Movies are a special part of the human experience; they allow viewers to step inside the lives, trials, and tribulations of different types of people all over the world. On special occasions, a movie can put watchers in the shoes of a character and take them through a touching story that leaves a heavy impression of validation, struggle, and an overwhelming sense of relating to the character’s journey.


The Whalestars the magnificent Brendan Fraser in a comeback role of a socially awkward and reserved English teacher named Charlie, who struggles with obesity. Charlie sets out to change his life in fear of becoming too far gone and losing everything, specifically his daughter, whom he’s become barely aquatinted with over the last few years of his life. The Whale is an incredibly touching movie that delivers a heart-wrenching story lifted even higher by Fraser’s performance. There are not many movies that measure up to the emotional weight of The Whale, but viewers can get the same experience from some of the following great films.

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7/7 Raymond and Ray

Raymond and Ray tells a story about two brothers who come together after years apart for the funeral of their father. The film tells a moving account of abuse, depression, and reconciliation with comedic undertones that lighten the heavy load on the sub-text.

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Ewan McGregor from the Kenobi Star Wars series stars alongside Ethan Hawke as Raymond and Ray. The two exhibit flawless chemistry and tremendous screen presence in the powerful moments in the film, and every joke lands pleasantly. Ray and Raymond are taken by surprise by their father’s last request to dig his grave, and in the time spent, old feelings rise back to the surface and force them to deal with a wave of emotional baggage.

6/7 Honey Boy

Honey Boy is a somewhat biographical piece written and starred in by Shia LeBeouf. The movie tells a story about an actor, Otis Lort, who is struggling with alcohol and finds himself on the wrong side of the law. Ordered into rehab, Otis goes through therapy and discusses his childhood and difficult life as a child actor and the pressures put on him.

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LeBeouf plays the character modeled after his father and portrays a complicated man with delusions of grandeur as he pushes his child to succeed where he failed. Honey Boy is a spectacular look into trauma and addiction, and what it takes to pull one’s self out of a hole they’ve dug themselves into.

5/7 The Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri

Francis McDormand stars as iron-willed Mildred Hayes, out for justice over the unsolved case of her daughter’s assault and murder. Mildred heavily criticizes the lack of effort in her daughter’s case and becomes an overbearing member of the small town of Ebbing, Missouri.

Mildred goes as far as to rent three billboards that criticize the Ebbing police force, specifically the chief of police, Bill Willoughby, played by Woody Harrelson. The Billboards Outside of Ebbing Missouri is highly praised as one of the most magnificent films of the last decade that personifies everything storytelling is supposed to be. In addition, McDormand’s performance stands out above even the most memorable roles. Both McDormand and the film won academy awards for best picture and actress.

4/7 Birdman

Birdman is a melodramatic tale of a washed-up actor who tries to cling to his success by producing new live-stage work on Broadway. Michael Keaton stars as Riggan Thompson, who rose to fame for being a movie superhero but quickly fell from grace after the third film of the franchise. Since then, Riggan has struggled with finances, his family, his career, and his mental health.

In a last-ditch effort to take back some control, Riggan writes, produces, and stars in a biographical piece; things begin to turn sour as setback after setback occurs and further pushes Riggan to the edge. Birdman is an overexaggerated film that tells a unique story in an exquisite way.

3/7 The Way Back

When a down-on-his-luck ironworker struggles to pick himself up out of the gutter, he is given an opportunity to turn his life around along with the life of a dozen high school students. Ben Affleck is Jack Cunningham, once the star athlete with his entire future in front of him, now drowning in regret and alcohol with a decimated marriage.

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When handed the responsibility of coaching his former school’s basketball team, Jack must make the winning shot or lose what little he has left. Ben Affleck gives a tear-jerking performance and has accredited his dedication to the film to his own personal struggle with alcohol and the weight of addiction. The Way Back is an incredible story of failing but never giving up on the future.

2/7 Hustle

Adam Sandler steps out of his comfort zone in this dramatic story about a could-have-been basketball scout, Stanley Sugarman, who works for the Philadelphia 76ers; Stanley has hit wall after wall in his career working long hours, which has taken a toll on his family life.

Finally, Stanley finds a golden goose in the form of a foreign prodigy that could make a significant impact on the team; the following series of events is a rollercoaster ride stuck in a downward spiral as Stanley’s checkered past comes back to haunt him. Adam Sandler has been upping his game as of late with a series of serious-toned performances, and Hustle is no different.

1/7 Moonlight

Highly praised and the receiver of multiple Academy Awards, Moonlight is a film that tells an anthological tale about a young boy’s life up until he becomes a man. Chiron is the child of an addict and grows up in a rough neighborhood in Miami; in addition, Chiron is struggling with his sexuality, and the only option he has for help is the local drug dealer. Chiron’s issues follow him into his teenage years as the bullying he receives intensifies and land him in trouble with the law.

Finally, the last arc of the film revolves around Chiron as an adult, taking the role of the local drug dealer and suppressing his feelings, completely estranged from his friends and family. Chiron is offered a chance to fix what was broken by reaching out to his mother and the only person he has ever been honest with.

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