“No duh” alert: The news is full of distressing headlines and stories. When the state of the world makes me want to crawl into a hole, I try to remind myself that the vast majority of people on this planet are good. This has been driven home to me again and again during various dark times in my life — the cab driver who consoled me as I was crying on the way to visit a relative in the hospital who had just been diagnosed with cancer, the stranger who found my wallet full of credit cards and cash on the street and kept it in a safe at his restaurant for over a month until he tracked me down on Facebook, the locals who helped me navigate the subway system in another country — the list of examples goes on. I try to pay those acts of kindness forward as much as I can, but it’s still easy to get bummed out every once in a while.
Whenever I need to be reminded of all the goodness that’s out there, I know I can count on any of these 5 movies:
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood – New to the Box today (!), this true story about the impact Mr. Rogers (Tom Hanks, in an Oscar-nominated performance) had on Lloyd Vogel (Matthew Rhys) — a journalist who interviewed him — will make you rethink your relationships, priorities and overall attitude toward those who may have wronged you in the past.
Won’t You Be My Neighbor? – Of the two recent movies about Mr. Rogers, I prefer this documentary. In fact, it was one of my top ten favorite movies in 2018. Your jaw will drop when you watch footage of some of the deep and complicated concepts Rogers talked to children about in his award-winning PBS show Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood in the ‘60s… and how so many of his messages from decades ago are still completely relevant today.
Wonder – Based on the best-selling children’s novel, this adaptation starring Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson and Jacob Tremblay focuses on a young boy named Auggie with a rare facial deformity, and the challenges he faces at school when other kids make fun of him. However, its message is one of hope and kindness, as Auggie and his family make friends who rally around them in support.
Akeelah and the Bee – Featuring a young Keke Palmer as the title character, this story revolves around a south Los Angeles community that comes together to support an 11-year-old girl who has a shot at winning the Scripps National Spelling Bee. Laurence Fishburne plays a visiting English professor who takes Akeelah under his wing and helps her realize her full potential.
Billy Elliot – This 2000 Oscar-nominated drama focuses on the title character, who’s a young boy (Jamie Bell) growing up in the 1980s with a passion for ballet. However, that doesn’t fly with his father — or with most people in his working-class miners’ town in England. Like in Akeelah and the Bee, Billy is lucky to have a caring teacher who helps him follow his dreams despite the prejudices and fears of those around him. It’s a rousing, upbeat movie that went on to become a smash-hit Broadway production that won the Tony Award for Best Musical in 2009!
What movies help you restore your faith in humanity and the power of kindness?