Beauty and Fashion

The Best Movies to Watch on a Plane

The Best Movies to Watch on a Plane

There’s a specific science that makes certain movies fantastic to watch on planes, and it often has very little to do with what makes a film good on the ground. (For example, my favorite movie of all time is Broadcast News, but there’s no way I want to watch it on a plane—too gray-hued and dreary, with far too many establishing shots of Washington landmarks!) As you’ll see, our choices for the genre’s standouts tend to be on the newer, glitzier, higher-stakes side, with more than a few tearjerkers mixed in. (After all, if you cry on a red-eye, it doesn’t count.) Ahead of your holiday travel, get browsing—and downloading to your device of choice—now. 

Air Force One, directed by Wolfgang Petersen, 1997

Can we just say that Harrison Ford makes an excellent (fictional) president of the United States? After Air Force One is hijacked, Ford must figure out what to do as both the nation’s leader and a father and husband. One of the most popular action films of the ‘90s, Air Force One will certainly keep you awake for the rest of your flight.

Catch Me If You Can, directed by Steven Spielberg, 2002 

Seeing Tom Hanks play an FBI agent being made a fool of by a youthful Leonardo DiCaprio is both refreshing and simply fun. You may not be jetting to a different country after pulling off a string of cons, but Leo is, and following the chase is exhilarating.

The Lord of the Rings, directed by Peter Jackson, 2001

If you made it through the aughts without succumbing to his franchise, I’m impressed and must know how you did it. But it’s worth queuing this movie up for your next long-haul trip—if not for the rich world-building, then at least for a baby-faced Orlando Bloom.

Little Women, directed by Greta Gerwig, 2019

This film doesn’t boast any crazy pyrotechnics or car chases—it’s mostly a lot of bonnets, TBH—but costume designer Jacqueline Durran’s color palette looks even more beautiful in mid-air, and if you don’t cry at the scene where Jo turns down Laurie when you’re drunk on $17 airplane wine, you might actually be a cyborg.

Hustlers, directed by Lorene Scafaria, 2019

Jennifer Lopez performing an elaborate pole routine to the strains of Fiona Apple’s “Criminal” is arguably the high point of this movie, but honestly, the whole modern-day Robin Hood retelling of the story of a group of New York City strippers who expertly defrauded multiple men is an absolute banger.

Crazy Rich Asians, directed by Jon M. Chu, 2018

Constance Wu and Henry Golding star in this megawatt, multicity rom-com about a Chinese-American professor who follows her newish boyfriend to a wedding in Singapore only to find that his family is one of the richest on the island. Glitz and glamour abound and are sure to perk you up whether you’re flying all the way to Southeast Asia or just a few US states over.

Snakes on a Plane, directed by David R. Ellis, 2006

In this classically campy thriller, Samuel L. Jackson is challenged with escorting a witness to trial when an assassin lets deadly snakes loose on the flight. Were there perhaps more efficient ways to stymie said witness? Sure—but this is definitely an entertaining one. 

Ocean’s 8, directed by Gary Ross, 2018

This film may not have been critically beloved, but with an all-star cast of Sandra Bullock, Mindy Kaling, Awkwafina, Cate Blanchett, Rihanna, Anne Hathaway, Sarah Paulson, and Helena Bonham Carter on board, how could you not enjoy watching it (especially if you’re trapped on an overly air-conditioned plane next to a colicky baby and it’s your only tangible means of escape)?

Molly’s Game, directed by Aaron Sorkin, 2017

I’m no Aaron Sorkin apologist, but this film—which stars Jessica Chastain as real-life so-called poker princess Molly Bloom—is stakes-y, fast-moving, and compulsively watchable. It’s Sorkin at his post–West Wing best, and it really moves a delayed flight along, as I can attest from personal experience. Do I love that the main character has to have her inner psyche explained to her by her father like she’s 11 years old? Not really, but hey, that’s Aaron.

Girls Trip, directed by Malcolm D. Lee, 2017

“You can’t get an infection in your booty hole! It’s a booty hole!” With those immortal words, actor and comedian Tiffany Haddish permanently worked her way into all of our hearts, and Girls Trip became absolutely required viewing (particularly when flying to a long-overdue get-together with your wild college friends).

Eat Pray Love, directed by Ryan Murphy, 2010

Is this movie good? Oh, Lord, no—even if you put aside the white-savior narrative that underpins it, it’s still formulaic and more than a little schlocky. That said, schlock is something I value deeply in an airplane movie, and Julia Roberts is undeniably gifted at making you care about her character even when she’s working with subpar material. Plus, the close-up shots of Italian food will have you salivating over even the weakest of in-flight cheese plates.

Bend It Like Beckham, directed by Gurinder Chadha, 2002

Soccer (or footie, as it’s called in England)! Friendship! Interfering, disapproving mums of all races and ethnicities! Archie Panjabi in a brilliant supporting role! This film is an oldie but goodie, and watching it on a plane is a great reminder to get up and move (at least once or twice up and down the cabin, so you don’t get blood clots).

Clueless, directed by Amy Heckerling, 1994

I mean, like, this is totally the perfect plane movie! (Sorry.) Honestly, though, if you can’t enjoy the antics of spoiled, sweet Beverly Hills teen Cher Horowitz and her high-flying clique while jetting through the air, when can you?

Written by
Jackson Fashionista

Greetings, fashionistas! I'm Jackson, setting trends and redefining beauty in the world of fashion. Join me in exploring the latest styles, beauty tips, and the art of expressing individuality through fashion. Let's make every day a stylish adventure!

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