Movie Recommendations 2023 – Swept this year’s Academy Awards with seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture — and with its Asian-born stars and fractured storytelling, the film in many ways represents how much our society has changed in the 21st century.
In fact, all of the Best Picture winners in recent years have highlighted the struggles and triumphs of people marginalized by forces like racism and homophobia (
Movie Recommendations 2023
Give “Bigger Delights” to films that highlight some human strengths or virtues – and once again we’ve found these qualities in many characters who live on the margins of their society and struggle to achieve their own identity and power. These are all movies that can help us learn about times, places, and people that may be unfamiliar to us—but can still help us find our own paths through life.
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What was it like to be a fourth grader living in the suburbs outside of Houston, Texas in 1968-69? If you’ve never wondered, don’t worry—neither have I. And yet
Written and directed by Richard Linklater, this low-key animated film has no real plot to speak of; it’s simply a year in the ordinary life of one boy as extraordinary events unfold around him.
Stan (voiced by Jack Black as an adult) plays in Little League and rides his bike without a helmet and has a tendency to make up stories. His father is a penny-pinching NASA bureaucrat. Stan experiences the world through television, which he watches with his parents and many siblings, as the world changes rapidly. It’s a time of wonder—new music and new sounds, new technologies and space exploration—and Stan is indeed full of wonder. He may not be able to go to the moon himself, but he can imagine what it would be like for him to go.
Runs, where Stan’s childish everyday life imaginatively intersects with the lives of people like astronauts. When Neil Armstrong’s first step on the moon is sent to Stan’s living room, he’s probably asleep—and yet he experiences the moment as a kind of dream.
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“You know how memory works,” Stan’s mother says to his father as they carry him to bed. “Even if he’s in a dream, one day he’ll think he’s seen it all.” Is it bad? Who knows? What’s important is that we learn that feeling small in a big universe can trigger awe rather than fear—and that awe can ignite our imaginations and help us feel connected to people around the world. – Jeremy Adam Smith
Two young boys, Leo (Eden Dambrine) and Remi (Gustav De Waele), grow up in French-speaking Belgium as best friends. Their families live close to each other, so the boys are almost always together. They make up spy games, laugh and play together, and enjoy frequent sleepovers where they can share their privacy with each other.
Then middle school arrives, and their friendship is put to the test. They soon discover that their close, intimate friendship is not accepted by their peers, leading to misunderstandings, friction, and deep hurt.
Director Lukas Dhont has said that his film was inspired by research on the Niobe Way. He explored the way boys form loving friendships at a young age, only to see them fade or disappear as they grow up. Dhont uses little dialogue and his films have beautiful cinematography and exceptional acting. By shining a spotlight on societal messages about masculinity, including the need not to appear effeminate or gay, the film illuminates how difficult it is for boys to overcome social pressures—and how yielding to them can come at a high price.
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At several points in the film, we see Leo and Remi make difficult choices about how to respond to bullying and change their relationship in response. It doesn’t help that they don’t have the language to express their feelings or understand what the consequences are trying to measure.
Is more tragedy than inspiration; the story warns us of the consequences of toxic masculinity. But a positive alternative is close, and
Is a poignant reminder of how, as a society, we need to allow boys to embrace their full humanity, be their authentic selves, and form loving friendships. – Jill Suttie
There are many things. It is fantasy, science fiction and satire. It’s combative fun and violent. It’s full of subtle references to other films; it’s also admittedly stupid. It’s a mother-daughter drama, a coming-of-age story, an immigrant story, and more.
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It’s also a pretty powerful argument for the kindness, love, empathy, and all that good stuff we’re talking about here
— delivered largely through the sweet character Waymond (Ke Huy Quan), husband of the feisty Evelyn (Michelle Yeoh). After an absurd series of twists and turns, two laundromat owners meet in a parallel universe where different choices led him to become an international movie star and him to a gentle, wealthy businessman. In a pivotal scene that pays homage to the classic film
You think I’m weak, don’t you? You tell me the world is cruel and we’re all running in circles. I know it. I have been on earth as many days as you. When I choose to see the bright side of things, I’m not naive. It is strategic and necessary. This is how I have learned to cope with everything.
To which another Waymond adds in an artfully interleaved sequence of scenes: “Please. Especially since we don’t know what’s going on.” And then businessman Waymond says to his wife from another life: “I know you see yourself as a fighter. Well, I see myself as one. That’s how I fight.” – Jeremy Adam Smith
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Filmed in a tiger reserve in southern India, this Oscar-winning short documentary tells the touching story of an orphaned baby elephant named Raghu. Separated from his pack and seriously wounded by stray dogs, Raghu has little chance of survival until he meets Bomman and Bellie, whose unparalleled love, compassion and devotion to animals gives Raghu a new lease of life.
Things start to change for Bomman and Bellie as they raise Raghu together and bring them closer together. Soon after the marriage, the family faces a major challenge that leaves them in mourning.
“For us, seeing an elephant is like seeing God,” Bomman explains. “Gods and elephants are one to me.” She later adds, “We take care of Raghu every single day, which in turn brings food to my plate. This is God’s presence in our lives. Without him we would be nothing.”
In a fast-moving and violent world, this poignant story invites the viewer to slow down and reflect on the lives of the people and animals who make the forests their home.
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For gay Asian Americans, this summer flick has all the trappings of a classic romantic comedy: charming leads, flirtatious banter, sexual tension, and airport chase grand gestures.
The story begins with four friends making their annual pilgrimage back to Fire Island for a summer of flirty fun, saucy joy, and possibly romance. Elizabeth Bennett is represented by Noah (Joel Kim Booster), a saucy and hot single who meets Mr. Darcy in the form of Will (Conrad Ricamora).
Noah’s best friend, sensitive and nerdy Howie (played by SNL comedian Bowen Yang), bemoans the group’s position as outcasts in a social scene where “no fat, no women, no Asians” is a real but unspoken code.
Exposes the social struggles of a historically marginalized group – “gays” – while subtly and humorously exposing homonormative prejudice and bullying within the community. As many positive psychology studies show, people are happier when they live a life that resonates with their true selves—and
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Mostly takes place in a nondescript hotel room during a series of transactional encounters between two people: retired religious teacher and widow Nancy (played by Emma Thompson) and an almost-too-handsome sex worker named Leo Grande (Daryl McCormack).
It turns out that Nancy has never had an orgasm in her life. She’s looking to the professionally charming and sensitive Leo to help her cross that item off her bucket list—yet he seems determined to sabotage her experience.
The film unfolds like a play and is dialogic, slowly revealing the fascinating and flawed humanity of the two characters. You may find yourself frustrated with Nancy when she inappropriately intrudes on Leo’s private life and wants to discuss what his mother thinks about his profession. He calls his own son boring and only reluctantly answers his daughter’s calls. But these difficult relationships reflect her deeper disappointment and dissatisfaction with herself, as it becomes clear that she is denying her children the compassion she refuses to give herself.
“This is what you want,” Leo says. “It’s within reach. So why not take it?” It’s a poignant question we may all ask ourselves when we’re unable to move forward because of guilt, shame, and fear. Nancy’s journey reminds us that self-kindness and self-compassion can open doors to happiness and facilitate human connection.
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Recent research from Rutgers University shows that when you are warm and accepting of yourself, these feelings extend outward to others. It all starts with introspection and looking in the mirror.
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