnolia
All of Paul Thomas Anderson’s films deal with the idea that parents greatly influence the future of their children. In Magnolia, Anderson deals with two such families, the Partridges and the Gators. Earl Partridge is a dying man trying to reconnect with his son Frank T.J. Mackey, who wants nothing to do with him while Claudia Wilson Gator hates her father for something horrible her father may or may not have done. In both stories, the father and child duos come to tearful reconciliations, one too late and one just in time.
14. The Allgoods – The Kids Are All Right
The Allgoods are one of the first realistic portrayals of a same-sex marriage in mainstream cinema. The family encounters jealousy, teen-children issues, disagreements and awkward moments. The Allgoods aren’t a great family because they are different from the majority of American families, it’s because they’re so similar to them.
13. The Burnhams – American Beauty
The Burnhams don’t value each other until it’s almost too late. The family resents each other throughout a majority of the film, but by the end, all three members of the family realize just how important family is to each other, even if their family is about to be destroyed in a horrible misunderstanding.
12. The Bankses – Father of the Bride (1950)
In the original Father of the Bride, Spencer Tracy plays Stanley Banks, a father who is about to watch his daughter Katherine, played by Elizabeth Taylor get married. Stanley has to deal with the emotional and financial toll that goes into giving his daughter the perfect wedding and essentially giving her away. By the end, Stanley realizes all his suffering was worth it just to make his daughter happy on her day.
11. The Tramp and the Kid – The Kid (1921)
Chaplin’s character of The Tramp was always a compassionate one, always ready to help the needy, even when he was barely scraping by. In The Kid, The Tramp took on his biggest challenge as he took care of a young child for years. The Tramp finds the kid, treats him as his own son, and inevitably has him taken away by the police. The film ends with a fantasy sequence in which The Tramp and the kid are reunited as angels. Chaplin himself has said that he made the end a fantasy because the truth would be too painful for the audience to bear.