I recently spent two weeks in the United States. Among other things, that means about 20 hours of plane time, including a chunk on an international flight with in flight movies! Here are the ones I checked out. Some were great and some were movies you watch on a plane.
The Reventant: I am a bad, bad Leo fan. After years of unconditional love (I've sat through J. Edgar and Body of Lies, insisted Gangs of New York is underrated), I couldn't do it. On my flight from Frankfurt to New York, I attempted to watch this movie three different times. The longest I made it was forty minutes in. I appreciate the work that went into the various performances and using natural lighting and it's all very lovely, but it's the type of movie you sit through once and never again. And that once is usually going to be when you've paid fifteen bucks at a theater, where you can really appreciate the cinematography and want to get your money's worth. This is not a plane movie. Sorry, Leo.
Spotlight and The Big Short: Okay, so I've seen both of these before. I watched Spotlight on the flight to the States, The Big Short on the way back. They're excellent, rewatchable films. Here are my thoughts from when I first saw them. Superb movies, on or off a plane.
Bridge of Spies: I mainly saw this because it picked up a Best Supporting Actor award and one of the blogs I follow really liked it. And I'm glad! It's definitely a plane movie or a Netflix movie. It's not something I would necessarily seek out but it is a well-made, old-school genre film. There's spies and secret soldiers and the lawyer doing the right thing. Mark Rylance, who won the Oscar, was excellent. Tom Hanks was perfect as always and it was just thought-provoking enough for a plane.
Carol: This one probably isn't the best to watch on a plane. It's a slow movie, moody, that doesn't do well to frequent interruptions from the stewardess. Also, there's a few bits of nudity and explicit sex scenes, which don't always work on a plane. Side note - I'm not sure what the rules are for plane movies. The nudity in The Revenant was blurred out, not so much for Carol. As for the film itself, there some movies you just want to exist in and this is one. The plot is whatever, but the characters and the time and the world created, that's the magic part. Llewyn Davis was kind of like this - I didn't really care what was going on as much as I wanted to spend time with Oscar Isaac's character. Like all of Todd Haynes film's, especially Far From Heaven, Carol is lovely, with the perfect makeup and costumes and dreamy color palette.
How to be Single: This is a pure plane film. It's a romantic comedy that features at least two extraneous romance stories. Some of it works, some of it doesn't, but I like Dakota Johnson and there was just the right amount of Rebel Wilson.