Friday Flicks: Oscar Contenders, Blockbusters and Comedies Are Released for the Holidays

TIME breaks down which films to see and which to avoid this holiday season.

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Columbia Pictures

Stationed in a covert base overseas, Jessica Chastain (center) plays a member of the elite team of spies and military operatives who secretly devoted themselves to finding Osama Bin Laden

The Impossible

Tagline: Nothing Is More Powerful than the Human Spirit.

When we reflect on the last decade, two of the most terrifying events are 9/11 and the terrible tsunami of December 26, 2004, which struck the southeast coast of Asia. In The Impossible, directed by Juan Antonio Bayona (The Orphanage), Maria (Naomi Watts), Henry (Ewan McGregor) and their sons are looking forward to a magical vacation in Thailand, but we all know what sadly comes next.

The film is based in truth though the decision has been taken, one imagines for commercial considerations, to make the family British rather than Spanish. Still, the film is on the receiving end of some mightily impressive reviews. “The entire cast achieves monumental heights of honesty and integrity in an unforgettable film that combines epic spectacle with the intimacy of loving relationships in a celebration of the invincible human spirit,” concludes the New York Observer. “The most harrowing disaster movie in many a moon, The Impossible marries a tremendous feat of physical filmmaking to an emotional true story of family survival,” says Variety. And the Daily Telegraph goes as far as to compare Bayona, in his English language debut, to Steven Spielberg. “Bayona, like Spielberg before him, has the gumption of a master manipulator, and really doesn’t hold back, holding off catharsis, scene by scene, with all the sheer chaos at his disposal.”

VIDEO: 10 Questions with Ewan McGregor

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