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The Best Movies to Watch on a Plane

Airplane Still
Airplane Still

I’m currently sitting in the Charlotte Airport, awaiting my flight back to Boston. I’m sitting coach and am part of the prestigious boarding group 7 (out of 9). However, although I don’t board for another hour, I’m already pondering my in-flight movie selection and what films await me on the JetBlue, 13 inch 4k screen.

During this silent contemplation, it occurred to me that some movies make for better in-air viewings than others. As a result, I’ve compiled a list of 3 of my favorite plane watches, along with a few films you’d be better off watching on solid ground.

“About Time” (Richard Curtis)

Most rom-coms play well 30,000 feet in the air. But as I wept openly on a flight to Tampa, I realized that “About Time” is in a league of its own, . Directed by Richard Curtis (“Love Actually), “About Time” blends the rom-com genre with an interesting sci-fi twist that makes for a charming, yet intriguing film. The chemistry between leads Domhall Gleeson and Rachel McAdams is palpable even on a JetBlue scree, and Bill Nighy delivers one of the best Dad performances of all time. Sitting at just over two hours, “About Time” is a perfect watch for any extended domestic flight – unless you’re on your way to break-up with your partner. Then I’d stick to the magazines.

“Ladybird” (Greta Gerwig)

Greta Gerwig’s directorial debut “Ladybird” was one of the surprise gems of 2017. Starring Saoirse Ronan as the insatiable Christine, the film is one of the few coming-of-age movies accessible to adults. It’s funny, it’s charming, and above all else, it’s simple. Gerwig is already one of the most established screenwriters of her generation, and “Ladybird’s” quick, breathless script plays beautifully to the tiny screen.

“Midsommar” (Ari Aster)

Ok, hear me out. Most horror movies render horribly to in-flight entertainment. They’re dark, they’re quiet, and it’s almost impossible for a jump scare to compete with the screaming baby three rows behind you. But I saw “Midsommar” on a pre-Covid flight to Phoenix and it rattled me worse than the turbulence. The film takes place almost exclusively during the day and the scares are unfortunately incredibly visible. Aster has established himself as one of the premiere horror directors of his generation, and “Midsommar” proves that he can terrify audiences even in bright sunlight. I do not recommend this film if you’re traveling to Sweden…or have a grizzly bear phobia.

Movies You Shouldn’t Watch While Flying

Anything involving plane crashes, i.e. “Castaway, “Con Air,” and “Snakes on a Plane.” Oh, and anything by Christopher Nolan. I’m pretty sure if you watch “Tenet” on anything but IMAX, Nolan comes to your house and kills you.

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