The 20 Best Easter Movies for the Whole Family

1

A Week Away

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Though the Netflix Original hit doesn’t really have anything to do with the date of Easter, it has everything to do with what the holiday represents. A Christian teen musical that deals in themes of love, compassion, and acceptance without getting too preachy, A Week Away sees the troubled Will tap into his faith and fall for a girl at church summer camp.

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2

Chocolat

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Can’t have Easter without candy. Can’t have candy without un peu de chocolat [read in a soothing French dialect, of course]. What better way to get it than from Vianne, the beautiful outsider whose confectionery charms the repressed residents and zealous mayor of a small French village. The story begins at Lent and heads into Easter, infusing its message of loving kindness throughout.

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3

Come Sunday

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Based on a true story, this biopic stars Chiwetel Ejiofor as Carlton D’Metrius Pearson, the internationally renowned Christian minister who was branded a heretic when he denied the existence of Hell and declared that God loves everyone, including gay people. Jason Segel, LaKeith Stanfield, Martin Sheen, and Dola Rashad all co-star.

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4

Cookie’s Fortune

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Set in a small Southern town called Holly Springs, Robert Altman’s 1999 comedy pivots around the death of an elderly widow. Though all evidence points to suicide, the woman’s pious nieces frame the scene as a grisly murder to hide such “disgrace,” sending the town on a needless manhunt over Easter weekend. Stars include Julianne Moore, Glenn Close, and Liv Tyler.

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5

Donnie Darko

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Like Easter egg hunts? We don’t mean hiding plastic toys around the house for children to find. We mean watching a film so closely you pick up on the sensory clues writers and directors pepper through their work, like little winks, nods, and gifts for discerning, eagle-eyed viewers. Donnie Darko, a supernatural thriller about a kid who sees visions of a demented bunny, has a ton of them.

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6

Easter Parade

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This 1948 hit starring Judy Garland, Fred Astaire, and Ann Miller is based on Irvin Berlin’s popular, same-name song recorded in 1933. The narrative—a rom-com about a man who loses his dance partner and falls in love with the next one—is really just a way to get from one musical number to the next. So if it’s singing, tap dancing, and romancing you’re after, head to the Easter Parade.

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7

Easter Sunday

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Jo Koy, the premier stand-up comedian who hosted the Golden Globes this year, makes his acting debut in this comedy co-starring Tia Carrere, Eugene Cordero, Lou Diamond Phillips, and so many more. A celebration of family and Filipino culture, the film borrows from Koy’s real-life experiences and stand-up to deliver a laugh riot that will have everyone giggling from the pews.

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8

Here Comes Peter Cottontail (1971)

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Claymation fans can get their fix with Here Comes Peter Cottontail, a stop-motion musical made in the ’70s that tells the story of its namesake, the chief Easter Bunny in April Valley, as he goes back in time to right a wrong and save Easter from the evil January Q. Irontail. Legendary voices include Danny Kaye, Casey Kasem, and Joan Gardner.

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9

Hop

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Full disclosure: Hop is kind of a flop. But hear us out: It’s beautifully animated and has a fun soundtrack. Plus, Illumination’s tale about the future Easter Bunny ditching his duties to become a drummer does make for good “hip hop hooray” fare to keep the kiddos entertained. Stream it for them while you and the of-agers finish the mimosas from the Easter brunch.

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10

It’s the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown

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Just as Linus waited patiently for a no-show Great Pumpkin to deliver all the treats on Halloween, the little sage in stripes is positive the Easter Beagle will arrive this year with Easter eggs for everyone. A skeptical bunch, the Peanuts gang hatch their own plans for ensuring their holiday is stocked with beautifully decorated eggs. Originally released in 1974, this classic never gets old.

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11

Lilies of the Field

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Sidney Poitier stars in this 1963 drama about a traveler who stops at a remote farm on his journey west and ends up helping the Catholic nuns who reside there build a church in the desert. Now, anytime is a great time to watch a Poitier classic, but Easter is especially poignant to queue up this Oscar winner, as its themes of sacrifice and helping others are fitting. Plus, lilies are Easter’s flower.

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12

Mallrats

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One of Kevin Smith’s cult classics from the ’90s, Mallrats stars the directors’ usual suspects, Jason Lee and Ben Affleck, along with Shannen Doherty, Jeremy London, and Claire Forlani. The story revolves around best pals T.S. and Brodie, who spend most of the reel at the mall, sabotaging a dating game show and fighting the Easter Bunny. Of course, Jay and Silent Bob make cameos as well.

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13

Miss Potter

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Renee Zellweger and Ewan McGregor star in this delightful biopic about the beloved author Beatrix Potter and the rookie publisher who saw the artistry in her stories and put them into print. A heartfelt peek into the life of a woman who struggled to find love and happiness, Chris Noonan’s film is elevated by animated sequences featuring characters from her stories, namely Peter Rabbit.

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14

Peter Rabbit and Peter Rabbit 2

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Make the whole family hoppy with a double feature starring the mammal of the moment. James Corden offers his comedic wiles to the jacketed hare drummed up by English author Beatrix Potter in 1902. Domhnall Gleeson and Rose Byrne are on the receiving end of his mischievous antics in both films, with the sequel offering a delightfully self-aware riot that outshines the original.

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15

Rise of the Guardians

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Here’s an animated gem the adults will enjoy. Typically considered a December watch because of its protagonist, Jack Frost, Rise of the Guardians goes beyond Christmas; it features several holiday and mythical icons—Santa Claus, the Sandman, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny—all working together to protect the children of the world from an evil boogeyman named Pitch.

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16

Steel Magnolias

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Not an Easter goes by that doesn’t include watching this nostalgic tearjerker about a group of Southern women who lean on each other through the good, the sad, and the Ouiser. Dolly Parton, Sally Field, Julia Roberts, Shirley MacLaine—holy ham, have a movie maven, why don’t cha—they all star. And if you don’t have tissues nearby, just use the hem of your Easter bonnet, darlin’.

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17

The Last Temptation of Christ

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Directed by Martin Scorsese, The Last Temptation of Christ offers a broad yet fictional exploration of Jesus of Nazareth, revealing a man of dual nature, one whose inner struggles, demons, and calls from God were at odds. Note: Scorsese’s film, which was co-written by Taxi Driver’s Paul Schrader, is based on Nikos Kazantzakis’s controversial same-name novel, not the gospels.

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18

The Passion of the Christ

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Easter marks the resurrection of Jesus Christ three days after his death by crucifixion. The Passion of the Christ is interested in illustrating what the final hours of that Friday before Jesus died on the cross might have looked like. A visceral biblical epic that includes graphic and gory detail of the betrayal, trial, and crucifixion, the film is a brutal watch and yet inspirational to the end.

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19

The Prince of Egypt

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If you’d rather watch the above tale in animated form, there’s the Oscar-winning gem from DreamWorks, The Prince of Egypt. With a vivid palette, lots of adventure, and captivating characters that will keep the younger set in the room engaged from start to finish, this family-friendly crowd-pleaser won’t steer you wrong.

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20

The Ten Commandments

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Another definitive story of biblical origins, Cecil B. DeMille’s mighty golden age drama depicts the story of Moses, the Hebrew prophet who rescued his people from Egyptian slavery. The classic, which is a springtime essential usually broadcast on network TV in conjunction with Easter and Passover, as it’s a story Christians and Jews share, can also be found on a few streamers.

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Headshot of DeAnna Janes

DeAnna Janes is a freelance writer and editor for a number of sites, including Harper’s BAZAAR, Tasting Table, Fast Company and Brit + Co, and is a passionate supporter of animal causes, copy savant, movie dork and reckless connoisseur of all holidays. A native Texan living in NYC since 2005, Janes has a degree in journalism from Texas A&M and  got her start in media at US Weekly before moving on to O Magazine, and eventually becoming the entertainment editor of the once-loved, now-shuttered DailyCandy. She’s based on the Upper West Side.

 

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